Why am I the bad cop?

Why am I the bad cop? October 25, 2011

It was a rough weekend.

At one point, after a day of bickering and wrangling with 2 out of 3 kids, one of them went up to Scott, hugged him, and said, “Good night Dad, I love you!” and stalked off ignoring me.

“Why do I get to be the bad parent?” I demanded.

Meanwhile, the other kid kept referring to me as “she,” as in “SHE is making my life miserable.”

“Don’t call your mother ‘she,’ that’s disrespectful,” said my dear husband.

“Well SHE deserves it.”

He spoke strongly with that child who finally stooped to calling me Mom, and then hugged and kissed Dad goodnight without a further look at me.

Did I say it was a hard weekend?

My friend Tara says its what you get for being a mom.  This is the same friend, famous for her love of well heated homes, who insisted on sleeping in a tent with her husband and 2 boys in 40 degree weather even though I offered her a warm bed AND private room at our over-crowded fall retreat.  “I refuse to be the un-fun mom,” she said, “I’m going to sleep in that tent so the boys will remember me as the type of mom who slept in a tent with them.”

Knowing Mom luck, they’ll remember that super-fun tent night all right.  They just won’t remember Mom was freezing in there along with Dad.

As Mom, I am the quintessential presence in my kids’ lives.  I get to:

  • take them to the doctor
  • take them to the dentist (tomorrow at 3)
  • chastise them for eating junk snacks and not cleaning up after themselves after school
  • talk about the most recent bad math test grade and how they need to go talk to the teacher (which always leads to more conflict and more references to me as “she”)
  • take them shoe shopping
  • Read and sign almost all paperwork coming from the school
I really don’t understand that last responsibility.  When I’m out late, a kid will hand me some paper with a glare the next day and say, “You weren’t home to sign this!”
“You had another parent at home,” I’ll say, “Why didn’t you get him to sign it?”
But somehow it’s just not within their worldview or realm of possibility to think of Dad signing papers.
So I get to be the dirty work parent, and he gets to be the fun one.  Even though I take them out individually each week for “special time” (except when they’re knee deep in the musical like now), do they seem to remember or appreciate that?  Nope.  
Instead they remember that when I go out of town, Dad takes them out to dinner, finds friends to hang out with, and lets them have sodas with maraschino cherries in them.  
When I complained further to Scott about the inequities that I’m the bad cop, he reminded me of a study I learned about in a human development class.  Apparently, girls with the highest self-esteem and highest performance had pushy mothers who insisted on high achievement and fathers who loved them unconditionally.  I remembered that study, because that was my family of origin constellation.  Girls whose moms were their “best friends” had the lowest self-esteem and performance of all.
Well, I guess I won’t have to worry about that for my girls.  No chance of being their best friend.  
These days, I’m lucky to be “she.”
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