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Not Giving a Fuck Made Me an Awesome Mother

When I was pregnant with my son, I was determined to be an awesome mother. I sat down one day and made as list of all the principles I wanted to teach him. Now, nearly eight years after I made that list, I can’t even remember most of what I wrote. I vaguely remember writing some pretentious shit about tolerance and independence (not that being tolerant or independent is pretentious, but the list itself was). And even though I can’t find the list, I know for sure that my mommy game is super strong for one simple reason: I don’t give a fuck.

Now I don’t mean I don’t give a fuck about being a good mother. My success with raising my son is my greatest achievement. It’s the only commitment I’ve made in my life that I’ve never considered breaking or dishonoring. When I say I don’t give a fuck, I mean I don’t give a fuck about what society tells me constitutes being a good parent.

For the first four years of my son’s life, I did everything by the book. I was rigid with the bedtime routine. I read him stories every night. I was obsessive about his diet. I was steadfast in my commitment to putting him in timeout and ensuring he served his sentence. Anytime we stepped out of the door he had to be perfectly pressed, not a hair out of place or a wrinkle to be found. I trained him to always respond to adults with “sir/ma’am.” And by some miracle I, whose potty mouth is most accurately compared to a gas station toilet, managed to never let a single fucking curse word – not even the occasional “damn” – slip out around my boy.

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What I didn’t do, though, was analyze how my by-the-book mothering affected my child. I failed to take into account that my black son would face a world that would punish him even if he fit into their well-dressed, well-spoken, impeccably-educated, clean language, respect-for-authority bullshit respectability model. I didn’t understand that while my job is most definitely to prepare my child for reality, it’s also my job to indulge the fantasy, imagination, creativity and individuality that live within him. I was so obsessed with presenting myself as the perfect mother that I lost sight of what was best for my son. The packaging was more important than the product.

Then one day, my husband, son and I went out to dinner. My son spilled his drink all over his white shirt. “Shit!” I blurted out. I was mortified that I’d cursed in front of my baby. I looked at my son’s stunned face. “Sorry, boo,” I said, “Mommy didn’t mean to say that.” To my surprise, his little ass burst out laughing. My husband and I laughed too. Later on that night as I was tucking him into bed, he asked, “Mommy, are you mad at me?” “Of course not. Why, boo?” I asked him. “Because I spilled that stuff on my shirt and I know you want me to be neat and clean.” “No, it was an accident, baby. Mommy ain’t mad.”

The next day, I took the biggest box I could find and packed up all my fucks. I told myself that from then on, I would be the kind of mother I always wanted as a child. I assured myself that no books or specialists were there with me everyday. I was done forcing my son to conform to all these best practices, without minimally tweaking them to his personality and needs. I believed I could change all that shit.

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And I did. I was like, “Fuck a bedtime.” He’s not in prison. It’s not automatically “lights out” at 8:30. If the kid wants to stay up an extra half hour to finish watching a movie or play one last game, I grant him that. Shit, a half hour won’t kill him, and if staying up a little later makes him tired in the morning, that’s a hard lesson for his ass not to try to negotiate when mommy says, “Go to bed.” Every now and then he wants breakfast for dinner. No problem. I’ll take my ass in there and whip him up some pancakes at 7 PM. He wants to go to a movie on a school night? Cool. Finish that damned homework so we can eat dry ass popcorn and laugh for 90 minutes. Sometimes when we go to run errands on Sunday morning, he doesn’t feel like getting dressed. Instead, he’ll go put on this costume from two Halloweens ago. No problem. If he wants to walk around looking like he’s wearing a culottes Transformers body suit, it’s not the end of the motherfucking world.

Raising my baby to be perfect is impossible. He was born perfect. My task is to try to keep him as close to that innate perfection as possible by giving a finger to what everyone says he should be. So I’ll read him a story, but if he’s not interested, I’ll toss that motherfucker and we’ll cuddle in my bed watching a movie and eating ice cream. I’ll iron and match his clothes, but when he doesn’t like what I’ve picked out, I’ll let him pick out his own outfit even if it consists of more color than a 64-count crayon box. I’ll work on him, but I’ll let him be. And most of all, I’ll continue to do this mommy shit as fucklessly as possible, not giving a damn who thinks I’m too lenient, too indulgent or too hood.

