I run this motherfucker like Cleopatra. Until my kid shits everywhere. Then I'm dethroned.They say bossy girls get shit done. And I agree. I have always thrived on being the boss. To be honest, few things in life give me more pleasure than telling other people what to do.

Growing up I, like lots of little girls, often played house (of course I was always the mom, telling everyone else what to do). When I grew tired of house, I transitioned to playing school (where I was obviously the teacher, also telling everyone what to do).

As an adult, I achieved my childhood dream by becoming a real life grownup teacher—the giver of As through Fs for 100 students. With a stroke of my red pen, I could determine a walk across the stage at graduation. Or summer school. I was drunk with power.

Well into adulthood, my obsessive compulsive tendencies were allowed to flourish. Saturdays were for laundry and scrubbing the apartment spotless. Sundays were for grocery shopping and cooking. No deviation from this plan was permitted. Towels were color-coded in the linen closet, folded into perfectly symmetrical rectangles. Shoes were lined up on the shoe rack immediately upon entry. The bed was always made. Nary a speck of dust could be found. If it sounds a little OCD, it was. But I was the boss, so it was okay.

Then I had children.

You know where this is going.

Motherhood meant I was on my way to achieving my other childhood dream. Like in teaching, I’d get to be the boss of people all the time, I thought.

Like a fool.

And truth be told, as I look back on the past 9 years of being a mom, I think I was slowly stripped of my crown a little bit each day. I fought a good fight, though. I clung to each last bit of control with a death grip.

Once I stopped teaching and became a stay-at-home mom, I ran a playgroup with 75+ moms. I taught Sunday School. And Vacation Bible School. I was room parent—class party planner extraordinaire.

I was endlessly searching for ways to be in charge. Because at home, I was not.

I was coming to terms with the reality that the greatest joke to pull on a woman with control issues is to give her kids.

My epiphany came on a day of frustration, yelling, door-slamming, and time-outs. I had asked my son to put his toys away. Much to my dismay, he looked me right in the eye and said, “No thanks.”

“What just happened?” I thought. “Does he not know who I am? Does he not know how this works?”

I literally pointed my finger at myself and shouted “I AM THE BOSS!” as I sadly realized the truth. A real boss doesn’t have to tell everyone that she’s the boss. There I was, 7 years old again, telling the other girls in the neighborhood to sit down and practice their letters while they laughed and ran away to play Barbies.

However, even then, I wasn’t quite ready to wave the white flag of defeat. I could reclaim that crown. I WOULD reclaim that crown. The boss doesn’t quit!

Well folks, turns out she does. I’m here today to confess that the boss is tired. I’m done fighting for my title. Despite my room-mom status and shoe racks and color-coded towels, there is truly one aspect of motherhood I am not the boss of. And it’s killing me. But it’s true.

I am a mother. And I am not the boss of poop.

There, I said it. That’s the first step, right?

It has take me nine years to accept this reality, but I think it’s time.

I am not the boss of when poop emerges from my children’s bodies.

I am not the boss of where they are when it comes out—like sitting in a church pew, or jumping in a bouncy house, for example.

I am not the boss of little hands trying to clean up after said poop, or even better, “hiding” it.

I am not the boss when I see my child’s eyes, wide with terror, across the room at a birthday party, and I know the “get there in time” window of opportunity has closed.

I am not the boss of poop floaters in the bath. I am especially not the boss when I watch in horror as it begins to disintegrate while I frantically try to grab it.

I am not the boss when poop falls out of tiny butts and rolls away. I am not the boss as I search on my hands and knees for a poop ball that rolled under the bathroom vanity and I wonder how in the hell this is my life.

I am not the boss when I check my child’s swim diaper every 90 seconds for fear that we will be the family causing the “pool is temporarily closed” announcement over the loudspeaker.

I am not the boss when I am unclogging a toilet for the 3rd time in one day.

I am not the boss when I am at the park with my kids where the nearest bathroom is a 10-minute walk. And I say, “Can you make it in time?” and the response is, “Probably not, Mommy.”

And I am definitely not the boss when that same child tells the cashier at Target about her park mishap later on that afternoon.

Finally, I am not the boss when I do the chocolate or poop test upon finding a brown stain on my clothes, and the verdict is “not chocolate.”

So, I’m here today to confess my truth. I’ve been overthrown. My crown has been usurped by my children’s bodily functions. Despite my exhausting efforts, I am, in fact, not the boss of this.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go cook up some dinner, put some shoes back on the shoe rack, and of course, fold some towels.

Like a boss.

This post was originally read at the 2017 Listen to Your Mother Show in Kansas City. 

Summer Camps: What the F*#k?!

There she is, your proud daughter, showing off her skills at f-ing TREE CLIMBING CAMP.

I am often reminded about the many luxuries 21st century moms have that make our lives easier than the lives of our mothers and grandmothers. Like, for instance, my mother did not have a baby monitor — not even one with JUST sound. A video monitor?! Not even fathomable. Also, and this one floors me, she did not have the luxury of baby wipes! What the hell did she use to wipe our butts? (Never mind our hands, faces, arms, church clothes, spills in the car…) I sort of don’t want to know what she used / how she wiped our butts though, so let’s move on.

Despite the fact that mommies of today have mini-vans with back-up cameras and doors that open automatically, what’s inside those vans proves my next point. Although mommies of today have it a lot easier, things are a hell of a lot more complicated for us as well. Check out our car seats! They weigh 30 lbs, require a 2-hour training course on installation, and our kids need to be in them until they leave for college. Compared to the 1980s… you know the scene: rolling around in the “way back” of the station wagon. Not buckled. Certainly NOT in a car seat unless you were a baby. Or you were in the front seat, where you were allowed to fiddle with the radio. (MAYBE your car had a cassette player. Fancy!)

