Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Domestic Enemies of a Reformed Perfect Mommy

When this guest post arrived - we were intrigued.  A reformed perfect mommy? And we thought, we really need to see what all this is about. Her experience is fascinating. Like a sociology experiment. 

Reading this honestly made us feel a couple of different things:
  • Relief, that even Gwyneths feel the pressure to be perfect and think it sucks.
  • Happy, that our message of "we suck, but we're working on it!" had made someone feel better on a bad day.
  • Concerned, are we responsible for this woman's downfall from Gwyneth to Boobstain?
Read for yourself and you be the judge...

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So, I'm no one famous or even halfway cool. Just a mom of five kids, three under the age of four (because my husband only had one winter hobby ). My confession is this: I used to be a Gwyneth. Yup. Cloth diapering, breastfeeding until college, organic, gluten/dairy/candy free, no TV, baby signing, gentle parenting, homeschooling, judging every other mom out there as "not as perfect as I am"- mom.

 
I was a Momster.

 
I am glad I reformed. I still lapse into "Organic Panic" when my kids overdose on oreos or when my husband points out that my formerly-non-tv-watching kids can quote Spongebob episodes, or when my kids say things like, "Mom says she's gonna knock me into next week" to their preschool teacher - but for the most part, I have dropped so many standards and lowered the bar so far that maybe even Plankton could achieve my new standards of motherhood.

 
What I did NOT expect was that downgrading from Gwyneth brings a whole slew of Domestic Enemies Unexpected.

 
My Own Kids
Start with the fact that my 16 year old routinely says things like, "Aw, man! How come I never got to eat candy/ watch cartoons/ wear disposable diapers? You are SO unfair!".  Then the 14 year old chimes in with things like, "I could have been playing video games instead of playing outside? Gah!"

 
I offered them both a Big People Huggies.

 
Or how about when your preschooler says random things to random shoppers in the grocery like, "Hey, Lady! Our mom lets us eat junk food now!" And your super verbal toddler (from all that baby sign language, vocabulary building crap you use to do when you were a Gwyneth) says, "Yeah, she doesn't care about our well being any more. She's burned out."

The People Who Told You So
This is the group of friends who used to smirk at you when you brought the cloth diapers to playgroup. You know, the ones you felt the need to argue with when they said things like, "When you have three kids under three, you'll embrace the dark side and buy some pull-ups." The same ones that smile blankly when you wouldn't dare let your kids eat their offering of Goldfish crackers or fruit roll ups.

 
Yup. You used to roll your eyes at them and chalk it up to the fact that they just aren't as motivated or organized or freaking perfect as you are. Or maybe that they didn't even love their kids enough to try harder. Now, you find yourself drunk dialing these gals at bedtime when your kids won't for-the-love-of-a-Tbox go to sleep so you can watch LA Ink in peace, to apologize for being such a douche-y douche.

 

The Friends Of The Gwyneth Days
Possibly the worst Domestic Enemy to have. If you think the Gwyneths are judgemental to the NORMAL moms, imagine how they tear into one of their own. It's like "Mean Girls" on crack. You are not safe ANYWHERE. One of these moms sees you at the grocery store in sweats buying GoGurt, and the gig is up. You will initially recieve sympathy- but only because they are trying to discover how deep you have fallen into Real Life. Shortly after, you will receive unsolicited "help" getting back on the bandwagon. Offers to babysit so you can go to Zumba. Homecooked organic meals to your freezer. Offers to adopt your children since you "no longer have their best interest in mind."

 
When you decline these offers, your former friends will continue to call you like a Southern Preacher, bent on saving your soul. When they have tried everything their little minds can think of, they will guilt you to death.

 
The Wannabees
The problem with having been a Serious Gwyneth is, well, a lot of Gwyneth Wannabees really looked up to me.  I don't mean to brag or nuthin', but I was the mom Gwyneth took lessons from. I had a private entourage of moms that watched me shop, asked for advice and recipes, and coveted my ability to vacuum in heels and pearls while simultaneously co-chairing MOPS and volunteering for charities that help feed starving orphans.

