Why You're Not The Worst Working Mom Ever

In trolling for good pumping stories on mommy blogs for Privacy, Pumping and Protection, I stumbled across a section on Mommy Track'd (The Working Mother's Guide to Managed Chaos) devoted to the dumbest, funniest, most cringe-inspiring things we've done as moms. It is amazing and has changed my life. Bye-bye, Prozac!

Because next time I do something terrible (probably within the next two hours before I go pick up the kids from school) I'm heading to The Worst Working Mom Moments. Seriously, it's better for your self-esteem than watching Desperate Housewives -- because these moms are real. And to the right of each horrible, hilarious story of the time Mommy X leaked breast milk during a presentation to the company sales force or Mommy Z got called out by her toddler for farting during a conference call, there's a "Been There, Done That" button you can click to out yourself. And our good friends at Mommy Track'd count the clicks so we all know how many hundreds of other moms share our faux pas.

So tell us: What's your worst working mom (or dad) moment? And to be clear here, staying home (God, I hate that term) and volunteering count as work. So fess up. Or fart up, as the case may be. We've explored the dark side of motherhood before, with Laurie Githens Hatch's inaugural Guest Blog, Worst Mother Ever, and last year's Mother's Day celebration. But let's do it again: What is the worst thing you've done during this long, strange act-like-you-know-what-you're-doing parenting trip?

Note: On Balance is taking tomorrow off (yes, that's two Fridays in a row!)

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 15, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
Previous: Privacy, Pumping and Protection | Next: Finding the Smart Time to Return to Work

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Posted by: Anon | May 15, 2008 7:48 AM

My worst moment was when I endorsed Obama for president. My daughter was very unhappy about that!

Posted by: Dorothy | May 15, 2008 7:56 AM

My worst mom moment ever was when I yelled at my daughter to stop whining and crying after she fell and hit her arm on her brother's Little People Garage. She kept crying and complaining and there was no bruise, no swelling, nothing, so I thought she was just looking for attention. I made her put her coat on and go to swimming lessons but she just sat there saying her arm hurt. The next day it was totally swollen and black and blue -- she had broken it. 4 weeks in a cast and she was as good as new but I still felt terrible!

That story about leaving the baby at the airport, linked above, has to go down in the record books though!

Posted by: Pt Fed Mof2 | May 15, 2008 8:08 AM

Heh. I feel like that every time my son cries when I leave him at day care. This morning I think I started it because I'd just set the alarm to leave and we have 60 seconds to get out of the house before it sets. Will son, who usually cheerfully yells "Beep-beep! Time to go!", leave? Of course not. He hides around the back side of his train table and won't budge. So, there were some forced relocation moments this morning, which then triggered a "mommy is mad at me for not leaving, so that must be why she's abandoning me at day care!" freakout. Awesomesauce. Can I just die now?

Posted by: Mazarin | May 15, 2008 8:46 AM


That actually happened to me! I slipped one day, and hurt my ankle. I was in first grade. I was complaining for about 4-6 days after that. Mom thought it was nothing and I was only looking for attention. She FINALLY took me to a doctor, who took an XRay and they told her I sprained it terribly, it was very close to being a break.

So then I went to school the next day with a cast and crutches - I guess I had them for about a month? Then I was way cool!

Posted by: atlmom | May 15, 2008 8:49 AM

To whomever corrected my spelling on the word "peak" yesterday...I did think it looked incorrect, but I never looked it up to correct myself. So, thank you =)

Posted by: Kattoo | May 15, 2008 8:55 AM

My worst moment was when I endorsed Obama for president. My daughter was very unhappy about that!

Posted by: Dorothy | May 15, 2008 7:56 AM


Are you a political figure?

Posted by: Question | May 15, 2008 9:01 AM

My worst moment was when I endorsed Obama for president. My daughter was very unhappy about that!

Posted by: Dorothy | May 15, 2008 7:56 AM


Are you a political figure?

Posted by: Question | May 15, 2008 9:01 AM

When I put children's tylenol into my son's bottle of apple juice so he'd drink it mid-day -- and allow me to stay at work.

Posted by: RoseG | May 15, 2008 9:15 AM

When I put children's tylenol into my son's bottle of apple juice so he'd drink it mid-day -- and allow me to stay at work.

Posted by: RoseG | May 15, 2008 9:15 AM

Pretty clever, actually!

Posted by: Hmmmm | May 15, 2008 9:17 AM

See this link:


What do you think?

Posted by: An interesting "bad mommy revelation" | May 15, 2008 9:21 AM

When our neighbor, a pediatrician, chewed me out for over-feeding oldest DD, who was then about 6 months old. DW was at work; I was at home burning use-or-lose leave and taking care of DD. DW left frozen breast milk for me to feed DD. I figured DD was hungry, so I fed her a bottle. Hmm, still seems hungry; I'll give her another. We were working on the third when the pediatrician stopped by on her lunch break to drop off some books she had borrowed from DW. She asked how DD was doing; I remarked that we were on the third bottle. She screamed at me; then told me that healthy babies in that situation have a natural reflex that causes them to suck in on whatever is put in their mouths. DD wasn't hungry, she explained, just reacting reflexively. She told to stop feeding that baby, stat!

