Something dawned on me and I liked it. My kids can give me a run for my money at home. They bicker, antagonize, oppose me, talk potty talk and quite frankly do little in the way of chores. They drive me nuts half the time! I tell my husband I need an escape from this madhouse…

Yet I rarely take it. I rarely actually make that happen for myself. My husband would support an occasional sabbatacle now and then, but he leaves me in charge of the details. Except I never get around to it! Because a part of me doesn’t really want to be away from them, but to be with them acting well-behaved. When we are apart I feel like something is wrong! Not while they’re at school, but all other times. They are my life and my full-time job. Actually, they are three appendages I am accustomed to lugging around. And I kind of like it. They’re sort of my little buddies, my side-kicks. I’d say my “wing-men” except that might be pushing it. They are more like dead weight that keeps me grounded!!

But I have noticed something in all this togetherness, despite their general diobedience in our home. When we walk out this door or are in the presence of company, I OWN THEM! They do not test me. They don’t push. They rarely challenge me to keep good on my threats of punishment. I can admit I have seen children disobey their parents no matter who the audience, what the circimstance. I cannot claim to know the reasons why other children act as they do, but it dawned on me that my kids respond to me with attention because they know they will NEVER ESCAPE MY WRATH. I am breathing down their necks 24/7! Misbehave while I am out treating you to a day at the park or shopping for your Gogurt and Mini Wheats, and you will have no where to hide. No space while I am somewhere else and you can buy time with a sitter.

I am everpresent. I am watching you. I have the power to dismantle your happy little playdates and lazy afternoons lounging while there are chores to be done. I can decide NOT to take you to the store when you want to go, and I can decide when to put you to bed. Me and only me. I do not change hands with rarely anyone other than daddy, and he’s on my team.

I have to say that it seems kids who spend all summer and hours after school with sitters tend to have a certain ownership over their own lives. They create a world for themselves that works for them. They schedule playdates, they find things to do. They do not wait until food is served to eat, they do not wait for mom to entertain, they entertain themselves or accept the terms of being home with a sitter. They manage fine while mom is out, assuming she has arranged for fine childcare. It works out, and many, many families do it. No one is suffering. But when it comes to discipline, what power does the part-time mom have when she may not be around to follow up? How can she inflict necessary guilt and misery for enough consecutive hours to leave a kid crying MERCY!!!? I think when it comes to disipline, one fed-up mama is better than ten perky nannies or patient, loving grandmas.

How do I know this? Because my mom worked. And I was unfraid.

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