The Post Which Proves Im Parent of the Year

My husband left me.

For a man.

Well okay, he left for a job and he's staying with a friend, but it makes for a much more dramatic impact when I say he left me for a man. The truth of the matter is he was home for three weeks and it was time for him to get back to work. Before I killed him.

Not that I don't love the man dearly, but ever since he started working out of town almost four years ago, I've become accustomed to being the top dog of the parental duo. With him home, it throws everything out of balance, with the kids being the manipulative smart little banshees they are, as they try and play one parent against the other.

For the most part, Boo and I transition after a day or two and revert back to the dynamic parenting duo we once were before he left the home for bigger paychecks, a second apartment and all the free time with small town strippers (me, not him) a person can handle.

But there are moments; moments when I'm supposed to keep my mouth shut and just support him like the parenting manuals all dictate good united parents should do; when I want to kill. Kill him and set my children loose in the wild.

One might say I parent a little differently than my children's father does. I insist I do this out of survival. The man leaves me alone with his offspring and expects to come back home to see them happy, healthy and well adjusted. He has entrusted me with this task because he is bat shit crazy. However, while he's busy earning the dough that pays for our bread and butter, he misses out on all the joyous moments of raising a handicapped boy who likes to dump the dog's water dish on the floor or unplug his sibling's gaming unit (generally during a particularly important moment in the game my children like to whine) as well as missing out on all the glorious gory moments of rearing two teens into adult hood.

He can't understand why I insist he bring home liquor every time he walks in the door.

He has yet to learn it's because I can't drown my single parenting sorrows while he's gone but I damn well can fuzz things up while he's home.

Not that I'm a liquor hound. Really. The empty boxes of wine in the pantry prove NOTHING.

*Editor's note for child welfare workers who may be reading this: it's called artistic license not an admission of guilt.*

My husband has this misguided notion that I'm in charge in his absence. What he doesn't realize is while yes, I am the one twirling my pom poms at the front of our very own freak parade, I only pretend to be in charge. It's a charade. I know it. My children suspect it. My husband refuses to know it. Something about me being the grown adult around here.

My life with out Boo for back up consists of arguing siblings, slammed doors, heads filled with eye rolling and mouths that like to sass back. I counter balance this with empty threats, phone calls to their father and locking them outside while I point and laugh from the other side of the window.

It's called survival of the fittest. Ask Darwin, he'll explain it.

For the most part, my kids are good kids. (Even if I did go on national television and call them demons.) They are respectful, they keep up with their studies without me prodding them and they bring home straight A's every report card. They are fairly self sufficient in fact, ever since I taught them that one can survive on bologna, boxed macaroni and a jug of milk. It's like they don't even need parents half the time since they are such responsible little cretins children.

But every now and then the hormones rear their ugly little heads and my children disappear only to be reincarnated as, well, demons. My husband doesn't get this. And it makes for a bumpy road when he's along for the ride.

Which gives me a head ache. (And not just from the cheap wine I guzzled when he wasn't looking.)*

*That'd be artistic license again, dear social workers.

My husband's solution for the banshee screaming siblings is to punish them with slave labour for every misdeed they do. My solution for the screaming festival my children occasionally like to partake in is to separate, sort, and then hug it out. Which is not always successful now that my kids are getting older and more stubborn as they age. They want to be right damn it, they don't want to see the other side of the coin.

Slave labour tends to be the quickest and quietest resolution while he's home but then he LEAVES. And I'm once again saddled with the single parenting yoke and two teens and a little boy who all prey on my sanity like the hunter hunts a moose.

There is one other looming factor that makes my life miserable once my husband takes off for greener childless pastures. (Well, two looming factors but that's why God invented sex toys.)

I don't know if it's because my children don't see my husband every day or listen to him harp on them continuously like I seem to, but he is much more effective at intimidating them into good behaviour. I can say the exact same words, in the exact same tone, and dole out the exact same punishment and the impact is almost neglible as to when my husband does it.

Is it his size? The deep husky voice of his? It can't be his whiskers, cuz damn yo, I'm growing a few of my own. All I know, is that for two days after his father leaves it is like a free for all and I'm running for cover while the inmates run the aslyum. Every damn time.

So my husband is the hard ass while he's home and I hand over the role of Bad Cop to him while donning the goofy good cop badge, knowing that once he leaves I'll have to slap the Bad Cop hat on and pray my children take me seriously. While hoping I can keep a straight face and not get distracted by clever wise cracks.  Which I may or may not have a habit of doing. I admit nothing.

Last night after kisses were kissed, hugs were hugged and we all stood on the deck waving good bye to Boo as his tail lights disappeared down our driveway, my children started up with one another, AGAIN.

I, being the weary down trodden mother I am, threatened, cajolled and bartered. I enlisted every parenting technique I knew to whip my kids back into performing monkeys shape but it was hopeless. I ended up losing it and yelling at the older two kids while Jumby took cover under the pillows on the floor.

I hate yelling. It's ineffective and stupid. It's sinking to their level and what am I demonstrating to them when I yell at them to be quiet when they are yelling? But it's like Fric and Frac just kept jumping on my one last frazzled nerve until I snapped and morphed into a rabid screaming badger.

Which ultimately, while bring a nano second of stunned silence, solved nothing. And the kids resumed bickering as though I wasn't even in the room.

Hi, my name is Tanis and I ran out of parenting tools last night. Heck I even considered beating them but since they are just shy of seeing me nose to nose and both children are fitter than I am, I figured if I did that I was just asking for my own ass to be kicked.

In the end, after a Mommy Time Out to revert back to the adult I'm supposed to be, I dished out punishment like a grandma dishes out icecream. Essays were assigned, television privileges revoked and threats of making them pay me a monetary fine for every eye roll and sassy remark made was promised.

But as I was parenting, I was overcome with an out of body sensation. I realized, mid-sentence as I was shaking my finger and pasting the "I'm so disappointed in you" look on my face, my children just looked at me like I had horns sprouting out of my head and they offered to call their father for me.

So I could 'calm down.'

It was right then I seriously considered jumping in my vehicle, chasing my husband down and sending him home so I could take his place in the work field. Because I've obviously lost my damn mind thinking I can survive parenting and actually produce well adjusted productive members of the next generation.

Seems to me the only thing I'm producing is the hot air I keep blowing at them lately.

My palms are blistered and raw from trying to keep the reigns of parental control firmly in hand.

If only my kids could be as good as I was growing up. My mom doesn't know how lucky she had it with us.


So. Got any suggestions? Parental tips? Humorous anecdotes which impart a glimmer of wisdom? Horror stories you'd care to share? Effective discipline tools for teens that won't land my ass in the clink? I'm outnumbered here. It's two against one, with the littlest dude cheering on his siblings. Little traitor.

Help a mother out would ya?