It’s Okay to be “The Mean Mom”

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory bank of our children”. -Charles R. Swindoll

There are so many different parenting styles these days it is hard for anyone to even know where to start when they get the news they are expecting their new bundle of joy.

I have had a lot of people come to me in the past years for “parenting advice” or “tips and tricks” on how to handle certain situations. I always have had a hard time with that, because what works for one child does not mean it will work for another. I can tell you out of my four children, every single one of them has their own style, personality, emotions, and uniqueness. With that, I have had to take very different approaches to them on effective parenting when it comes to simple discipline. But, one thing that I do all around the board for every single one of them, is know that I am not their friend right now, I am their mom. My sole purpose on this parenting journey is to understand that I am raising these tiny little humans to become respectful, loving, independent adults, and with that comes the responsibility at understanding that sometimes I will in fact be:

The Mean Mom!

“What does a mean mom entail?”, you may ask yourself. I am here to break it down. First off, let me start by saying that I have actual had the title “mom” or “mommy” for half of my life. Yes, you read that right, I welcomed my first at the age of 16, and being such a young mom, it took me a really long time to figure out how to really do this mom thing, because I was still trying to figure out who I even was. At the age of 32 I am STILL trying to figure out who I am. Hey, that is another blog post, no one has time for that! Let’s get back to the point shall we? Being a mean mom does not mean that anytime you are around your children you are screaming at them, yelling demands, breaking their confidence, beating them. It is actually very far from that. Being a mean mom means that you have certain expectations for your children, and they are expected to do their best to meet those expectations.

Now, that does not mean put unreasonable expectations on a child who developmentally can not achieve that. Because, then you are setting your child up for failure and that is not what we want our children to grow up thinking. In our home our expectations are very reasonable for the age of our children.

MEAN MOM REASON #1: School is number 1, you will always do the best to your ability at school, that does not mean you need straight A’s, but it means that we know your potential. If you are struggling in math and you end up with a C but you did your absolute best, then we will hang that C up on the fridge in celebration. If you are very capable of getting a A, but because you refused to do your homework, you did not study for the test you knew you had, you simply did not apply yourself to your ability, then you are grounded until the grade is up. That last part is mean mom material. Being grounded. It is not easy grounding your children, because honestly it is more of a punishment on my part, having them hanging around me all the time. Just staring. That is why being a mean mom is so hard, sometimes you too are being punished.

MEAN MOM REASON #2: You have chores once a week. Now, do I expect my house to be ready for the queen on a weekly basis as I slave labor my kids into having to “gasp” clean the toilet they spent the last week peeing all over (boy mom’s will get this). No, absolutely not. Do I expect you to know what chores you have, and do them right the first time because I have shown you numerous times how to achieve that? Of course I do. What happens if you slack on your chores and purposely do them wrong, or not at all, then the next week you get to do ALL the chores in the house instead of the very small chore you were asked to do in the first place, while your siblings sit and relax. Once again, that last part is where the mean mom comes in.

MEAN MOM REASON #3: Laundry. The dreaded, dreaded laundry. I remember when my now husband and I moved in together I had a laundry pile the size of Mt. Everest hidden in the laundry room. I was working full time, I was a single mom, I had three children, and I just did not have time. I remember the first time I showed him my dirty little secret of laundry he looked at me very confused and said “Why are they not doing their own laundry?” Now, this was a foreign concept in my brain. I had never even considered showing my kids how to do their laundry. And that is when my life changed forever. Yes, my three older children do their OWN LAUNDRY! They each have a designated laundry day once a week. You are expected to start your load in the morning before school, you change it when you get home, and then you fold and put it away when it is finished. The mean mom part is that if you forget your laundry day, you have to be reminded of your laundry, if it is 9:00pm and you still have not changed loads of laundry, then you do not get TV for the next day, or Play Station, or whatever else you were planning on doing. I would like to clarify though that I am fully aware that life is life. Even I forget to change loads every once in awhile, or we are just busy that day. I get life happens! So if you have been on your A game, and it slips your mind every once in a great while, or we were running here or there that night, then you are obviously allowed to make up your laundry day at a different time. You just have to wait until your other siblings finish their days, so they are not punished. I will also change your load for you if I know we are doing something that evening. So it is done and ready for you to put away. It is all about balance. Once again, we are not here to set our kids up for failure. We are here to teach them life skills, along with life lessons. But, you are solely responsible for your underwear, have you ever seen an 11 year old underwear? NO THANKS!

