My name is Denise, and I’m a Mean Mom.
That’s the very first line of my book, Mean Moms Rule. Let me explain the “mean” for you, in case you were under the impression that I never hug my boys (I possibly do this too much, as evidenced by the fact that they routinely try to wiggle away from my embraces and especially my sloppy kisses, the urchins), or that I advocate for children to work in coal mines (it’s illegal! Plus, no coal mines in my area!). I say “mean” because my approach often bucks the prevailing parenting trend, which you could call helicopter-y or indulgent (I prefer my own technical term, “squishy”). It’s mean because it’s not easy. Because it’s focused on the end game, not the here-and-now (and anyone who has kids’ll tell you, they are all about the here and now).
I love my children in the natural, elemental, unspoken way that most mothers do. But just as love alone is not enough to sustain a lasting marriage, it’s also not enough to raise children into independent, competent adults – progeny to be proud of. You need a plan. And it’s been my plan, from day one, to be the kind of mother who keeps her eyes on the prize of parenthood, which is to say, the good kids.
From my own mother, the Original Mean Mom, I inherited a relentlessly practical nature. That plus my mile-wide stubborn streak make me ill-suited to be a loosey-goosey parent. I like schedules and order. I like to be in charge (but please note: in charge is not the same as autocratic. It’s just that someone needs to have her hands on the wheel). I don’t want to be my kids’ friends.
I’ve heard tell that my kids are good kids, which is satisfying to hear (then there are the times they’re decidedly not, but that’s another story). I can’t take all the credit for that, but credit isn’t what I’m after. I’m after growing my boys up to stand on their own two feet, to use their own fine minds, to not need me anymore (see? Mean). I’m after adding two more good men and good citizens and independent people to a world that, it looks like, needs them.