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Remember the other day, when I wrote a post asking whether motherhood was the hardest job in the world?  It was in response to a comedy routine by the very funny Bill Burr who questioned the truth behind the famous saying. Well I listed some of the things that made motherhood so tough but I left one off. The one I forgot was that you need to know when to stand your ground. And how!

A couple of days ago Cole came home from school and we went through the obligatory mother-son 20 questions routine. “Hey, how was school?” Cole “Fine.” Me “Do you have homework?” Cole “Only a little.” Me “When do you plan to do it?” Cole “Soon.” And on it went at a painfully slow pace. My plan in the afternoon is to let the kids come in, grab a snack and then decompress before diving into the work. They’ve been at it all day so I figure a 10-15 minute break will do them some good. Problem was, on this particular day, Cole had been given an air soft gun by one of his friends, so he wanted to play longer than the allotted time.

Of course, that’s about the time that “mean mommy” showed up. It’s not that I am mean per se, it’s just that unless I want to work until I’m dead, I’d better get this kid out of school and safely installed as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the dictator of a Third World country. Judging by his affinity for weaponry, it just might be the latter.

So I said to him “Cole, get upstairs and finish your work”. He was not happy about having to part with the Ruger replica but he did it and trudged up the stairs. I had asked him to email me the presentation he was working on so I could look it over (of course he tells me all the time that is not my job – it’s the teacher’s job. Sigh) and when I saw it, was quite dismayed by the number of typos and spelling errors in his masterpiece.

So when Cole came downstairs to grab the gun, I steeled myself for battle and then dropped the bomb. “Hey buddy” (I call him that when I am trying to soften him up to keep him from blowing a gasket. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I am afraid of my 12 year old son) “Look, there are a lot of typos and spelling errors in here that need to be fixed, so let’s get to that and then you can play.”

Well, I might as well have told him there was no Santa Claus judging by his response. “MOM! The spellchecker will take care of that! And then dad will print it!” As exhausted as I was, this was not a discussion I was going to budge on, spell check or no spell check. “Cole this is about more than the misspellings. This is just sloppy. You are in the 7th grade now and you need to fix these things. There are words that are joined that should not be and you need to fix punctuation. “I” is always capitalized.” ‘ BUT MOM, THAT IS WHAT THE SPELL CHECK IS FOR!” “ Yes, Cole but you need to at least try.” “BUT MOM THAT IS GOING TO TAKE FOREVER!!” Each response was louder and more adamant than the one before it but Good Enough Mother can dig in her heels with the best of them and I was not backing down. “Now look Cole, the longer you stand here and argue, the longer it is going to take and the days are getting shorter so you are eating into your play time with this battle you will not win. This is the way it’s going to be so let’s just stop arguing and get to it.”

Now, at this point, his eyes welled up because a) he really did want to go out and play and b) he was not going to get his way. So he turned on his heel and, for effect STOMPED up the 14 stairs to his room. It had to KILL his feet because he was barefoot but he couldn’t be bothered with a little something like a cracked heel or shin splints because he was emphatically making a point.

15 minutes later, I received an email with the following subject line.

“there that took up my free time and we could’ve let spell check do it, but your you”

That’s right, the mean bitch that I am took up ALL of his free time by insisting on something as out of line as making sure he put forth his best effort. Someone call Child Protective Services, STAT!

Look, I’m a pretty easy going mom but there are things that even I put my foot down on and this homework thing is one of them. Cole’s known that for years, and yet he acts surprised each time I have to put the hammer down. And yes, I am sure under his breath he called me a few names I had no idea he knew. But no matter, I held my ground because that is my job as a parent.

And that Bill Burr is another of the tasks that make this job we call motherhood so hard (maybe not the hardest, but definitely not easy). Having to lay down the law, even though it will result in a battle that will sap what little strength you have left. Oh and you still have to cook dinner for the ingrate.

Luckily for me, Cole has a short memory to match his short fuse and the next morning, all was right with the world.  You know why? Because this evil bitch of a mom knows what makes her boy happy and spaghetti for breakfast has a way of soothing all those hurt feelings.

In fact I’m boiling water now for a big batch for the rest of this week…


  1. M.E. Johnson

    September 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Ha ha, Rene you are the greatest! And if you haven’t already, you may get “I-Hate-You!!” at least once. I would answer, “I’m sorry you feel that way, I love you.” I’ll tell you, at his age start convincing him that no matter how tall he gets or how deep his voice, you are still the baddest #%$*@ in the house, ’cause they will try to get mannish. You did the right thing!

  2. Auntie Lisa

    September 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I have no clue, but you might try saying to him, “Aren’t you a little too old to be testing your boundaries?” If you think it would work on him to call his maturity into question…. haha!

    Very funny telling of this story!

  3. Okisweetpea

    September 24, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Yeah I hate it when I have to lay down the law but homework is something I don’t play around with either. My daughter rolls her eyes so hard they almost fall out of her head! We as good parents that care about our children education have to do things like this!! Good post Rene!!

  4. JJ

    September 24, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Good going Rene. I know how you feel. I have twin 16 year olds who act the same way, and I had to let them know, “I am the law around here and you will do the right things in this house!” O boy, they dont like it and I’m sure they’ve called me names too, but we as strong mothers have to stand our ground when it comes to making the right decisions for our children. Sure, nobody likes being called the”mean mom” like us, but somebody got to do the job. They’ll thank us for it later when our grandchildren make their heads spin! Keep your head up girl, your doing great> (LOL)

  5. Joss

    April 18, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Ahahaha! I use the “do you really want to start with me? Because you will not win.” line ALL THE TIME! Somehow it seems to have just the right effect.

  6. Michele

    May 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I got all worked up while reading this, as I have the similar scenarios in my house with my 9 going on 13 year old son at least once a week. I thought it was because I am a single mom with no male voice to over power my budding man. So as a result, I am usually testing those voice lesson I took so long ago and “speaking” from my diaphragm Thanks Renee. Glad to know I’m not alone 🙂

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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