MEAN MOM REASON #4: Our children are very limited in technology. Now, this one is a touchy subject for many parents. It is also one that comes up one debates on any and every mommy site I am apart of. This is something my husband and I decided for our own family, for our own personal reasons, that does not mean I am judging you that your toddler has an I Pad in the grocery store, or that your 7 year old has their own phone. That is not the case AT ALL. We made a choice on limiting their devices because we saw what happened when our daughter had one when she was in 6th grade. It was like we lost her completely. She constantly had her face in her phone, she was always moody, her attitude went from a fun loving 6th grade girl, to a girl who was tip toeing with a very severe case of depression. We made the choice at the end of 7th grade to take said phone away, and we never looked back. That one got me mean mom of the year! I graciously accepted my award, and thanked her for the nomination. I also thank my son who is now in 6th grade for a second nomination when he came to us asking for a phone, and we both laughed and laughed through our absolutely not. One thing I do want to say is that it is also okay to take a device away, to check devices, and to monitor your child! You may feel like you are invading their privacy, but from a personal standpoint, seeing what your children are doing, talking about, or what apps they are on may save their life. The rule in this house now is, if you can pay for it, you can have it. We stick to our guns on this and they are all thriving and surviving very well without it. I personally believe that our children are loosing their sense of wonder and imagination at a younger and younger age due to the push of devices, but again, this is my own personal feeling, do what works best for your family. But, do not think your child will not thrive if they do not have the latest and best device out there. Or feel like they will be left out from their peer groups or from things that may hurt them socially. We allow our children to use our phones to chat or text when needed. We also allow them time on their Chrome Books from school to chat with friends if all homework is done for a certain period of time. I am here to tell you, they will be just fine. With that being said we also limit their games and game time. These things have to be earned in our house. You can earn game time by reading. For every minute your read, it is the amount of time you get to play your game (This is week nights only, as long as you had a good week, you can play as long as you want on the weekend). So if you come home, and read 30 minutes, you get 30 minutes of your game! This has actually really helped our middle son who was really struggling with reading. It gave him a reason to read, and now he loves to sit down with a book over grabbing the game counsel. He just got into Harry Potter, if I could tell you how proud that makes me! You can be the mean mom, but also a Potter fan, I know from experience.

Now that you know the top reasons why I am a mean mom, even though there are many many more, like my daughter loosing her bedroom door for 3 years after slamming it during a very lovely pre-teen meltdown one to many times, let’s talk about all of the above a little bit.

Our youngest started doing his own laundry at the age of 6, and he was supervised the first few times he did it to make sure he understood everything. If he had any questions about what to do, if he needed help learning the buttons, or how to fold, we were there right next to him to encourage him and teaching him. I know I have said it a few times in this post but you can not expect your children just to know how to do things, this is not to set them up for failure, this is to set them up to flourish. Even our 15 year old at times has questions about a chore, or laundry, or why oh why they didn’t have a door. Questions are good! We encourage it!

It is okay as a parent to not be liked by your kids at all times. It is okay to tell your children no, it is okay to set certain expectations, and to have consequences. It is okay to hold your kids accountable for their actions when they do something wrong. All of these things are okay, and will not cause your little one to run away, resent you, or hate you later in life. It will help them grow, and learn, and it will help them to learn a little more about the adult world, because in the adult world it is not all rainbows and sunshine. We have family and friends who joke and laugh at the way we run our house at times. They call it “Bootcamp”, they will even say to their own kids, you better stop talking back to me or I will send you to “Bootcamp”. This actually upsets me at times because I did not know teaching your children how to do simple life skills is now considered military training? But, hey, when my kids enter the cruel, cold world of adulting, they will have a better understanding on what they are capable of to make it. They will be in college, and able to get their laundry done, apartments clean, cook a good meal, and how to be socially present for their friends, and for their academics. Because obviously that is all my little angels will be doing in college, right?