When DW called to see how things were going, I debated not telling her but then figured the neighbor was going to rat me out. So, I came clean and got screamed at again.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 15, 2008 9:22 AM

The broken limb issue must be pretty common - the same thing happened to me when I was about 6. I had a flair for the dramatic, so my parents thought I was a big faker. After crawling around in school the next day (couldn't walk), my parents finally took me for X-Rays. OOPS! Now it is fodder any time I want to guilt trip my mom (he he) but it is totally understandable: I could have been milking a twisted ankle for attention, and my parents didn't want to go to the trouble and expense of taking me to the emergency room just to find out that I was exaggerating my pain. It happens.

Posted by: akmitc | May 15, 2008 9:37 AM

The broken limb issue must be pretty common - the same thing happened to me when I was about 6. I had a flair for the dramatic, so my parents thought I was a big faker. After crawling around in school the next day (couldn't walk), my parents finally took me for X-Rays. OOPS! Now it is fodder any time I want to guilt trip my mom (he he) but it is totally understandable: I could have been milking a twisted ankle for attention, and my parents didn't want to go to the trouble and expense of taking me to the emergency room just to find out that I was exaggerating my pain. It happens.

Posted by: akmitc | May 15, 2008 9:37 AM

Wow, ArmyBrat - that's pretty funny. I mean, really - kids actually do stop eating when they are full - if my kids weren't hungry, event as infants, they stopped.

And then yelling at you? Really.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 9:37 AM

No, just a mom. My name is Dorothy Rodham.

Posted by: Dorothy | May 15, 2008 9:40 AM

ArmyBrat - "chewed out" by a pediatrician? screamed at by your wife? Wow. Really - I'd have switched doctors and had a discussion along the same lines with my spouse if this occurred - but maybe I'm grouchy and maybe you're exaggerating a wee bit.

I agree with anon at 9:37. Babies stop when they're full. Not only didn't you do anything "wrong", you didn't merit this disrespectful mode of communication from other adults even if you had. In my opinion.

Posted by: MN | May 15, 2008 9:44 AM

No, just a mom. My name is Dorothy Rodham.

Posted by: Dorothy | May 15, 2008 9:40 AM


Mother of Hillary Clinton...okay, you're silly!

Posted by: okay dokay | May 15, 2008 9:46 AM

See this link:


What do you think?

Posted by: An interesting "bad mommy revelation" | May 15, 2008 9:21 AM

OK. I'll bite. If I didn't know better I would think this letter writer was setting up a strawman just so she could slap it down. I mean, talk about stereotypes. I'm a working mother who lives in a small, cramped house with 3 children, a husband and a cat. I cook dinner most nights. I attend school plays, soccer games and music lessons. (In fact just this morning I helped my daughter pull together a costume for her play.) Not only is my husband my hero because he is such a good father but he also says that I am his hero. We're a team. So yet again this letter reminds me why I always turn the channel or change the station when I hear Dr. Laura. And sorry letter-writer, I'm not quitting my job because YOU think I should.

Posted by: cm9887 | May 15, 2008 9:55 AM

The dr. laura thing is ridiculous. I mean, SHE is a working mom, but all she does is tell people that mom should be home. Sheesh.

Really - we 'rely' on my husband for his income? no for many it's a burden (oh, I'm the only one bringing income into this house - what happens if that doesn't work out? If I screw up, etc...).

Her agenda is so tiring. She doesn't see what's good for a family (my husband brings home 12k a year, and I earn 100k - should I stay home? Dr. Laura would say ... yes).

Posted by: atlmom | May 15, 2008 10:04 AM

I love the end of that Dr. Laura piece. "Working stinks! watch the fireflies!" as if working never brought any benefits to anyone, like, oh, say, food and a roof. Agree with cm9887, it looks exactly like a straw man. Well, I've never listened to Dr. Laura and so I guess I should express my thanks for finding out that I haven't missed anything. Our Laura is good enough for me!

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 15, 2008 10:11 AM

I found that letter to Dr. Laura really interesting. Two of my sisters are in a similar situation: one has 5 kids and is a SAH in a modest house, the other has 1 and WOH in a fancy house. Typically, the one WOH with 1 kid in the fancy house is seen as the "happy, successful" one. But actually, I can see how isolating and lonely it can be for her in her neighborhood.

I think it's terrific that so many women can be Supermom and handle everything themselves, but I'm realizing more and more how important an outside support network is for me now that I'm pregnant. Family, friends, neighbors that are willing to help out make all the difference in the world to me.

There are just base personality differences at play here: instead of holding up a universal "Yes, that's better" model of life, we need to acknowledge that some people are very happy leading autonomous lives, and others are very happy in a close-knit network.

The problem comes in when people start proselytizing about why their choice is "obviously the only one that would work for anyone and allow them to truly be happy, and anyone with other choices is self-deluded."

