Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Four Ways I’m #Winning At Parenting

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It's like looking in a mirror...
It’s like looking in a mirror…


I like to think I’m a pretty good parent. I love those three kids more than anything in the world. I have spent the better part of 14 years doing all the things for them. You know, all the mom things. They are pretty lucky little shits if you ask me.

And I tell them that all the time. They are damn lucky to have me. I’m a pretty cool mom. And all the cool moms announce their coolness to their kids all the time, right? I’m pretty laid back. I really don’t sweat the little things. I don’t run my house like a Drill Instructor during Hell Week. We keep it simple. Do the basics, get good grades, work hard, do your chores, be nice. That’s it. Pretty cool, right?

But sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I do all the wrong things. Sometimes I feel bad about it. Not always, but sometimes. Because I like to keep it real with you guys, I’m going to peel back the curtain of this seemingly perfect little life I have and show you the real seedy underbelly that is MomsIsALittleCrayCray.

1. F Bombs and other awful things little ears shouldn’t hear. I say them.  Not ALL the time. But I don’t really practice self-editing. I’m not a complete potty mouth or anything, but let’s face it, there are frequent and varied occasions where the words just fly out of your mouth. When you run into a doorway. When you back into your husband’s car. When you show up just in time for the game and realize you’re at the wrong ball field. And your kid is starting pitcher. And it’s rush hour. Anyways, the point is I’m human and such situations elicit some choice verbiage. But they know the rules. I can curse, they can’t. I also exhibit tact and class and don’t curse in front of strangers or other children (at least not on purpose). I’m just saying that they’ve been exposed and some of their fist words were “Shit” and “Dammit.”

2. I have favorites. And I tell them. I will loudly whisper to one of my kids when the others are acting up “You know you’re my favorite.” I do this fairly and evenly. They each get a turn being mom’s angel. I like to keep them guessing and vying for favorite status. Nah, not really…  I’m simply trying to entertain myself with their expressions when they hear me say it to their sibling. It’s pretty damn funny. If you’ve never tried it with your kids I totally recommend it. It usually squashes whatever beef the other kids were fighting over and they become united in their hatred of you. In the meantime, the current favorite is giving you all kinds of cuddles with a smug look on their face and that makes you feel like an awesome mom.

3. I lie to them. Just on occasion. Usually just for fun. Sometimes for totally acceptable practical reasons (ex: “we’re all out of chocolate” as you hide a package of Reese’s cups in the freezer.) But I have a few on-going lies I tell my kids. One is that I used to be a famous pop star in Europe before they were born. I have embellished this one over the years to include my appearance on Top of the Pops and being hounded by the paparazzi. Recently, as I was belting out Rosanna (Toto, circa 1982) in the car, I responded to my daughter’s eye roll with “People used to pay good money to hear me sing!” I tell them I gave it all up to get married and have kids (a little martyrdom is always useful in parenting). The best part of this lie is that I have the worst singing voice ever. Like, my babies have cried when I would sing them lullabies. My husband has threatened to divorce me when I sing in the car. But they all kind of bought in to the lie at some point. You know how kids believe everything their parents tell them? I was just having a little bit of fun with that power.

4. They look like homeless kids. I try. I really do. But I don’t put a ton of emphasis on what they look like. I could care less if my kids look like they just walked off of a GapKids ad. But it would be nice if they didn’t look like they lived in a hovel. My teen wears basketball shorts and a pullover hoodie every day. He doesn’t take the hoodie off, so I’m sure his teachers think he has one shirt. Just yesterday I insisted that he wear jeans to school since it was like -80 degrees outside. (Kidding. I live in the SouthEast, it was more like 35 degrees. But still, soooo cold.) It was a battle but I won. He ended up going to school in jeans that were two inches too short. Oops. I just bought them a month ago and he grew out of them. Sorry kid. A little bullying about your high-waters will just build character.

