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My darling daughter has the capacity to push me to the very limits of my sanity. And push, push, push was she last night. Talking back, overtly ignoring directions, throwing attitude like the most unruly of teens – at 8.

She knows ‘the rules’. She knows what she can get away with and what will bring a visit from ‘Mommy-Dearest’. Now I seriously do not know if she was just pushing to find the fine line between driving me nuts and bringing on a visit from ‘MD’, but what she got was a visit.

For my own part, I avoid becoming my ‘Mommy-Dearest’ self at all costs. I don’t like her. She’s mean and unreasonable and has a razor sharp tongue. She is not afraid to let fly all those things Dr. Spock warns will irreparably harm our offspring. And she has the most unfortunate habit of issuing edicts that I, once I kick her out and take my body and mind back, must then enforce, all in the name of being consistent.

I am reminded again of when I was working at WorldCom. All those twenty-something clerks in the engineering department asked one day, “Suzanne, is it hard to be a single mom?” My response, “Ha…no, not unless you think about it.”

And so it goes with keeping ‘Mommy-Dearest’ out of the house. It’s not hard, unless I start thinking about what’s really going on here…how much responsibility rests squarely on my shoulders…everything from paying the bills (after first figuring out how to make the $) to shaping these miracles of human reproduction into healthy, happy, well-adjusted members of society. It is in these moments of awareness that I succumb to the doubts that are never too far from my mind about whether I’m doing a good job as a mother, whether I’m warping them beyond recognition because of my own limitations, and how will I explain this mess to the Big Guy when I expire?

Then the overwhelm sets in, and the fact that I’ve told her 3,000,003 times to leave my desk and it’s contents alone, yet I find my one and only red fine-tip Sharpie on her bedroom floor without the cap, all dried out, sends me over the edge. In the blink of an eye – I’m Mommy-Dearest.

It didn’t take me long (though any amount of time is too long) to kick her out and reclaim my body, mind and mouth. But now I have the aftermath (daughter is grounded – no friends over, no ice cream truck, no swimming) to deal with. And, as usual, without her diversions, I will be less likely to get anything productive done work-wise. So maybe this is my just and fitting punishment for allowing ‘MD’ to make an appearance.

Maybe it’s time, once again, for me to lead by example and model the behavior/attitude I expect.

Shit. I know I’m right.