Posted by: newslinks | May 15, 2008 10:19 AM

My worse moment as a working mom was not so long ago, when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter. I was working on an important project, which involved lots of other departments in my agency, and we had scheduled a 8 am meeting to go over changes to a document that everyone had input on. It was my job to run the meeting and to then incorporate in the document all the changes that were discussed in the meeting. I usually don't come into the office until around 9:30 am, but that day would be an exception. The night before, I set the alarm clock for 5:30 am, because I wanted to make sure I was in extra early to prepare and get some coffee before the meeting. When I woke up the next morning, I could see the sun in the window, and almost closed my eyes again, to wait for the alarm clock to ring. Luckily, the bright sun was a signal that it was later than I expected, so I rolled over and looked at the clock. It was 8 am. I had forgetten to put the alarm clock setting on on. I jumped out of bed hysterically and yelled at my husband and son to wake up. Then, I had a two-minute nervous breakdown while I tried to decide what to do, since I knew there was a room full of people waiting for me at work, and that we had an 11 am deadline to meet to get this document finalized. I whipped out my laptop, and got on the phone to my assistant, who patched my in to the meeting by t-con, and ended up handling the meeting from my dining room table, in my underwear. After the t-con, I made all the changes, emailed the document for final review, and was in the office by 11:00 am, just in time to send the final version of the document out. In the end, it worked out, but it sure was an exciting morning for me.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 10:20 AM

There are just base personality differences at play here: instead of holding up a universal "Yes, that's better" model of life, we need to acknowledge that some people are very happy leading autonomous lives, and others are very happy in a close-knit network.

The problem comes in when people start proselytizing about why their choice is "obviously the only one that would work for anyone and allow them to truly be happy, and anyone with other choices is self-deluded."

Posted by: newslinks | May 15, 2008 10:19 AM

BINGO newslinks. We have a winner. I know what my limitations are, my preferences, etc. But that doesn't mean they will match yours, ArmyBrat's, MNs, etc.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 15, 2008 10:36 AM

I don't know who Chrissy is so your comments go over my head a bit on that one.

But an update for those who care... I talked to a very good friend and their husband. They said I have been more than reasonable... in fact, unreasonably reasonable. After spending the night talking to them, I decided to walk away from the marriage and got the name of a good divorce lawyer from them.

Wouldn't you know it... the next day my husband found out he got into the program he applied to. I am afraid my lack of enthusiasm clued him into the fact that something was wrong. Believe me... this acceptance is amazing news. He asked and I gave it to him - both barrels. For whatever reason, that conversation with my friend gave me the courage to be 'just reasonable' and nothing more than that.

Basically the conversation boiled down to: no more ex. No more conversations, no more spending Saturdays or Sundays with her. If he wants to see the kids, they come to our house. So... no more nothing with her. He is allowed to take her grocery shopping and practice for her driver's license. If she doesn't get her driver's license she will never be independent or I would have said no to that also. If you don't like those rules - Leave. If you can't abide by those rules - then I will ask you to leave. I suppose this sounds harsh but this is what he needs to do to gain back my trust in him as a partner and faith that I can count on him.

We shall see what happens.

Posted by: Billie_R | May 15, 2008 10:37 AM

Emily -- You just described every day of my life as a mom. A completely nerve-wracking, exhilarating roller coaster. I always feel like I'm performing a highwire act. My invisible audience is all the other moms doing the same thing in front of no one.

I remember one day last year in particular. Driving to a radio interview. Cell phone rang. Babysitter: had misjudged traffic and would not be able to pick up our five year old at nursery school when it let out in five minutes. Utter panic. Had to pull over on Mass Ave in front of Cheney's house. Frantically tried to remember other nursery school moms' cell phone numbers (it was too late to call them at home). Called the school: no answer, because they were already out front dismissing the kids.

Solution: Called radio station. Asked if I could do the interview from home (a land line was required). Rushed to nursery school, rushed home, ran inside trailing the five year old as the phone rang. Gave a 10 minute interview, hyperventilating and sweating, praying the five-year-old would stay outside playing with the dog.

One of my best performances!

(Shame they don't teach you this stuff at Wharton Business School.)

Posted by: Leslie | May 15, 2008 10:37 AM

I just read the letter to Dr. Laura, and I think it's ridiculous. It is not black and white. You don't have to live in a small house with a bunch of children to be happy, and you don't have to live in a big house with two working parents to be successful. People in both circumstances manage to be happy and miserable, depending on their personalities, tastes, and abilities to adjust. I get no particular joy from cooking for my family on weeknights. Sometimes, it is carry out, and we love it. Especially pizza night. And sometimes, I do cook on weekends, and it can be a lot of fun. I do get satisfaction from knowing that I can provide for myself and my family, and am not sure I would want to give that up. What I see in the letter is this Leave it to Beaver mom stereotype that gets fulfillment from her role as the family caretaker, and that's okay, as long as we don't all assume that that is the only way women can ever be fulfilled. Just because it works for her does not mean that it will work for everyone.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 10:39 AM

Billie/Chrissy - No one cares anymore. Your story is really boring and stupid. Stop wasting our time with it. People are tired of your pathetic story, whether it is real or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 10:42 AM

Leslie: I thought they taught you how to hire nannies and never have to deal with mundane stuff that the commoners have to deal with at Wharton and Hahvad...