Also, yesterday my five year old decided to pull out her hair bow in carpool line because she wanted to “fixth it and make it pretty.” My daughter wakes up every day with hair like Nick Nolte’s mug shot. It takes a lot of work to tame it. Guess who she went to school looking like yesterday? I don’t think it was “Dress Up Like Washed Up Druggie Actor” Day, so… yeah.


So, before you all start clamoring for me to write a book on the art of parenting, I’ll run down a quick list of other not completely awful but not exactly June Cleaver moments: I refuse to do the whole Elf on the Shelf thing, I don’t go eat lunch with them at school (when did this become a thing? I eat every other meal with them!), I let them play video games, I introduced them to the classic Schweddyy Balls bit on SNL, we have watched this over and over, I force them to adopt a British cockney accent when they want something from me, I have forced them to follow up a request with “Please beautiful Mommy” and I frequently and lovingly refer to them as “little shits.”

And because I feel the need to counter all these flaws, lest you think I’m Mommy Dearest, let me assure you my kids are loved and are ridiculously showered with affection. Some might say they are a little spoiled. My husband and I are hard on them when it comes to the important stuff like school and respect and hard work. But other than that? We try to have fun with our kids. We laugh a lot. They seem to want to be around us all the time. (Seriously, aren’t kids supposed to want to be far, far away from their parents? Stay tuned for a future post about Helicopter Kids…)

What I’m saying is we’re not perfect, but who wants perfect parents? Kids need something to complain about. I’m doing them a favor by embracing my flaws and allowing some imperfection to creep into what is otherwise pretty stellar parenting. You’re welcome, kids. I can’t wait to rock this tee this Mother’s Day…


Are you an awesome parent too? What mean/crazy/silly things do you to your kids? Are you totally singing Rosanna to yourself right now? Should I be saving for their future therapy? Tell me what you REALLY think…

34 Responses

  1. I love it! And I love that when I told Jett “Your Mama is crazy” he totally had your back and came to your defense! You, my friend, are truly an awesome mom. Love you girlie.

    1. Ha! We coulda had some fun, huh? I think there’s more like us out there. They are just feeling the pressure to be perfect… at least that’s what I like to tell myself! And here my son’s almost in high school and I’ve never once gone to a PTA meeting. That might be really crappy parenting now that I think about it. I like to think that if the schools around here weren’t overrun with parent volunteers I would show up and help. Honestly, if I were to go to help at a school I’d be more inclined to do it at an underserved school that desperately needs volunteers. A good friend of mine did that and said it was both heartbreaking and awesome. The kids were amazed that an adult other than a teacher or principle was helping out. Wow. I just got serious… sorry!

  2. I’m a brilliant Aunty, and when Niece and Neff see me from a distance, and they RUN at me and fling themselves into my arms, I lift them up and swirl them around and I don’t care WHO is watching. I love it.

    Your philosophy on parenting seems pretty well balanced. And teens are meant to be a bit grungy 🙂 Your kids are secure in their relationship with you and they know they’re loved to the moon and back. What more is there?

    1. I know you are an AMAZING Aunty! Those are a lucky couple of kids to have you! I love your Niece and Neff stories!

      I hope my parenting is balanced. My kids totally know when my husband and I are joking and being silly. I always hope that despite any and all mistakes we make that our love for them trumps all. What always scares me are the mistakes we may be making that we’re not even aware of. Those are the ones I lay awake worrying about… But basically they think that we’re a couple of goofballs. Tonight I was trying to convince the girls to choreograph a dance to Uptown Funk and to break out in it together in front of the guys at some random time, like when cooking dinner or something. They weren’t seeing my vision. I think it would be hilarious. Especially cause I dance almost as bad as I sing. They were having none of it… they don’t appreciate how much fun I am…

      1. I just try my best. I get the better deal really, in many ways, because I get to be The Fun One, who isn’t responsible for discipline or making them do their homework – I just get to indulge them and take them places and have fun and hug them a million times, and get them all gee’d up and manic (though sometimes I get told off for that. OK, OFTEN I get told off for that).

