Mean Mom, A Subtle but Powerful Art | MomCave LIVE

Hello, fearless listeners and readers of MomCave LIVE! Today, we’ve lured the mastermind behind ‘The Brave Art of Motherhood’ out from the trenches of teen negotiations and tantrum-filled epicenters. Forget the usual author intro; we’re here to chat about the messy, marvelous world of momming, where the only plot twist is figuring out who hid the remote. So, grab your coffee, lock the bathroom door (if you can), and let’s embark on a hilarious journey through the pages of motherhood with the one and only Rachel Martin!

Finding Joy: A Mean Mom’s Tale.

Jen: Welcome to MomCave LIVE, where we may have lost our minds, but we haven’t lost our senses of humor. I’m Jen from MomCave. Every week, I have a guest with me. This week, I have someone I’m going to make appear on the screen like magic. Tada!

Rachel Martin: Here I am.

Jen: There she is, from behind the curtain. Rachel Martin, otherwise known in all the places as Finding Joy.

Rachel Martin: That is true. People actually think my name is Joy.

Jen: That’s kind of cute. It would have been really cool if your name was Joy.

Rachel Martin: It would have been, but then I’m like, am I finding myself? But I guess that’s the story. So.

Jen: We’re gonna talk about your books, and we’re going to talk about a bunch of things and hang out. Anyone who’s here and wants to talk with us in the comments, just pop in. The most you had a post go viral a while back. We’re just talking about how we were in the OG mommy blogger years.

Rachel Martin: That’s right.

Jen: What was the title of that post? About mean moms?

I’m a mean mom, and that’s totally fine.

Rachel Martin: Oh, you know, I don’t even know. I think I probably titled it like, “I’m the mean mom, and I’m okay with it.” That sounds like what I would have titled it.

Jen: Mhm.

Rachel Martin: So I’m gonna just go with that.

Jen: Okay,

Rachel Martin: I’m gonna say it was

Jen: I like it.

Rachel Martin: Yes.

Jen: Yeah, something along those lines. “I’m a mean mom. And that’s totally fine.”

Rachel Martin: Right.

Jen: So we thought we would talk a little bit about that. What being a mean mom means and all that. So hop in the comments and let us know why your kids think you’re a mean mom. Rachel, what is the craziest reason your children have ever called you a mean mom?

Mom and the Big Word.

Rachel Martin: Probably. It’s always limits. It’s always when I set a limit on.

Jen: Mhm.

Rachel Martin: Hands down. I can’t think of any other time. It’s when I say the two words and the two letters. N.O.

Jen: Two letters. That Big Word.

Rachel Martin: It is a big word, and it’s those limits. I always tell my kids those limits. The limits are there because I love them.

Jen: Right.

Rachel Martin: Bottom line, or I also love myself. I know I can’t do everything.

Jen: I asked my kids just about an hour ago. We were having dinner. And I asked them why I was a mean mom. And they had countless reasons, why.

Rachel Martin: That’s nice that they listed them.

Kids eating out of their lunch box.

Lunchboxs or Torture Devices?

Jen: There was no lack of reasons. But my eight-year-old’s biggest reason was that when she got home from school, the first thing I made her do was empty out her lunchbox.

Rachel Martin: Oh.

Jen: Before she can play.

Rachel Martin: Yes, Hallelujah to that because I have one that if it doesn’t get emptied on Monday morning, I’m like, Dude, you have to be the one to open this because opening it. It’s like a thermos. It’s bad. Then, the whole dishwasher experiences a bad smell. So all morning, I didn’t even want to open it.

Jen: Right.

Rachel Martin: So I’m with you there.

Jen: Totally.

Rachel Martin: That’s not mean,

Jen: That’s not mean.

Rachel Martin: That’s practical.

Jen: That’s very practical. It’s saving everybody a lot of headaches down the road.

What’s that Smell?

Rachel Martin: Right? Right. You’re saving like when people come in, like that moment of awkwardness of what’s that smell.

Jen: What is that smell in this house? I’m sure there are other smells in my house. But luckily, it’s not a lunchbox.

Rachel Martin: That’s so true.

Jen: Last Friday, my son, who’s 13, did not empty his lunchbox on Friday. Last Sunday night, when he was getting ready to pack his lunch, he realized it, and it was so gratifying because he opened it up. He was like, I can’t do it. I can’t do it, Mom, and I made him do it. And he was literally dry-heaving.

