How M&Ms got me a better flight


The Karma Project, week 5

No that's not really me, but that woman is inside of me somewhere.

No that's not really me, but that woman is inside of me somewhere.

First, before I get to the M&Ms, a digression. I’m writing this post at night, after a long day, one that I tried to start off in a positive way by setting my alarm for 6:15 a.m. so I could get up before my kid and meditate.

I actually did it, too. Then, I went for a run. Then I was a super writer for most of the day, handling some urgent work issues with focus. Then I picked up my kid and was a loving, caring, compassionate and, I dare say, FUN mommy for most of the night.

Then bedtime approached. After I got my kid settled into bed, I planned to write this blog. I knew the following day would be another packed workday.

I tried to be patient, to enjoy the whole bedtime routine, because, you know, mothers are supposed to enjoy that sort of thing.

And usually I am that sort of mother.

But tonight? I really just wanted to write the blog.

I managed to read Green Eggs and Ham and some book about Arthur having a bad dream about pickles without rushing TOO much. I even had my daughter laughing at the end of Green Eggs and Ham because I kept substituting the words “stinky toots” for “eggs.” You just try to read that book with that substitution and see if you can pull it off with a straight face.

Anyway, I might have gotten my daughter a wee bit too riled up. Soon she was crawling all over me, asking to thumb wrestle, jumping on the bed, and wanting to sit on top of me. I just wanted to hug her and get to the blog. I could feel my creative spark draining from me with every single “No” that came out of my mouth.

I knew Mean Mommy was about to make an appearance. I could feel her in my chest. I’m not proud of Mean Mommy, but she’s a part of me. She’s as real as my heart, lungs, and kidneys.

I kept Mean Mommy stuffed down in my chest, though, and managed to get out of the room before she said anything hurtful.

I opened a Word file. I typed the headline you see on this post. I thought about my M&M story. And that’s when it happened.


Deep breath. Sigh.

I walked to her room. I learned that she’d lost her monster truck.

I felt Mean Mommy’s presence. She was there in a strong, big way. Very little of the rational, kind me was left. I silently repeated a Buddhist mantra I’d learned. It goes like this, “I may die today. I may die today. I may die today.” Sure, it sounds all Goth and morbid, but it’s supposed to remind me that anyone—including myself—could die at any moment, so I should try to live without regrets. I reminded myself that I didn’t want to die in the middle of the night and leave my daughter worried that I’d been mad at her for losing her monster truck.

It helped. It seemed like the good me was back.

She said, “I can’t find it!”

Mean Mommy relied, “I don’t know where it is. Stay in your room and don’t come out. You know the rules.”

So much for the possibility of my untimely death helping me to remain compassionate.

Back at my computer I typed an email to a friend, telling her that I was a terrible mommy. She typed one back, telling me that she was even worse. That helped.

Then I heard a high-pitched wail. Now, the normal Mommy reaction to a high-pitched wail would be the thought, “OMG! What’s wrong?!”

That’s not what I thought. Instead, I thought, “What the [I’ve removed this word because I promised long ago that I would not curse on this blog, so use your imagination and put that word in all caps] is it NOW?” I thought about using my mantra, but the thought didn’t last very long. I did think that I might find her impaled on her bedpost, and then I would feel terrible about not having the correct reaction to her high-pitched wail.

But that didn’t stuff Mean Mommy back into my chest. I stomped to her room to find out that her monster truck had fallen on her lip. Exactly why that resulted in the amount of pain that would necessitate those high-pitched wails? I just don’t know. I gave her ice and stomped right back out.

I sat down at my desk.


I ignored her, figuring that she was probably done with the ice and that it was melting all over her bed and that is was making the biggest wet spot imaginable and that I so didn’t care.

I ignored her for a good long while. I wrote quite a few paragraphs. Then curiosity got the best of me and I decided to check on her. I learned that she’d called me to find out whether I’d found the “I’m really sorry” note she’d quietly left near me while I’d been typing emails. SHE was sorry?

