Monday, December 3, 2012

MOM FAIL #4: I Told My 7-Year-Old Daughter to "Man Up"

My husband travels frequently for business. This past year his business trips have been longer and closer together, much like contractions. He should be giving birth to our drastic change in quality of life any minute now.

In the meantime, the kids and I struggle through the weeks alone; me, at my full time job juggling all the things single working mothers around the world juggle every day, and the kids, at their full time jobs of trouble-making. Am I being dramatic? You be the judge. Let's take a look at my list of 2012 Misfortunes That Occurred While My Husband Was Out of Town. This year's travails included, but were not limited to:
  • My daughter Jackson Pollack'ing an entire bottle of hot pink nail polish in the kitchen (walls, cabinets and floors) just as we're walking out the door to school (full story and photos here in MOM FAIL #2)
  • Both children, and eventually me, getting lice
  • Our alarm system malfunctioning so that we got 3 false alarms in 3 consecutive days and I had to leave work each day to run home, see if our house was empty and deal with irritated policemen
  • A leaking, dripping dining room ceiling coinciding with 5 days of nonstop torrential rain
  • A hair clog in the shower drain so lethal and decayed that I was certain something had died in the pipes (hired someone to dredge it out)
  • Busted sprinkler heads causing reclaimed water geysers at our doorstep (ew--poopy water)
  • My daughter slamming her finger in a door at school; fingernail detached and fell off 2 weeks later
  • And now here we are... Dad is gone again, and yesterday my 10-year-old son sprained his ankle at his football team holiday party
Luckily (??) I sprained my ankle earlier this summer, so I had crutches and ace bandages on hand to lend him. The problem wasn't really him, it was his sister, a girl so hungry for approval (hmm, wonder where she gets that?) that she couldn't stand that I was giving my injured son attention by wrapping his foot in a bandage and getting him a glass of water.

"You don't love me. You wouldn't do that for me if I was hurt," she cried. "I'm going to sleep on the floor tonight with my head on a plastic box because I don't matter." Cue the Oscar nomination.

I wanted to remind her about her finger just weeks before and how I coddled her for days and brushed her teeth for her (even though her other hand was perfectly fine). But we were on day 9 of my single parenthood, and my blood alcohol level was zero so... I snapped.

"You wanna sleep on the floor? Go ahead! This is NOT what I need from you right now. You gotta 'man up' sister!"
"But I'm not a man, I'm a girl!"
"Then you gotta 'cowgirl up'! Do you understand what that means?"
"No ~wimper wimper~."
"It means you gotta be tough, chick. Now quit yer crying. I don't have time for it, I have dishes to do and garbage to take out and dogs to walk. HE needs me now, and you should be asking how you can help me help him... not acting like this. You're better than this. Now get a tissue and wrap it up! This ends now."

Good parenting, eh?

I would like to say that I inspired my daughter to be tougher and more independent and more self aware that day.

I would like to say that she came to her senses and realized that she should be a compassionate sister and show concern for an injured family member.

I am ashamed to say that all she probably got out of that "man up" exchange was that her mom is a short-fused crazy woman with a misunderstanding about cowgirls.

Regardless, for the next 2 days I couldn't get the "Man Up" song from The Book of Mormon out of my head, and decided I should take a dose of my own medicine and man up about the 48 measly days I spent as a single parent this year. Women with far less make do for far longer, many with no return date marked on their calendars. I get it. Message received, Universe.

Giddy'up, Cowgirls!


  1. Delightful column, Heather.

  2. LOL... glad you brought it back around, Heather... I was just about to say, "That sounds like "normal(-to-good)" life to me, year-round! Great post :)

    PS Wait until they're teenagers... even if they're pretty good kids (I got lucky with mine), life still cranks up to overdrive and the stakes are WAY higher. This is good training for you. :)

  3. Oy, Cynthia... I'm terrified of the teens. My kids are (truth be told) very good right now. But as my sister-in-law always says, "Small children, small problems." I'd take lice any day over drinking and driving or middle school sexting!