Rachel Martin: Right.

Jen: Totally got it. I just hope he will remember that in the future.

Rachel Martin: I think they do. I mean, I actually believe that’s how they learn. This story of my oldest, so I used to live in Minnesota. I live in Nashville now, which everybody thinks is the coolest, but it is cool. I’m gonna say it’s super cool. But when I lived in Minnesota, and my one of my oldest was young, it gets sub-zero there with windchill where you’re where I would tell my kids if you go outside, put a smile on your face because it’s gonna freeze.

Jen: Yeah.

Kohl’s: Life Lessons That Work.

Rachel Martin: We’re at Kohl’s back in Kohl’s prime, you know, heyday shopping days. And I said you need to put your coat on right now, and maybe she was three four. She refused. I kept saying you need to put your coat on. No, no, it was, and it turned out to be this tantrum kind of experience at Kohl’s. So then I said, if you don’t put your coat on, I will not let you put your coat on until you’re in the car. So

Jen: That was good, clever.

Rachel Martin: Kohl’s was much like moms like me and also bless them 80 plus year old women that were in there so as I’m pulling, taking my child out into the subzero, they see her without the coat. And I’m like, just trying to teach a lesson, just trying to teach a lesson. And I remember walking painfully slow because I knew she’d be fine. But after that, the rest of the winter and from that moment on, always a coat. Let me put my coat on, never argued.

Jen: Well, it worked. See..

Rachel Martin: It did.

Mean Moms Mean Well.

Jen: Being a mom. Do you remember any time that you particularly thought your parents were mean and you had a mean mom?

Rachel Martin: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I love my parents a lot. Now, in every book that I write, I tell them how much I love them. I tried to include them to pay back for that.

Jen: Right.

Rachel Martin: I don’t remember the specifics, always. But I just feel like it was always linked to limits, like I would want to do something and stay up late. I would want to do whatever it was. When they would say no, I would push back. And that’s part of childhood is figuring out what’s the limit.

Jen: Right

Dad’s Not So Silent Warning.

Rachel Martin: That’s where me and my mom would just butt heads into the place where my dad would walk in, and he would always give us warning that he was coming. You could hear the footsteps or something moving. So I always knew to get my act together and get it together right now.

Jen: Yes

Rachel Martin: He was good at that. He was a master at that.

Mom Bad, Dad Good.

Jen: Oh, wow. I think in my family, I’m the bad guy. I’m the bad cop.

Rachel Martin: Really?

Jen: Yes.

Rachel Martin: Nice

Jen: Sometimes? I don’t know. They definitely think I’m meaner than Daddy.

Rachel Martin: Okay

Jen: No questions about it. And I would love to hear some other people’s reasons why they are mean. So you can let us know in the comments. I think the number one reason I’m a mean, mom, and this one, I actually do truly actually feel guilty about this one.

Rachel Martin: Okay.

Jen: I will not let my family get a dog.

What were we thinking?

Rachel Martin: Oh, you’re talking to someone who just got a dog. So I get it. Because my husband and I both the other day, we’re like, what were we thinking?

Jen: Yeah. I know my limits. As you say, I know my bandwidth. We travel a ton. House is a disaster as it is. We also rent our house. We live in a ski area. So, we rent our house out a lot on Airbnb. And it’s hard enough keeping it clean. I can’t imagine adding a living, breathing canine to the chaos.

Rachel Martin: Well, I can imagine, and I did have that moment, just two days ago, of what were we thinking? Because we do like to travel. There’s a lot of limits in there that it brings. It’s unconditional love. So you could be the mean mom, and somebody will still unconditionally love you.

Jen: Oh, and the dog will still love you.

Rachel Martin: Yeah

Jen: The dog won’t think you’re mean.

Rachel Martin: Never!

Phases of life.

Jen: Do you think that it’s more different stages of childhood that this whole like your mean mommy thing happens?

Rachel Martin: I think it’s. Yeah, I would say it’s phases to me. It’s like when they’re little. It’s over more ridiculous things. But as they get older, it’s definitely because they want more freedom.

