Mommy Moment – Julie Style

Welcome to another Mommy Moment! If you’re not sure what it is, head over and read all about how Mommy Moments at the Monster came to be. I am excited to have one of my favorite bloggers/writers here today, Julie from byanyothername!

Julie is a mom to a son and daughter, wife, and an AMAZING writer. She is funny, one of my oldest blogging friends, and you will love her.

So go grab a cup of coffee and a donut, ahem, I mean a low-fat muffin, or depending on the time of the day maybe some wine and chocolate, and sit back and enjoy the story!


I think it was when my son turned two that I first suspected he was smarter than I was. Sure, I could analyze a Shakespearean sonnet a little more thoroughly.


But Jack definitely had my number when it came to pretty much everything else.

Most especially, he seemed immune to turn-of-the-millennium conventional wisdom for raising a fully-adjusted, well-behaved child. He defied every DO and DON’T for discipline listed in the parenting books and magazines I so desperately devoured.

“Catch him being good,” they advised. “Ignore the negative behavior and extol the positive!”

So I’d see him playing with his sister peacefully (quietly, nicely, thankyouverymuch) and I’d say, “Jack. I like how you’re sharing with Karly!”

He’d turn toward me, furrow his brow and promptly hit her with his Little Tikes hammer.

While making eye contact with me.

Whyohwhy had I bothered to interfere? He knew I was full of crap. It was like poking a sleeping bear.

I felt stupid to say the least and also helpless, frustrated, betrayed by the advice of these well-intentioned experts.

Ever-determined to be mother-of-the-year, I enrolled in a parenting course, the name of which escapes me now. What I do recall, though, was the instructor teaching me that pretty much all my instincts with my children were dead wrong.

Do not praise them, she warned. Instead of gushing, “I’m so proud of you!” when they paint a picture; say,I notice you used the color blue. Do you like the color blue?”

I tried this and Jack’s puzzled face warned me I was an idiot.

When your boy throws a tantrum over putting on his shoes, do not cajole or threaten she insisted. Simply say, “That must be frustrating” or “I see that you are upset” then go about your business. He’ll put on his shoes.

Or —  like my son — he’ll decide this constituted tacit permission to go barefoot.


Please let me assure you, my kid isn’t a Bad Seed. (At least I hope not since he’s fifteen and getting taller than I am.) No, he simply saw through my lame attempts to manipulate him early on.

And the truth is, I continue to flounder as a mother more than a decade later.

These days, however, I try to be honest with him. I readily admit to being sorry, confused, hurt or just plain mad when the situation calls for it. I tell him how I feel and hope my “instincts” will render a decent outcome for us both.

We still make mistakes (like daily) but at least I no longer try to trick him.


And this has got to be better than the advice given to a parent in that same parenting class who asked how to get her daughter to stop marking up their walls with black Sharpie.

Just calmly ask your girl this, the instructor cooed with a smile:

“Do we not have any paper?”

That’s when I decided to become my own parenting expert. And from that day on, I’ve been flying by the seat of my own maternal pants: conventional wisdom be-damned.

Oh and also?

I threw out our all Sharpies that day.

Because I’m really not as dumb as I may look.


It’s Mia who is my defiant one. The one that drives me crazy because she always seems to do the opposite of what I say. The one that will look directly at me and do what I just told her not to do. It’s frustrating and my only saving grace is that I am hoping that she is going to grow up to be a strong, independent woman!

We all take on so much as moms – it’s a tough gig! There’s no manual out there for what we do, so sharing stories like this helps us all learn from each other.

Now head over to byanyothername and say hello to Julie. If you are a Twitter addict, you can find her there, too! And if you are a new follower, make sure to tell her that I sent you!


