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You Know You've Hit a New Parenting Low When ...

Photograph by Twenty20

I'm almost positive that no matter how many parenting classes I take, I am still operating at about 80 percent Suck-Ass Parent and 20 percent Kinda-OK Parent. Sometimes we have to sit alone in our parenting shame, cursing ourselves in the dark, or over two to three pints of Ben and Jerry's, still in the dark. Other times, our parenting lows are mirrored back to us by the very subjects of our shitty mistakes: our kids. Behold some of my latest doozies.

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1. Your kid has to tell you, "Uh, Mom, this is the part where you're supposed to hug me."

It was my job as the grown up to provide comfort, solace and safety; yet it took my daughter informing me of this to wake me up.

Yes folks, this actually happened. Aria, 9, had to look up at me with her brown eyes bigger than the yummiest chocolate donuts, after yet another daily riff where apologies and tears ensued, to inform me of my parenting protocol. I was supposed to go in for a hug. I was supposed to pull her in to make her feel better. It was my job as the grown up to provide comfort, solace and safety; yet it took my daughter informing me of this to wake me up. Did I really not know this? Or can I dig into an even deeper, darker place of self-honesty and admit that I may have indeed known, had felt the impulse, the call to nurture, but for some reason stopped myself and held back? I quickly said, "Oh, yes, yes! A hug! You are so right! Here I come. Ah. Hug." I am still feeling sick about this fail.

2. Your kids say, "Then why did you have us?"

Is there really any more needed here? If ever there was a testament to letting your kids know you're an asshole of the highest order, it's when they ask you why you gave birth to them if you're going to complain about them all the time. Nothing says "parenting imposter" than when you're called out for being a fake by your own kids. This happened twice in the past month.

3. You finish your kids Halloween candy and say you gave it to the homeless.

Well this one was obvious. I can't exactly let my kids know that I dabble in compulsive overeating, oh say, every other day. I have to keep it cool, under the radar. I can't let on what a weird pig I am, pillaging their hard-earned candy. So this past November 1, when a pound or two or three of their fresh Halloween treats were suddenly non-existent, I told them I had dropped it off at the corner bus stop for the local homeless dude who hangs out there. No words.

4. You throw out their toys and say you gave it to the homeless.

My kids both have dads they share the week with. This gives me the perfect opportunity to throw out their shit when they're not looking. Lately I have a litmus test of what to dump. I leave large buckets of random toys in the hallway. If they are not touched after two weeks, I dump it. If they ask where something is, I tell them that we dropped off some toys for the poor homeless kids who have no toys, and they can feel good knowing their old toys are putting smiles on the faces of kids who live in shelters. Why don't I just actually give the toys to the homeless? Remember: These are new lows.

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5. You lie to get out of things.

You lie about not being able to attend a school function when you really just don't want to miss your favorite spin class. You're too lazy to read all the school emails and lie when you forget to bring in photos for a class project, a signed field trip waiver or food contribution for Thanksgiving feast.

6. Your kid gives you a "safe word" to let you know you're being difficult.

My daughter's is "red shoes." (Get it? Like the Wicked Witch.) For example if I start complaining with a bad tone, she goes, "Mom, RED SHOES!"

(Oh. I found this on my white board in my office today.)

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