Does Your Mother Scare the Crap Out of You? Or Is That Just My Family?

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate those women who told us we were perfect, protected us from danger, and guided the way for us.  Soooooo, what about the ones who laughed maniacally while chasing us around the house with bugs? Or a box?

the box


Gathered in my mother’s over the top living room were my sisters Pink Toolbelt, Fish Pedicure and myself. We were there to celebrate Mother’s Day. We all arrived at different times; me first, Pink Toolbelt second and Fish Pedicure last.

As I sat across from my mother Betty’s overstuffed, fringed floral sofa waiting for the others to show up, my mother slipped out of the room to grab something she wanted to show me.  Something she’d bought recently and was really excited about. The reaction from a normal daughter would be Great! Show me what it is.   But to be a normal daughter – you have to have been raised by a normal mother.

That was not my reaction.  My reaction was to jump up out of my chair to ensure I was in a fighting position for when she came back into the room. What the hell was I thinking showing up here without wearing a goalie mask?

When I was 5 or 6 years old we would go to visit my mother’s mother.  Her name was Doris.  Doris, my grandmother, was also not normal.  Instead of being greeted with a warm hug and kisses, I would be greeted with a knowing snicker and a sense of impending doom. My tiny veins would course with pounding blood, my vision blurred, waiting for whatever awful thing she had in store for me.

The more terrified I was, the happier she was.  She put plastic bed bugs in my bed, Whoopee cushions under my chair pad, wrapped dead mice up like presents … Unless I cried she didn’t consider it a successful visit.  It was always a successful visit.

I prepared myself in my mother’s living room for what was to come.  As a child my mother would chase me around the house with the broken off eyes of potatoes screaming that they were bugs, would walk into my room wearing elaborate and terrifying rubber masks at night, give all my date’s dribble glasses to use on their first visit and if you were to ask her what her favourite type of nuts were she’d tell you the kind in the can where a snake jumps out when you open them.

Betty loves to scare her daughters.  A lot.  And her grandchildren.  Anyone really if I’m being honest. It’s kind of her thing.  As you might have deduced, she gets it from her mother.

So when Betty rounded the corner from the kitchen I was ready. One foot planted firmly behind me, and one in front, the exact position I needed to either attack or flee. I wasn’t sure which I’d need to do yet so I kind of danced in between the two. She came closer and I could see that she was holding a box. HOLY SHITTTTTTT A BOXXXXXXX.

My reflexes kicked in instantly and I inadvertently fear-farted. I knew this was the moment to flee not fight.  I clumsily backed away bumping through furniture on my way to the dining room, never taking my eyes off of the box.

That familiar feeling started to overwhelm me; the dizziness , the cold sweats, the weak knees (and a new addition as I get older … the weak bladder). I could barely hear her hysterical laughing over the pounding blood rushing through my ears. As she got closer and closer to me with the box I knew there was no way out of it.

Like it or not, I was going to have to find out what was inside that box.

My money was on something that jumps, bites or died 10-12 years ago.

My mother walked towards me as I cowered in the corner, the unpleasant scent of my fear response the only thing coming between us.  She finally shoved the box towards my face, convulsing with laughter, and demanded that I open it.

I did.

Lord help me, I opened the box.

Inside the box were 6 neatly placed pair of eyeglasses and a bottle of lens cleaner.


That’s it.  She’d seen the box at a fabric store and knew it would be perfect for storing her collection (she’s an addict) of eyeglasses.

By now my mother was laughing so hard she had to sit down. That’s part of the wonder of being a lunatic.  Everyone expects everything you do to be motivated by some sort of lunacy.  She knew the whole time that there was nothing scary in the box. But I didn’t. And that was the fun of it for her.

I made my way back to my chair, catching my breath and uttering a silent “you’re welcome” to all the kids I never birthed into this horror show of a family.

Moments later my sister Pink Toolbelt showed up and sat across from me in the living room. The minute her ass hit the chair, my mother declared “I have something to show you!” and shoved the box into my bewildered sister’s hands.  On cue, she stood up and yelled “NO, I’M SCARED, I DON’T WANT TO OPEN IT. I’M NOT OPENING THAT!!“.  And didn’t for about 5 minutes. She’d put her hand on the top to open it, then jerk it away laugh/crying until the urge to open it boiled up in her again.

She eventually did open it but not before crying, laughing, cursing my mother and asking me why I was backing away.  She found the glasses.

Enter sister #3, Fish Pedicure and the same scene repeating itself.  Presented with a box, some initial nervous laughter, the stink of stress sweat, a declaration of NO, I DO NOT WANT TO OPEN IT!  followed by eyeglasses, relief and laughter.

We spent a good chunk of the rest of the afternoon talking in more of a normal mother/daughter fashion. Fish Pedicure talked about how she had the best fake poo anyone has ever seen and wondered where it was, Pink Toolbelt got really upset talking about her very best fake vomit which she’d lost  and Betty basked in the daughters she’d raised.

While this was going on I took “the box” into the kitchen so I could take a quick picture of it for this post. (10 minutes into the visit I knew I’d be writing this post.)

