The Definitive Guide to Manic Moms

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

Archive for Manic Moms by Age of Children

Symptom: Using Themed Shopping Cart Seat Covers

Mothers who are stewing in the culture of maternal anxiety know that a child’s exposure to a food store shopping cart, especially the handle, is only slightly less dangerous than letting the same child play with a petri dish of Ebola virus. 

It used to be that a shopping cart seat was eyed warily or even wiped down surreptiously.  The Shopping Cart Seat Cover (SCSC) has changed the field of play. Think about this for a moment:  plush (comfortably padded), sanitary (anti-bacterial), multi-functional (multiple pockets for snacks, wipes, phoned, keys)  covers can sit in FOOD STORE CARTS for 30 or so minutes.   For a cool $20.99 the SCSC will stop any and all threats in their tracks or actually make them mobile – depending on your perspective.  For the design-minded, the covers come in Hawaiian, Silky Oriental, Black Toile and Sexy Leopard patterns.    A small price to pay for a santiary stroll through the aisles.

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Sunscreen as a Guide to Friendship

Without the manic mother, the ever-expanding sunscreen market would not exist.  SPF levels and maternal mania are directly correlated.  Prior to forming close and lasting relationships with other mothers at the preschool stage,  it’s highly advised that you secretly check the SPF on their sunscreen. If it is above 50 run like hell.  45 is in the outside safe zone, but be wary and keep at arms length until you have a good grasp on the person’s hand sanitizer and bug spray philosophy (completing the Manic Mother skin care trifecta).   A useful guide:

<SPF 15:  Casually meet at a park, no advance planning ever. But, be cautious, these people might actually be from other countries.

SPF 15: Arrange to meet for coffee now and then

SPF 30: Set up a weekly playgroup or lunch bunch at one of your homes and possibly have husbands meet

SPF 45: Meet monthly at a neutral location,  like a neighborhood pool

SPF 50: Don’t actively encourage your child to really play with this person’s child. Be polite, but not overly friendly

>SPF 50: Smile wanly when you encounter these moms and exhibit vaguely schizophrenic behavior to make sure you scared them off effectively. Twitching works. So does speaking to yourself in two or more distinct voices.

Bug Spray

No real elaboration is necessary here.  Bug spray used to be something awful smelling and toxic that humans sprayed in dark corners to kill scurrying, undesirable insects. Somehow, bug spray is now something light and often cloyingly citrusy that we willingly spray on our childrens’ skin to keep bugs off. 

It still smells and we don’t put the children in dark corners before we spray them.  The degree of toxicity remains uncertain.  But, for manic mothers nationwide, the benefits outweigh the possible harm and the memory of what bug spray once was has been successfully eradicated.  If you are ever outside in a warm, slightly marshy-feeling place with many mothers, yell “Mosquito!” and see what happens.

Symptom: Hand Sanitizers and The Manic Mom

No right thinking mother is ever without some form of Purell or similar sanitizing agent: in the car, in her purse, in school bags, gym bags, camp kits, lunch boxes, desks at school, desks at home, kitchen counter, bathroom sinks.  A manic mom’s child doesn’t realize that there is life that does not include small bottles of clear, and now scented, germ-killing viscous gel.

Some scholars maintain that hand sanitizers are possibly the single most influential factor in the evolution of the contemporary American Manic Mother.  Others think that backlashes from second and third wave feminism are more important. Others still,  think that persistent and unrealistic ideals of motherhood or internal conflicts regarding the deleterious effects of a mother working full time on her children cause mania to flourish.  But, no one explanation for the exponential growth of manic mothering is as symbolic as hand sanitizers.  It is plausible, however, that hand sanitizers are a symptom and not a cause. 

On the cause side of the debate: Hand sanitizers allow women to feel that they can indeed influence, possibly control, the world around them – which is at the heart of all manic mothering.  Particularly the world as it relates to their children.   As everyone knows, a sick child means a mom did something wrong.  A healthy, perpetually sanitized child must there fore mean the mom is doing something right and is fully in control.

On the effect side: the possession of hand sanitizer is only a very visible symptom of manic mothering.  Hand sanitizer, if it didn’t exist, would be easily represented by say, bug spray or moist wipes.  The cause is the belief in control, not the sanitizer itself.

Either way, every self-respecting manic mother is capable of instantaenously wiping out entire colonies of bacteria upon request.

Teaching Preschoolers Newton’s Laws of Motion

All good manic moms try, at least once, to teach their children Newton’s Laws of Motion before preschool.  That’s because:

Newton’s First Law (Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it) explains why manic mothers’ don’t stop talking or moving until something literally hits them, like a bed.

Newton’s Second Law (Force=Mass x Acceleration) explains why manic a mother’s mania  is the result of her mass times the speed with which she can do everything a good mother has to do in a day. It’s important to explain the world and adult behavior clearly to small children so that they feel safe and comfortable.  And, last but perhaps most important

 Newton’s Third Law (For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) is the only way a child can understand that his or her good manic mother is just responding equally and oppositely to a bad, slacker mother. For example, when a bad slacker mother fails to have hand sanitizer, wipes and a healthy snack with her a good manic mother readily supplies all of these things to make up for it.

 Especially talented manic mothers also make sure that their preschooler also knows what gravity, is because when the child is not with his or her mother all day, every day, the child will trip or fall or something might drop on the child.

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.

Share Time

The significance of a kindergarden child’s share time to manic mothers cannot be overstated.  The best manic mothers create outlines for their children’s weekly “sharing” to make sure the narrative is politically correct, not too revelatory of in-your-face priviledge and genuinely substantive.  At the very least, a good mom keeps a folder of clippings, sketches and story ideas to share with their child two or three days before the share day, during the quiet time before reading for bed. In this way the child gets the impression that the idea is his or hers and then there are two or three days left for the mom to provide guidance on an accompanying illustration.