  1. Thanks so much for having me here today, Natalie and from now on I'm going to hold onto the hope that I'm raising strong independent kids... I LOVE that way of looking at it! julie gardner recently posted..The Mobile HomeMy Profile
  2. Nanny K says:
    Ha! I remember when we talked about "catch them being good". You said Jack had been in his high chair, eating pasta in a bowl. You declared, "Jack, you are doing such a good job eating like a big boy!!" which point, he looked you dead in the eye, picked up the bowl, and dumped its contents onto the kitchen floor. Bah! He had your number alright!!! He's always known how to push your buttons. But he is such a joy to others. They would never guess he's capable :-)
  3. Hi Julie! Hi Natalie! Oh, this brought back so many memories, Julie. And now that my oldest is uh, 19, (holy cow!), he's informed me (in the nicest possible way) that since he's an adult, I can *suggest* things to him, but certainly not tell him what to do. Yeah, this parenting thing never gets easier. :) Have a great day! Robin Bielman recently posted..Barnes and Noble EventMy Profile
    • Robin, I'll never forget coming home from college for the holidays as a freshman. I informed my parents that I would be staying out all night on New Year's because DUH! They never knew what time I came home when I was living away from home... Yeah. They quickly informed me that if I was under their roof, I needed to abide by their rules. Hence, a curfew. For their own peace of mind. As a result, I'm hoping to keep Jack 15 forever. And at least a piece of my mind intact... julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  4. I'm the Sharpie mom, or I was, we have no more but I once took my child to a family get together looking like the tiger he had decorated himself as because the marker wouldn't come out. Maybe I should have given him one of those Parenting books to scribble in. Jessica recently posted..How to love nature or notMy Profile
  5. I became a mother in the age of the internets so all the Dr.Spock advice I got came from mothers who had been through it. The overriding message was, "Trust your gut." But the teen years... Julie, please say you'll be around to hold me. Its gonna get rough. And yup, Natalie, I love your positive spin on Mia. That is my Maddy too!
  6. I never took parenting classes. Or childbirth classes. Only Theatre classes. I think they paid off. I'm very good at acting like I know what I'm doing. I may even have half of the kids fooled. The little ones. The big ones see right through me. But I think they love me anyway - which really is the point isn't it?
    • Bridget, If half of your kids see through you but love you anyway, you are GOLDEN. I'm pretty sure that will be the prologue of the parenting book I'll write someday... I'll quote you. Don't worry. julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  7. Oh good, I'm not the only one who's being outsmarted by my child. Though said child DID just lock himself in the bathroom. Sigh. Alison recently posted..Things I’ll Miss And Things I Won’tMy Profile
    • Alison, At 13 and 15, my kids don't lock themselves in bathrooms accidentally anymore. Although they probably do on purpose. Just an assumption. Also, I'd be in no hurry to get them out these days, so. Survival of the fittest. (Not me.) XO julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  8. I love you and your amazingly creative kids. I worry for my kids because they've never 'misbehaved' - it's like they want to be The Pope or something equally boring and it frightens me. xo tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..Vacation By The NumbersMy Profile
    • Tracy, Give my kids a week with your girls and they'll be all kinds of scandalous. (And by that I mean getting into the kinds of mischief they feature on Teen Nick and Disney on Demand. Be afraid.) XO julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  9. "Do we not have any paper?" bahahahaha. Serious? Just once I'd like to look inside the houses of those kooks. Complete kooks. Their poor children. Don't worry, friend. Our children are much safer with parents like us. Sharpies and all. Jamie recently posted..runnin’ blogin’ givin’My Profile
  10. Julie, I'm so glad you trusted your gut. Sharpie is bitch to paint over. Seriously, though. We so seldom trust ourselves in those early years because the so-called experts tell us not to. I hope there are new moms and moms to be reading who will take your always funny because it's true wisdom to heart.
    • Cam, Thanks, sweet lady. I had a hard time trusting myself for sure. I was the first of all of my friends to get pregnant and had not yet discovered the internet (gasp) so there was almost NO outlet for me to seek advice besides "the experts" in books and magazines. Nowadays, I think all the information out there can be a blessing and a curse. But what I hope most young parents remember is that with LOVE and PATIENCE and GOOD INTENTIONS most issues will sort themselves out. Eventually. And if not, you can always paint over the Sharpie. Right? julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  11. We tried to find a manual for JDaniel, but none were a perfect fit for our guy. I am still trying to figure it all out just as you are. JDaniel4's Mom recently posted..Taking Time to Play- Footprints in the SandMy Profile
    • JDaniel's Mom, I know it may sound crazy (yes, it for sure does!) but as my kids turn 13 and 15 this summer, I truly miss those days of "sorting things out" with them... I miss the years when most problems could be solved by a quick nap on cool sheets and a cup of milk. The years of infancy and toddler-hood are challenging to be sure. But I miss my babies. Every day. XO julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  12. That instructor sounds like an idiot. I am glad mine are grown. The best parenting tip I have is time. They grew up regardless of my ill attempts. They even actually like spending time with me, Love and got this. Piece of cake.
    • Janie Fox, YES! I'm somewhat shocked that at 13 (almost) and 15, my kids still like to be with me even when I'm not forcing it on them. I'd heard (and still hear) terrible stories about the teen years and realize that I'm not going to get out of this decade unscathed completely - but overall, my offspring still kind of a little bit like me (despite the constant embarrassment I provide by simply breathing). So glad you're still so close with your children (this I KNOW). And who could really ask for more? julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  13. I am thankful everyday that the most defiance I got out of the girl was when she colored on the bedroom door with her crayons. I'm still waiting for her to turn into a Republican. That'll teach me.