There are things we as parents really need to do to raise successful adults, being their parent and not their friend is #1 in my eyes. That does not mean that they are not loved or encouraged every single day. It does mean they understand what is expected of them to make a successful household and to become successful people. And they take pride in their work when it is done! My daughter actually just rolled her eyes at me the other day because I walked across her clean floor! I will take that eye roll any day! Always remember, being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but being a child in today’s society is equally hard, so make sure you are not only teaching your children, you are also listening to them, because listening to them will help relieve the nominations of meanest parent in the world, most days at least. Hope everyone has a great week!

What are some chores you do around your house, or what qualifies you as the mean parent this week?! Comment below!!

Beginning 2019 With A Grateful Heart

It is hard to believe that another new year is upon us. I feel the older I get the faster the years fly by. It seems just like yesterday I was a carefree child, climbing trees, and exploring the world around me. I have never been an individual who really stuck to my new years resolutions. I would always make a goal, and be really on track until a few weeks later, the ambitious me would fizzle out, and old habits would come back faster than they left.

Two years ago New Years was a whole different world. I was in love with the man of my dreams, we had a brand new beautiful baby boy, we were living on cloud nine. We celebrated the New Year with friends and family at the house. We drank, danced, sang, and all yelled Happy New Year with excitement on what the future year would bring us. A few days later, that excitement would fizzle out, and our new reality would hit us harder than anyone would have expected.

As many of you know our son Nico passed away after a 7 week very courageous battle of a very rare genetic disorder. My new year was spent wondering the hospital halls, living every day in what I call my own personal hell. I watched my son go from a healthy beautiful 2 month old baby, to being hooked up to so many machines they had to give us the biggest room on the floor to fit them all in. He went from smiling, laughing and learning the world around us, to being incubated with a breathing tube, put into a medically induced coma to help keep him calm, and pumped full of so many various medications, just to keep him alive. On February 11, 2017, that journey ended, and we said goodbye to our sweet baby boy. What was supposed to be the happiest year of our lives turned into our nightmare, one that so many parents experience, and one that would forever change our little world we had built.

Loosing a child is something that no one should have to go through, but it is an experience after talking with so many people, that happens more often than it should. But, with that, we pulled ourselves together, and we continued on our path to happiness. I always said 2017 was the worst year of my life, but it ended as one of the best, I got to marry my best friend. Our wedding day was full of love and laughter, it was exactly the day that so many of us needed.

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Nico was born with a very rare genetic disorder, only 10 kids in the world had it, and with the form he had, he was the first. This disorder was always fatal, some kids lived into their teen years, but most of them lost their battles before the age of 18. We were advised very strongly by everyone in the medical field to never have any more kids. So we took that advice, and well, we got pregnant again (OOPS). I remember after the wedding I was thinking to myself trying to remember the last time mother natures monthly arrival had come. I was so wrapped up in work, our three older children, and wedding planning that I had completely forgot that it had not come that month. I remember thinking to myself “No way, God would not do this to us, he would not put us through this again” and as I sat in the bathroom shaking with the lovely test in my hand, and the words “PREGNANT” came on the little screen, I just started laughing. I may have said a few choice words along with it, but all I could do was laugh.

My husband and I talked for a very long time that night about our plan. We knew the odds were against us, but we were also very hopeful that maybe, just maybe this was the miracle we so desperately needed. We came to a joint decision, that no matter what, we would keep the baby. Because in our minds, even though Nico was very sick, he also knew he was very loved. So if this baby only makes it a few months in this world, he will be loved every single day, and that is not something I would take away from this tiny little bean growing inside me, I would not take away the feeling of being loved.

