Their kid could puke on them, and they'd just kind of shrug it off, like it was no-biggie, and it only happens to the coolest of dads. Unlike moms who would be apologizing profusely if it occurred in the presence of any life form, and work themselves in to a sweat to try to clean it up before it did any serious damage to their reputation as a clean and organized mother who always carries a spare shirt, and a second spare in case the first spare should get spilled on first.
Dads could have nothing in their fridge to offer to their child's friend's parent but moldy cheese and water and they'd lay it out with pride like it was the newest French diet. Moms, on the other hand, would feel like they were not serving a proper play date snack unless they had just baked a fresh loaf of coffee cake with a full basket of organic produce just picked from the local farmers market to go with it, arranged to resemble a seasonal holiday animal scene.
Of course, I exaggerate (sort of). I can say this because I have been the psycho mom for many of the years that I have been at home raising my children, while my husband worked full time. I was secretly envious of the calm that dads, including my husband, always possessed and kind of mystified if a mom seemed to have their same secret.
But now, after today, I think I know what the secret is. I think that people who raise the kids full time become nuts.
Case and point- Garrett had a play date today with a little boy his age. This boy's mom is confident, fun and outgoing. Come to find out, she is the bread winner in the family. She works during the day, every day, while the dad stays home with their little boy and their new baby.
So for the play date, the dad brings his kid to our house. The dad looks kind of tired. He moves like he has not had his batteries charged for a while. We are sitting together downstairs talking while the boys are playing, and his baby is upstairs in Shelby's room asleep. I hadn't planned on this being a parent play date too, but oh well. The conversation feels very familiar. The vibe feels very familiar. But I can't place it.
He starts out by telling me that my home is very "ornate." He hovers over his child and mine, making sure that they are playing nice, and that his son is using his "big words". He stops my son from playing with his pretend gun made out of Legos. This dad tells Garrett and I that his son doesn't play with weapons.
This Dad asks me if I go to church on Sunday, how often Garrett skis (his son went skiing 29 times last season) and at what resort we go to (they always go to the most expensive Snowbird), do we eat organic food (they never eat anything that is not organic), and when I plan to give up Garrett's nap.
In addition to that I was lucky enough to learn about the wild wolves that this dad is passionate about protecting, hear about the fine arts preschool that he is going to send his son to, and multiple times hear about his love of fixing everything that is broken and "breathing new life in to it where people like me would just give up on something and throw it away."
After about an hour, this dad goes upstairs, to check on his baby. The baby is awake and he brings her to me, telling me that I better "get in on the smiles while I can get them." He tells me that he'll start taking her skiing next year because she seems stronger than his son. Several more compliments are given by this father, to his two month old daughter while we sit there. I smile and agree with all of his radiant assessments of her health, vigor and good looks while he cuddles and coddles her.
During this time, his son wets his pants. The dad leaves with the baby, and I am home alone with Garrett and this new little friend. They do fine together. The boy does wet his pants again, but is happy to get to wear Garrett's Spiderman underwear instead of his own plain white ones.
After the dad comes back to collect his son, and the soiled clothing, I realize what seems familiar- the psycho mom. This dad IS the psycho mom. So it's not vaginas that make for nutty moms. It's full-time-active-duty-parenthood that makes for nutty moms. And nutty is not sexist. Nutty doesn't discriminate against dads. If dads sign up to stay home with the kids, nutty is just as prevalent with them. Whether you are a mom or a dad, if your life revolves around taking care of young children full time- it's a recipe for the loony bin. Not because you're not doing a good job, but because you have NO CLUE THAT YOU'RE DOING A GOOD JOB. When your only affirmation comes from people who can't talk, and don't have a clue as to how lucky they are to be alive thanks 100% to your valiant efforts, then you start becoming a praise-whore.
You'll take it where ever you can get it. The lady at the check out stand comments on how nicely your daughter is dressed- check! A mom at the playground tells you that your kid is playing so well with the other kids- check!! Your friend says that you look so good for being a parent with young kids- check, check!!! You are going to get your kid dressed extra cute the next morning, make sure that your child knows their playground manners pat, and spend some extra time with that leave-in conditioner so that people can see that you do look better than ever. You may be feeling like a tired, beat up, under appreciated sack of goo with only one brain cell left, but today you could get FOUR compliments...gasp!
It's good to know that it's easy for women to grow a pair (and men to regrow theirs). Especially since the majority of people affected with psycho-parent-disease don't even know that they have it. They just need to drop their kid at pre-school or daycare for a couple of hours each day, hire someone to come in and clean the house once a week, work outside the home doing something they enjoy even if it's just part time to get some adult interaction, possibly join a book group, and they will be cured. Women and men alike.
the psycho mom syndrome is quite the affliction, but i'm glad to hear that it's gender neutral. i find myself oscillating between letting my kids run around like wild banshees and feeling guilty if they eat a non organic strawberry. ah the joys of being a stay at home parent.
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