Lives of mommies of decades past were harder, but they were also simpler. This has never been more apparent to me than in the past month as I finally began the arduous process of deciding on summer camps. Holy crap! People! Seriously with the summer camps??!!

Growing up, we went to summer camp. It was free. It was called: Go outside and play. Come back when hungry. Full? Good. Go back outside and play. And repeat.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a mom, I am a fan of the summer camp. The idea of having a place to park my kids for a few hours every day for a week… sounds marvelous. So let’s do this. I start with my town’s Parks and Recreation camp catalogue. I am instantly overwhelmed. There are, of course, baseball camps, soccer camps, arts and crafts camps, and even the dreaded dodgeball camp. However, did you know that there are also camps like these?

Fencing Camp (like, the sport of fencing)
Tree Climbing Camp
Jedi Stunt Training Camp
Frozen Princess Camp
Taylor Swift Music Camp
Video Game Camp
Fiesta! Camp (a.k.a. foreign language camp)

I mean, are you kidding??!! Tree climbing CAMP?!

Also, as I quickly learned, there are camps through my town’s Parks and Rec department. There are also camps available to me through the neighboring 5 towns’ Parks and Rec departments. And finally, and this is the fattest catalogue of them all, our entire county has its OWN Parks and Rec camps. And those are JUST those run through all of the Parks and Rec departments! It seems there are also 2,523 privately run camps within a 30 mile radius of my house.

I spent more time than I will admit agonizing over which camp to put my children in, but we finally made our choices (one of which IS, in fact, Jedi Stunt Training Camp).

As I nostalgically think of my simple, happy, carefree childhood, I like to think of what summer camps for girls would have looked like in the 80s. Here is my list:

Jem and the MisFits Camp
Rainbow Bright Camp
Punky Brewster Camp
Proper French-rolling of Pants Camp
Hair Crimping Camp
Cabbage Patch Dolls Camp
Hungry Hungry Hippos Camp

(I would have kicked ass at French-rolling of Pants Camp.)

If you have kids of different genders, you may have noticed how differently they feel about the ridiculousness that is Valentines Day.Ah, yes. February 14. St. Valentine, the patron saint of making everyone feel loved (or unloved) and riddled with anxiety that they’ll disappoint their significant other. Like many aspects of parenting, this day is viewed quite differently in my house—a house where both boys and girls live. Here’s the breakdown of how to prepare, celebrate, and react to this ridiculous super special meaningful holiday if you’re a girl vs. a boy.

(Warning: stereotypes ahead. It’s okay. Have a chuckle.)

Valentines Day Prep

If you have kids, chances are you’ve helped them make the “box.” It’s supposed to be a cute receptacle in which other kids’ valentines can be delivered. Here’s how that goes.

Boys:

Materials needed: shoebox and one crayon

Refuse to acknowledge a box is needed until 7 pm the night before.

Write name on shoebox with one crayon. Say “I’m done.”

Girls:

Materials needed: several shoeboxes (to allow for practice runs and/or errors in sticker placement), 3 bottles of glue (plain), 3 bottles of glue (glitter), 5 sticker sheets, ream of shiny “fancy paper”, markers, crayons, colored pencils, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, pom-poms (small, medium, and large), magical fairy dust, 5 strands of unicorn hair, gas for 3 trips to Michaels

Painstakingly construct box and create elaborate design over a period of 52 hours.

Cry because it’s not perfect.

Make it again. And again.

Purchasing and Addressing of Valentines 

You also must either purchase or make 20+ valentines in preparation for the “big exchange.” Your boy(s) might be a tad underwhelmed by this task in comparison to your girl(s).

Boys:

Scan shelves of valentines for 3.5 seconds. Make choice. Ask if we are all done. Once you’ve returned home, quickly write your classmates’ names in barely legible chicken scratch. Upon the completion of the final name, beg to play Minecraft.

Girls:

Spend 90 minutes poring over the valentines selection at Target. After 60 minutes, have your choices narrowed down to 3. Finally make your decision with slow, deep breaths.

Address each valentine in hot pink marker with curly-q lettering. Use a heart each time you have to dot an i. Fasten each one closed with a perfectly aligned heart sticker and dab of glitter. Hum with merriment throughout entire process.

Valentines Day Attire

Your teachers may even suggest festive colors like red, pink or white. The appropriate responses to this are as follows.

Boys:

Wear whatever shirt / pant combo is on the top layer of your dresser drawer. When your mother suggests you change into something red, shrug and grunt.

Girls:

The night before the big event, lay out every pink shirt / skirt / dress / leggings / hair bow / necklace / bracelet / socks combination on your bedroom floor. Choose outfit and accessories and then change your mind 865 times.

Post-Valentines Day Response

Once the festivities have commenced and you return home after school, your offspring of different genders may react slightly differently with their newfound loot in hand.

Boys:

Detach any candy or other “cool” stuff that is worthy of keeping like tattoos or glow sticks. Throw everything else away by 4:00 that afternoon.

Girls:

Seal each and every valentine in a special keepsake box to be kept for all eternity. When your mother attempts to discard them 6 months later, shriek in horror because they are all “so, so special.” Even the one from that nameless boy you’ve never played with.

And that’s how you celebrate Valentines Day if you’re a girl. (And how to barely acknowledge it, if you’re a boy.)