Jen: Yeah

Rachel Martin: And it’s really tough because I get it. All of a sudden, you know most of history. You’re 16, 17, 18 you’re on your own. And now we’re like you guys, you’re not on your own yet. You’re kind of really an adult. But here you go do your homework and do all this stuff. And so I feel like there’s that tension where they want the freedom. Then they’re stuck in a framework, the school system or whatever it is, where they don’t really have it all yet.

Mom, Protector of Wild Beasties.

Jen: Right. Right.

Rachel Martin: Right

Jen: Matured, and yeah, like out in the wild,

Rachel Martin: We hope so. Right?

Jen: Out in the wild they could be,

Rachel Martin: Right

Jen: You know, running around and having babies, but they’d also be fighting saber-toothed tigers, and we are-

Rachel Martin: Correct

Jen: Protecting them from all of that

Is there anything to eat?

Rachel Martin: Correct. We provide food because they’re all very excited, no matter what age, when I come back from the grocery store. We always do grocery shopping on Sunday, inevitably, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I started to hear the rumblings of, “Are you gonna go to the store again? Like like we’ve never gone before? It’s almost panic-like.

Jen: They’re starving

Rachel Martin: Exactly. They’re just not choosing what’s in the pantry.

Jen: Exactly. It might as well not exist if that’s not something they want to eat.

Rachel Martin: Right Taki’s

Jen: Oh my goodness. My daughter just discovered those. I’ve taken to having to hide some things like oh, we do too. Yeah, okay, good. I know I’m a mean mom at my desk here in my working area. There is a drawer, and there are certain snacks in there that, hopefully, they’ll never find, but for now, they don’t know where those are.

Rachel Martin: We have them hidden because otherwise, come Monday we start hearing are you going to the grocery store?

Jen: Yeah,

Rachel Martin: Because it’s like a feeding frenzy. And then there’s nothing left. There are spots.

Jen: So there’s that’s a reason that they think that we’re mean. But in reality, we’re really just making sure that their food lasts all week.

Rachel Martin: That’s so true. Or at least it’s, it’s food that they want to have at the end of the week,

Jen: Right.

Label it, or it’s Gone!

Rachel Martin: Now, my kids, because they’ll label everything. So in the refrigerator, if somebody doesn’t finish, if you don’t label, it’s a free-for-all.

Jen: Yeah, totally

Rachel Martin: Go in there. There’ post-it notes and different things so that people know that is that person’s, and actually, I labeled stuff too. Mine don’t touch,

Jen: Do they respect the label? I feel like I could write anything on there, and if the kid wants it, they’re gonna take it,

Rachel Martin: There’s a mutual respect for the label. Because if there wasn’t, then their stuff is fair game. So there is a definite mutual respect. It’s like the dividing line. It’s like the little thing that you put on the line at the grocery store.

Jen: Yes

Rachel Martin: Between each other’s. It’s like that type of respect, or the cones that you put in traffic, the label, nobody messes with the label, it’s pretty much law.

Jen: I like that.

Rachel Martin: Yeah, It’s good.

The Dairy Queen Incident.

Jen: Mean Mom, things. Is there anything that you do, like any mean mom move you’ve made, that you didn’t think before you had kids you would be that mom?

Rachel Martin: So, my daughter Grace, she’s 22 now. She loves to tell this story in a way that still makes me feel bad. But I don’t have a lot of patience. I don’t have patience for lines, I’m just going to put it out there. I inevitably choose the wrong grocery line and the wrong traffic lane. If I go to Starbucks, there’ll be a line. So my kids know I have no patience. There’s this time when she was a teenager.
She knows I don’t like lines. We’re in northern Minnesota, it’s summer, and we’re going back to the cabin. I said, “Let’s get Dairy Queen, a nice long thing.” So I went to the small-town Dairy Queen, and the line was ridiculous. I can see they’re slow. They’re behind. So I waited a little bit and turned to them. I said, “You know what, this line is too long. Let’s just get ice cream at the grocery store.”

Jen: Yeah.

Rachel Martin: To this day, she will tell you, “Can you believe that time?” It broke my heart. She dramatizes it. But I mean, those are the things, some of the little mean things. They’re not really mean. I think the kids like them because now they can laugh at it. “Oh, don’t go to Dairy Queen. Mom won’t wait.”

Jen: Now they have a story, and they commiserate.

Rachel Martin: They do.

Jen: Other about how mean you are.