        The thing is, G, you CARE. You’re not parenting blindly, just doing whatever – you seem to be actively thinking about your parenting and assessing what works and what doesn’t. You’re picking your battles and always showing that you love them. You’re THINKING about it and striving to be the best mom you can be.

        Never mind pop star in Europe, *I* think you’re a ROCKSTAR right where you are now. Because parents like you give me hope, because you get it SO right.

        (And you’re loads of fun. But I think your kids are probably never going to realise…their loss!)

    1. Do your boys wear shorts to school even when it’s freezing cold? My son thinks it’s inhumane for me to make him wear jeans. And I only do it when it’s going to be below freezing. But I did feel really bad the other day when they were way small on him. (and the only reason I can pick a favorite is because they know I’m totally joking. They use it against each other and joke about it. Although I’m sure it will get used against me at some point when we get further into the teen years)

  3. (Also, I hate the Elf on the Shelf. Hate it. We have one of the damn things because my mom got it before we moved to New Orleans and Little Jedi was entranced, but we put almost zero effort/emphasis there. I think the thing is creeeeeepy.)

    1. Some of this my mom did to me growing up. Any time we’d be driving around town and see a local news van she’d sigh and say, “They’re following me again.” I actually believed that she was famous for a while. I do most of these things to amuse myself. The kids just think I’m a big dork. And yes, the Elf. I can’t stand him. He’s definitely creepy. And I can’t get on board with ONE MORE THING to do for the kids at Christmas time. I get in to all the other festivities but the Elf is just too much from me. This coming from the person who’s had to, on more than one occasion, explain that some times it takes the Tooth Fairy a few nights to show up because she’s so busy…

      1. There’s a lot that I do that I probably don’t need to, but Little Jedi is the only child, will be the only child. And he was a preemie. And he’s a sensitive fellow.

        But we do our share of silliness, too, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  4. 100 % totally agree with everything you said in this blog. The societal perception for parents, especially Moms to be this supermom , labors away from what truly matters in our kids live. Love, guidance, and letting them figure out who the hell they are. Serenity with themselves., If there is ONE thing I have fought my entire life, it’s NOT being at peace and loving myself. At 43, I am much much better at this “emotion”, and I just want to pass along to my children, the ability to LOVE THEMSELVES !!xoxox… loved this blog, love your blog. I hav e been so out of blogging, trying to write a book and for somereason I can’t blog , write a book and parent lol, xoxoxxo

    1. Yes! I know! I want my kids to get that way before they reach 40 years old like me! I’m just beginning to accept who I am and embrace it. I don’t want them to spend most of their lives fighting it! And I have never had illusions about the whole supermom thing, but the pressure still creeps on me occasionally.

      And kudos to writing a book. I don’t know how anyone does a book and a blog at the same time. I struggle with just one or two posts a week! When I do start working on my book I’m sure this blog will be neglected horribly! Keep me updated on the book progress!

  5. #4. All the time. In fact, I have referred to my children’s style as “homeless orphan chic” on many occasions. And I’m pretty on board with #1-3 as well. My husband is exceptional at #3. Exceptional.

    And yes, I’m totally singing Rosanna now.

  6. I love that! “Homeless Orphan Chic!” I’m going to start using that! I’ve told my son that the teachers at his school have probably started collecting spare change to buy him clothes. I used to fight him on the shorts but I gave up. And really, who cares what a 14 year old boy’s wearing? I think your husband and my husband would really get along. Maybe I’ll bring him when I show up on a Friday. Oh, and my kids too! They would get along too! This is starting to sound weird, like I’m Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female…

    And Rosanna! Isn’t that a great song? A GREAT one to sing at the top of your lungs in the car while your kids are captive, I mean, buckled in.

