Header Image by Ashley Mikula Photography
It’s a common social media meme.
“Forgot it was picture day today. My child’s in his uniform with unwashed hair. Mother of the year!”
“Daughter on museum field trip clomping around in her winter boots. How do other parents know to pack a change of shoes? Mother of the Year.”
“Letting the 3yo run around our backyard in his gutchies. I’m either the best mom or the worst mom ever. #MOTY”
We all have these ‘mother of the year’ moments, times when we’re too tired to fight the fight, times when we feel we’re letting our children down — or scarring them for life.
Like that time my then 5-year-old called 9-1-1 on me for being a mean mommy.
Let me set the scene. It is a weekday evening. I work outside the home full-time, and I have three children at home, so weekday evenings are not my favorite. It’s all a big sprint toward bedtime as far as I’m concerned. At this time, my children are 7, 5, and 1.
Dinner that night is leftovers, my favorite dinner of the week. The 1-year-old is already strapped in his high chair. I keep asking the 5-year-old what she wants for dinner, and she keeps arguing with me about I don’t even remember what. (The 7-year-old is conspicuously absent from this story.)
My middle child continues to get increasingly agitated. I think it’s because I won’t cook her a grilled cheese sandwich. “Look, kiddo,” I say, “it’s leftover night. Pick something and I’ll warm it up.”
This is unacceptable.
“I’m going to call the police,” she informs me angrily.
“For what?” I scoff.
I’m going to call and tell them you are being a mean mommy.”
“Kate, I am not being mean to you. Just because I’m not cooking something new, that’s not being a mean mommy.”
Kate stomps out of the room, and stomps right back in brandishing the cordless phone.
* exhale noisily * “Whatever.” I don’t want to deal with this nonsense.
“What’s the number again? 1-9-1? 1-1-9?”
She doesn’t even know the number!
“Kate, you can’t call the police on me.”
“I can! You’re a mean mommy!”
“Please, sit down! What do you want for dinner?”
“No! I don’t want to eat. I’m calling the police!”
“Kate, you can’t call 9-1-1!”
She looks me triumphantly in the face. *beep – beep beep*
Mother of the Year awards actually do exist. For example, the Albany Tulip Festival is giving out its 16th annual award this year. They are “looking for moms who have proven a commitment to their family and their community.” Unless they consider Twitter and Facebook communities, I am not eligible for this award. American Mothers gives out a national Mother of the Year award, plus an award for each state. Maybe I should ask to be nominated.
I would like to think that my children would nominate me for Mother of the Year. I’m their only mother, so I have that going for me. And some days, they think I’m a great mom. I bake cookies, I play board games, I read with them. When I get to say yes to my now 4-year-old son, he throws his little arms around my neck and declares, “You are the best mommy in the world.”
And in that moment, I am. I am the best mother EVER.
Although I had promptly grabbed the phone away from Kate and hung it up, a police officer did come to the house. 9-1-1 protocol is to respond to every 9-1-1 call. A very surprised Kate assured him that everything was fine. “She called you,” I explained to the amused cop, “because I was being a mean mommy.” The officer regarded my daughter with a twinkle in his eye. “I don’t know,” he said. “Santa may need to hear about this.”
Later, as I was trying to explain the gravity of the situation, Kate became very distraught. “But I didn’t even talk to anyone!” she said.
“That number is for serious emergencies,” I explained. “The people on the other end of the phone didn’t know why the call was cut off.
“A bad person could’ve grabbed it and hung it up. Or if there was a fire, it could’ve been cut off. They had to send someone to make sure we were safe.” Poor Kate broke into sobs. As far as I was concerned, her punishment was those tears.
If, by some wild chance, I did win a Mother of the Year award, I would stand at that podium in my off-the-rack Target dress, and I would start by thanking God. Then I would thank my husband Dan, without whom none of this would be possible. And I would thank Gabriel, Flora, Kate, and Michael, all of whom made me the mother I am today: The Mother of the Year.
ETA: I want to emphatically and enthusiastically encourage you all to view ALL the Pittsburgh videos, starting with the first. Watch the show all the way through. Heck, watch other cities’ shows!
Each story stands on its own. But together, they are amplified. You will go on a journey through motherhood, highs and lows, tears and laughter. Participating was an honor and a joy. Getting to see it again, and read the recaps, has been so much fun.
If you do take the time to watch them all, and/or another city, tell me your favorite!