The viral video of the Baltimore mother in bright yellow beating the hell out of her rioting teenaged son in the middle of the street.
She’s being called “mother of the year” by some and abusive by others.
And whether you’re cheering her on after watching the video or wanting to call child protective services, I’d bet a dollar her son has called her the “meanest mom in the world” before their very public moment.
Listen. I’ve been called it for much less.
If you’ve ever told your child no to protect or provide for them, followed through on a consequence with your teenager, or refused to give into their demands, you probably have the battle scars that come with the Meanest Mom title, too. If they are too young to say it, just wait.
I love my kids and my kids love me. But they have tried to manipulate situations, move my resistance, maneuver their way around the truth and mistake my compassion for weakness.
Motherhood is not for wimps.
When my kids think I’m at my meanest, they are really seeing my fierce love for them. They just don’t recognize it for that.
When I was 16 years old, I misjudged the time and realized I was going to miss my curfew. This was long before cell phones and so I did what any other new driver would do, I sped. Just as the policeman was pulling me over a few blocks from home, my parents showed up.
I’ll never forget their words, “We will take it from here, Officer.”
They didn’t think twice about marching my butt home and if there had been a TV camera, they probably would have waved.
I was never late again.
(I’m about to sign my daughter up for driver’s education and Hey, Mom and Dad–I totally get it.)
Life teaches hard lessons. And if we let our kids learn them, they might just learn from them. Sure, we can protect our kids from consequences, but should we? They might just miss the lesson if we rush to make everything okay. Maybe they will think twice before they make the same mistake again.
I go toe-to-toe regularly with my kids. And it’s not because I like a good fight.
It’s because of love.
These are some of the non-negotiables in our house that earn me the Mean Mom title. They are of course, sandwiched in loved, bathed in grace and taught consistently (most of the time):
1. Lose it or break it and it’s lost or broken. (We might help you with it, but if you expect it, we definitely won’t).
2. Our family goes to church. You will go, too.
3. People who live in our house, do chores.
4. We apologize when we hurt people.
5. Your email, pictures and Internet history will be looked at by your parents. (Remember we agreed to this when you received access?)
6. If you don’t take care of your stuff, you can’t borrow mine.
7. If you want something, save your money.
8. Sometimes you have to fail at something to later succeed at it. (This is why I quit reminding my kids to do their homework, check on that missing paper, turn in that extra credit, etc)
9. Eventually, you will run out of clean clothes if you don’t do your laundry.
10. If I go out of my way to help you and you’re rude, the next time you ask for my help, I will say no.
11. We will always forgive each other, no matter what. Love conquers all of the above.
Does this list make me a mean mom? Probably.
Life has a funny way of teaching the best lessons–if we let it. Sometimes the very best lessons are in the consequences.
I hope one day my kids will look beyond the words and rules, and they will understand the deep, abiding love for them that sometimes makes me seem mean.
I know I did.
And who knows, they may even see a glimpse of Mother of the Year.