At breakfast one morning, my family sat around the table enjoying bagels. As my husband and I shared a funny story about an incident that happened when we were dating, my younger son said, “Yeah, you guys are like Beauty and the Beast.”Ignoring the Beast jab at my husband and focusing on the compliment, I smiled at my son and said, “Well, thank you, honey, for thinking I’m pretty.” Without hesitation, my son put me in my place with a wry smile and said, “Who said you’re Beauty?” Ouch. When I became a mom, no one told me that parenting would require such a thick skin. My boys have been throwing these cherished love bombs at me for years, their comments ricocheting between sarcastic humor, youthful innocence, moody snarkiness, and just tellin’-it-like-it-is honesty. I keep reminding myself to get out their baby books and write down these verbal arrows to my mother’s heart---recording them next to all those sweet butterfly-kisses moments---just to keep motherhood real. I wouldn’t want to forget any diamonds in the rough, such as these beauties: “You’ve got to make a really great dinner tomorrow night, Mom,” one son declared after we had just finished loading the dishwasher. “Why?” I asked, wondering what special occasion warranted this great meal tomorrow. “Because you’ve got to make up for the last two nights’ dinners, which were awful,” he explained matter-of-factly. “You’re such a klutz!” one son said between laughs after I had just tripped up the stairs and laid splayed on our porch with a bag of groceries cascading everywhere. “You look really fat!” declared one son as he watched a video of me holding his newborn brother. “I’m not fat. I just had a baby,” I explained. “No, that’s not it,” he continued. “YES, IT IS!” I counter with way too much self-defense in my tone. “Mom, I thought you said you were going to do your hair so we could go to the park,” one son stated impatiently. “I did,” I replied, grabbing my car keys ready to head out the door. “Oh, it doesn’t look it,” he said, unable to detect the difference between my before-and-after ‘do. “Those pants look weird,” one all-too-honest son shared with me as I got ready for a mom’s night out. (Insert uncontrollable laughter here.) Both sons couldn’t speak for a full two minutes after looking at some pictures from my teenage years, complete with glasses, braces and bad hair days. "You sound like that weather guy when you laugh," one son pointed out as I watched Good Morning America, citing the robust chortle of GMA’s former meteorologist Sam Champion. “Mom, are you awake?” one son asked as he pulled my left eyelid up at 5:42 a.m. “I am now,” I replied, wondering why we don’t lock our bedroom door at night. And then, hours later, this same son asked, “Why do you have such dark circles under your eyes?” "How come you never work?" one son asked, clearly not understanding what a stay-at-home mom actually does all day. "Watch how the back of your arms jiggle when I hit them," one son remarked as he swatted my flabby triceps back and forth like a game of tennis. "Do you know what the capitol of North Dakota is?" one son asked during our homeschool geography lesson. “No, I don’t remember,” I replied. “Boy, Mom, do you remember anything you learned in school?” he replied.
Who knew that parenting would require skin thick enough to dodge verbal bullets fired at you by your own offspring? Kids---keepin’ motherhood real since the beginning of time.