Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler
I’ve enjoyed the Scary Mommy blog for over a year now, so I was glad to pick up Jill Smokler’s book. This is her first book, and she actually has a second, more recently released one called Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies). What I love most about Scary Mommy is the philosophy of seeing the trials of parenthood with humor, and opting out of competition, prefectionism, and judgement. If everyone could live by the Scary Mommy Manifesto, the world would be a better, more compassionate place for mothers everywhere. All of this comes out in the book, which is kind of a memoir. It is organized into mostly chronological chapters on different topics relating to motherhood, like pregnancy, baby names, favoritism, and birthday parties.
Some of the stories and ideas are a bit cliched, like when Smokler talks about how she didn’t know what to do with her baby when she brought her home from the hospital, because they don’t come with an instruction manual. Or when she goes on about hating the ‘hot mom’ at the pool rocking a white bikini. One chapter title is “There are no sick days in motherhood.” In this way, I don’t think I really learned very much new from the book, or got a whole lot out of it that I hadn’t seen on the blog. It was kind of enjoyable to read because Smokler’s voice is friendly and fun, but it wasn’t really groundbreaking. Then again, that might not be the point.
The most interesting and original parts of the book are probably the confessions–one-liners from moms telling something “shameful” they did, said, or thought. I think the best service that the book and blog provide is allowing women to anonymously confess to these “sins” of falling short of our ridiculous ideals of mothering, so that we can all see that we’re not alone, and how impossible perfection is to achieve. The mom who looks like she has it all together might really be barely holding on, and the confessions are evidence of that. Knowing that others are struggling helps create a feeling that we’re all in this together, and undermines the urge that makes us judge and compete. To me, that is a great achievement.