Pre-Order So God Made a Mother


I don’t know if it’s an adolescent thing, a hormonal thing, a generational thing, or just my daughter’s thing–but whatever the thing, my once-amiable girl has taken to speaking to me in a tone that’s half pity, half distain and 100 percent loathsome. 

I will pose perfectly reasonable questions–sometimes trying to glean information, sometimes because I’m sincerely interested–questions like, “Do you have math homework?” or “What time is the band concert?” or “Did the ending of the movie surprise you?” and my daughter will scoff with exasperation, like she can’t believe something so stupid fell out of my mouth, and what rotten luck she has to be burdened with such a numbskull for a mother. 

If I ask her to repeat what she said because, God forbid, I didn’t quite catch it (the NERVE of me!), she rolls her eyes in annoyance and annunciates each word, like she’s talking to a prehensile lizard she thinks has poor hearing from sheer laziness. 

This tone of hers has spilled over into conversations with other adults, like an unchecked gas leak. They’ll make an innocuous comment like, “Look at that blue house,” and she’ll act like she’s never been exposed to ignorance so thick and noxious in all her 11 years. “That’s not blue, it’s Aegean.” It’s downright embarrassing and I find myself apologizing, not only for my daughter’s rudeness, but for my flimsy, ineffectual parenting–because I’m the one who enables her, right?

My friend, who was recently on the receiving end of my daughter’s attitude, generously commiserated, saying the You idiot! tone is rampant amongst girls that age. She went on, “The way they talk sounds like they mean to add, ‘—you idiot!’ after everything.”

I thought about it, replaying certain exchanges in my head, and you know what? My friend nailed it. That is EXACTLY how it sounds, and once it was pointed out, I couldn’t stop hearing the You idiot! implied in my daughter’s tone. For example:

“I already told you I have math homework (you IDIOT).”

“The band concert is at 7:00 (you idiot!).”

“Why would the ending of a movie I’ve never seen surprise me (you big idiot)?”

“Why would I make my bed if I’m just going to sleep in it again, tonight (you idiot)?”

And so on.

What bothers me more than being spoken to like a tiresome servant, more than the sting of disrespect, and even more than being just plain hurt is the shame of having judged this very same behavior from other people’s kids in the past. 

Yes, I was that priggish mom who witnessed a demonstratively strong-willed child and thought, “My kid will NEVER talk to ME like that,” then proceeded to change my infant’s diaper and feed her a bottle. I assumed, before she could communicate beyond cries and coos, our relationship would be molded in the image of my ego, that she would laugh at my jokes and agree with my perspective, that she would follow my rules and do exactly as she was told–right away. But I had only imagined my side of the dialogue, my intentions, my objective; I never dreamed that by cultivating her voice and instilling independent thought, my daughter would have. . . her own voice and independent thoughts. 

It’s an odd dichotomy, being incensed by the very character traits I’ve encouraged, not to mention poetic justice that my sanctimoniousness has come full circle. When my daughter and I are in public and she You idiots me, I can feel the disapproving recoil from mothers within earshot. Some days it bothers me and I try to explain, red-faced, that she wasn’t always this insolent, that she was once docile like their kids; other days I hold my head up and carry on, resigned to her insubordination.

I could whip her into shape if I wanted to, demand she lose the You idiot tone, punish any rebellion, quash her defiance, but I truly believe this is just a phase. Despite my complaining and intermittent humiliation, all is not lost. My daughter is stretching her assertive wings, flexing her confidence, testing the power of her expression with someone she trusts. If I can give her some practice before she faces a world full of challenges and wicked pushback, I gladly will. Something tells me she is going to need it. 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Michelle Riddell

Born and raised in Detroit, Michelle Riddell now lives with her family in rural mid-Michigan where she happily braves her husband’s penchant for DIY projects and her daughter’s passion for wildlife-as-indoor-pets. Her publishing credits include Parent Co,  Sammiches and Psych Meds, Mamalode, MOPS International, and Club Mid. In addition to being a reviewing editor at Mothers Always Write, Michelle is a substitute teacher at her daughter’s elementary school where she tries very hard not to embarrass her. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

You’re Learning Life by Watching Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child touching mother's face as they lie on a bed

Every morning my daughter and I go outside for some fresh air. She feeds her chickens and plays and explores and walks around with her dog while I follow her around and have a cup of coffee.  This morning, my girl grabbed one of her coffee cups from her toy kitchen and brought it outside with her while she walked with her dog and pretended to take sips out of it.  Guys. I stood there watching her with her toy coffee cup, walking around with her animals, and I cried giant baby tears.  RELATED: I Wasn’t Counting On You Growing...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Love Means Slowing Down

