Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How To Lose Your Confidence As A Parent In Twenty Minutes Or Less

Today's lesson: if you are not, always and every day, prepared for the demands that your child's school or daycare might make upon you, you will - I guarantee you - be made to feel like the most worthless, incompetent parent that ever bore or received spawn.

Last week, it was Valentine's Day. "She needs to bring Valentines to school tomorrow," Her Bad Father (who usually does most of the daycare pick-ups and so is more usually the recipient of this kind of information) informed me on the eve of Valentine's Day. "36 of them. Signed with her name but not addressed to anyone."

Which meant, of course, a late-night dash to the nearest all-hours last-minute things store, whereupon hideous Valentines imprinted with licensed characters were purchased and brought home to be forged in her name.

And then, later that night: "Also, she needs to wear something red to school tomorrow."

Which, fine. Nothing that two cups of espresso and a little pre-dawn laundry cycle couldn't take care of.

And then, yesterday: "She needs to bring a family picture to school tomorrow. It's Family Picture Day."


We do not have any current family pictures. That is, rather, we have upwards of 10,000 pictures featuring Wonderbaby and one or the other of us and/or friends and/or extended family members, but these are all a) entirely digital, b) tending toward individual portraiture and/or group portraiture that excludes one of the more significant members of the family (it is almost always me taking the picture, and so from the evidence of our digital photo archives one would presume that Wonderbaby does not have a mother), and c) representative of situations that tend more or less to the embarassing (Wonderbaby bewigged, Wonderbaby naked and bewigged, me naked and bewigged, etc, etc.)

So, we had nothing. No family picture for Wonderbaby to take to school and share with her friends. We were facing - I was facing - the prospect of sending my child, at age two, into the deeply disappointing experience of being the lone child in the group who doesn't have anything for show 'n' tell, or no cupcakes to contribute to the bake sale, or whatever, because her mother sucks ASS.

So I sent her to school with this:

Was that wrong?

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Blogger Kittytenshi said...

Yes I have ALREADY at BEFORE 9:00 AM received my phone call from the school telling me what a horrible mother I am! That's a new record, for them to have me in tears before 11:00 AM.
I wish I was smart enough to homeschool!

10:30 AM  
Blogger TZT said...

Wow. I can almost smell the mousse. Freaking hilarious!

If the humor of that photo is lost on her daytime caretakers, you may want to consider finding new ones.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Birchsprite said...

that photo is the best thing I've seen in ages... it certainly cheered me up today :)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

We are the family represented in your B) scenario, so that's why I make us get a professional photo each year at Christmas (if I didn't, the boys would certainly think that their mother abandoned them from early infancy).

Yup to 36 Valentines too (I had made 20 and then had to scramble last minute when I found out I needed 16 more..)

10:40 AM  
Blogger Cursing Mama said...

you were so right!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Maddy said...

Yup us too. I've been caught out by all of those but the family picture is always the killer. I think it must be our un-American traits that we NEVER go and have the studio portrait taken every year.

I'm the one that takes the photos so we're never all in one shot by definition.

Next time I shall just cut out 'perfect' family picture from a magazine and glue the relevant child in place.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hARR i love that pic catherine perfect choice for family day photos.....there are probably no pics around here with all of us in them...i always look a whiter shade of pale in photos and sometimes have to take a second look to find my ghostly presence in them hahaha....LAVANDULA

10:59 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I LOVE that picture. A few years ago I sent it to my co-worker saying it was my brother and family. I watched her squirm for AGES before I burst out laughing!

11:03 AM  
Blogger KG said...

1. That picture is awesome.

2. Your kid's daycare needs to calm down. My husband is in Iraq - if they demanded a recent family picture of me, I'd probably return one that is a lot less nice than the one you sent with her. By less nice, I mean my middle finger would probably be raised in the foreground.

11:18 AM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

How does Wonderdad get that much volume in his hair? Inquiring minds want to know.

There is nothing wrong with pulling a Phoebe Buffay. Heck, I'll probably end up sending Bumper with a new frame avec sample photo someday soon.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

We've just shrugged and sent the monsters in with a handful of pictures because REALLY we don't do that Sears photo studio stuff.
Awesome group shot - you guys are mulletastic!

11:42 AM  
Blogger Robbin said...

The last family photo we had together was for our church directory and it sucked the proverbial...

Every moment of Harry's life is documented, but we have exactly ONE picture of Kris and I together and absolutely none to prove we are all related.

11:50 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

We rarely remember photos for the photo board either, because like you, it's all digital right now. And, well, we don't have the kind of printer that can print out something resembling an actual picture. Sad, but true.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Those picture requests usually result in me frantically trying to take a picture and then printing it myself. The weirdest by far was "bring a picture of mommy wearing a hat".

11:58 AM  
Blogger Amy Urquhart said...