Is that not what they do?


(I can say this cause I went to not one but TWO CSS's). :)

Posted by: atlmom | May 15, 2008 10:44 AM

But, my lounging around days are OVER. I'm the worst procrastinator - that's my big problem. But everything always gets done, so I really don't have any reason to change, that's the problem.

but, on topic, when I was pregnant, I didn't want to deal with younger son so much, so he spent way too much time on the computer. *sigh*, but he's doing okay, and still alive. I was just exhausted all the time (warning TMI: It was just an undiagnosed UTI, though...that I had almost all throughout my pregnancy - which I presume is one reason I was eating ice cream sundae's every day).

My au pair's last day is Sunday, and the kids are out of school next week - so I'm going to have to hussle, now. DH wouldn't let me keep an au pair! (the audacity!) when I'm not working. *sigh* again.

So, I have to go to the supermarket to get food for us to eat, pretty boring. We ran out of milk this morning.

Posted by: atlmom | May 15, 2008 10:47 AM

Billie_R: why is he taking her grocery shopping? Give him an inch and he'll take a mile. H'e exhibited this behavior before and he's gotten away with it. Why, why why? She should be totally responsible for herself. end of story

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 10:49 AM

Sorry, no worst mom stories here. I'm sure there were some, but I don't remember them. It's been too long since they were toddlers and such. Live and learn, sure, but don't dwell on the worst!

Posted by: dotted | May 15, 2008 10:50 AM

I'd *love* to be a homemaker! I just don't want to have to deal with the husband-and-kids part of the equation. Anybody know how one gets off the corporate hamster-wheel and onto this career track?

Or maybe I just need a vacation...

Posted by: BxNY | May 15, 2008 10:52 AM

Personally, I find Billie's story fascinating and am always happy to get updates. The whole point of commenting on blogs is to share some thoughts about your personal situation, and to read about others!

Billie, I'm thrilled to hear you had the courage to sit down with a couple you trust in the real world and get their views about what's "reasonable". I can't really blame you for not listening to us virtual-people who have been shrieking at you about how completely unacceptable your situation has been. :)

Talking with your hubby and setting clear lines about what you will and will not accept is a crucial step, but it means nothing if you don't follow through. You need to have all of the concrete steps ironed out, so that these are not empty threats. (ie, get the # of a good locksmith and keep it handy, so you'll be ready to change all the locks if/when that becomes necessary)

Posted by: newslinks | May 15, 2008 10:54 AM

So far... no worst step-mommy moments although the kids might disagree. At worst, we were playing and StepD slipped and went into my knee face-first.

They have definitely had moments where I wasn't their most popular person. Say like the time that StepS turned his back on me instead of getting out of the car so we left instead of staying to play at the park. StepD wasn't too happy about being deprived of the park either.

I am sure I have plenty of time to get a collection of worst step-mommy times. They are still little.

Posted by: Billie_R | May 15, 2008 11:09 AM

"See this link:


What do you think?"

I am *TOTALLY* gagging.

Posted by: OldBAM | May 15, 2008 11:26 AM

My worst mom moment so far:

When DD was tiny (1 or2 months old), she went through a phase where she'd scream every night between 9 pm and 2-3 am. The only thing that quieted her was bouncing and rocking her in our arms (and even that didn't always work).

One night, around midnight, DH came into our living room to find me rocking our screaming daughter as I crooned softly "shut the f**k up, please shut the F**k" up." He immediately said "ok, my turn now" and sent me to bed for some much needed sleep.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 15, 2008 11:26 AM

I once forgot picture day at school and sent my son to school in some pretty old ratty clothes that day. The thing is, I didn't care and neither did he.

I think most the time we fear the wrath of the Barbie Moms more than we fear that we've damaged our child for life by any of these little oversights. (How COULD you? He'll never forget this, you know . .. When he ends up in therapy, it'll be all your fault.)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 11:28 AM

I probably have more worse wife moments than worse mommy moments. On one accasion, my husband and I had an argument in the car, and he decided to be dramatic and get out of the car. It was raining hard, and he did not have a raincoat or jacket (but it was summer), and I could see that he left his wallet on the car console. I was so mad that I just drove home and let him walk three miles in the rain. I still feel a little guilty about that.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 11:35 AM

Billy_R - where is the start of your tale? Your story sounds eerily familiar, my friend is having the same problems but I didn't catch the first part of it.

Posted by: Get Real | May 15, 2008 11:38 AM

Worst Parenting Moment? I've had plenty, this is one of them.

It all started when the family was working outside on the deck. Our youngest son, aka Baby, was 2 at the time and very helpful to me with these types of projects. He could bring me tools, screws, plug in the drill, and generally be a pretty handy gopher. As usual, a little while into the project, Ms Lion made an excuse to go to Home Depot to buy another tool or something. After about 30 minutes of drilling screws into the deck, I began to worry about Baby since I hadn't heard from him since Ms Lion left. I checked around the house and he didn't answer when I called, so I dialed Ms Lion on her cell to check if she had taken him with her.

"What?", I heard over the phone, "You don't know where my baby is?"

