A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

And the battle continues.

It’s her least favorite time of the day: the preschool pickup.

She’s not sure why. Is it the ear-splitting din of all those clucking moms and nannies lining the hallways, comparing toddler milestones and extra-curricular schedules? Sometimes she hears snippets and it makes her blood pressure rise. “Did you register Tyler for T-Ball yet?” “All the best summer camps filled up weeks ago.” “Oh, I’ve heard terrible things about that teacher.” “Are y’all doing Swim Team again?”

She always tries to time it so she’s the last one to arrive and won’t have to wait in line with the other women. She knows this is wrong, and it makes her feel even worse about it.

Yesterday she decided to put on her big girl panties and try to be social.

She went early, got in line, said hello. The woman ahead of her wouldn’t even turn around to make eye contact.

The rejection made her feel bad.

Her mind went right to the dark place. “Is it my breath? Did I say something offensive at the Christmas party? OHMYGOD, does she know about my blog?”

So she pulled out her phone, pretending to look busy.

A random Facebook status catches her eye:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

And she realizes…you never know.

Maybe that lady’s dog just died.

Maybe she’s suffering from a horrible bout of IBS, or alcohol withdrawal, or mild to moderate vaginal itching.

Maybe she just found out that her husband is cheating on her.

Or maybe she was sexually assaulted by someone she trusted.

Maybe she has a sick parent or a child on her third round of chemotherapy.

Or maybe she hasn’t slept well in 12 years because her husband snores like a fucking freight train.

Maybe deep down inside she thinks she’s ugly and is extremely self-conscious about her facial hair.

Or perhaps she has social anxiety and trust issues stemming from her parents’ hideous divorce decades ago.

Who knows? She might just be having a bad day… an overslept, burned the toast, forgot the coupons, stubbed a toe, got poop on her tampon string kind of day. That could explain the vaginal itching, at least.

And most likely, that split-second lack of courtesy has absolutely nothing to do with her.

She has three choices:

1. Just ignore Ms. Nasty Pants.

2. Mirror the negative energy right back in her bitchy face.

3. Be kind.

So she puts her phone away and smiles. And maybe, just maybe, her smile will remind the other women in line that there is good in the world. And even if that woman did accidentally put her thong on sideways, a smile might just be the lifeline she needs to get through another shitty day.

Yes, she will hold her head high and smile anyway.

And that’s when she notices: the woman in front of her is wearing hearing aids.

Maybe tomorrow she’ll tap her on the shoulder before she says hello.

Originally published by In the Powder Room, January 24, 2012. 


  1. Rootietoot

    It’s ok. Other mothers kinda terrify me, especially when they’re well dressed and primped up. I try to smile and be friendly, but when someone gives me the Up-and-Down look that seems to say “can’t you do better than that?” I fold up inside and won’t speak to anyone for a week.

  2. dannity717

    Don’t feel alone! I feel like that every day in my snooty grad school program, and I’m not even a mother. I think the attitude you adopted, even if completely fabricated, is the best way to go. Plus, it makes me radiate that “I’m better than you because I am being NICE” glow that is rather becoming, if I do say so myself.

  3. Jacqueline

    I’m a bit confused, why the third person?

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh, it’s just a style choice. And it helps me place a little distance between me and the demons in my head. Plus, I’m using a lot of creative license here, so I needed a way to make it less autobiographical. Thanks for reading it!

  4. Melissa

    Hi Iris! You might appreciate this one. A little bit of background info: I am a full-time outside-the-home-employed single mother of 3 kids ages 7 and 6-year-old twins.

    This is a snippet of conversation that may or may not have went down this morning:
    me (well past my asking nicely voice): “Go tell her to get her fuckin’ ass ready for school. Only don’t say ‘fuckin’.”
    Turbo (one of the twins): “Or the A-word.”
    me: “Yes, or the A-word. Thank you.”

    That is all. 🙂 Love reading your blog & I recommend it to all my friends. Have a great day!

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, I love it! Hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. I like how you (may or may not have) ended it with “Thank you.” A little courtesy goes a long way. Sounds to me like Turbo is a great helper with an excellent command of the English language. Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

    • Heather Novak

      Melissa LOVE. The language. Called a friend so angry this week I said “Effing” so many times she finally asked me if I wanted her to just say the word f&ck for me. And I love Jesus too so it is worse! I know he has a sense of humor…..but doesn’t like my language. LOL. *Sigh*

      • Melissa

        At least they know what words are “grown-up words” and not allowable for children to repeat. 🙂 I figure they need to be aware that just because you see or hear someone else doing or saying something doesn’t mean they are allowed to do the same either and some things are only for grown-ups – I mean, I’m not going to stop having the occasional White Russian just because I don’t want my children to underage drink, right??

        And maybe it will turn out like one of those situations where they won’t want to do it because it’s not as cool since mom does it all the time. : P

  5. Heather Novak

    CANNOT. WAIT to hop there and read, I have a confession of my own you may enjoy, Lady Iris. Visit & read if you can.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ooooh, I love confessions! Do you have a foot fetish? Do you have a felony record for arson? Are you secretly a man? Can’t wait for the sordid details!

  6. Meili

    And entries like THIS one, dear Iris, are why I keep reading your stuff. You are more than just another mom blogger who complains about the irritating stuff kids do or about the maddeningly mundane life of suburban housewifery. You inspire people to be better human beings. You do. I tend to be just a tad negative-y, especially when I’m busy, or annoyed, or…. well, hell, I don’t even guess I need a reason. And I’m rather defensive, so I always feel like those pinchy eyebrow looks from others have something to do with me…. even though I know they don’t. My phone is my best friend, because I can totally avoid dealing with other people’s shit while I’m staring at that little lighted box in my hand, and that’s so wrong. So thanks again for this kick in the pants. I need to be reminded that I have a purpose on this planet, and it just may be more than feverishly scrubbing toilet seats, nagging my children incessantly, or scowling menacingly at anyone who messes up my day’s workflow. It could have something to do with being available and aware of when somebody might need me to do something useful, helpful, and out of my comfort zone. As long as it doesn’t require me not to curse for too long. Because Dammit, there’s only so much a girl can do.

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