 
I have had to dissapoint many a sweet, struggling mom by confessing, "Honestly, it was all a facade. I was never that great," as I hork down Oreos, yell across the store at my kids for pulling down an entire display, shop for the ingredients for Kraft Mac and Cheese, and dust Oreo crumbs off the front of my three day old sweatshirt.

 
The Truth
For those wanna be moms, I was the jerk telling them the truth about The Tooth Fairy. There's no easy way to dissapoint these gals but I gave up being a Gwyneth for one very simple reason: I. Completely. Lost. My. Schmidt.

Because in trying to be "perfect", I made myself perfectly insane.

 
At a playgroup I went to recently (only because if I stayed home I was gonna be one of those moms on the six o'clock news), I talked to one of those "Told You So" friends who is kind enough to NOT say "I told you so"...

 
"How do you do it? How can you be so NORMAL and still have great kids and a happy life?" I cried, in a very rare, non-Gwyneth moment.  That dear friend handed me a Starbucks and said, "Have you ever heard of this blog Rants From MommyLand?"

 
I leave all of you hispter, perfect mommies with one small piece of advice: Use extreme caution when wearing some hip, cool, tres chic scarf while cleaning the toddler potty.

 
You're welcome.

 
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

52 comments:

  1. Here, have a Snickers from H'ween that I hid in the Pepsi Max case as NOBODY gets in there. It'll be ok, you're among friends here.
    Welcome to the comfy side. :)

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  2. This is fantastic! I, too, tried to be a Gwyneth mom and couldn't handle the pressure. So, now I am a "normal" mom, still feeling overwhelmed at times, but soooo much happier overall. Love this post!
    Part of my reality check is my "first thing in the morning" cup of coffee while I read Rants From Mommyland!

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  3. I was a Gwyneth, too. And I too, lost my schmidt. I just bought Doritos and Mexican coca-cola the other day. (Because I still can't bring myself to buy anything with HFCS.) But I am getting there. I am a lot happier, and so are my kids.

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  4. welcome to the dark side. pull up a chair, I'll pour you a glass

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  5. It's all going to be all right. Pull up a T Box and a plastic cup.

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  6. Praise be. You just wrote about my life- right down to the bitter recriminations from the older children. "You made us think PRUNES were a treat and now you're letting Midget watch ANTM while she eats gumdrops!"

    We recently had houseguests who are doing absolutely everything right with their very first baby, and the shame when they looked in the fridge and saw the Yoplait (sugared non- organic yogurt!) and the ginger ale (hey- that's for my bourbon & ginger) was only matched by my embarrassment when I heard the discreetly murmured conversation about moving the gumdrops out of sight.

    Oh also- one of my children taught their 2 year old how to play Angry Birds on the laptop. Oops.

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  7. *gasp* I think there might be something wrong with me.... you mean stressing out over whether your kid drinks organic milk or regular milk is not normal?! Oh god. Someone help me.

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  8. If there is one thing I love about motherhood (aside from my kids) is that it taught me that being type "Z" is the best thing you can do for yourself. You'll live longer and happier.

    Good to have you with us.

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  9. I've never aspired to be a Gwyneth, but I must admit that my dreams of having the orderly Von Trapp family never came to pass when it was evident my sons would truly have their own agenda in life that didn't include following rules well.

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  10. I haven't even tried to be a Gwyneth but a Gwen and I'm completely INSANE from the pressure I put on myself... I don't even have Gwyneth friends... now how crazy is that!!!!!! lol.... and Kathy I too drink the Mexican coca-cola..it really just tastes better too :)

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  11. Gosh I loved you writing as much as Kate and Lydia's! And with my first born I cloth diapered, California baby washed, organic baby good fed and generally wigged if my mom even laughed near him without brushing her teeth after a cigarette (because of second hand smoke infantile cancer, ya know). And then I found myself a single mom of two boys, forced back to work when they baby was 4 weeks old and I snapped. Now I use Johnson and Johnson, Gerber and pampers. And I'm way more laxed. Welcome to mommyland!

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  12. Kate, not *the* KateNovember 8, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    I was a Gwyneth too, it was overcompensation for feeling guilty about working. But now that I have two under 6 ... I just let the toddler eat all the halloween candy and watch GI Joe with the big one, and everyone's happy. Especially me. Oh, and with all the money I'm saving on wooden toys and organic toilet paper, I've started a dentist fund ;)

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  13. hilarious post. i too am reformed and much, much happier.

