I was NOT disappointed!
Jill Smokler, the creator of Scary Mommy served up a book full of personal parenting experiences that made me think equal parts "I'm not doing too badly at this whole mothering thing" and "Why do I want a daughter again?". I found myself wanting to reach out to pat her on the shoulder in sympathy and sisterhood while I read her stories of parenting survival and adaptation and evolution. Because let's face it: there's no manual. We are all making this shit up as we go. She opens her book with something I will share with my readers here called the Scary Mommy Manifesto:
- I shall maintain a sense of humor about all things motherhood, for without it, I recognize that I may end up institutionalized. Or, at the very least, completely miserable.
- I shall not judge the mother in the grocery store who, upon entering, hits the candy aisle and doles out M&M's to her screaming toddler. It is simply a survival mechanism.
- I shall not compete with the mother who effortlessly bakes from scratch, purees her own baby food, or fashions breathtaking costumes from tissue paper. Motherhood is not a competition. the only ones who lose are the ones who race the fastest.
- I shall shoot the parents of the screaming newborn on the airplane looks of compassion rather than resentment. I am fortunate to be able to ditch the kid upon landing. They, however, are not.
- I shall never ask any woman whether she is, in fact, expecting. EVER.
- I shall not question the mother who is wearing the same yoga, plants flip-flops, and t-shirt she wore to school pickup the day before. She has good reason.
- I shall never claim to know everything about children other than my own (who still remain a mystery to me).
- I shall hold the new babies belonging to friends and family, so they may shower and nap, which is all any new mother really wants.
- I shall strive to pass down a healthy body image to my daughter. She deserves a mother who loves and respects herself; stretch marks, dimples, cellulite, and all.
- I shall not preach the benefits of breast-feeding or circumcision or homeschooling or organic food or co-sleeping or crying it out to a fellow mother who has not asked my opinion. It's none of my damn business.
- I shall try my hardest to never say never, for I just may end up with a loud mouthed, bikini-clad, water gun-shooting toddler of my very own.
- I shall remember that no mother is perfect and that my children will thrive because of, and sometimes even in spite of, me.
I shared her manifesto for a few reasons. One, I want to have an easy access version of it any time I am feeling judgmental of my fellow parents. Two, there are some parents out there that I believe need to read this and try to take some of it to heart. I don't know for sure that they will read THIS but maybe someone will point it out to them. Who knows. Three, I hope that this can be a gateway to the scary mommy website for any struggling parents I know. You may not ever show the world that you are so stressed out you want to scream. You may have secret parenting "flaws" that you are ashamed of. Whatever it is, this website will let you know that you are not alone.
Speaking of parenting "flaws" and not feeling like you are alone, the second best part about Jill Smokler's book was the "confessions". A section of her website is dedicated to allowing parents "confess" their sins/shames/secrets/what have you's anonymously. Each chapter in her book started with selected confession from the website. Some of them had me nodding in camaraderie having bee/felt/done the exact same thing. Some of them had me laughing until tears ran down my face. The most important thing I felt was this: It wasn't JUST me!!
So, I read the book. I frantically searched for the second book....which isn't out yet. THEN I visited her site. And will visit it frequently, I am sure. The hardest part of my early days as a parent was feeling so isolated in my experiences. I felt like I had no one to talk to about the things I struggled with or feared or felt like a failure at.
I know that, like any parent out there, I am winging it. Every day I am able to put them to bed at night healthy and whole is one more day of success in my log book as a mom. And seeing as I am considering walking down that road from the beginning one more time, I think having a community to turn to won't be a bad thing at all. So, I hope you will find the same sense of relief that you aren't the "only one" and something that makes you laugh because sometimes, as parents, that's all we can do. Sit back, laugh, and enjoy the ride.