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.
Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart
An excerpt from my essay in this anthology of love, loss and everything in between:
“I have an engagement ring I love. The central stone, says the guy who appraised the antique my now-husband bought, was originally cut for another piece of jewelry, probably in the early part of last century. How long did the stone itself take to form? Hard to say. I understand just enough about geology to know that it takes millions of years for carbon, pressed deep into the earth, to turn into diamonds. And I also know that the same earth that produces the sparkly stones is not so solid. It’s on the move all the time, giant plates shifting under foot while we pretend it’s safe.”
Grab a copy from Amazon.
P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends
An excerpt from “What I Wish I’d Told You the Last Time I Saw You”
“After that quick visit, I never saw you again. (Except in my dreams, that is.) I haven’t even been to your grave yet,and I can no longer keep making the excuse that I’m here in New York (with my husband and two sons, none of whom you ever got a chance to meet, which feels like a big hole in my life — you’d love my husband), and you’re buried way up in Maine, near your parents’ cabin and that lovely lake. I wonder if it’s because going to that part of the world — which is just so beautiful — makes me think of the nagging, not-so-nice reason I didn’t see you more, devote more time to you, at the end. When you were dying.”
Find it on Amazon.