Have you ever got that sick feeling in your stomach along with the thought that you might not ever see your baby again? I have. It's one of the worst feelings known to parents.

So I rallied the older kids. Look under the beds, in my room, check behind the shed, in the shed, all closets, behind the couch, the crawl space, dresser drawers anywhere a baby can fit. I yelled his name inside and outside. Still no sign of Baby.

Panic Button Time! I sent the 2 older kids off on bicycles to search the park and around the block while I scrambled the neighborhood. In minutes, every kid over 12 was searching the bushes and backyards of their neighbors yelling for Baby. People I barely knew took off in their car to scope the community for a lost 2 year old; orange hair, barefoot, wearing only a diaper and a shirt.

After 10 minutes, I felt the situation had become grave enough to diall 911. Not only did I feel like a complete failure, but I knew that I was going to be one of those desperate, horrified parents that you see on the news pleading for any information that could lead to the whereabouts of their child. How could this happen to me? I made a silent promised to God that I would quit drinking, smoking, cussing and go to church every Sunday if only I could get my baby back.

For some reason, though I can't explain it, I decided to go through the backdoor of the house to get to the phone. When I got to the uncompleted deck, the thought struck me. I put my cane under the deck and swished around the pile of leaves, broken glass, rocks, sticks, dirt, mud, and rusty nails and screws that had fallen between the cracks of the deck floor.

And YES, unbelieveably, I came across a warm body! He had fallen asleep under the deck, hidden from everybody's view by a pile of debris. And the most ironic twist to this story is: He had layed down at my feet literally inches from my own 2 feet when I had originally begun to worry about his where abouts. Awe!

OK. Back to show the neighbors the filthy, grimey little boy and apologize for my stupidity. Tee-hee. Coulda happen to anybody, right?

Posted by: DandyLion | May 15, 2008 11:47 AM

NewSAHM: I am LOL. That is great.

Posted by: atlmom | May 15, 2008 11:48 AM

Hey Dorothy, your daughter is mad at me also!

Posted by: John | May 15, 2008 12:02 PM

Great story, Dandylion. I did something similar to my aunt when I was a kid. My grandmother and dad left me with her one evening, but since they knew I did not like her, they did not tell me they were leaving me with her. They just snuck out. (Cowards!!) When I realized I had been left with my aunt, i hid under in one of the bedrooms, kind of under the bed, but actually, in the space between the bedskirt and the wall. I heard my aunt looking for me, and she did check under the bed, but since I was between the bedskirt and the wall, she did not see me. I eventually fell asleep. Hours later, when I woke up, my whole family was there. I could hear my grandmother wailing downstairs. They had been looking for me all over the neighborhood, and the police had been called. It was late at night. Since my grandmother was back, I got up and went downstairs. My aunt nearly gave me a spanking, but my dad and grandmother wouldn't let her. They never left me with her again.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 12:09 PM

Dr. Laura can bite me. I suspect her letter is from someone named Chrissy.

Billie - I'm glad you're feeling confident enough in your own assessment to have made this move. I hope it all works out well for you. Seriously. Life is short.

Background on Chrissy: someone posted an absurd story here under that name last year. The peanuts were split on whether the story was authentic or a bunch of horse manure. The Chrissy snark wrt your story, Billy, attempts to suggest your story is inauthentic. Who cares whether the cynical disbelieve or if the believers are wrong?

Posted by: MN | May 15, 2008 12:24 PM

Well, I did that too, sorta. My dad took me to the pool. I don't remember why, but he either left me at the pool for a bit or it was that I was getting changed, and he was going to meet me on the other side of the bathrooms. Okay, so I get wherever I was supposed to go, and he wasn't there. I don't remember how much time I spent looking for him, but I couldn't find him, so I guess I figured *he* left *me*, so I walked home (I was pretty young, 7 or so - I could have been 5, I guess, and I think it was one of the first times I figured out that I could walk home, I knew where to go, etc).

So I got home (a 1/2 hour walk, maybe? Maybe 20 mins?).

So I guess I freaked out my dad, and he finally called home - I'm sure he wasn't looking forward to talking with my mom. But when he called, there I was, home all by myself. I guess mom was a little miffed in the first place that I walked home alone without dad (since he was supposed to be watching me), but she was obviously happy I was fine.

Posted by: atlmom | May 15, 2008 12:25 PM

The worse thing I did to my kids was to not work harder to sustain the marriage to their father. Their father did the same to them by not respecting the marriage and his family.

My recently turned-18-year-old-son told me I was a poor disciplinarian and should have done a better job being consistent and following through.

Posted by: cyns | May 15, 2008 12:27 PM

That reminds me. A few months ago, on the Today Show (I think) there was a story about a New York mom who purposefully left her kid somewhere that he did not know on the subway, so that he could make his way home alone. I don't remember exactly how old he was -- maybe 10ish. And he had a map and money. So the idea was that he would use use map to figure out how to get home. He did. But I was amazed that his mother would do that exercise, in such a big city, with a relatively young kid.

