There’s a list out there of “Ten Ways to be the Worst Mother in the World” (I can’t find it, but trust me, it’s out there) but it’s a total lie, because I read it to my kids, and they said, “You do all those things and they make you a great mother.” They’re not hard, and you probably do them too—it’s things like “Teach your kids to say they’re sorry” and “Don’t always buy the newest things” and “Make them eat things they don’t like, like vegetables.” OK, this isn’t terrible parenting, this is Parenting 101.

Here’s the real list of things that make you a terrible mother. I did them all. In one weekend.

1. Take your kid to the beach without his flip-flops. Make him wear the cheap-o sandals they gave out at “Cave of the Winds” at Niagara Falls instead, because these are the only waterproof shoes he owns. (But, total point for not buying all the newest things, right??)

2. Then, when he runs and trips on concrete (because the sandals are a death trap waiting to happen—BUT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO WEAR THEM AS YOU WALK UNDER A WATER FALL) make him go in the ocean, even though the salt water makes him cry as soon as it hits his scrapes.

3. Cover your kids in sunscreen and leave them out all day in the sun. But forget that THIS sunscreen is not the same as the LAST sunscreen (with the SAME LABEL) that actually worked. They changed the ingredients. And now your kid is so sunburned, she can’t eat. Or sleep. Or do anything but cry.

4. After leaving your kids all day to play in the sun and the water, eating nothing but Doritos and chocolate, drive home without feeding them dinner (because you want to get them home for BED). When they complain they are hungry, feed them sandwiches and granola bars. When they are STILL HUNGRY, feed them leftover tortilla chips. That you salvaged from the ants.

5. When they are STILL HUNGRY when you get home, make them scrambled eggs, the first healthy food they have seen in ten hours. But for some reason, their stomachs hurt. Maybe this is because you fed them too much junk food in the car. But wasn’t it better than stopping at Taco Bell? Really?

6. Wake up for school, look at kid’s homework folder and realize—he was supposed to finish his writing assignment. Oops. You were supposed to check this before leaving for the beach on Friday. Write a note to the teacher and hope for the best.

7. Take your kid to school the next day after not enough sleep. Her stomach hurts. She still can’t do anything but cry. Maybe this is not just sunburn? Maybe you should have thought of trying Tylenol 12 hours ago, Mom.

8. On the bright side, we got to the library Friday afternoon. They each read four books this weekend. So I’m not a completely horrible mother after all. On the other hand, our detour to the library made us about three hours late getting to the beach because we got stuck in rush hour traffic, soooo . . .

9. Fight in front of the kids. Yeah, that’s always a good one.

10. On the way home from school with sick child, stop by the grocery store because you are completely out of bread, milk, and other necessities . . . like granola bars. Lord knows that child can’t go a day without granola bars.

We all do our best. That’s all I got.

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