The Exquisite Maternal Martyr

parenting tweens, poor parenting

Let Them Eat Cake!

“Alright fine, let’s just go! No one wants to be here anyway, so let’s just go home and all get on our electronic devices in separate rooms so we don’t actually have to interact ever again!”

Oh yes, that was me.

I’d wrangled Henry and our tween daughters, Clare and Bridget, out of the house on Saturday, and all the way down to Venice Beach in an attempt to create Family Memories not connected to computers or television sets.

But, I had no idea that I had expectations.

I didn’t realize I had a lot riding on this little family jaunt to Venice Beach, right up until the moment we arrived and nobody wanted to eat in the same restaurant.

Bridget only wanted ice cream and Clare really didn’t want to be there, because about 90% of the drug addicts and mental institution escapees congregate at Venice Beach juggling their buzz saws, blasting “Ice Ice Baby” from a boombox on their lap as they do wheelies in their electric wheelchairs, making sweet “Jesus Saves” love to their hand-megaphones.

All while reeking of camphor, hemp, Mary Jane and patchouli oil.

Apparently, I really needed every one of us to revel in the euphoric bliss of being at the ocean on a gloriously sun-drenched So. Cal. day.

The second the girls began to mope, this other entity seemed to take me over. We shall call her — The Exquisite Maternal Martyr.

This is what she said in my head:

You do everything for these ingrates; you throw them Hawaiian fucking Luau birthday parties! You attend every softball/soccer game and really try not to yell embarrassing encouragement. You watch American Idol with them and even vote for their favorite singer afterwards. You, you, you, …. are just like your mom.

I’ll never forget the time my mom, Gini, was driving my sister and me to Mervyn’s for our annual September school clothes shopping trip.

Gina and I must’ve done something (I can’t remember what), because suddenly our mom became The Exquisite Maternal Martyr.

All the way down to Mervyn’s she scowled at us in the rearview mirror and reminded us of all the things she did for us (I blocked those out as well), and how annoyed she was to have to take us school shopping when we obviously didn’t appreciate any of her efforts.

There. On Venice Beach. Watching the slumped shoulders of my daughters and the vague sense of terror in my husband’s eyes as I threw my conniption fit, I had a lot of empathy for my mom.

We didn’t realize how much she did for us way back then, and she probably didn’t realize it either, until she was reminded by our ingratitude when she was just about to do one more nice thing for us.

I tried to get a handle on my seemingly irrational feelings down there at the shore.

I took a little walk to give myself a talking to. I realized from the outside I probably looked a lot like the tattoo lady with the missing legs (could they have been severed by the buzz saw guy?) talking to herself.

I couldn’t understand where this irrational Exquisite Maternal Martyr had come from?

I like to think I’m pretty fun, pretty calm, pretty self-deprecating and really loving.

Could this be the perfect storm of my impending menopause clashing with my daughters’ incipient puberty? Do other mothers have these irrational episodes?? (Do you?)

I had no answers. And I still don’t. But after about 10 minutes of cooling down, I rejoined my family for lunch and bit-by-bit apologized for my guilt-tripping.

I was apologized to, in return, and we managed to have a good family day after that.

Her highness The Exquisite Maternal Martyr still lurks, but if I feed her enough chocolate she seems content to remain a sleeper cell.

Do you have outbursts with your kids or exhibit poor parenting skills? And what do you do afterwards? (If you don’t have outbursts, make some up).


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  1. Carol Cassara
    Carol Cassara 14 April, 2014, 09:21

    Maybe the trick is to ask them what might be a good family outing–give them choices–perhaps. Or maybe not. ;0

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 14 April, 2014, 09:40

      Carol of course you are right. Which is why today they’ve chosen to watch tv and I’m not fighting it. But tomorrow we’re going horseback riding if I have to use an electric cattle prod to get them out of the house!

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  2. Doreen McGettigan
    Doreen McGettigan 14 April, 2014, 09:35

    My husband and I just offered to take our 5 adult kids and their families to Florida for a week this summer because I want to experience Disney with my grandkids. Only one of my daughters wants to go.
    They want to do the same Jersey shore vacay we always do.
    It doesn’t get easier. Sigh.

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  3. Rosie Carrillo
    Rosie Carrillo 14 April, 2014, 09:40

    Experiencing VERY similar scenarios lately, but my persona is “Marital Martyr”. I really have to work to modulate the voice, and refrain from hurling the nearest objects at hand. Kids are said to go through the “Terrible Twos”, the Senile Seventies are worse, perhaps. 🙂

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  4. DeanaCal
    DeanaCal 14 April, 2014, 11:17

    Totally off the subject, but I just got nostalgic for Mervyn’s. sniff!

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  5. TJ
    TJ 15 April, 2014, 05:43

    I’m with Rosie. My husband had surgery and a LONG recovery, meaning he couldn’t work, for many months. I had to constantly tamp down the crazy. How could he annoy me, whine or not do something I asked of him? Did he not realize how hard I was working to support us? How long my commute was while he watched The View? How it sucked doing all the errands, cooking, cleaning, laundry and major house upkeep? ALL BY MYSELF? Ugh, I hated feeling that way. Obviously, I need to feel appreciated. Just treat me like I’m the most awesome wife, ever, and all will be fantastic!

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 15 April, 2014, 08:32

      TJ, yes, that seems about right. Massages and chocolate really should be dispensed hourly.

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  6. Lisa
    Lisa 15 April, 2014, 06:13

    First of all, I’m glad you shopped at Mervyn’s too. How did that gem ever go out of business? My son is only 1.5 yrs, but I already lose my mind when he goes through phases of “Dad rocks; Mom sucks”. I recently weaned him (at 20 months, I’m SUCH a monster) and am realizing he may be one more man who just loved me for my boobs.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 15 April, 2014, 08:31

      Hi Lisa — Aka perkystitis (love it), 1.5 can be a real bitch. So far I think 7 is the best number, but after that all bets are off.

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  7. Doug Smith
    Doug Smith 18 April, 2014, 07:30

    Cute story. Truth be told, I opened it up mainly because of the snapshot with all of the colors. It looks festive. Shame no jugglers or anyone like that.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 18 April, 2014, 08:56

      We definitely needed jugglers, and fire breathers. And I suppose a sall monkey.

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  8. Melissa
    Melissa 22 April, 2014, 18:49

    That’s why I honestly can’t see myself having kids. I am not fond of them in general, but don’t really know what the future holds.
    Maybe it helps reading stuff like this, who knows, LOL. I imagine it must be rough, but you can’t help it; you do all you can do to satisfy them and they can’t but do what’s in their nature as kids, complain.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 25 April, 2014, 11:01

      Hey Melissa — it IS in kids’ nature to complain. I try to be in acceptance, but also want to smite them with a cattle prod.

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  9. BeverlyHillsMom
    BeverlyHillsMom 11 October, 2014, 23:42

    I frequently refer to other people’s children as “little bastards” to other parents. It’s something I really need to work on, but I notice that no one ever disagrees with me.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 12 October, 2014, 11:26

      BeverlyHillsMom I think you show restraint when you use “little bastards,” I tend to veer more toward little motherf*&kers. Sigh.

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