I am not one of these people who is against kids riding public transportation. When I was younger, I began riding the metrobus in DC when I was 12 or 13. But I knew the route because my grandmother had gone with me many times before, and it was familiar territory for me. As I got older, I was a pro at getting around dc on bus or metro. But I would have been terrified if I had been left at age 10 in some unknown part of the city, with just a map and some money. But this kid seemed fine, and he did get home without incident.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 12:33 PM

re: http://www.drlaura.com/letters/index.html?mode=view&tile=1&id=15897

I threw up a little in my mouth.


Posted by: atb | May 15, 2008 12:38 PM

A funny "bad mother" story I have is from yesterday. It's a long weekend coming up up here and I wanted to stock some beer for friends that are coming by so I took my son from daycare to the beer store.

I didn't realize as we're in the middle of potty training that he was in underwear. We've been switching to Pull Ups for the ride home, but I had told the staff it was okay to leave him. Of course I forgot that I had said so.

So we get in the beer store and I order the beer and then he started crying and sure enough... he made a puddle on their floor. I didn't have a change of clothes with me or a hand towel or anything.

What's really nice is the about 24 yr old kid who was working there said to me "oh, he's not the first person to pee on our floor" and cleaned it up.

My son was hysterical at the wet clothes though, so I ended up leaving the store with a case of 12 beer in one hand, and a toddler with a naked bum in the other.

There's a trashy sight! It gets better though. There was a police cruiser outside and of course the officer asked me what was up. My son was in sheer adoration that a policeman talked to us.

So we get home and he says to my husband "I peed my pants and mummy we talked to a policeman naked at the BEER store." (Why he picked that one up first go, I don't know.) Took a bit to sort that one out.

Posted by: Shandra | May 15, 2008 12:45 PM

Emily, what a little stinker you were.

I loved playing Hide and Seek with my kids when they were little. I would volunteer to be "it" and they would go and hide.

Then I would get a rare 10 minutes of treasured peace and quiet before they figured out they had been tricked. Hahaha!

Posted by: DandyLion | May 15, 2008 12:46 PM

Shandra: Hilarious!

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 15, 2008 12:51 PM

There was the time I dropped off older son for his toddler tumbling class, and tried to run a 45-minute errand while he was at the hour-long class. Yep, hit a huge construction mess, kept watching the clock in the car getting later and later as I'm stuck in backed-up traffic for a mile on city streets. Finally got through all the traffic, and had to turn right around and go back to get him.

I was about half an hour late. He wasn't *quite* panicked, but the teacher was very upset. She had a birthday party scheduled after the class, and needed to get the space set up for the party.

After that, DH took care of the kids' extra-curricular activities, and I took care of errands.

Posted by: Sue | May 15, 2008 1:09 PM

Thank you for the "bad wife" story. I have a few of my own, as you can probably imagine. Yours made me feel a whole lot better ---

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 1:46 PM


Posted by: Dumplings Recipe | May 15, 2008 1:47 PM

and by the way, I have a really hard time believing that letter to Dr. Laura is real. Seemed too formulaic and pat.

If you want a real rise, I'd suggest the Happy Housewife site we talked about last week. http://www.happyhousewivesclub.com/

Posted by: Leslie | May 15, 2008 1:50 PM


You just described my worst potty-training fear. DD probably thinks I have some weird potty obsession, since I ask her every 20 minutes when we're out if she has to go.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 15, 2008 2:00 PM

The thing that bugs me most about the Dr Laura letter, or the Happy Housewives Club is their judgmental tone; that those who subscribe to that point of view are somehow superior to me, or that their kids are better behaved, or that their husbands are happier, or that because I'm a WOHM, that we never have a home cooked meal. Rubbish. All of it.

Posted by: kate07 | May 15, 2008 2:12 PM

NewSAHM - we survived it fine! But yes I now have a hand towel rolled up in my purse.

Oh and on the other debate topic - ok I may not have had a pair of toddler pants due to being an Evil WOHM Mother(tm), but we eat home-cooked meals. Have these women never heard of a crockpot?

Posted by: Shandra | May 15, 2008 2:18 PM

One time, I forgot to pick up my son after school. It was a Tuesday, and for some reason, during that time period, I had Tuesday pick-up duty, but that day, my husband forgot to remind me, and of course I forgot completely. I also was in a meeting during that time, so I had turned off my cell phone. The school ended up calling my mother, who did have her cell phone but was not home at the time, and she called my brother, who was closer to the school at the time. My husband and I did not find out about the whole fiasco until well after it was over. My son ended up being picked up by my brother, and spent the afternoon with him. My husband got home around 5. Since I was not home and neither was the boy, he assumed that we had gone somewhere together. I had not checked voicemail, so I was at work completely oblivious to the situation, until I got a call from my brother asking if I knew where my son was. He felt so superior. It had made his day.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 2:27 PM

You are my favorite mom ever.

Because: I think you are a good mom. Yet you make mistakes I'd commit hari-kari over and seem to survive.

Good to know. I've got to remember that mothers like you make for independent, wise kids. Thanks for sharing...