  7. You’re awesome, and an awesome mom, and I’m glad your kids appreciate that. I think “Helicopter Kids” would make an excellent parenting memoir, btw…or an indie family band…get on that! I definitely heard my share of swearing from the parents, and only once I got to college did I feel comfortable swearing around them too. My parents definitely got a stern talking-to about their language choices though when one day I got frustrated at my Christian preschool and yelled “God dammit!” (Sorry, Mom, for that one, but in my defense I didn’t have any alternative phrases because you didn’t either!) Anyway, I love this post, it’s hilarious and endearing and wonderful.

    1. Thank you Sabina! You have made me feel so much better about my parenting now that I know that your parents seem to have had a similar parenting philosophy/ mindset! We managed to make it through years at a Christian preschool with no major infractions, but I used to worry about what they might say.

      And I need to get on the post about Helicopter Kids. It is the craziest thing! My husband thinks it’s because we’re such cool parents (ha!) but I don’t know… the little one is fine with leaving us and wants to do her own thing but the two older kids kind of hang around, like all the time! Although you might be on to something with indie family band idea. I think the world is ready for a new Partridge Family! (Oh my god, do you know that show? I feel so old right now…)

      1. I actually almost wrote something about them in the original comment but I didn’t, so don’t feel too old. Then again, I only know them by name/concept of a musical family (I know as much about the Osmonds, I suppose) so it definitely IS before my time.

  8. A lot of these examples look very familiar to me. One of the things I regret doing is renting Eddie Murphy’s Delirious and letting my then 15-year-old son watch it with me. I know that what they talk about on the playground is just as bad, but I had forgotten about just how incredibly raunchy his standup routine was and about 15 minutes into watching the movie with him I realized my mistake. We, of course, didn’t stop watching the movie because it so damn funny.

    1. That’s awesome! I’ll bet he’ll never forget that! And who are we kidding? Of course they hear worse at school and on the bus! That’s why I think it’s a little silly and naive to get all worked up about dropping an F bomb in front of the kids. And I don’t want my kid to be the one to be so sheltered that when they go off to college they are so freaked out that they want to come home. We all knew those kids who had a rude awakening once they left the womb for college…

      1. I agree that we need to avoid sheltering them but I also believe as parents and as adults we have a responsibility to not just preach standards of behavior but also to live and demonstrate those standards. The more we dance along the precarious line of appropriate and inappropriate the more we contribute to the never ending decline in those standards.

    1. Aw, thank you Brooke! I’m glad you can relate! And hey, any time you want to feel better about yourself as a parent let me know. I’m sure I have some stories that can make anyone feel good about their parenting!

  9. Yes!! We do those things too!

    We swear but the kids know they’re not allowed to. We let it slide when it’s the nearly 11yo and the other ones are in bed and she uses the word correctly.
    I never tell them about the chocolate hidden in the pantry, or the yummy popcorn because I don’t want to share with anyone but my wife. ^_^

    The nearly 11yo has holes in her jeans on the knees and she doesn’t care so I figure, why should I? The 7yo doesn’t care if his socks don’t match, so I don’t either and his favourite colour is purple, which annoys his father and makes me happy (there’s a reason he’s my ex-husband).

    1. I love it! I love when the kids dress like kids and don’t look like perfect little Stepford children! And omg, do you hide the White Cheddar Popcorn? That’s like my crack! I have a serious addiction, it’s so good! My rule is they just have to wear clean clothes. Other than that I really don’t care. Of course, now that I have the older two doing their own laundry they occasionally try to bust out the same shirt three days in a row… sigh…

  10. Hi Gretchen, I finally returned to my blog yesterday (January 12, 2015). I saw your Nov. 14, note checking on me, and replied. I even made a long post!

    Thank you so very for caring. It’s greatly appreciated! Sending you monster hugs and best wishes with for you and your family this New Year. I wish you all the very best of health and happiness.

    More hugs!

  11. ROFLMAO this is funny stuff. I would happily contribute to a future therapy fund if thought it would help, but I’m not sure there is much hope for the “little shits” 😉 Keep up the great blogging. Parenting will give you an endless supply of things to blog!

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