Oh this town has so needed you.


12:14 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Why is it that it never occurs to others to take a photo of an entire family for them? I too am almost always the one taking the photos. I have to ask point blank for someone else to use the camera once in a while.

I love that photo.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are always welcome to use my family's photo when you need it.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that picture is so funny! lol :0)

1:06 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

That photo is fantastic!

It seems like these requests are awful last minute... Can't they tell you all sooner?

1:07 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Within a year, I predict you will:

* have begun to anticipate this sort of thing, thereby purchasing large stocks of all manner of items (posterboard, colored paper, stock paper, holiday-themed cards on clearance etc.) that you then need a cabinet to provide storage so you'll become an IKEA web site addict

* utterly suspend all aspirations of greatness (because nobody can compete with the best scrapbooking and craft mommy so why bother) and will aim always for "did do" which is about three ticks below "good enough" in some cases but is generally "good enough" and that's the right bar by my estimation.

Or maybe that's just me.

1:12 PM  
Blogger ChicMama! said...

Ugh - Our preschool sprung this one on us last fall. Bring in a family picture for the class segment on "We Are Thankful For...Our Family"

It was absurd. Not a single picture of the three of us could be found beyond 3 months of age. After that, everything was Me + Boy or Husband + Boy. (Boy is now 2) So that's what I brought in - two pics.

Later I checked out the family book on display in the classroom - and most had to do the same thing. Hardly anyone had one family pic. EVEN THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR - whose son is in class - had two pictures! I got over my angst immediately. And began to chill out more in general about this stuff.

I'll submit your photo next year.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

OMG I'm dying here. That photo is hilarious!

I'm thinking, and I don't think we have a nice photo of the three of us at all. No, we do have one from his first birthday almost a year ago. Hm, and it's digital, like all our pics. We'd have to go to the store to get ink and photo paper to print one if this project was sprung on us.

1:59 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Teachers are mean. That's all I'm saying. That photo should fix them.

2:13 PM  
Blogger the Lerro family said...

You have photos of Wonderbaby naked and bewigged?? and better yet, of yourself naked and bewigged?? I have no such photos. I have been slacking BIG time. I'm grabbing the camera right now..."C'mon kids...picture time!"

2:23 PM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

OMG that is seriously the best and funniest family photo I have ever seen. It reminds me of the time when my mom kept the family portrait appointment at Olan Mills shortly after her divorce and let us all wear bathing suits and be silly instead of prim and proper. Only yours is even funnier. You were SO RIGHT to send that!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I'd sent a photo like that instead of letting my kid be the only one without a family photo on her cubby.

2:32 PM  
Blogger GoMommy said...


I love it! I'm sure her teachers got a good laugh!

2:35 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

OMG, you have a beautiful family.

2:40 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Promise me you sent that picture in. Okay?

2:44 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

thanks for making me snarf my sprite.

what a beautiful family. please tell me you got called in for a parent-teacher conference?

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have absolutely no family pictures of the four of us in non digital format. None.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

We have no family picture other than one from when Cordy was a year old. And like you, I'm usually the one taking the picture, so you barely know I exist in the photographic record.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I arrived at the daycare last month my 4 year old grabbed me by the hand & dragged me over to the family picture wall, looked at me with the I'm-so-neglected-I'll-never-get-in-to-Harvard-now eyes & asked if I could please give him a picture for the wall because he was the only kid in the room without a picture on the wall.

You don't know guilt....

4:41 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

The *reminders* are last minute, but the shame of it is, we have a little one-page calendar that is sent home with her every month, that outlines their activities for each day of that month, and includes info like 'BRING FAMILY PHOTO.' But do you think that I know where that calendar is? And do you think that even if I did know, that I would consult it regularly?

Have no life skills. Am not fit to parent.

5:06 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Nooooooo! hahahahahahaha

And why do 2 year olds need valentines? They're 2! They won't miss them!

6:14 PM  
Blogger Jezer said...

Dude, that photo rawks.

When they asked for Alex to bring a family photo, I had to send two--one of him with the Mr. and one of him with me.

And THIRTY-SIX kids? Good Lord that's a lot of classmates!

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn woman, you know what to do with a mullet. Waiting for the post comparing "WB" to Bon Jovi.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I will never EVER get tired of seeing that photo. Mullets rawk.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Ditto what Julie P. said. The first go-round finds you feeling like a failure. By kid number two, you are ready for this crap, but also just do the minimum, b/c who really cares? No one but the perfect/competi-mommy who is more than happy to have the best cupcakes, valentines, photos, etc.

8:57 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Oh, I'm going to definitely have to remember this.

And Peanut? Definitely motherless if you go by the photo album.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh...Catherine...THANK YOU for making me laugh heartily at this. I so need it.

