I'm the mean mom.

Lately, Kerri has been really pushing buttons and testing limits. And when she does not get her way, she throws a tantrum. And then she says this, over and over again because she knows it is hurtful: "You are a mean mom!".

The first time I heard that, it was like a knife to my heart. But I would not give in, because my job is to be her parent, not her friend. I have to teach her right from wrong, kindness and patience, values and morals, and so forth. So where did she learn to fling hurtful words?

The second time she said it, I decided to pretend I was cold and heartless. I told her that although it made me sad that she would resort to calling me names, it would not change the outcome, and that there were consequences to her actions. The third time? I was immune.

So imagine our surprise when yesterday it was Daddy's turn to be called a meanie. I actually saw him stagger backwards as if punched in the gut. And then he looked at me, and I just smiled sadly. "Welcome to the mean mom club.", I said.

You know, it takes an awful lot of restraint to be a parent. A lot of patience, and a lot of counting to ten and breathing slowly in and out. Maybe someday my daughter will be called a "mean mom" and understand. I hope she never hears those words. On the other hand, if she does, maybe it means she is doing something right.

Life with Kerri tests me sometimes.