In that moment? I felt like diaper contents, the kind that comes from the diaper of a baby who has been eating nothing but peas for a week straight. (Do babies eat nothing but peas for a week? I’m not sure, but I like the analogy so I’m keeping it.)

I hugged her. I told her that I loved her. I promised to be a better mommy. I told myself that I was the luckiest mother in the world. I promised myself that I would never, ever in a million lifetimes work at night again.

Then I walked right back to my office and I continued to write this post.

I was just pushing the bad Karma envelope.

So here’s what I want to know. Who IS this monster? I know some of you like me, so you will probably try to cheer me up by telling me that it was just a bad night, that Mean Mommy doesn’t make an appearance every single night. That’s true. Had I not been having such a busy workweek? I would have been a Good Mommy tonight. I just know it.

But still. I want to exorcise Mean Mommy from my soul.

And while I’m exorcising things from my soul, there are some other things I’d like to get rid of, too. In no particular order, they are:

  • My quick instinct to backbite, especially when the other people around me are doing it, too. I keep catching myself saying nasty things about people behind their backs. I’d like to stop. I keep promising to stop, but the nasty things keep coming out.
  • My irritation with really minor things. Like there’s this lady that I see nearly everyday who walks two small dogs. Without fail, whenever I see her, she’s on her cell phone and, without fail, I think something snide like, “Can’t even walk down the street with your dogs without taking a call? Can’t disconnect for 2 minutes? Is the phone glued to your ear? Was that call really all that? You just had to take it now, didn’t you? Do I really need to hear your conversation? No, I really don’t want my dog to play with your dogs just because you are on your phone and don’t have the two hands you need to control your two dogs.” It’s like that. And now I feel bad for even writing that because what if Cell Phone Lady reads this blog and recognizes that I’m talking about her to the entire cyberverse? That would be bad, wouldn’t it?
  • How I hate walking behind slow people and often think very unkind things about their slowness.

I will say that, since I started the Karma Project, I’ve been more aware of these things. I’ve also held my tongue and redirected my nasty thoughts here and there. So I am improving. But it will obviously take a long time—perhaps a few lifetimes—before I reach enlightenment.

Oh, and about those M&Ms

So I was at the Asheville airport in North Carolina the other day. It was 4 p.m. and my flight to Atlanta was at 6:30 p.m. (Why I had to go to Atlanta in order to go to Pennsylvania is a topic for another day). The Asheville airport is about as big as my basement. Trying to kill 2 ½ hours there is harder than trying to waste some time The National Museum of Surveying. (No offense to surveyors. I really dig you people.)

I noticed that there was an earlier flight leaving at 4:50, and I figured it would be a lot easier to kill time in Atlanta as I waited for my connection than it would be to kill time in Asheville. So I asked the airport worker if I could fly earlier. She said she’d check. Another airport worker overhead my conversation and joked, “How much money do you have?” Yet another one said, “Or chocolate?” They all laughed.

I was told to come back in a bit. So I walked to the tiny refreshment stand, bought a package of M&Ms, walked back to the airport lady, and presented the gift.

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that,” she said.

“I know, but I thought I’d brighten your day,” I said.

As I walked to a seat, I heard her say, “How sweet!”

I got on the flight, by the way. She seated me in a row by myself. Thank you airport lady. I’m a Mean Mommy who probably did not deserve your kindness. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Ah, that was a long and rambling post, eh? Have you actually read this far, or did I lose you about 10 paragraphs ago? Well, if you are still reading, I have a reward for you. I noticed a week ago that a lot more of you started commenting on the blog when I offered to give away a free set of bed sheets. I love your comments. They help me feel good about this blog and all of the work I put into it. On nights like tonight, when the urge to write the blog triggers an appearance of Mean Mommy? It’s your comments that make it all seem worth the effort.

