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Bartender mom finds her tough-girl techniques don't work on a toddler

Nov. 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM ET

One tough mama: Bartender Maria Guido thought her expertise handling unruly drunks would translate into natural disciplinary talent as a mom. Not so m...
Courtesy Maria Guido
One tough mama: Bartender Maria Guido thought her expertise handling unruly drunks would translate into natural disciplinary talent as a mom. Not so much, it turns out.

After 20 years of bartending, one woman knew she’d be a natural disciplinarian as a mother. She dealt with unreasonable, difficult and drunken customers, so handling a 2-year-old should be a cake walk, right? Wrong.

This mom has been forced to reassess her tough-girl image now that her toddler has shown himself to be completely unimpressed with all of her best, no-nonsense, bad-ass techniques.

Writing at Mommyish, Maria Guido says, “Behind that bar, I’ve always been known as the woman to send the difficult customers to. For some reason, even the most ornery jerks don’t abuse me. It’s not that I’m mean -- quite the contrary, actually. I just possess an air of 'I’m not going to take your @!$#.' And it works. On everyone but my toddler.” 

“The threat of not giving someone alcohol is apparently a lot stronger than not giving someone a toy or a cookie. You just can’t compare the two,” Guido told TODAY Moms, explaining one of the key differences between handling barflies and toddlers.

She admits that some of her best tactics behind the bar aren’t child-appropriate. She was always good at showing unruly drunks how foolish they were acting and emasculating men with a snide remark, when needed, tricks that just aren’t OK for the toddler set. Also, she acknowledges she did have some backup at the bar. “We had 300-pound bouncers there, maybe I need to get some of those at home,” Guido joked to TODAY Moms.

“I imagined myself as one of those mothers who could administer “the look” and have her child fall into line,” Guido wrote at Mommyish. Not only has “the look” not worked on her little guy, but he’s not even taken aback by “the tone.” “I just thought that having some intimidation in my voice would work. I thought I’d have that tone in my voice that he’d respond to, but he doesn’t,” Guido told TODAY Moms. “I’m starting to wonder if I’m not capable of producing that tone.”

Like so many mothers before her, Guido has found herself surprised at certain aspects of parenting.

“Every stage in motherhood, another veil falls away,” Guido told TODAY Moms. “Being a parent has made me less judgmental. I’m now more understanding. Before parenting yourself, when observing parents, you always ascribe some fault and assume they’re doing something wrong. Once you have kids, you realize they come with their own little personalities. I started blogging because I realized I don’t know what I’m doing and I have to find other moms who feel that way too. I get on there and just say, ‘Hey, I’m screwing up again. Does anyone else feel this way?’”

While she was initially dismayed that her natural aura of intimidation was lost on her 2-year-old, Guido’s not giving up. Instead, she’s joined many other moms in the long slog of attempting “consistency.”

“I hope that maybe the endless ‘no’s’ and time-outs will pay off in the end,” Guido told TODAY Moms. “Right now, it’s a lot of repetition. I don’t give up.”

Like Guido, many of us have found some aspect of motherhood more challenging than we anticipated. Maybe we saw ourselves as bad asses who thought discipline would be a breeze or as neat freaks whose houses would never be overrun with toys. What challenge of motherhood took you by surprise?

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who wishes she could shake her pre-child self by the shoulders and say, “Don’t judge. You have no idea what’s coming.”

Hey, tough mama, check out these TODAY Moms links:

Sunrise, sunset: This raising kids thing is taking forever

My 4-year-old loves to swear 

50 Shades of onesie: Baby wear goes S&M

Video: Real moms talk about judging, secrets

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