The Unforgettable Tragedy of Not Getting Dairy Queen.

Rachel Martin: I forgot about it. Then she starts telling it, and everybody else in the car is like, “Oh, yeah, remember that? It was a tragedy.” I’m like, are you kidding me? She said, “I was planning on this blizzard, and I had all these things. And I was ready to go, and nope, here you are, no patience, just zip that car right out of there.”

Jen: Well, it sounds like you must have been a pretty good mom overall if the most traumatizing thing that your 22-year-old faced was not getting Dairy Queen.

Rachel Martin: Probably. I would like to think that the boundaries that we set actually help the relationship because they know we’re that safe person. To me, the bottom line is not because I’m trying to be mean. I’m trying to do that. It’s just I tell them, “I have X number of years of experience with you guys. And I love you so much that I know that this is the boundary.”

Jen: Right, there’s a lot with my 13-year-old. There’s a lot of, “Yep, I know. I felt exactly the same way. Nope, that doesn’t change my mind.”

Why are you mad, though?

Rachel Martin: Right? It’s rough, though. It is rough because you look, and it’s just you. I don’t like that part because I, well, just as my own thing, I hate it when people are mad at me. So then I’m like, they know that too. So they know. Then I’m like, oh, they kind of feed that part. And I’m like, okay.

Jen: That’s just one of the challenges that we put up with people being mad at us. Literally, people that live with us are often mad.

Rachel Martin: Yes, they are. It’s crazy. When I think back to when they were preschoolers and how mad they could be, it was the end of the world when it was bedtime.

Jen: Right?

Rachel Martin: Now my kids are like, “Oh, can I just go to bed?”

Jen: How dare you ruin their lives.

Rachel Martin: Right, to get some sleep?

Jen: Well, and now we would just kill for some sleep.

The Brave Art Of Motherhood Book, by Rachel Martin.

The Brave Art of Motherhood.

Rachel Martin: Right. Can you tell everybody that’s watching about your new book?

Rachel Martin: Before we went live, we were talking about how we’ve been online for a long time, and I’ve been writing my site, Finding Joy, since like 2009. In about 2011, I started writing letters to moms because one time I wrote something, my mom wrote back, “I love what you’re writing, but I feel like I’m failing as a mom.” I thought, well, she feels like she’s failing. I often feel that way, too. So I wrote a letter back, and I was getting ready to send it. Her email address was anonymous, so I ended up publishing it. That was the first thing that went really, really viral. All these moms were like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s me too. I have a messy sink, too.” It was back when social media was perfect.

Jen: Oh yes, the olden days.

It all adds up.

Rachel Martin: Yeah. I started writing letters. My website became letters, like when they were little.

Jen: Oh, neat.

Rachel Martin: As I was going through different things, or as I learned to take care of myself again. I have been writing another book right now. My publisher said, “Everybody’s been asking for these letters.” I’m like, “Yes, they’d want them in book form.” Because that’s the number one request I get. They’re like, “Well, either we pay attention to the universe, or we ignore it.” We took all the letters, and I put them all together in a book. I’m super proud of it. I love it because it’s a collection of long-term motherhood moments and, as a writer, I don’t think I could go back and write with the same rawness of what it’s like to have a preschooler as I did at that moment.

Jen: Yes, so amazing.

Rachel Martin: Yeah.

We are Mom Enough!

Jen: You guys have to check it out. I will put the link in the description or the comments when we’re offline. But where can they find it? It’s on Amazon, of course.

Rachel Martin: It’s on Amazon, Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, and always your local bookseller. I’m a big proponent of supporting them, too. So it’s there. Mom enough, right there.

Jen: Mom Enough, you guys. We are all mom enough. Amen. To continue being a mean mom. And when you feel bad about it, grab that book, Mom enough. It was great talking to you, Rachel. I’m gonna go be mean and put kids to bed very well.

Rachel Martin: I actually joke about bedtime because I used to sing. You know, it’s the most wonderful time of the year song. Christmas when I would sing. It’s the most wonderful time of the day in my head sometimes because you just need a break.

Jen: Sometimes we just got to get there. It’s so good talking to you. Thanks for watching, everybody. Thank you.

Listen to this episode about being a Mean Mom | with Rachel Martin | MomCave LIVE, as a podcast here:


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