I don't think it was wrong at all. They didn't say who's family you had to send. :) It's a Family Portrait, right? It counts!

9:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa Ann Homic, M.Ed. D.C. said...

Oh that was great! I too made valentine's day cards, my son was so bored, he kept asking me can i go play now???? No, I said, draw a picture and put heart stickers on this card!!

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:25 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

I also have to ask point-blank to get a pic of Q and me, so if it weren't for the Christmas card, there would be no evidence that we're all related. Photoshop comes to mind though.

Love that hair.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Avalon said...

Oh no.

Did the school allow her back?

8:42 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

You are the best.

As a non-mother, I have to wonder...do 2 year olds NEED Valentines? Why??? Why do they have to wear red and bring fambly photos? It all seems nutso to me, like entertainment for the teachers and that the children would not care if they didn't make a deal about it.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*snort* *cough* Uh, that's such a lovely picture! You have a beautiful family!!! :-)

9:33 AM  
Blogger Lisa Dunick said...

I'm not sure if it was right, but anyone who can't see the humor in it isn't worth worrying about. Thanks for starting my day off with a good laugh!

10:37 AM  
Blogger Baby in the City said...

At least you got a heads up for Valentine's Day. When I went to pick up The Boy on V-day, I was told, with a sideways glance and a consoling 'you failed' smirk, that he couldn't take home his little goody bag yet cause, you know, the valentines and treats were still rolling in from all the other 'good' parents, who were on it enough to bring Hershey's kisses and valentines for everyone. Great. Cause we all like to not only let our own children down, but disappoint all their friends too.
Sometimes I hate daycare.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Love the photo! I'm also the Mom scrambling for photos, searching the laundry basket for red or green(St.Pat'sDay) clothes, frantically trying to make sure that my kids are not the only ones not participating...sigh. It's madness I tell you.

11:29 AM  
Blogger HRCFS said...

Ok, I'm the 34 year old daughter of the woman who takes great pictures and she spent my youth behind the camera.

You must get out from behind the camera, even if it means that photo documentation of the top of your head is lost or that it looks like you often have a tree branch growing from your right ear.

I remember my mom joking about it not looking like I had a mom in the photoalbums. That evolved into a slightly manic roating photo series.

Me & Dad at Christmas dinner table.
Dad & Mom at Christmas dinner table.
Mom & Me at Christmas dinner table.
and on and on.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have no idea how deep my love runs for you after viewing that photo....


1:23 PM  
Blogger mek said...

This week we had Bring a Picture of your Pet day - which was awesome because we always use up the last picture or two on a roll by taking pictures of the cats. Much easier than the family photos.

Do 2 year olds need valentines? I don't know, but my 21 month old has been spending time almost every day since valentine's day going through her little doily-covered kleenex box looking at her valentines and saying "girl!" "boy!" "cat!" "car!" or whatever else is pictured. So, I'd say she at least is getting as much out of the holiday as I could ask!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Karen Erickson said...

Nah, I thought it was pretty freaking right! LOL

7:20 PM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

OMG, what a laugh I got out of that one!!! I've seen that before, but can't remember where.
We're the same, I think I can count the number of pictures of us as a family on one hand. Meanwhile about a million of each kid.
How did the daycare react?

9:09 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

I used to worry much more about stuff like that...now I kind of like making up my own rules.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Restless Ink said...

I didn't even know people DID family photos anymore...isn't that kinda 70's?

just tell them..it's SO yesterday...

That picture is awesome.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Animal said...

No. You didn't REALLY send her with that photo. Did you? Tell me you didn't. The kid reminds me of the little girl that Ripley finds in "Aliens," the chick looks like she's about 10 seconds away from throwing her bra to Brett Michaels, and the dude...well, the dude kinda looks like me, circa 1987. Oh well. No one told us that Aqua-Net would eat the ozone layer until it was far, far too late.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Suburban Gorgon said...

Oh god. I like you so much.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Trish K said...

I am soooo using that picture next time my kids need to bring one to school!!!!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

I found that picture a little while back when I searched "mullet." It's now framed, on the wall.

5:47 PM  
Blogger JCK said...


2:52 AM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Ah, you just reminded me about my three-year-old's "Construct a musical instrument out of ordinary household objects" assignment for his Kindermusik class . . .

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to go back to last Easter (yes, the one almost a year ago) to find a family photo for the same reason just last week. Is Family Photo Day national?

3:40 PM  
Blogger karen said...

I also commonly wield the camera and am rarely seen in family snaps. I sent in one of Daddy and the boys with a note that Mama is a witch and cannot be seen in mirrors or pictures.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least you sqeaked out the Valentine's Cards- I found myself printing homepage cards the morning of. And you're not alone. We don't have many family pictures either, but that's largely because I'd rather not see myself in photos!

5:14 PM  

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