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  14. At least you saw the light.
    My MIL is an old school hippie Gwyneth. She drives me nuts. Is there a way to get her off my case?

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  15. Sounds like it took losing your schmidt to find your sanity. :) Welcome back to reality!

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  16. BAHAHAHAHAHAH::gaspforbreath::BAHAHAHAHAAAA!

    Oh, some people think I'm Gwyneth-y judging from my FB posts ("Oh, dinner tonight (cooked by my 8 and 10 year old children) was Cornish game hens stuffed with wild ice/dried fruit stuffing, farmers market broccoli and organic roast kale chips, and then we all played board games!).
    I keep reminding them that I rarely want to post about the OTHER nights: "Well, it was pizza rolls (the COMBINATION kind with the green peppers and onions -- that's TOTALLY a veggie serving) again for dinner, followed by some fighting and then some Sponge Bob on Wii."

    Maybe I should start posting those too.
    --kate in MI

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  17. Send that woman a pair of Pajama Jeans!

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  18. Yes. we're all really the same, and sharing and caring feels a lot better than...well. The other thing.You go, reformed mommy.

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  19. Once again - Thank You Maude! - my morning started with a laugh, the threat to snort coffee out my nose, and a feeling of safety in my own little community.

    Love, love, love knowing I am not alone.

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  20. Thank GOD for this! I am a reformed Perfect Mommy. I wasn't raised by one, don't know where all this guilt came from. I'm not even Catholic!! The kids are going to end up in therapy for something. Whether it be dreadful neglect when I plunked them in front of Sponge Bob while I made dinner or severe oppression for never letting them have candy like their friends. Id rather err on the side of having a good time on this ride. They day I ever think I am a perfect parent is the day I am a failure as a parent. Tip up yer cup!! Throw yer hands up!!

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  21. This just made me feel so much better!!! Being pulled in all directions while attempting to be a Gwenyth mom is driving me insane. I only have one but work full time and hubby works out of town for 2 weeks at a time.

    My child LIVES on goldfish crackers as a snack, pre-made non organic granola bars, eats hot dogs and KD and only uses cloth diapers part time (can't entirely erase the hippy out of this west coast gal). And she nevereared vegetables because she won't. I don't buy organic and feel the eyes of judgement on me at the grocery store...

    Might I add that on the west coast most of the mommies are Gwenyths.... Boy am I grateful for my mommy
    friends who have also ventured to the dark side (though even THEY use cloth diapers haha...)

    RFML and guest writers like this totally make my day!! Thanks gals for the cheering up and affirmation that I'm still a good mommy!!

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  22. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty! I will pray for you to find balance and happiness that is right for your family :) I too, am a reformed Gwynnie-- like organic/natural all the way down to my household cleaning products for my TOILET! My new favorite smell? Comet with bleach :)AND CLEANER TOILETS!!!!

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  23. Love this! *virtual fist bumps without wiping sticky fist first*

    I spent exactly 12 months being semi-Gweneth. I breastfed and baby-wore like I meant it. I made my 1st kid's foods from organic fruits, veggies, grass-fed beasts. It was all about me and him. Learning, sign language, love.
    Then when he was 12.5 months old, I got preggo with #2. I got Hyperemesis (read: Barfy McBaferton for all 9 months), then I had two kids under the age of 2 (read: WTF?!) so it was all tv and Gerber microwave meals from then on.
    But at least I get the perk of drinking and swearing more often. Which is awesome.

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  24. Ahhh, all the crazy pressures we moms feel it necessary to place on ourselves. As a mom of 4 kids (4-12 years old), and a husband who works out of town for most of the week, I don't have the time/energy/desire to be a Gwyneth. The main advice I give to other moms? Leave the floor unswept, let the kids wear mismatched clothes to school, and it's okay to have ice cream sundaes for supper. A sane mother is far more important than a perfect mother.

