Here's a quick Mom quiz. You have a critical meeting at work but your child wakes up with a temperature of 101 degrees. Do you:
(a) Stay home and figure your boss will just have to understand?
(b) Hire a last minute $25-an-hour emergency babysitter?
(c) Drop your child off at daycare during their crunch time so they won't notice and run to your car before your kid starts coughing?
If you're Laurie Kilmartin, there's only one answer -- it's C, of course, and she doesn't want you to feel badly about it for a moment. Kilmartin, and three other moms have written a book to remind us that it's okay to laugh about, and even embrace those less-than-perfect parenting moments.
Call it the anti-Tiger-Mom manifesto. The book, "S**tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us" (the real title has one fewer asterisk than we do), promises to teach moms "about shortcuts and parenting with 40 percent effort."
"It's mostly meant to make you laugh," said Kilmartin, a comedian, writer for Conan O'Brien's comedy show, and the mother of a newly minted kindergartener. "That's our top priority. We're hopeful you will laugh about situations you have already been in or have done, and may feel slightly guilty about."
Not that there isn't helpful advice, of course. Sleep-deprived parents will latch onto the chapter "How to Sleep in Until Nine A.M. Every Weekend." Their recommendation: leave cookies out and cartoons on when you go to bed. The next morning, your child will head straight for the treats and TV. If for some reason they do try to wake you up, the authors have that covered too. "You must feign sleep. Under no circumstances should you look at them, acknowledge their presence with a half smile, or even move."
Mommy blogger Katherine Stone, who has read the book, makes no apologies about teaching her young ones to fend for themselves on weekend mornings. "It's not like I'm not there if the world starts falling apart," she said, "But why on earth do I have to be up teaching them languages and how to crochet?"
Yet Stone, who also writes for the parenting blog site Babble.com, admits it's hard to shake the guilt associated with the lure of flawless mommyhood.
"If I'm on a blog," she says, "and I see other moms who have daily crafts and every lunch for school is focused on a certain letter of the alphabet, I start feeling my throat closing in."
Welcome to modern parenthood. Many of today's moms have a bookshelf (or two, or three) overflowing with books outlining rules to live by in order to raise the prefect child. Kilmartin says that's what drove her and fellow authors, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner, to pen their tongue-in-cheek parenting manifesto.
"This is meant to relieve the anxiety," said Kilmartin. "You have all those titles on your bookshelf and you feel guilty that you can't implement these things." Our book is a "don't worry -- everyone is in the same boat with you."
Let's face it, there's a lot of pressure on mothers these days. Catherine Connors is the editor-in-chief of Babble.com (which is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News). She says the current culture is "super hard on Moms."
"We're expected to be able to whip up our kids' Halloween costumes, blend their meals, make sure they're involved in four extracurricular activities and have great sex with our husbands," laughs Connors, who also writes her own blog, Her Bad Mother. "That ideal is just that, it's an ideal, there is no such thing." She says books like Kilmartin's "keep reminding us" of that.
The book has spawned a wave of stories on its website. One mom admitted, "I told my son, when he was 3 or 4, that when he hears the ice cream truck playing music, it means he has NO ice cream. He believed it until his older brother told him it wasn't true."
Another wrote, "I always made sure my son understood that if we were low on milk, Mommy's coffee came first."
They're the kind of stories that warm Laurie Kilmartin's heart. She says she hopes harried moms can laugh right along with her. Luckily for those moms, the book features very short chapters. Kilmartin advises, "You can read them in the bathroom while you're hiding from your children."