    • Suni, At least you and @sellabitmum could get your Popes and Republicans together and commiserate over a few tequila shots. (For you. Not them. Probably.) I'll admit I turned into a small nightmare for my mom when I was 13 but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Karma is a MYTH. julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  14. Oh I hate the smug parenting experts! Whenever I praise or acknowledge what my girls are doing, they give me their mad face and act all defeated like I just told them they were doing it all wrong. Leigh Ann recently posted..Don’t give your laptop a bathMy Profile
    • SEE?! I totally get that Leigh Ann. What you described has always been my experience, too. My kids have never fallen for that kind of stuff - especially if the praise is some kind of attempt to motivate them or "manipulate" - and I don't mean that in a bad way... I think a lot of parenting advice is good in THEORY, but in practice, it's a big fail. (Glad I'm not the only one. And I'm sorry :-) julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  15. Julie, this is PERFECT. Seriously. I love the end---on giving up on "experts" and throwing out the markers. Ask her if she has paper?!?!?! PUH-lease. And you don't look dumb. ;) Nina recently posted..Giving up Hobbies: The Day The Music DiedMy Profile
    • Nina, I can still hear her voice saying that line about the paper...followed by the Best. Laugh. Ever. (In my own head of course.) The teacher also told us to let our kids eat WHATEVER THEY WANTED ALL THE TIME because eventually they'd stop seeing our limits on sweets and junk as punishment. They would no longer fight with us and would magically accept all the fresh fruits and vegetables we offered. And then I bought Charlie's Chocolate Factory - ha! p.s. Thanks for the support, my friend ~ julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  16. I used to think it was all instinct, and then I realized I had to learn - like how not to freak out and turn into Frankenstein every time they put something in the toilet. However unflappable the experts want us to be, the kids are all so vastly different that you really have to think on your feet to keep ahead of them, like throwing away sharpies. PS Your son sounds like a brilliant hoot, and now you have all those awesome memories and advice for the rest of us. Hillary recently posted..Plum GoodMy Profile
    • Hillary, My son IS a brilliant hoot - and we've had plenty of interesting objects placed in our toilets. In fact, I think "unflappable" would be what I'd have tattooed on my forehead if I were ever going to get ink. (But instead of something so permanent, I should really just invest in a new black Sharpie and write on myself. Because of course we still don't have any paper - ha!) julie gardner recently posted..Today call me monstrousMy Profile
  17. "Don't we have any paper?" Ha! Abbey would calmly look at me, say, "I don't WANT to color on the paper." And keep going. angela recently posted..Keeping Our CoolMy Profile
    • Angela, So my daughter turned 13 this morning. She had two friends sleep over and when they woke up at 9:00 AM, they immediately put on bikinis and hit the pool. You have no idea how much I want to say, "Don't you have any one-pieces? Or potato sacks?" Help. Me. I'm officially the mother of two teenagers. julie gardner recently posted..TeenagerMy Profile
  18. Do you not have any paper?! Bwah Ha Ha Ha! OMG Julie - this piece made me SWLOL (that means snort while laughing out loud!) What memories of my defiant toddlers this piece brought to me. Of course I have a daughter who used to hate her afternoon nap so much that she would make herself poop and then smear it over every single slat of her crib. She clearly had a diaper, so I wonder what your "parenting expert" would have said to that. (BTW - I wasn't falling for that crap -pun intended- and let her sleep in it! I wish I could say it only say it only happened once!) Fabulous piece Julie. (Did I say that already?) Charlene Ross recently posted..The First Five YearsMy Profile
    • Charlene, Now THAT story is some serious blackmail material. It makes "we don't have anything in our butts" seem tame - ha! Love you. And your sense of humor. And puns. Duh. julie gardner recently posted..TeenagerMy Profile
  19. Julie, I continue to love your writing, you always hit the mark. As my only child approaches 15 and is already talking about getting his driving permit, I long for the days when my biggest parenting problem was trying to get him to take his nap, and now it is a monumental effort to get him out of bed in the morning. Baby and toddler problems seem rather insignificant compared to monitoring what he does on the internet and worrying about alcohol and drugs and troublemaking friends and getting in to college. I have some baby and toddler pictures tucked up in my studio area to keep me centered, and to remind me that no matter the mistakes I made then or those I will make now, he will still turn into a wonderful young man despite my lack of parenting skills. And there is always the therapy option... ( I would always look at the back of the parenting books to see if the author actually had children of their own, and if they didn't I wouldn't even bother reading it!)
    • Oh my friend. My son turned 15 three weeks ago and my daughter turned 13.... today. Yes, I am officially the mother of two teenagers as of this morning. I can't believe I'm no longer that mom in the parenting class worried about the effectiveness of Time Out. Seriously. What you said about the concerns we have now? I'm right there with you. And trusting that it will all work itself out... (It will right? Hold me.) julie gardner recently posted..TeenagerMy Profile
  20. Woe to the parenting books and magazines and to those parents who have it all 'figured out'. There's a lot to be said for knowing your kids, and trusting you and your heart. Great post. I love your honesty, Julie. It's one of my favorite things about you. heidi recently posted..the worst job everMy Profile
    • Thanks so much, Heidi ~ I'm well aware that most of the people with whom I've connected online have children younger than mine. (Sigh.) Which is why I take the honesty part of it all pretty seriously. (Even as I'm laughing at them. And myself. It's why I love irony!) My goal is always to let other parents know that every one of us is a mess of good intentions, successes and failures. And the best we can do is hold on tightly to each other and smile... So thanks for the hug over the internet. I felt it! julie gardner recently posted..TeenagerMy Profile
  21. Love this, Julie! And you are such a smart mama - you're right they just want us, not lines from a book. {Although I'll so admit that I've tried lines from books. When I could remember them! :)} Galit Breen recently posted..The Habit of FriendshipMy Profile
  22. Ah, Jack...praise him when he's good...hmmm...he had your number from day one and will always have it as well as your back!