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  25. Yes every word. I too was once a Gwyneth. I even used organic cloth diapers. Welcome to the dark side, please get in line for your complimentary welcome t-box <3

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  26. I am somewhere in the middle here....I exclusively pumped because I was tired of my boobs pouring blood into his mouth only to have him spit up pure blood like some kind of demon child, plus it hurt like a mother BUT I wanted him to have Breastmilk. I dig organic cookies off the bottom of my purse to throw at him if he freaks out in a store. I started using the "builds immunities" line so my kid could eat off the floor in order to make the other moms okay with the fact he does it and I have no qualms about him licking grocery carts either..for the same reason. I gave up cloth diapers after he started eating solids but I still buy chlorine-free disposables.

    Perfect mommy thinks I'm terrible and normal mommy thinks I am an extremist. As for me.....I don't give a crap what either of them think and do my thang.

    On the other hand....My 11 year old daughter had formula, chemical diapers, was fed frozen salisbury steaks (or as she called it the meat that looks like poop), was sanitized head to toe (yet was sick all of the time)

    Of course, That was before we had internet and ignorance was Bliss.

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  27. I decided when I had my third one that I could either look perfect (clean house, make-up, etc) and have miserable kids that I never played with and enjoyed or I could choose to only care about the important stuff (health, safety) and allow the rest to be good enough for a few years thereby enjoying the children that I "thought" I was doing all the perfect Mommy stuff for. I chose the messy house, a pizza man who knows my voice when I call and kids who didn't always have matching clothes. Now that all four have headed off to school all day I don't regret that choice one bit. The chaos was bliss and my newly clean house is no replacement for the time with my kids.

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  28. omg.... the ad that's on my sidebar while reading this is for.... wait for it... cloth diapers!!! LMAO

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  29. Hello,
    My name is Boobstain
    I've been a mother for 5 years.
    I read trashy romance novels while my kids kids watch TV, their favorite show is Kung Fu Dino Posse. (don't ask)
    My husband sometimes asks me to shower with "big girl soap" because I often shower with my daughters and we all use the Schamll-mart brand head to toe body wash.
    I am happy and so are my kids, suck it Gwyneth.

    Excellent Post, love it!

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  30. I love this post!!!! I too have Gwyneth tendencies from time to time, mostly about processed foods because I am not down with childhood obesity and diabetes etc... but, I let my kids do a lot of these things.

    I am down with the idea of sticky floors=happy children, mismatched clothes to school, eating off the floor, letting them watch tv while I make them dinner, playing in the dirt, public schools and I do pop my fair share of wine corks. However, I am still not quite certain what to think when people get geers for effort and cheers for giving up. I think this kind of goes hand in hand with 1st world problems. Should one get high fives for being too tired to cook a decent meal because you're in a candy coma and half drunk?

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  31. You can add "new mommies who are scared schmidt-less" to the domestic enemies. I'm still in new mommy mode, so even though you have reformed this post still gets me a little worked up in the wrong direction. I guess I'm still a little steamed at the Gywneth in mommy group who looked at me and sneered "So you're like a totally MAINSTREAM mom, aren't you? I couldn't dream of letting little precious sleep in her own crib."
    You are blessed to have friends who are forgiving because I have almost chucked a fudgie disposable at some of the perfect/judgmental moms I've met.

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  32. Great guest post! I could give a flying fig about the choices a Perfect Mommy makes--I don't think she's crazy for cloth diapering or making her own baby food or homeschooling. But it's the "not as perfect as I am" judgment of other moms that you mentioned that makes me want to square up. It's the snooty comments I hear from Perfect Mommy at the playground about how she "can't believe that mom is using a leash with her child" or "What is that dad thinking giving his kids JUICE?!"

    Welcome to the Mommyland. You can take all that energy you used to use on being a perfect mom and use it to open a t-box. Cheers!

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  33. There is a happy medium for everyone! My kids watch very little TV (we don't even have cable, it's the odd movie)and live pretty unplugged over all, I'm a lot of the organic side in general when it comes to eating and living, chemical free home, etc. co- slept and breastfed the first year, never let them cry it out, but it's not like I'm looking down on anyone or anything, it's personal choices for my family. And it's not like McDonalds every once in awhile or the heaps of Halloween treats we've been snarfing back this past week will kill anyone either. I suck about remembering to get everyone to practice their music lessons, I don't always use appropriate language around them, I'm a total boobstain (braless boobstain even on many days), my kids are blissfully happy, never bored, public schooled, disposable diapered, and enjoy killing eachother on occasion too. I drink wine and snack and sit online when they go to bed. We're real, we're happy.

