Never Enough Syndrome

At our house, we call it the “Never Enough” syndrome. It seems that no matter what we buy, give or do, it’s “never enough.” If we say yes, they ask for one more thing. If we say midnight, they say “12:30.” If we say pick one, they say “two. If we say pick two, they say “three.”

Okay, you get the idea. Anyone else relate to this syndrome?

Reflecting on a quiet Mother’s Day yesterday and keeping focused on my job as the mean mom with Scary Baby grounded for the day and the teenagers all working, I thought of one of my favorite Erma Bombeck writings. I know it has made its way around the internet email forwarding system many times. Often without proper attribution.

My kids actually read the blog from time to time and I wonder if they’re still too young to really “get it.”

Fellow mean moms get it.

Erma got it.

It’s really worth reading again.

You Don’t Love Me

“You don’t love me!”

How many times have your kids laid that one on you?

And how many times have you, as a parent, resisted the urge to tell them how much?

Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a mother I’ll tell them.

I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom, and what time you would get home.

I loved you enough to insist you buy a bike with your own money that we could afford and you couldn’t.

I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your hand-picked friend was a creep.

I loved you enough to make you return a Milky Way with a bite out of it to a drugstore and confess, “I stole this.”

I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me fifteen minutes.

I loved you enough to say, “Yes, you can go to Disney World on Mother’s Day.”

I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, disgust, and tears in my eyes.

I loved you enough not to make excuses for your lack of respect or your bad manners.

I loved you enough to admit that I was wrong and ask your forgiveness.

I loved you enough to ignore “what every other mother” did or said.

I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt, and fail.

I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for you own actions, at six, ten, or sixteen.

I loved you enough to figure you would lie about the party being chaperoned, but forgave you for it … after discovering I was right.

I loved you enough to shove you off my lap, let go of your hand, be mute to your pleas … so that you had to stand alone.

I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, not what I wanted you to be.

But most of all, I loved you enough to say no when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all.
–Erma Bombeck

I hope all you mean moms (and nice moms) had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

And I hope and pray that my kids know that I have always loved them enough even when it seems like it is never enough…


One year ago..

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  1. 1
    Diane says:

    I love Erma and everything she wrote!
    I too am a mean mom and “love” my children too much.
    I tell my kids- I will ALWAYS love you, even when I don’t like you at times.
    Hope you had a restful and reflective Mother’s Day!

  2. 2
    Gayle says:

    Even though the only Mother’s Day card or gift that I got came from MY OWN Mother….I love my children enough to forgive them for doing nothing in my honor, since they get good grades, don’t drink or do drugs, do their chores and respect my authority. I guess that’s more than a lot of parents can say these days. (sigh…can you tell I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself right now?). I know I’m a good mother…I know I’m a good mother…I know I’m a good mother…….

  3. 3
    Sherra says:

    Diane » It is next to impossible to like them all the time – isn’t it? But you’re right…the love is always there. Very applicable to spouses too 🙂

    Gayle » You are a GREAT mother!! And you’re allowed to have a personal pity party too. If it makes you feel any better, Saturday night when Scary Baby got grounded, she stood in my bedroom door, threw a dollar on the floor and said in a *lovely* voice, “You’ll have to buy your own Mother’s Day present since I’m grounded.” Oh yeah, the joys of motherhood are alive and well…

  4. 4
    Tammy says:

    This year Mother’s Day was particularly hard for me as I struggled with some serious personal issues. I am ashamed to say that I was down in the dumps and having a much bigger pity party than Gayle above sounded to be having. But that evening my two girls (13 and 16) each gave me very special cards where they actually wrote in them instead of just signing their names. The words they wrote were a validation for all I do day in and day out for them. My youngest even wrote about she knows how much I love her even when I don’t like her choices and I want to crush her head. (Just to note, I wouldn’t really crush her head! I don’t even spank!) So, they get it! They see and appreciate all that I do – even the stuff I think no one notices. And what a blessing that is for me. I will take mean mom status any day if it means I know my kids are capable of standing on their own. We are all blessed to be moms – even on the really crappy days!

  5. 5
    Sherra says:

    Tammy » Kids surprise us with their goodness at the times we need it most (sometimes) and I’m so glad your girls know what a great mother you are. I already knew that, my friend!

  6. 6
    Melinda says:

    Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all the mean moms! (and to the number one mean mom!!) Bet you’ve never gotten a belated mother’s day card before.
    Like I said, I’m missing the e-mail subscription so I’m a day late (or later) and a dollar short. Love the note about scary baby. So WHAT did you buy yourself for Mother’s Day with that dollar? I know you didn’t buy gas!

    I’m still waiting on my Mother’s Day card. Maybe next year? They really don’t get it that even when we say we don’t want anything, we really do. At least a card.

  7. 7
    Sherra says:

    Melinda » It’s 2008 so say exactly what you want and when they don’t get it — do the same on their birthday or next holiday. Hee hee…okay, mean mom probably shouldn’t be typing this late at night. 😉

  8. 8
    julieann says:

    Thought I’d add some more Erma to the site. Everyone has probably already read this one before, but it’s worth having a copy tucked away. Mine is a kindergarten project, a faded kite with crepe paper tail, dated 5/22/96 created by my youngest while we were living in Springfield, IL

    Children are like kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both exhausted and breathless. They crash…they hit the rooftop! You patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that they can fly. Finally they are airborne. They need more string and you keep letting it out. But with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy. The Kite becomes more distant and you realize it won’t be long before that beautiful creature—your child—will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as it is meant to soar—free and alone. Only then do you know that you did your job.

    Okay, you can all get a hankie now. Erma always did know just how to tug at the heartstrings.

  9. 9
    Sherra says:

    julieann » Thanks for that great Erma addition. I think we’re at the stage at our house where our kite strings are all tangled up. (Well, that and we’re just plain outnumbered!) Hopefully we’ll get them untangled and live to tell about it…I do look forward to the day that they are all soaring and I’ve worked myself out of this job!

    I’m not sure I ever read that excerpt and I love it! 🙂


  1. […] The definition of dating for us is getting in a car and going somewhere without adult chaperones. We like to be crystal clear with our definitions because it seems that their full-time job is twisting our words, looking for loopholes and the Never Enough Syndrome. […]