I came back into the living room and set the box down on the coffee table in front of my mother who – you guessed it – immediately jumped up and started pointing at me violently with stabby motions.  What did you DO???  Why did you have that box?? What did you do to it?? YOU DID SOMETHING I KNOW YOU DID!

And that ended our Mother’s Day hellebration.

Nope. I wasn’t raised by your typical women. And because of that there isn’t a single thing in life I’m afraid to do.  Other than open a box.

Have a good weekend!



    Very funny. Great story.

  2. Debra says:

    I’m sorry, I thought this kind of stuff WAS normal, at least if you have a family with a good, albeit twisted, sense of humor. I have a hard time successfully scaring my sons although I do a pretty good job of embarrassing them. My sister, however, is a piece of cake to scare, I don’t even have to try, so that’s some consolation. Good story.

  3. The other Karen says:

    Hellebration – I love it. I’m totally stealing that word and saving it up with another new one I just learned for the perfect moment. My other new word? Shituation.

  4. Jacquie Gariano says:

    I laughed so much I peed…LOL. I loved every bit and all the funny comments. My Dad loved to play tricks on us girls, but not the boys (they were no fun) bugs, snakes (live and dead, we lived on 10 acres in the country) On of his special ones was to try to get me and my sister to eat something hot (kimchi comes to mind) He was so funny. But my Mom, You could never lie to her and she had eyes in the back of her head. Sometimes she even knew when you were going to do sometning bad before you did it. “Don’t do it!!!!!! Scary

  5. Barb says:

    This explains a lot! ;-)

  6. Carol O says:

    Great post. Too many memorable phrases! Is there a post somewhere where you explain the names for your sisters? Why Pink Toolbelt and Fish Pedicure? Must be good stories behind those names.

  7. Julia A Zugel says:

    I can’t claim quite the same level of different that your family has, but my grown children know to make noise on their way in to the yard. I love on 40 acres of pine forest, alone. I carry. My daughter recently learned how to shoot an AK-47 and since then got her carry permit (she’s 27). My job is done. I am an accomplished mother. My little girl is respected by all who know her.
    PS… I’ve been told I scare people

  8. judy says:

    Is it any wonder that you are fearless and awesome in all the tasks you accomplish,while sporting a very lovely coiffed hair style.
    I have white shaker kitchen cabinets ready to be picked up with a 12 ft and an 8 ft length of LL cherry butcher block countertops. 10 boxes of grip strip vinyl plank style flooring. I don’t drive so I have been searching paint colors till my eyes are falling out.

    12×20 kitchen with 9ft slider, walk in garden window and 4 ft double crank out window so not lots to paint. What works with brown/blackish floor-white cabs and cherry counters? Anybody? Help please thanks

  9. Nancy says:

    Fear farting! Love it! I’ve tried to explain this type of involuntary farting to people before and no one knew what I was talking about. When I was a kid, I used to fart all the time when playing hide-n-go-seek. The sounds of my toots would always give my hiding place away.

  10. Aggie says:

    OMG!!! I just love you so much! And maybe your mom even more. Thank God for interesting people. Reminds us of why we are alive.(The pounding pulse and dry throats).
    Thanks for the story. I laughed so hard, I couldn’t maintain my “Poise”.. bah haha

  11. Jan in Waterdown says:

    We had one of those fake nuts in a can with the pop out snake back in the 50’s and as kids, we absolutely loved scaring guests with it. Wish I knew what happened to it. Thanks for the memories!

  12. Deborah G Kimbell says:

    Oh my god, I laughed so explosively when I got to the line about your silent “You’re welcome” to the children you didn’t bring into your horror show family that I scared the dogs. I think you all sound wonderful. My mother would occasionally break the very normal silence with some pearl of wisdom like, “I accidentally looked down into my hand mirror the other day, and let me tell you, I will never get on top again!” Then she would go back to reading her book.

    Two things that have absolutely nothing to do with mothers and weird families, but are followups to old posts:

    First, thank you, thank you for pointing me to the Karen special edition linen proofing cloth. I use it at least once a week and it is wondrous. I hope they are still available, as I may need to buy another one just to have for the future.

    Second, the AeroGarden. In spite of my skepticism about food tasting anything like food after growing in that contraption, I bought one. What I found is that it is genius for starting seeds, especially those that take a long time to germinate. The plants develop those huge root systems and then I transplant them into real dirt so they can get the taste that comes from sun and dirt and mulch. Right now, I am growing those cumin seeds you wrote about and the plants are thriving. I’ll be able to stick them in the garden next week. (I already transplanted the cherry tomatoes with great results.) So again, thanks.

    Now I have to go peel the dogs off the ceiling.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Deborah. I may have to put my cumin in the Aerogarden! They’re soooo hard to start! I finally germinated several but they’re kind of stuck in limbo now. :) However I need room in the aerogarden now for the side by side comparison of cherry tomatoes. (Aerogarden grown vs garden grown). And no, I’m sorry but the proofing cloth was a limited production. :/ They’re all gone now. ~ karen!

  13. Christine Hilton says:

    My grandmother found a flattened and dried tiny lizard in her Florida home.She had it laminated onto a greeting card and sent it to me.l loved it! Think how boring we might have turned out without these weirdo matriarchs.