So I want to reward you for your comments. This is what I’m thinking. Once a month, I am going to send a prize to my favorite commenter. Note that I did not say, “Most frequent commenter.” I said favorite. Exactly how I will pick my favorite? That’s anyone’s guess, but I tend to like comments that are helpful, funny, deep or all three rolled into one. So that should give you some leads.

Sometimes I’ll announce the gift—especially if a company sent it to me to use as a promotion. Most of the time, though, I just plan to send it secretly, with a little note of thanks, because that seems like the truly generous thing to do, doesn’t it? Plus, it gives me more time to wait until the last minute to come up with the prize.

So comment away. For today, I’d really like to know whether or not you think I’m the Meanest Mommy in the World. Have you been there? Have any advice to share? Know how I might exorcise her from my soul? Let me know. Also, is there anything you’d like to exorcise from your soul? Telling me about it will make me feel normal, which is good Karma for you.

Now I’m done writing and all I can think is this: I wish my daughter were still awake so I could give her a hug. I guess I’ll just hug her little sleeping body instead.

Oh and to the lady who won the sheets: They’re in the mail.

Oh, and on Friday? I promise to write something useful about marriage, because that’s why you read this blog, after all.

69 comments… add one

  • LesleyLambert October 1, 2009, 10:02 pm

    Thank you for this. My boyfriend brought it to my attention after I had a stellarly bad week with my 8yr old daughter. I needed to see that I am not the only one harboring a Mean Mommy inside and mine comes out at bedtime, too!

  • Sarah October 1, 2009, 10:28 pm

    Alisa, I love your blog. I read it, and laugh, and relate, and wonder why I didn’t have the courage to admit the same thing to myself. I just got married, and really appreciate the reality of your relationship with your husband.

    So here’s to sappy comments, but it’s my first time, and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your transparency, and am inspired myself to write!

  • Helene October 2, 2009, 9:35 am

    The M&M story reminds me of the time I got stuck with a canceled flight at JFK on my way back from Belgium. I had a whole grocery bag of Belgian chocolate stuck in my carry on (that I had planned on hoarding mainly to myself, with maybe giving away one or two to my fiance). As more and more flights got canceled due to bad weather, the line grew longer and longer – complete with screaming kids and irate customers. I decided it was time to bring out the Big Guns. I opened my bags and started handing out Belgian chocolate to people saying “well, it sucks we’re in this mess but at least we can eat chocolate while waiting!” And you know the craziest thing? MOST PEOPLE SAID NO!!!!!!!

    What kind of crazy world is this?

    But I ended up with more chocolate for myself. And in a Mean Mommy kind of way, I was quite happy about that :-)

  • JANET October 2, 2009, 3:22 pm




  • Alisa October 2, 2009, 8:35 pm

    Wow–I honestly never expected this many people to read the entire post and to comment. This might have won the world record for the longest blog post ever. It’s definitely my most commented on post. Anyway, since I technically posted it in September and it is now October, I’ve decided to give the initial Reader Appreciation Karma Award to one of you. I’ll spend the weekend going through the comments and deciding on who will get a surprise in the mail.

    Then I’ll pick another reader to reward a month from now, and one every month afterward. Thanks for reading everyone!

  • M October 3, 2009, 1:54 pm

    Alisa, I think that you might have just formed the 1st Chapter of MMU (Mean Mommies Unite)! Thanks to everyone for making me feel sane in this insane world of Parenting!