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  34. Here's the truth we've all found, and why we keep coming back (and I think K&L have mentioned this a lot):

    Being a mom is the HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD and the one thing you really really have to try to get right. We all try so hard to do it right that no matter what we put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves, each in our own way. I don't come from a culture that demands organic food and cloth diapers, but Perfect Mommy in my land involves children knowing the right songs and having the right family activities and certain behaviors and right answers and baking bread...we're not so much about being enlightened as we are about being an idealized past, and that's really hard. What we all have in common is that the standard is impossible most of the time. Letting yourself fall below the mark is a hard thing to do, and we all love the Reformed Perfect Mommy for giving herself and ourselves permission to be flawed.
    I'm in school right now, analyzing literature, so my reading is a little too academic. What I'm trying to say is, "Sister, we've all been there. Welcome."

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  35. So deliciously wonderful, I had to stumble it and tweet it out.

    I want to know her.

    And sneak off into the corner and snark at everyone who still Gwynns it, all day long.

    Excellent guest post.

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  36. what about being married to the male version of Gywneth...when i'm the complete antithesis of that? would someone write a post on that? it sure sucks when he's the one looking down his nose at my dust bunnies (we name them now they are so big) and the crap all over the house. what could "his" name be....Gywnethro?

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  37. Guest author here: thanks for publishing me today! I feel awesome and famous.

    Anytime you want another guest post, you let me know. My life is full of more boobstain moments than I count. I'm the one with the moose poop email address. :)

    I really should send you an update. I have a freaking PLAYDATE with one of the Gwyneth Mommy friends next week... and I haven't seen her in like, more than a year, and she has no idea how much I've change, exactly. Should be interesting.

    Thanks again! I feel so cool and famous today!

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  38. Great post - from a former "My baby only eats what I will make and puree for her" nutcase, who always hated Gwyneth. Because she ruins EVERYTHING.

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  39. Love RFML, but have to admit there are times things don't feel quite right here. Sometimes it feels like we're being a little too Judgey McJudgerson. There's a fine line between this rant and the Rant of the Allergy Mom (maybe that's why that Gwynneth is so picky about what her kids eat) or the Rant of the Special Needs Mom (maybe that's why another Gwynneth is gluten-free, dairy-free, and chemical-free, because she's desperate to help her child but doesn't want to discuss all of that with everyone at playgroup). Maybe she feels very passionately about environmental issues or animal welfare (the organic-Gwynneth or the vegan-Gwynneth). Maybe she hovers over her kid at the playground because he has been struggling with developing social skills and she knows he needs her help. Let's be careful about labeling mommies and getting our laughs over snarking about them. We don't always know the whole story.

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  40. Ah yes. Welcome to the dark side of parenting, reformed Gwyneth. It is so much more fun here.

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  41. Great post - I have only one question:
    Can the nametag from the post be used to cover the actual Boobstain?

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  42. As a mom-in-transition from Gwenythy to not-so-Gwenythy, I have to say this post made me feel so much better about where I am at and how crazy I drive myself. And as my sis-in-law so wonderfully put it, "Gwenyth must have the perfect nanny!" I tip my glass to you, Reformed Mommy!

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  43. I LOVED this!!! I was a Gwyneth BEFORE I gave birth to the Dimpled Demon, and I was a "Judgey McJudger" - BAD. Then I gave birth, and kind of lost my schmidt for a while - though I breastfed for 15 months, made my own baby food, wore my baby like it was a new style, and co-slept until he was 1. However, I did use disposable diapers (Target brand, nonetheless!!), supplemented with jarred baby food, and refuse to buy anything organic on principle b/c I am cheap. Now though, as my Dimpled Demon is 2.5, and I work at a social service non-profit in the prevention of child abuse, I find myself as "Judgey McJudger" and Gwyneth-y now more than ever.... Though I think working with mothers who smoke throughout their pregnancy (cigarettes and otherwise), don't know who the "baby daddy" is, and look for free handouts like it's their job has really jaded me. *sigh* Give me the boobstain mom, and the mom who actually give a schmidt about what their child's day is like - Gwyneth-y or not - any day over the moms who could care less about the baby they are growing.....