  14. Erin Prohaska says:

    A post near and fear…I mean dear (😉) to my heart. I too was raised by an anything but typical mother but the joke (not the ha,ha kind) is that my dad is just as scheming as my mom. They still howl with laughter at the many ways they tortured me and Grey Sweatpants (my sister). ‘Hellebration’ WILL be used! Thanks for this. -Yours in kindred damnation. ❤️

  15. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Lol. Fear farted. Love that. I also had amazing fake poo but have no idea where it went. I have a sister like your mom , she loves to scare people and is the queen of practical jokes. We all need someone like that around. Keeps life interesting!

  16. Lorraine Helferich says:

    Nope, nope, nope!! I did not find a mother scaring her children funny. But, at least you got attention. Did she ever hug you when you were afraid?

  17. Susan Simms says:

    Curious about your sisters?? Pink Toolbelt & Fish Pedicure 😯

  18. Kathryn Trewin says:

    Okay, my mother now hurt from laughing so hard. Her response was “we’re not alone”. I’m not sure if that’s a comfort or not.

  19. Cathleen Burrows says:

    So funny!!! Thanks for sharing! Your girlfriends are very lucky. You would be fun to have as a friend. I can only imagine the advice you would give! Have a great weekend yourself. :-)

  20. Tarra says:

    fear farted Can’t stop laughing

  21. Loli says:

    Good one! Reminds me of my poor Auntie. She was so gullible and so (nosy) curious. My family was always tormenting her. One time she took the bus to our house to visit. We lived next to a major freeway and across on the other side was the bus stop. There was a phone booth near the bus stop. Auntie had to cross under the freeway in a pedestrian tunnel to get to our street. She was to call for someone to accompany her so she would not cross under alone. Well my Mom and Dad had the number to the phone and could see her getting off the bus. They dialed the phone number saying “watch she won’t resist answering”. Of course she answered and my Dad disguising his voice told her “I’m watching you. Come with me into the tunnel of love”. She freaked! Bless her heart. We rushed to rescue her. LOL

  22. TucsonPatty says:

    I laughed so hard at Betty accusing YOU of a dastardly deed!!
    Great story, and that is why many folks have a love/hate relationship with Halloween – the being scared is fun for a second, but only for a second. Your grandmother, though, would have scared the crapazoids outta me!!

  23. Lol! Love that box for glasses! Which fabric store did it come from? Discovered on our last vacation that Purell Hand Sanitizer Gel and a tissue works far better as an eyeglass cleaner than any product made for cleaning glasses!

    • Karen says:

      Good tip! She got the box at Fabricland (in Canada). ~ karen!

      • Kathi says:

        No no! Don’t use tissues to clean your glasses. They can cause minuscule scratches. Also, your glasses provider may not fix the lenses if there is a problem with them. My husband purchased new glasses with a coating on them in December. A few weeks ago he noticed the coating on one lense was ruined. When I brought the glasses in one of the first questions the receptionist asked was does he clean them with a tissue. Luckily he doesn’t. She then told me the manufacturer could refuse to fix them if he had. Only use microfibre cloths or lint free cloths.

  24. Kmarie says:

    I am both horrified and amused … I’m glad you are fine with it as I would need extensive therapy. My children know to announce themselves because I scare so easily. Once and only once My husband jokingly tied a fishing wire to our bedroom door handle and had the end near his side of the bed. He knew I had just read a story about a ghost that creeped me out so much I actually burned the book because I never wanted anyone to read it ….so so terrible. ( I have a deep love of books even the ones which suck – so that state alone was saying a lot about my mental state) I was traumatized already and he thought it would be funny to joke about it. He secretly pulled the wire and the door slowly creaked open. “ hello?” I tentatively called … nothing – I thought he was asleep and tried to wake him and the door creaked again … and terrified I couldn’t even speak. I just kept poking him harder. ( serves him right) and then I started crying. When it began to get hysterical he told me it was him but at that point I didn’t believe him until he got up and showed me what he did. It took me five hours to become normal again … my heart felt like it would never be the same… he laughed so hard later but felt horrible at the part I was in hysterics … but it took me a week before I slept without the light and door firmly shut… oh and also with him …
    ha you are obviously made of stronger stuff than I when it comes to that . Your mother would terrify me but she also sounds fabulous. I still smiled uncomfortably reading this post ;)

  25. Brenda says:

    Oh my gooooddd! I made the mistake of reading this before bed, and now, because I laughed so hard , I’m no longer sleepy! Everyone in my life will have you to thank tomorrow for the grump which will be among them . But damn, it is so worth it.
    Thank you for the cleansing belly laugh I didn’t know I needed.

  26. Tina says:

    Omg, such a wonderful story of your mom! That’s one of the stories you’ll remember, long after she’s gone. (Ptew, Ptew over my shoulder. Sprinkle a little salt. We’re hoping it will be far in the distance!)

  27. Tina says:

    Love your posts!

  28. Anita Jensen says:

    Karen, I love you!
    Thanks for always making me laugh.

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