I hate that Happy Housewives dreck too. If that's what some women want, more power to 'em. But don't tell me, please, that I need to want that too. Because then I might as well put on a burka and hang myself with it. Choice is good.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 2:51 PM

Will this Friday's column or last Friday's be the better? Now taking votes and/or comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 2:56 PM

When my second child was about 16 months old, one night at bedtime I gave the little one a bath, put him on the changing table, dried him off, put lotion on him, put his pajamas on, read him a story, put him to bed, and went on my merry way. Around 2:30 a.m. I awoke to him crying. When I picked him up, I noticed he was wet from chest to knee, and I thought his sippy cup (of water) had leaked in his bed. No wonder he was crying, I thought...Or, it could be an over-full diaper, I suppose...although that never happened to him...so I put him on the changing table to get him out of his wet clothes. I unsnapped his jammies and reached inside to unfasten his diaper. Only, there was no diaper. I still can't believe I FORGOT TO PUT A DIAPER ON MY BABY!!!!! Although I can laugh about it now (4 years later), I was feeling like the worst mom in the world at the time.

Posted by: WilliamsburgMom | May 15, 2008 3:00 PM

Oh - I just remembered a good one. When my son was in daycare, I found out that my husband had been sending him to daycare without a coat on on some chilly days. It was not freezing cold, but it was cold enough that I felt strongly the kid needed a coat. I told my husband and he basically pooh-poohed me and told me that I was being overprotective and that the kid was fine. So I came to work and convinced a friend to call my husband from her cell-phone, pretending to be a daycare teacher, and to ask why my son was not wearing a coat. My husband was absolutely polite and deferential to the fake day care teacher, and made sure the kid had a coat from then on. He still does not know that I tricked him.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 3:10 PM

when my son was about 1 year old he walked up behind me & bit me hard on the butt. it was summer time so i was wearing thin shorts. reacting solely on instinct i screamed, turned around & back handed my son. i felt terrible that i hurt him like that. however, he never bit me again. he wasn't a biter so this was completely out of the blue. i wonder what made him bite me. seriously, did he just walk into the kitchen and think my butt looked like something he wanted to chomp on?

Posted by: evil child abuser mom | May 15, 2008 3:17 PM

I'm a single parent. When my son was about 12 and playing rec league basketball, I dropped him off at the gym and went home, planning to return to pick him up at 9:30 as usual. Only problem: I dropped him at the wrong school. There was practice going on -- just not HIS practice. (This was pre-cellphone ubiquity.) I fell asleep, and woke up to a ringing phone: He had walked a mile to a schoolmate's house (in gym clothes, in January), and called a neighbor (couldn't rouse me); neighbor called me, and I drove over to the Perfect Father's house to pick him up. He's 26 now -- but will still remind me of this. I chalk it up to his gaining some street smarts that evening.

Posted by: jsc2 | May 15, 2008 3:27 PM

When my son was about 2, my husband and I went to a graduation ceremony with him in tow. We should have gotten a babysitter, but there was a family party right afterwards, and we thought it would be ok. But the kid was much too active to be still during the graduation, and began babbling loudly during one of the speeches. We were sitting right in the middle of the row, so getting up was going to be a pain. I tried fruitlessly to get my son to be quiet, but he would have none of it. In frustration, I pinched his butt, hoping that would do the trick. But instead of being quiet, he began screaming and yelling at me "Not nice to pinch!!! Bad, mommy. Bad." I was sooo embarrassed. People were looking at me with great disapproval, and I finally had to squirm out of the auditorium in absolute humiliation. The only upside of the whole thing was that I am pretty certain no one will ever abuse him, since he complained so vociferously about my pinching him.

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 3:37 PM

No More Helicopter!

I was playing in the backyard with my youngest daughter when she was around 2 years old. I took her by both hands, lifted her up to where her feet left the ground , and spun her around and around. When I set her back down, she was so dizzy that she fell on the grass after a few steps and had a tough time standing back up. We called the game "Helicopter" and would go at it a dozen times or so before I got too dizzy or tired to continue.

It was a real hoot, that was, until the time her hand slipped. Her other arm twisted a little. Not only did I feel her wrist crack from holding on to her, I heard the bone smap with my ears too. What an ugly, nasty sound, Ugh!

I brought her inside while she held her wrist and I walked around in circles begging for forgiveness and offering her ice cream.

Ok, so I broke the baby. I guess it was bound to happen. It wasn't as bad as I thought though. The injury is called nursemaids elbo, and the only thing the doctor had to do to fix it was to twist her arm in a certain way to pop it back in place.

This was one of those times where everything was good and fun until somebody got hurt. Anyway, that was the end of Helicopter for her.

Posted by: DandyLion | May 15, 2008 4:28 PM

DL - I have heard about nursemaid's elbow. Apparently, it is very common. I have a friend who accidentally dislocated her baby's elbow while trying to get her dressed. She said that the hospital staff says it happens a lot. Luckily, they were able to just pop it back into place. Yikes!!!

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 5:06 PM

Just thought of another one.

About a year ago, shortly before older son's 15th birthday, the whole family was riding in the car and the birthday subject came up. Older son didn't have his happy-face, and said something about moving out of the house / leaving the family.