In: Friendship, Kids
Two boys on bicycles riding to park, shown from behind

Think of something faster than a 7-year-old boy on a two-wheel bike. Maybe a race car at the drop of the checkered flag? Perhaps a rocket ship blasting into space? Or how quickly a toddler mom books it out of the house after being told she can have a hands-free hour ALONE in Target. Yes, all of these things are seriously speedy, but I have still never seen anything quite as quick as a boy on a bike on a sunny day with endless open track ahead of him. Until today. Today, my 6-year-old son wanted to ride bikes with...

Keep Reading

I Am a Wrestling Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three young boys with wrestling medals, color photo

As the sun is rising on a frigid winter morning, a brave and determined group of athletes are weighing in at a high school gym. They are physically and mentally preparing for a long day spent at a tournament where they will spend only minutes wrestling, despite the hours they sit and wait all day. Their sport uses offense, defense, and mental strength unlike any other sport. My sons and nephew are wrestlers. They are part of a special team of athletes who work together but compete as individuals.           Their youth team is run by all volunteer coaches with...

Keep Reading

3 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Embrace Becoming a Big Brother

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Pregnant woman holding toddler son, color photo

My oldest son turned four right after his first brother was born. Four years of alone time with his parents. Four years of extra mommy time during the week. Four years of having toys to himself, extra attention from family members, and more. I didn’t plan a four-year age gap; it took our family a lot longer and a lot more help than we expected to have our second son, but age gaps aren’t everything. When my second son was finally on the way, I heard a lot of opinions about how our oldest son would feel once he finally...

Keep Reading

Dear Busy Sports Mom: It’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mom watching soccer game, photo from behind

My daughter stands on the front porch every morning and waves goodbye to me as I pull out of the driveway to go to work.  She is 11, and recently eye-rolling, long sighs, and tears have become more commonplace in our daily interactions. But, there is also this: “Bye! Have a good day!” she calls to me in the quiet of early morning, neighbors not yet awake in their still dark houses. “You are AMAZING! You got this!” she continues in her little adult voice, sounding more like a soccer mom than a fifth grader.   Her hair is still a...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the Baby Hangers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Shirt hanging from small hanger, color photo

You bought them when you first found out you were pregnant. It may have been one of the first items, actually, to hold all of the precious new clothes. The smallest ones in your household. Do you remember that first newborn onesie you bought? It was one of your favorites. You couldn’t fathom you would soon hold something so small that would fit into that onesie. You washed all of the new clothing in preparation and hung them up in your baby’s closet. You know the item. A miniature version of the ones in your closet. Baby hangers. “Do we...

Keep Reading

Take the Trip, You Won’t Regret It

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.  Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real. Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”. We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just...

Keep Reading

They’ll Remember the Love Most of All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman with kids from above, pregnant mother with kids hands on belly

You lie in bed at the end of a long day, the events of the day flashing back through your mind. You do this a lot—recap your day as a mama. How did you do? Did you maintain your patience? Did you play enough? Did you limit screen time? Did you yell less today than you did yesterday? You saw a really neat toddler activity in the group you’re a part of on Facebook . . . you should have done that with the kids. They would have loved it. There wasn’t enough time though, and you didn’t have all...

Keep Reading

He’s Slowly Walking Away with Footprints As Big As Mine

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Teen boy walking along beach shore

The true measure of a mother’s love is her willingness to wake up before the sun on vacation. On a recent trip to the shore, my youngest son begged to walk the beach at dawn to look for shells. So, I set my alarm, tumbled out of a warm, king-sized bed with extra squishy pillows, glared at my dead-to-the-world husband, and gently woke my 11-year-old. Without so much as a drop of coffee, we headed out into the morning, the sun still below the ocean horizon. With each step, I shed my zombie-like state and took in the quiet, salt-kissed...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Raising You Right Is Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
little boy walking in sunlit field

You were the baby who slept nights. You were the infant who quietly stacked blocks one on top of the other. You were the toddler who watched other kids go down the slide at the park 20 times before attempting it yourself. You were the preschooler who hunkered down quietly and patiently when meeting your grandmother’s chickens. So I assumed you would be a gentle boy. And you are.   And yet, now that you’re eight, I’m beginning to understand the meaning of the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” I had my first inkling that day when you were five...

Keep Reading