Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When Your Reputation Preceeds You

A couple of months ago, I met a nice mom at the pool. She and her family had moved to the neighborhood about a year before, but for some reason, we hadn't met. Our kids started playing Marco Polo, we started talking about our kids, and eventually, we got around to introducing ourselves formally.

And that's when it got interesting.

When I told her my name, she kind of cocked her head to one side and said, "Oh. YOU'RE Kelly." Hmmm. Yes. yes, I am. Not being one to just let things like that go, I said, "Yes, I'm Kelly. Why?"

Long story short, one of my (not-so-nice) neighbors "warned" her about me. Said that I call myself Slacker Mom, but I'm (and this is a direct quote) "hypocritical and a perfectionist who pretends to be a slacker but is really full of doggie doo." (OK, that last part is a bit of paraphrasing, but hey, some things shouldn't be repeated.) She went on to say that a REAL slacker doesn't volunteer at school, make homemade cookies, keep a clean house, or drive her kids all over town to their various activities.

So let's just get one thing clear: Slacker Mom is not about sitting on your butt all day, eating bon-bons and watching soap operas. (I'm not even sure what a bon-bon is, to be honest. And if I'm sitting around eating anything, it's going to be cheese, with a bottle of wine on the side.) No, Slacker Mom is about letting go of what doesn't matter - to you - so that you can focus on what DOES matter - to YOU.

Slacker Mom started as a joke with my best friend, Nina, one summer. We joked about how summer is the time to relax, to avoid all the commitments and activities of the busy school year, a time to just enjoy our families and friends and not be so focused on the unimportant stuff - like making sure each child drinks 3 full glasses of non-flavored milk every single day, or sterilizing every single counter top after every single meal. Sometimes, it's OK to leave the dishes until morning. Sometimes, it's OK hit the drive-thru or stir a little strawberry syrup into the milk. Sometimes, it's OK to let the kids stay up too late and eat ice cream before dinner while (gasp!) watching (non-educational) TV during the week!

Slacker Mom is about "live and let live" parenting, without judging other moms and their choices. Slacker Mom is about supporting each other, helping each other, ending the Mommy Wars. Slacker Mom is a no-nonsense look at this crazy and wonderful job of motherhood, its trials and tribulations, its joys and rewards, with a side of humor. Because honestly, if we didn't laugh, we'd cry. And then the kids would cry. And then our husbands would freak out and start crying, too. And I don't know about you, but we are ALWAYS running low on tissue around here.

So yes, I volunteer at my kids' school. I like it, I do it because I like it - but I couldn't care less if you do it or not. Yes, I make homemade cookies rather than buying store-bought Chips Ahoy- because my girls and I like to bake together, and besides, my youngest has so many food allergies that there are virtually no store-bought baked goods that she CAN eat. And yes, I keep a clean and fairly tidy house - at least, it's clean enough that if a neighbor stopped by, I wouldn't be completely embarrassed. Just don't open any closets or the door to my kids' playroom. But I would never judge anyone else's house - even my sister, who, 8 months after moving in, admits to having boxes in her dining room. Hey, I have boxes that came back from Spain with us in 1999 that are still unopened. Whatever.

As for driving my kids around to various activities, Slacker Mom readers already know my position on kids and their schedules. I have 2 kids, each does one year-round activity and one seasonal sport. And they do a LOT less running around than many of the kids I know. My kids have time for playdates, play dough, and playing with each other. I have time for my kids, my commitments, my husband, my friends, and - equally importantly - myself.

So, you might ask, how did I respond to these charges of hypocrisy and perfectionism? How did I defend myself against this woman's claim that I am full of poo?

I didn't. And I won't. Because, basically, I really don't care. Besides, we all know that when it comes to people like that, there's really nothing you can say anyway. Her comments say a lot more about her than they do about me. Happy people don't go around trying to make other people miserable. They just don't.

Slacker Mom Says... whatever. Or, as my sister would say, "Bite me." How about if we talk less trash about other moms? How about, instead of meeting a new neighbor and telling her all the reasons why she shouldn't like someone else, we just get to know each other and form our own opinions? Wow. Wouldn't that set a nice example for our kids?


  1. OMG. I can't believe someone is so bitter and angry that she would talk crap about you to perfect strangers.

    Jeesh. Why must our fellow moms be our biggest critics? And to jump all over you for a pet name and parenting style? Seriously?

    Good for you for taking the high road.

  2. My husband says I make her feel "inadequate", but I think she's just one of those people who like to stir the pot, as my grandmother used to say. So now she's a "smile and wave and don't engage" kind of neighbor. I figure once people know me, they know the real me.

  3. sheesh...I have neighbors like that - nice to your face but stab you in the back...but I don't care. I smile at them and live MY life the way *I* want to.

  4. I just found your blog -- this is such an awesome and refreshing outlook! Here's to leaving dirty dishes till morning and all the other good stuff!
    *raises a cup of coffee to toast*

  5. Back at you, GMP! here's a toast to slackers everywhere!