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  44. Welcome to the darkside. We have cookies.

    (Because they come in delightful little packages from Target.)

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  45. I usually find myself at a loose end. I hate the Gweneth mommies and always think of the fart sniffers from the "Smug" episode of South Park. But since our son is not allowed tv, or candy and is fed mostly organic, I kind of get the stink eye from regular moms. I never judge, helloo I can't since my child is out of his mind and a devil's cupcake who turns every day into a Final Exit- Toddler Edition. Bleck. What I really need is a Mommyland Playgroup for him.

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  46. The sad thing is I am NOT a Gwyneth by nature. My kids are slowly turning me into one. Food allergies and sensitivities this, skin conditions that, medical needs this....it's insanity. My kids spend 12 hours a week collectively in different therapies - out of necessity, not because I in any way think it's fun. It's actually for my sanity. How effed up is THAT? They're worse without it. Then we have the peanut allergy, red dye sensitivity, lactose intolerant, and my migraines that are induced by MSG, sulfites and nitrates. DO you KNOW how much I miss a good Italian sausage sandwich? But it's not worth having a splitting migraine and having to deal with my kids on top of it for those few minutes. So instead, I'm that douche buying the uncured nitrate free bacon. Thank GOD I can still have bacon that at least tastes good and isn't faux bacon in the form of turkey. And the red dye that turns my kids into Mr. Hyde. Do you know what all that's in? It's not worth the head spinning pea soup spewing mood swings they get just to buy a jar of the Pillsbury vanilla frosting (yes, the vanilla has red #40). It sucks, and I want my old life of hamburger Helper for dinner once a week back, dammit.

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  47. "Happy kids come from homes with sticky floors".
    That's advice I like to follow :)

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  48. I have 4 Gwyneth's at my bus stop who stand in their own little circle because the rest of us there apparently have cooties and are contagious.

    (seriously, WHY do they care that i am still in my pajames, my unwashed hair is pulled into a messy ponytail/bun, and that my right eye is twitching from trying to get the kids out of the house and to the bus stop on time? oh yeah, and my son is eating chocolate chip cookies because we didn't have time for breakfast?)

    All i want to do is pull their hair, shove chocolate down their throats, and possibly kick them in the hoohah.

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  49. I murdered my Gwinneth. I don't even remember how I managed to make breakfast muffins for the entire preschool class in the morning before school... with no notice.

    But she had to die. It happened when my son decided to play, "let's punch mommy repeatedly in the arm". I decided to play too. Is that what 'lost my schmidt' means?

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  50. Agreed. I hated her. I called her Monster Mommy and started having Mommy Dearest moments of striving for ultimate perfection-without the child abuse of course. As I lay in the kitchen sobbing deeply because I had bought beef gravy instead of beef broth, my husband handed me the phone. Literally, I got help. 6 years, 3 therapists (we moved) later, I am Gwyneth free. I have found my inner Roseanne and I'm happy with that. Thank you for writing this.

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  51. What Amanda said!

    I appear to be a Gwynneth to a lot of other Moms. Someone said to me, "How do you do it? How are you so perfect all the time?" I laughed until I literally peed myself a bit. Yes, my kids eat organic, gluten-free, dairy-free food that is usually vegan. And yes, I homeschool one of the two school aged kids. It's only because of all their special needs. And I crochet Christmas gifts (But honey, I need to sit and do nothing but crochet, it saves us money. Haha. Free break!) What people don't see is me yelling, "JESUS F*&CKING CHRIST! GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE AND EAT BEFORE I EAT IT ALL MYSELF!" or "ARE YOU GODDAMN KIDDING ME?! I JUST CLEANED UP THIS F%&KING MESS 4 MINUTES AGO! PICK THAT THE F*&K UP!"

    And as for co-sleeping? It's just easier to sleep through their whining if I know they're in bed with me, not destroying their room, or peeing on the floor. :)

    Nutshell: Most of the Judgey Gwynneths are just so deeply insecure about their own choices, they'll take it out on anyone who is different. And many of the apparent Gwynneths are just doing the best they can with the circumstances they're in. AT least that's what I'm doing. :)

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