DH and I couldn't figure out what was going on. That sort of talk is usually when older son has done something that's not an acceptable behavior. But he hadn't done anything wrong that we knew of. After some completely fruitless questioning that didn't reveal any inappropriate actions on his part, we finally got the clue from his statement that it was his *15th* birthday.

Oh! (slaps forehead)
Because DH was in foster care for many years of his childhood, we'd had a long-running joke, "15 and out on the street. If it was good enough for me, then it's good enough for my kids."

Older son is usually very good at picking up our (awful) jokes in spite of his autism, but he'd never realized that particular statement was a joke. And he was so scared of being on his own!

Both DH and I reassured him over and over that we had never meant that, and that he was staying in our house and our family until he was ready to be on his own.

We've all heard the expression feeling 10 feet tall. Well, I felt lower than 10 millimeters, and so did DH. We had terrorized our dear boy for years with that dumb joke, and not even realized!

Posted by: Sue | May 15, 2008 5:35 PM


You are my favorite mom ever.

Because: I think you are a good mom. Yet you make mistakes I'd commit hari-kari over and seem to survive.

Good to know. I've got to remember that mothers like you make for independent, wise kids. Thanks for sharing...

I hate that Happy Housewives dreck too. If that's what some women want, more power to 'em. But don't tell me, please, that I need to want that too. Because then I might as well put on a burka and hang myself with it. Choice is good.

Posted by: Leslie | May 15, 2008 5:44 PM

I did the nursemaid's elbow thing too -- when my youngest was about two years old. After stressing for three hours, trying to figure out what was wrong, and imaging Child Protective Services at the door, I took her to the pediatrician. Somehow, as I put her in the car seat I popped the joint back in. My pediatrician explained what had happened and yucked over how many moms he'd seen in my exact state of distress. Gotta love this motherhood gig.

Posted by: Leslie | May 15, 2008 5:47 PM

Did you grow up in the dc area? Where did you go to hs?

Posted by: Emily | May 15, 2008 6:29 PM


elementary school -- horace mann
7th-12th -- maret (class of 1983)

and you?

Posted by: Leslie | May 15, 2008 8:56 PM

Elementary school - Dunblane (Catholic school at Tenley Circle - it is now part of AU)
9-12 - NCS

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2008 10:27 AM

What year did you graduate from NCS? I had friends there and at STA.

Posted by: Leslie | May 16, 2008 11:04 AM

my favorite - had my year-old daughter in the back seat - she was hungry and fussing so I kept trying to give her her milk bottle, but she kept spitting it out. Eventually, dumb mom gets around to tasting it - after a couple of hours in a warm car it was completely sour. Yuck. No bad results - maybe it even bucked up her immune system because she's always been pretty robust.

Posted by: badmom | May 16, 2008 11:44 AM


Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2008 12:07 PM

Well, crap, missed a fun one. Our worst early-baby mishap was when I propped DD in carseat on trunk of car while opening door, and the whole contraption fell off. Ran inside, called pediatrician -- she was 100% fine (carseat hit ground, not her). But the best part was the doc telling me that it happens all the time -- that she knew one couple who drove off with the carseat on top of the car. Always feels better to find out other people are just as stupid (or moreso) as you feel.

My favorite one of my husband's was when he was pushing her on the swing and pushed her right off -- was aiming for swing bottom, got child bottom, and splat she went. But the best part was that we were over at friends, so he did it right in front of a whole bunch of other people. :-)

Meanwhile, I am having the opposite experience right now -- visiting my new niece, who is not eating well, not sleeping well, already spent a week in hospital, etc. So it's been a tough adjustment for my sis and BIL. Well, I show up, and she promptly naps on me for 3.5 hrs; later that night, she starts fussing, so I hold her close and do the shushing trick, and she immediately relaxes. Plus she only got up once overnight, to boot! My sister now pretty much thinks I'm God. :-)

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2008 12:25 PM

LOL, Laura. Of course, babies always respond to experience. Now, you won't be allowed to leave, especially if you are the only one who can get the baby to sleep. ---------

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2008 12:43 PM

Laura - you are god! loved your story.

Emily -- so i am one year "ahead" of you. trying to remember friends from ncs...i went to elementary school with dorothy lewis. and stuart holliday, who introduced me to blake cokus and chris harding, all STA '83. i lived on klingle street in wesley heights, near battery kimble park. i also worked one summer in wyoming with an ncs grad named anne smith, but i think she was little older.

Posted by: Leslie | May 16, 2008 2:14 PM

Leslie - The names ring a bell, but I did not really know these folks at all. In fact, in HS, I was pretty much a geek (still am) and was not involved in the STA/NCS social scene. :)

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2008 3:21 PM

Better for you -- the NCS social scene was pretty frightening, as I recall...

Posted by: Leslie | May 16, 2008 4:29 PM

when DS was 4 wks old, we had to take him to the doctor for a check up. DH and i got in the car and started driving away. Meanwhile, DS was still in the house, strapped safely into his car seat. Grandma was standing at the doorway and laughing her head off. We couldn't figure out why. Then she asked, where's the baby. DH and I slapped our foreheads. :-)

Posted by: lifelong | May 19, 2008 11:17 AM

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