I went to the first doctor appointment like a deer in the headlights, we went through all our medical history, all of Nico’s medical history, and the first words out of the Dr’s mouth after reading over Nico’s chart was “I would terminate this pregnancy”. My husband and I together said “Absolutely not”. So our new journey began that day. Specialists, tests, ultra sound after ultra sound, conversation after conversation of the risks involved of allowing this child to be born. Every time a new Dr. would enter the picture the same conversation would happen: “Are you sure you want to continue this, there is such a small chance this child will be healthy” and as all good Dumb and Dumber fans will unite on “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”

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We started the year 2018 in a whole new ball game then a short year before. We were broken-hearted, we were unsure of our future, we were holding on to a slim chance that this year would be our year. One thing though, one thing that was the same, was we were in love, and that was all we needed at that time. The first week of the New Year we were scheduled for our Amniostesis, this test would be able to tell us if the little guy kicking me nightly would have the same genetic disorder that is a big brother in heaven had, so we started our New Year with the same helplessness and uncertainty the year before had brought us. The results would take weeks to get in, and let me tell you, waiting to hear if the child you are carrying would even make it, is one of the most gut wrenching feelings anyone could bear. We didn’t buy anything for the new baby, we hadn’t started the nursery, I could not bring myself to even enjoy the pregnancy, to allow myself to connect to this tiny human growing inside me.

The week of the one year anniversary of our first sons death, my phone rang on the way home from work. I was driving, totally exhausted from a very long day, I saw the number pop up on my phone, and my heart sank. This was it, this was the call. I actually thought about cancelling it out and calling back later. I had gone over the scenario in my had so many times. I picked up the phone, answered “Hello?” “Mrs. Petrucci, this is the genetic team, we have your results.” I don’t think I took a breath, what was probably seconds seemed like hours as I waited for the words. When you are what I like to call “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all” you always assume the worst. “You better start preparing, because you are going to have a perfectly healthy baby boy”. I was at a stop light and immediately burst into tears. I looked over to my right and as my luck would have it, a police officer was pulled up right next to me. I had answered the call on my phone and I knew I was about to get pulled over. It is my luck after all. He had been watching me, and then saw that I was sobbing uncontrollably and probably thought, he was not going to deal with that crazy today.

From that point on, the darkness lifted. We began to plan, we started buying baby items. We even picked out the name. On June 4th, 2018, we welcomed our healthy baby boy into our family. He was perfect. He was absolutely perfect.

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We spent the rest of 2018 cooing and gushing over this absolute miracle that we were given. As each month passed, new milestones were hit, and he began to grow into the chunky little meatball he is today, the feeling of gratitude started really building in my soul.

I have always been a gracious person, but I have also been somewhat a selfish person too. I never really took the time to really stop and look at the blessings around me. I always just assumed those blessings were deserved because of the things I had gone through in the past. I had this mentality that one bad thing should equal one good thing in life, Karma right? But that was just a horrible mentality to have. Because anytime something bad happens in your life, you are looking around for the next good thing. But you are not grateful for the good, or accepting of the bad. You do not grow through the good and the bad when that mentality is who you are.

So this year instead of making a resolution on loosing weight, eating clean, on being off social media more, stop comparing myself to others, all the other resolutions I had made in the past that always fizzled out after a week or two, my resulution was to work on being grateful for what I have, and accepting of what I do not. It is easy when you lose a child to always compare certain memories on “What if”. What if they were here, or “what could have been”. It is easy to forget the good that you still have in your life, even if your life is not what you had originally planned it to be.

So this year for the year 2019 I am going to spend my year with a grateful heart. Gratful for my husband, grateful for my 4 amazing healthy children, grateful for the roof over our heads, the laundry that needs to be done, the dishes that need to be done, the people and family we have in our lives, the life that we have built together, for the money that is in the bank account even if it is a very small amount some months, the clothes in our closets, the fact that even though we only had less than 4 months with our angel, we still got time to show him love.

Having a grateful heart is something I think we all really need to work on. In the world today with so much fake, realizing what you have is very hard. I still find myself comparing my body, my life, my reality to others. But, when I start self-doubting I remember that this year I need to be grateful. I am greatful my body has carried 5 babies, I am greatful my life is what I have made it, and that even though the person I am comparing myself to may seem to have a better life, maybe they are looking at mine and comparing themselves to me with the same feelings.

“Expressing gratitude for the miracles in your world is one of the best ways to make each moment of your life a special one”

What are some things you are grateful for this year?