gonna find out who's naughty and nice
This holiday season has got me thinking about the naughty and nice paradigm our culture is so hellbent on impressing upon us. It works great with my kids this time of year. When they start acting up, I pull the old Santa is watching routine. My son was actually in tears the other day when his daddy put in a call to Santa to report on his naughty behavior. But, what about us, the moms laying the naughty and nice tracks for our wee ones to follow? I’m pretty nice, but I’ve still got a little naughty left in me, and I like to bring her out to play every once in a while.
I think we all are a little naughty and nice. But once we become parents, that naughty side gets muted or disappears altogether for fear of damaging our kids or being seen in the wrong parenting light. Don’t get me wrong, too much naughty is definitely a bad thing. Example: Britney Spears driving with her baby in her lap. Sorry, Brit, that’s NOT how we parent in the South. Everyone knows kids belong in the back of pick-up trucks.
On the other hand, we don’t want to be too nice either. The perfectly sane, always together moms are the ones who scare me the most. Before I was cured of perfect parenting syndrome (PPS), my naughty side seeped out in other ways, like researching parenting models. I was treating parenting like a dissertation with my children as the subjects. I was also a maniacal housekeeper. I’m still an organized person, but I no longer hyperventilate over a little clutter in the living room. I still have neat freak tendencies, but I’ve chilled out a lot. I want my kids to see me as a real person with real challenges who handles them to the best of my ability. Life is not like a Barney episode. Could you imagine if we lived our lives with the moral fiber of Barney? I wouldn’t last a season and would probably end up kicking Barney in his purple lump sack.
My parenting challenge these days is balancing my naughty and nice sides. Not the balance between work and home, as so often betrayed, sorry, portrayed in the media, but the balance between the part of us that mothers and caretakes till the laundry is done and the part of us that just needs a cigarette break. Remember Peg Bundy ashing in her dinner cooking on the stove? She was the epitome of naughty. Her character was sassy for the 80s, but compared to the eco-friendly, baby sling wearing, organic puree feeding moms of today, she’s practically Mommy Dearest. I’m no Peg Bundy mom and I’ve yet to meet one on a playdate, but I wouldn’t mind hitting the bars with Peg after the kids go to sleep. What a confidence boost that would be. Sure, I’m a flawed parent, but at least I don’t ash into my kid’s cereal bowl.
When I’m maxed out on my niceness, I toss in a little naughty. By the time I put in a day’s work of mothering a toddler, taking my daughter to and from school, working on homework, playing and coloring, busting up squabbles, and before the bedtime rituals begin, my naughty comes in the form of a glass of Walmart’s finest boxed wine while cooking dinner. Did I say glass? I meant plastic cup. Because when your wine comes from cardboard, presentation is kind of moot. A little wine and iTunes adds some fun to making dinner.
I dance around the kitchen while I cook, and the kids weave in and out bopping their heads to the sounds of M.I.A., Santogold, maybe a little Blondie. Thankfully, my kids enjoy grown-up music more than kiddie nasal pop. One time we got one of those Happy Meal CDs of children covering pop songs, and my kids actually told me to turn it off because it was stupid. That was a proud parenting moment for me. That, and the time my son starting humming Led Zeppelin. A tear may have fallen down my cheek.
Dancing around the house is great, but it’s a little like drinking boxed wine when you really want a Rum and Coke, which is my drink of choice saved for the special occasions when I go dancing with my friends. Nothing compares to hitting a dance club with a crew of mamas and sweating off your Bare Minerals faux tan bronzer. Dancing leaves little room for small talk, other than, “ohh, that’s my jam!” or “yeah, girl, get it, get it.” If you go to the right bar (one that is packed with people who have graduated from college but are not eligible for Silver discounts at the movies) no one is going to ask you if you have kids or what Pre-K program you’re applying to for the fall. You may not even get asked what you do for a living, which is perfect for me since at the moment, my kids are what I do for a living when I’m not writing about motherhood.
I highly recommend gay bars for a girls' night out as they are packed with good looking guys who won't hit on you. Also gay men know a thing or two about good dance music. On my recent trip to NY, my best friends and I hit an awesome bar that not only had photos of naked men hanging from the ceiling, but also played gay porn on several televisions. It doesn't get much more un-kid-friendly than gay porn.
To some, my naughty side may sound tame, unless you are the anti-gay-dance-club-type, in which case you probably don't want to hear about my visits to The Clermont Lounge, Atlanta's legendary strip club, either. Your loss. My shenanigans may even be laughable to those moms who are true badasses who skydive or ride Harleys or something. But it's the perfect balance for me. While I won’t be smoking in my kitchen à la Peg Bundy, I will take my half-badass to the dance floor, once a month, when I can get my friends together, find a sitter, and stay up late enough to show up at a club when people other than the wait staff are there. That will do for now. I still have the Red Hat Society phase of my life to look forward to. You know, the sassy red hat ladies who take over lunch buffets by the dozens? I wonder if they ever hit the gay bars.