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Kinfolk Kollective avatar About the author: LaSha is a writer who’s obsessed with Black people. Find her work here of course, but also on Ebony, The Guardian, Essence, Salon, Everyday Feminism, Teen Vogue, HuffPo and For Harriett. She’s loves trap music & 90s R&B, watches Jeopardy faithfully and believes fried chicken is her soulmate. The clapback queen is loud and clear about loving her kids above all else and kinda digs her Yankee husband too. Anti-Blackness gives her hives. Get at her @lashawrites on Twitter.

20 comments… add one
  • My daughter is 15 years old…and I’m just getting to this point…nice post!

  • Pashion ,

    This was an awesome read!! Thank you!!

  • Kinfolk Kollective avatar LaSha ,

    ❤️❤️❤️

  • megan ,

    I don’t have kids yet, but I am planning to start soon and taking in all the parenting advice I can find. Thank you for this refreshingly honest post. <3

  • whitec1971 ,

    Great article about parenting. We all try the rigid by the book crap and it never works. Your son will be well rounded and appreciate a mother who is real and not fake. Good job.

  • Kinfolk Kollective avatar LaSha ,

    ❤️❤️

  • Thank you for this!!

  • Handsome Dad ,

    Good article! These are parenting principles that I share (it probably has to do with me being a laid back person in general and not giving a fuck in my own life or others’ lives). My kids can be fussy, hard-headed assholes sometimes, but I try not to take it personal because I know I was a little asshole plenty of times as a child and it didn’t mean anything besides “I love you mom, but I’m a kid so I love getting my way more”.

    The situation with my kids changed when I divorced and sometimes they act out because of what they’re going through in life on top of their normal childish jerk ways, so there’s a new learning curve I’m still experiencing. But there’s no doubt at all that the bond I share with them is second to none. And I attribute it in part to my not giving a fuck parenting style.

  • Brad ,

    LaSha,

    I completely agree with you. In context the rules and structure help me do what I am trying to with my 6 & 3 year old. I feel the same as you when it comes to the mission of being a parent and the effects the tactic has on the child(ren); but my ultimate goal is try to ensure I am not raising a couple of assholes. I get that kids will be royal pains in the asses and at times complete fuckheads, but when they finally leave the nest I hope they aren’t assholes. I took a step for the positive a while back with my oldest and told her “sweetie, I get that you want to do things on your own and make mistakes am I am hear to help, protect, and protect you (from yourself); but I am done yelling at you. Fast forward 2.5 years and I have changed it up again by telling her only a. Our of nights ago that I will give both girls three chances and that will be in th form of – first I’ll ask, second time I’ll ask, third time I’ll tell, and forth time I’ll yell.” So far it has proven helpful not just for them but for me. Only time will tell I suppose.

    God speed and let’s hope that our kids continue to be the light at the end of the tunnel and that when all is said and done what we are doing teaches them or at least provides them with a framework to be successful parents of their own.

  • 1 million times yes!!! Lol.

  • Kinfolk Kollective avatar LaSha ,

    ❤️❤️❤️

  • Kinfolk Kollective avatar LaSha ,

    ????

  • This is my favorite article ever.

  • Beautifully said and written.

  • KimBee ,

    So very true. Add to the mix that all those rules we’re supposed to follow were never meant for ours or our children’s success. I totally agree with you – fuckless is the way to go.

  • Lol! This rung so true. And was very amusing 🙂

  • Kinfolk Kollective avatar LaSha ,

    Cry baby! ???

  • Cassandra ,

    so if I say I’m bawling right now maybe that’ll say a lot ? ~Cassandra

  • Yeah, the only kind of Mom you need to be is one whose child loves her and knows he is loved in return. I don’t have any kids and my mother isn’t perfect either, but the certainty of her love has saved my life more times than she could ever know.

  • Amen. You go girl. I’ve got two myself 4 and 2 years old and I made it clear to everyone that I do not want any unsolicited parenting advice. Love you!!

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