  • Michelle Clark October 4, 2009, 9:25 am

    This is the very first time ever I’ve replied to a blog. Actually, my husband is the one who signed me up to receive your automatic blog. I like it. And, dare I say, its possibly helping to save some pieces of my marraige. What I want to say is this: When I read the litany of things you accomplished in one day, then the various mommy-duties involved on top of that, I identified. I have two small children, 4 and 6. I’m a part-time acupuncturist and a part-time yoga teacher and a full-time mom. I absolutely love all three jobs, wouldn’t change my life for anyone else’s and yet my big complaint is this: What about me?! All day long I give and care for others. Sometimes getting 5 minutes alone in the bathroom is a big accomplishment! Mean mommy comes because she’s been crying at me (you) all day long to give her some attention! In the few minutes I’ve spent writing this: A) My husband came to ask what I’m doing. When I told him, he asked, “Is it about me?” (answer – NO) B) My boys came here fighting (literally, with boxing gloves) and yelling and generally breaking my concentration, and C) The cat came in scratching as if someone had set her ear on fire, reminding me it may once again be time for a flea treatment. When is the attention on or about me?!! Mean mommy is sometimes about survival when everyone around you demands so entirely much that there is literally NOTHING left to give. She’s about feeding yourself because you’ve given away all your food to everyone else. She’s about reclaiming space in what feels like a box when everyone around you is cozy and comfy living in what looks like a palace. Why is it not o.k. to make time for ourselves? (To write our blog or post a blog response) I see it all the time with my acupuncture patients (mostly women) who are so darn tired of giving to everyone else. They never learned how or were never told its o.k. to give back to us! Anyways, I just wanted to say, stop beating yourself up about mean mommy. It doesn’t mean you love your daughter any less. And in the long run, as a future mommy, you may be teaching her a valuable skill about self-preservation.

  • Alisa October 4, 2009, 10:59 am

    Michelle–VERY well said. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Here’s to some peace and free time for all of us!

  • Courtney October 4, 2009, 2:18 pm

    You are NOT the meanest mommy in the world…though it’s easy to feel that way when you’re busy, stressed or freakin’ tired – those are times when my mean mommy comes out. Thankfully my kids aren’t old enough to call me that, but I know when it’s happening and can call myself mean mommy, among other things. I don’t think there’s any way to “exorcise” mean mommy from us…it’s like trying to exorcise bitchy wife or bitchy coworker – they’re always there because there’s just something that will set it off. It’s easier to recognize when those ‘people’ are coming out and keep them inside, deal with the moment, then go stuff your face with chocolate and wine later to make it all better. :)

  • PFC October 4, 2009, 7:31 pm

    Hey Alisa!
    I just found a bunch of emails in my inbox from Wed that I never saw (where were they, I wonder? Or do I just have blind spot on Wednesday afternoon?). I LOVED this post. As you know, I am not a mom, but I relate to ‘mean mommy’…I think there is a mean monster in all of us – mine came out the other day at my casting house with the sweetest person there because I jumped to a conclusion about something…I’ve been beating myself up ever since. And, I can relate to the ‘things you’d like to exorcise’ – I have a pretty substantial list – one of my first is ‘Complaining’ because I think it might be the precursor, for me, for several of the other things on my list.
    I just want you to know I think you are an amazing woman, and the fact that you are doing things (vs. nothing at all…) to improve your interactions with yourself and the world around you is inspirational. Thank you so much for being so transparent and sharing so much of yourself – that too is inspirational. :-)

  • nandoism October 5, 2009, 5:39 pm

    This post was hilarious and I can totally see this as a sitcom on TV. I want a sitcom from you–how soon can you make that happen?

    “I ignored her, figuring that she was probably done with the ice and that it was melting all over her bed and that is was making the biggest wet spot imaginable and that I so didn’t care.”

    I love it…good grief, does that make me a BAD future father? In any case, you are working hard and I don’t really know how you do it all–but you’re doing it. I’m playing catch up and I’m reading a few of your posts today–so if I’m commenting everywhere, I’m not stalking–just really dig’n your stuff!

    Miss you on Twitter, sister!

