Herding Squirrels: Greetings from a super villain

Traci Arbios

As a young lass, I never wanted the “typical” dream of growing up and getting married and having 2.5 kids and settling down into the 3-bed, 2-bath home with the picket fence. Partial lie — I wanted the picket fence, but mostly I just wanted my parents to build a picket fence around our army green, ranch-style tract home. (Talk about curb appeal.)

No. I dreamed of growing up, living a metropolis and becoming a superhero. I seriously thought it was achievable because, A. They promised the future would have jet packs and B. With all the advances modern science has made since the 1970s, you’d think they would have made *some progress* on an invisibility suit. Also I was pretty much a boy until I hit 6th grade, but my feminine side really dug the Lycra bodysuit idea. And a cape. Capes are magical.

Flash forward to what the future has revealed: I’m not only a married, but a *remarried* mother of seven kids living in a nice, somewhat customized tract home in the suburbs. Still no picket fence. Still no jet pack.

And instead of being a superhero, in my little world I am the bad guy. It’s sort of a twist, really, on Clark Kent. By day I go to work disguised as just a mild-mannered gal who works at the local newspaper; but at night, and without foreknowledge or planning, I become an evil villain known as Mean Mom.

To wit:

Upon my return home from a long, utterly grueling day at work wherein I was forced to EARN my pay, my smiling, somewhat relieved self heads into the laundry room to find _ duhn, duhn, duuhhhnnnn — the load of clean laundry I’d done the night before unceremoniously dumped on the floor, so as to make room for a teen’s work uniform. This large load, now mixed back in with unclean items, was left there for me to pick up. I call said teen and leave an angry cell phone message — privileges revoked! You must redo this laundry, fold it and put it away! I work too hard to have to blahblah blah blah. I tune myself out. It’s the usual bad guy monologue, complete with whispered threats of social life annihilation. Yes. Mean Mom strikes again.

Off the phone, when the heated moment passes, I feel like a troll. That’s part of being Mean Mom, too, I suppose. Honestly, I seriously doubt Lex Luthor liked himself very much after he lashed out. And I bet The Joker had a softer side, as well.

Focusing on the positive, I begin making dinner: green beans, grilled asparagus, steamed brown rice with pulled-pork loin. I notice my youngest has become somber, literally morose. Apparently I have ruined her LIFE. The discovery that the rice is not white has caused paroxysms of grief. And not only did I MAKE the wrong rice, I put it on her plate, and it TOUCHED the other food. Oh, the look that one gave me. And like a true villain I smile inwardly, knowing that only I have the power to make her eat. Three. Whole. Bites. Mwahahahahahaaa!

*Sigh.*

The fact of the matter is I hate being the bad guy. But my mom swears this naggy phase will pass, and when the kids are older they will come to appreciate my mothering. In like 15 years. So while right now I feel like a big jerky larva, I’m actually in the chrysalis phase and someday I really will emerge as a beautiful, real-life superhero. And I shall be known as Grammy.