My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Library Book Hoarder: “Confessions of a Scary Mommy” by Jill Smokler

It has been ages since I did a book review. I read this book recently, and this puppy is begging for a review. Jill Smokler wrote this book to shed humor on the work that many of us do all day as (at least part-time) stay-at-home-moms.

From the website

From the website

At first glance, this book looks like a dozen others: A blogger (in this case, a mommy blogger) gets a following, then cashes in on a book deal to make the big money. But this book is a fast read and more humorous than your average day in the trenches. To be fair, I am not a follower of the Scary Mommy blog. For all I know, this book could be a regurgitation of her best blog posts. Each chapter is short and sweet and begins with the anonymous confessions that are synonymous with the Scary Mommy site.

This book is not parenting advice, and it’s not rich with inspiration, but it is a light bit of comedic commentary on the very difficult work of parenting. I didn’t love the author’s writing, and I don’t adore the premise that she bashes her children incessantly for a good laugh, but I do think that she’s onto something. Jill Smokler has pulled the spanx off motherhood and let it all hang out. And that’s okay by me.

Here’s the thing: this book is not pretty but it is authentic. It’s raw. It’s real. I didn’t understand this at first, but it is scary. I use the term “scary,” because it’s scary just how big the canyon is for some women between what motherhood IS and what they present motherhood AS. Motherhood as a pink-fluffy bunny lovey, a cute apron and fresh-baked brownies is amazing. Motherhood is the shrill cry when your kid realizes she left her pink-fluffy bunny lovey in the shopping cart. Motherhood is the apron always hanging on the hook instead of your body and your new shirt covered in Ragu. Motherhood is the fresh-baked brownies that the dog pulled off the counter while they were cooling, but you didn’t know this because you were needed to wipe a butt in the bathroom. The point, I think, that Jill Smokler is making is that this motherhood–the real motherhood–can also be amazing.

We don’t have to b.s. one another. It is freeing to admit that you love your dirty, obnoxious, germ-infested, skinny-jeans-despising life. I do! I know many women who do. I don’t have the answers, and I’d be (mostly) embarrassed to show you the goldfish cracker crumbles at the bottom of my purse, but I do love my kids, my life and my job as mom. But it is scary sometimes.

On a personal note, I am on a bit of a search for authenticity these days. I love my friends and I have so many good conversations with them. They support me and make me smile. I am filled with genuine love for them. Most of my friends live far away, so on a day-to-day search for communication, I have often depended on a social networking site. Essentially, I’ve been lazy. I’ve been lazy about communication, and it has been a challenging few years to feel satisfied with this type of communication. I read here why Facebook stinks. I agree with the article. While the overall idea of seeing photos and reading statements made by my friends and family members sounds delightful, I have found that this is rarely what happens. Instead of reading a close friend’s joyous news or the riveting article someone linked to, I’m struck by my friend-from-summer-camp’s revelation that her bridal gown is going to be two sizes too big, or the link to a zoo animal in need of donations. I waste a ton of time, I rarely communicate with anyone in any significant way,  and I wind up feeling less connected as a result. I am, admittedly, not using this site correctly. I have no “groups” and I have very few filters.  I feel like when I’ve asked this site to “hide posts from so-and-so” it hasn’t worked well enough. If my gun-toting cousin from back home posts a political cartoon bordering on xenophobic, I see it. And I get annoyed.  But I keep coming back like the vicious zit of a large-pored ‘tween.

This book has opened a door to me. If we equate the type of “scary” that Jill Smokler is talking about to being “honest” or “real” or even “raw,” then let’s embrace scary. Being “scary” might be abrasive to some, but it’s as comforting to me as a warm cup of tea in my hand. I wish all of my “friends” on Facebook were big ol’ scary people. Can someone break off and create a new social networking site that would only allow scary people who make scary comments and have scary photos? Because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have to read about your genius kid hitting the potty-training boot camp with the fervor of a rodent on a wheel. Scary people don’t rave about potty training. Ever.

To me, a bit of authenticity is worth a bucket of love. I don’t see Jill Smokler’s book as a major revelation in real-life parenting, and I’m sure she wrote it knowing she wouldn’t be in the running for a Pulitzer. But I do see it as a significant breath of fresh air. It is also a comforting, humorous look into the life you already lead but aren’t always willing to admit: The Scary Life.


1 Comment so far
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I will have to read it! Thanks for the great suggestion/review! 🙂

Comment by jeandayfriday

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