The Definitive Guide to Manic Moms

Man'ic: adj. characterized by frenzy, uncontrolled by reason

Archive for Food is Not What It Looks Like

Symptom: The Idea of Snacks

There are times when snacks are important, even vital – like excessively long stretches between meals for toddlers, whose stomachs are small and whose behaviour will otherwise degenerate significantly.  Or, for exceptionally tall, hungry men with low blood sugar issues.   Manic mothers have no snack discrimination and provide snacks for children way beyond the point of physical or healthy need.  The resulting continuous stream of snacks falls into two categories: first, organic and healthy (carrots, celery, whole grain crackers, no nuts) and second, incredibly unhealthy and processed (lard-slathered food store cupcakes, Cheetos and Hi-C “juice” boxes (see Worrying About Cheetos)).  The former category includes foods no child would willingly chose first if given the option.  The latter category includes foods that have been proven to kill people,  if eaten in sufficient quantities. 

The important fact to remember for our purposes, however,  is that in both cases the snacks are completely unneccesary – in the middle of a soccer game, for example. 

Because of the irrational impulse to provide snacks, manic mothers create endless opportunities for snacking:  “special” school snacks, holiday snacks, tea time snacks, sports snacks, car snacks, playground snacks.   When a manic mother can’t provide the snack herself, she is often in a position to make every other mother involved in the activity or event provide  them through The Snack Schedule

Stop and think about that.  A Snack Schedule.  A schedule is a plan.  A snack schedule is a plan to have a snack.  WHO plans snacks? If you are provided with a snack scheudule or find yourself publishing one, be on guard.


Symptom: Organizing Potluck Dinners

When is a potluck dinner not a potluck dinner? When it is a perversion of the original intent of a potluck: bringing people together to have fun in a way that makes it easy for everyone.   When a potluck dinner is suggested by manic mothers it actually accomplishes just the opposite (making work for people who don’t really want to eat together at all and would rather be doing something else and eating other food). In addition, when organized in a thoroughly manic way, a potluck dinner must include at least three rules (ie. no kids, or must take place in the next six weeks, or no cold entrees).

Potluck dinners require manic mothers to utilize their best attibutes: organizing other people for the sake of their mutual offspring, showing a sense of commisseration with the burdens of other mothers and subtley raising the bar for other parents by highlighting her own willingness to committ to her child’s life by incorporating it wholeheartedly into their own social calendars.  Sports teams and PTAs are often the catalysts for pulling together a potluck.  The illusion that the potluck creates is that it is easy,  because no one person has to do everything.  Instead, everyone is assigned a food or food category they don’t really want and never actually asked for.  However, participating in the potluck with good cheer is essential, because Everything is Great (see link for more information).

Symptom: Cupcake Conflict

Baked goods are ubiquitous in the lives of manic mothers. No manic mothering high holy holiday is complete unless something, usually five or six somethings, have been baked.  Ideally, the baked good is a delicately made and exquisitely decorated cupcake.  Even more ideally, the cupcakes in question are baked from scratch.   However, this holy grail of manic mothering baked goods is now the cause of genuine turmoil.  The made-from-scratch cupcake is being challenged by expensive, designer food cupcakes purchased from the most media savvy neighborhood cupcake purveyor. 

Buying instead of making complicates the meta meaning of cupcakes for those manic mothers who are honest with themselves about their anxiety.  At the heart of this issue is what the cupcakes represent.  For some each cupcake made is not a cupcake, but a ceding of self, an erosion of the ego.  For these women buying cupcakes is a tremendous relief since the act of buying instead of making placates deeply hidden (note the “id” at the heart of hidden) cupcake smashing urges.   For others it is the buying that causes conflict, since, as all good manic mothers know – only bad mothers buy baked goods.

Symptom: Cheerio Obsessions

No self-respecting manic mother of toddlers is ever without a container of Cheerios. Plastic bags, small bottles, entire boxes.  These small, iron-filled cereal bits are a fundamental building block of mania mothering.  A manic mother’s child’s life literally depends on every bite he or she takes and Cheerios in a bag ensure that every bite a toddler takes fulfils the maximum potential that food can reach.  It has the benefit of being small, tasty, tactilely satisfying, portable and nutritous.  The best mothers make necklaces from the Cheerios that can be worn by toddlers who more or less continuously graze on this highest of manic mother high status foods. Cheerios provide sustenance to the children and confidence in their ability to sutain life in their mothers. Cheerios have magic powers.