  • Amy in MN October 6, 2009, 10:44 am

    I am just finally having time to read this one. I am so glad to know that I’m not alone in my struggle to strangle the living crap out of myself when I am being mean mommy. I love my boys more than anything, but I am the bread winner at my house, so when I get home, they are all over me and my husband is like..”See ya, I’m outta here!!” He has had enough after being with the 1 year old all day ( if 8-4 is all day) and the the 5 year old for an hour after kindergarten. He goes down to the basement and hides out while I spend time with the boys, go to the bathroom and try to get supper going all while the 1 year old clamours (sp?) MAMAMAMAMAMAMA!!!!! And the 5 year old says “Can’t I play video games? Please? Huh? Huh?” “YES!!! Go play the damn things and leave me alone!!!!” MY time I guess is supposed to be the 15 minutes that it takes me to drive back and forth to work. I am lucky I have such an understanding best friend because she often takes a backseat (She has no kids) and more often I have to cut our conversations short because somebody is yelling “MMMMOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!” And when we do talk she has to listen to be complain about whatever. When it is finally 10 at night and the kids are both finally sleeping, then I may have 15 more minutes to myself, if I can stay awake that long. The biggest football game for the Vikings last night and I missed the 2nd half of the the 4th quarter because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and the hubby thinks this is his time to get lucky. Sorry, honey!!! You better just head back to the basement!!!

  • Kim October 6, 2009, 10:50 am

    Amy: Why the h(&^* are you the one fixing dinner!?!

  • JANET October 6, 2009, 11:03 am

    YEA AMY!!

  • Amy in MN October 6, 2009, 11:15 am

    Thanks ladies!! He swears he can cook but other than breakfast he has yet to prove it to me. Dinner isn’t really the problem, because I do love to cook. The part I don’t understand is when he says I don’t understand what it is like to be with the kids “all the time”. I figure I am with them 16 out of 24 hours 4 days a week and 24 hours the rest of the time. Oh and just to add more heat to the fire, did I mention I also work another part time job, that he constantly bitches about me being gone to even tho it is only about 4-5 hours every 2 weeks? But ladies, even tho I bitch and whine, this is my bed I’ve made and I will lie in it. I keep repeating the mantra, Divorce is not an option. Divorce is not an option. My boys love their daddy so much, and when things are good for us they are very good. Unfortunatly, the bad days are frequent and very bad. I keep trying to take the high road. I keep trying to remember the 10 relationship rules, but sometimes I just need a beer instead!!! LOL Thanks for listening and like I said before, it sure is good to know I am not alone!! I hope dinner is on the table for you when you get home!!! :)

  • Amy in MN October 6, 2009, 11:16 am

    PS Alissa…. I keep forgetting until I hit submit….. I can’t wait to get my dildo!!! BAHAHAAA!!!!!! :)

  • JANET October 6, 2009, 11:31 am

    LUCKY YOU!!!!

  • Alisa Bowman October 6, 2009, 11:40 am

    LADIES–for what it’s worth, I’m working with a company that might allow me to do another dildo promotion. So… fingers crossed.

    As for September’s prize for my favorite commenter. It will go to Melanie. Melanie: I’ll be in touch via email to find out where to send it.

    And then another surprise gift at the end of this month for another commenter. Thanks everyone!

  • Angel July 29, 2010, 12:29 am

    I used to have a problem with Mean Mommy, myself. She made me feel horrible. Since then, my son’s father & I have divorced, and now my son lives with his dad in another state (for very complicated reasons that I prefer not to go into). When I get the chance to spend time with him, now, Mean Mommy doesn’t get the chance to make an appearance, because it’s much easier for me to remember to just be grateful for the time that I have with him. However, the feeling like Mean Mommy occasionally has been replaced by feeling like Worthless Mommy constantly. I was the one who took care of him 24/7 for the first 10 years of his life – now, I’m not the one that takes care of his needs on a daily basis, anymore. I’m not always there to kiss his boo boos (although, apparently, he’s too old for that, now), or hug him when he feels down, or make his favorite foods, or any of the things that I used to take for granted. I would much rather feel like Mean Mommy occasionally.
    Cut yourself some slack, Alisa. You are a great, loving mother. I’m sure that she has no doubt that you love her with your whole heart! And there are much worse things that you can be to your child than to be Mean Mommy on occasion.


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