“Scary Mommy”: Coming Clean

Several times this week I pulled Confessions of a Scary Mommy out of my purse while having relevant conversations with other moms–at a cocktail party, at dinner, at preschool pick up. I am like the kind lady in the laxative commercial: “Constipated? Here’s what I use!”

If there is one thing that’s true of my parenting style it is this–I do it free fall. Although I own many (oh God so many), parenting books do not work and have only made me question every bedtime, mealtime, stroller-time decision I have ever made. I do not use them and I don’t recommend them. There.

This is different. Jill Smokler, the preeminent “Scary Mommy” from her now-infamous website, has written down our thoughts–that is if you are like Jill and me and you have no issues with toddler ear wax,  cleaning butts with ice-cold baby wipes, and letting the other moms win all the mommy “prizes” (jokes on you gals, there actually ARE no prizes after all!).

So when the discussion with a dear mommy friend about having done tequila shots on the beach during spring breaks turns to how on earth are we going to survive having little kids who won’t listen to a goddamn thing we say and even worse: what will we do when they grow up into real people who no longer want to cling endlessly to our legs, arms, heads and hands… What else can I do but consult a real expert? As Jill says, when one no longer needs to lug a diaper bag, “I can actually get away with just carrying a clutch during short outings.”

This sounds truly liberating indeed. Yet, Jill speaks for so many of us who believe we are “done” (DONE, I said!) having babies when she shares:

So why is it when I spot a baby out and about I get the urge to just grab it and run for dear life? The ache in my ovaries is palpable.

Mine cramped up just reading this chapter.

“Girl Repeated” is my favorite chapter. And I mean favorite like Jill talks about having a favorite kid–they’re all really awesome, but this moved my heart one particular day. I have two little girls. I am already seeing glimpses of the young ladies they will be, along with the looming heartaches they will undoubtedly have at some point: periods, popularity, body-image, boys, the girls that like you one minute and snicker about you the next. Jill goes there and comes right back to how we, as moms who were once these girls, hold on to our darlings wanting for them the things we missed: “the date to homecoming and the close group of fun girlfriends and the popularity and the confidence and the acceptance.” And all the while, the wrenching desire to keep them “safe and sound and out of trouble.”

I hesitate to admit, another chapter that resonated with me was the one on cursing. OH HEAVEN, do I have a colorful vocabulary, and I admire a mother that keeps in perspective the desire to curse like a mad truck driver in the presence of her children. I have been known to respond to lost keys, sunglasses, checkbooks and wallets with “Shit!” So much so that I am certain my kids think that’s code for “help me look.”

Scary Mommy advocates using the really bad words at your children. But only in your head.

…Ben’s incessant whining can be blocked out by my silently asking, “Are you ever going to shut your little fucking mouth, you annoying child?” …just asking in my head always makes me feel better. It also makes me a hell of a lot less likely to lose it on them.

As someone who has lost it on occasion, I can say that this experiment does indeed work. And as long as no cartoon bubbles appear above my frazzled pony tail at the end of the day, who’s the wiser?

Jill picks up on something monumental as well–that “an occasional ‘fuck’ flown around” the house is less harmful than many of the things some parents say to their kids.

There are simply no circumstances when words like “fat” and “dumb” and “ugly” are acceptable when directed toward a child. A word like “shit,” on the other hand, is just another word for poop. Really, what’s the emotional harm in that?

This is the type of advice you are not likely to see in other parenting books. My point.

I rarely tell people to buy books that have anything to do with parenting. But if you have a sense of humor, a sweatsuit you’ve worn for at least one week straight, and your pediatrician on speed dial, you will relish this. I wish I could offer up experience with the empathy and humor Jill does on her blog and in this book. As my three-year-old would add, “God damn it.”

Pre-order Confessions of a Scary Mommy, published by Gallery books, before March 31! The book hits stores on April 3, 2012.

{CLOSED}I am keeping it simple. Win your own signed Scary copy by posting a comment below; tell me one of your own scary mommy moments. Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. (ET) April 3, 2012.

I was given an advance copy for review purposes. All opinions are, as always, my own.

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13 Responses to “Scary Mommy”: Coming Clean

  1. I’m not entering as I have one, but just wanted to say I loved your review 🙂 The pics are awesome!

  2. I could have used the bad words in my head experiment today….I swear, the kiddo reached my whine limit before 8am. Loved the review and looking forward to reading Scary Mommy’s book!

  3. Danielle says:

    I have an awful mouth! My three year old routinely calls our dog a “pain in the ass” and the other day my two year old told me it was “fucking windy out”. Of course, both of those statements were completely accurate assessments of the situation. How can I repremand them when they’re right!!

  4. Liz says:

    Live me some scary mommy. Love her for keeping it real.

  5. Would love to read this book! I haven’t had too many scary mommy moments, but with twins on the way and a toddler running around, I’m sure there are many in my future. 🙂

  6. I haven’t had too many scary mommy moments, but with twins on the way and a toddler running around, I’m sure there will be many in my near future.

  7. Julie Steitz says:

    Can’t wait for the book to come out, Jill is hilarious and speaks the truth that so many people would be afraid to say out loud.

  8. Shannon says:

    Love your review. Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I had time to read a book, so no worries on putting me in the mix, but just for kicks…one time I dropped the F bomb in front of the kids. Since then, my two-year-old twins have been known to drop something and shout, “Oh Buck!” Thank goodness for toddler speech patterns. It happened out in public once, and I laughed it off saying they must be referring to a wildlife book we had recently been reading together (uh huh).

  9. Brianne Manz says:

    I think everyday I have a scary mommy moment! Like last week when I went to whole foods with both kids both like $200 worth of groceries and left my wallet at home.

  10. alsfm says:

    Scary Mommy Moment? I lost Andrew 2 weeks ago. We took Addison, Andrew, Alexander, and Mixie to an indoor park. Everything was fine until it was time to go. Addison ran in one direction and Andrew ran in another. CRAZINESS! I had to stay with Alexander and Mixie, so hubs ran after Addison. He grabbed her quickly – but Andrew was gone. It took 10 solid minutes (Of me sweating like crazy in a panic attack) until they returned. **True Confession** I lost my 3 year old.

  11. My life is a scary mommy moment!

  12. D says:

    Yeah, it’s great to realize we’re all not perfect – but encouraging kids to be rude and say the f word etc isn’t the answer. Sounds like Moms trying to be kids’ bffs. Just be a parent – and try to be the best one you can. Keeping the hostility you might feel inside is *part of the job*. My own Mom was of the old school, and managed to raise a good, happy, polite and kind child (moi). The whole idea of ‘scarry mommy’ is just a way to sensationalize and sell books anyway.

    • thank you so much for commenting and stopping by! I do want to clarify for other readers though that I would never encourage my children to curse. The point Jill makes and that I totally agree with is that parents say horrible things to their children–calling them stupid or ugly or fat; that my children hear me say ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’ in a harmless context (such as losing something, or breaking something) may not be ideal but it is indeed innocuous in the big picture. I think honest books sell because parents desperately need to relate to someone’s story that is not peaches and cream and roses– parenting is the hardest job in the world, and I love that another mom is willing to be vulnerable and humble about how easily we make mistakes every day. Please come by again!

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