Perhaps, if you are being honest, the answer, at times, can be a resounding yes. Between the isolation, the guesswork, the temper tantrums and the constant diapers, there is a lot of hazing that children inflict on their mothers while we are earning the title of “Mommy.”
Well, Jill Smokler, a.k.a Scary Mommy, has blown the lid off of what should and should not be said when discussing the experience of motherhood, using her sense of humor and the occasional “F-bomb” — and in doing so, Scary Mommy, has actually made motherhood a little bit less frightening.
Smokler has taken the energy behind her incredibly popular blog, Scary Mommy, and done something really scary – written a book. “Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest Look at Motherhood: The Good, The Bad and the Scary“, published by Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster, goes on sale today. It dares to say the things most mothers have thought, but few have had the courage to admit.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Smokler about the pending release of her book, and the popularity of her blog. Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of Smokler’s very honest and sometimes blue blog for about a year now (no coincidence that my daughter is one year old and change).
You know when you are reading work by someone else, you assign a voice to their words, and then they come to life in your head? I had done that with Smokler’s posts and the content of her new book, and in my head she sounded — well, a tad scary. However, on the phone, the first thing that struck me was the tenderness with which she holds the honor of being a mother. The combination of Smokler’s love of her children, combined with her honesty about how downright frustrating parenting can be is what makes her so relatable.
“Sometimes I scare myself with how much I get frustrated with these little creatures that I love so much,” Smokler candidly admits.
“Scary Mommy” isn’t afraid to use colorful language to tell her stories, and she isn’t ashamed to admit that her children may be present during the use of those words. And therein lays the charm and the appeal of the “Scary Mommy” blog, and what will likely be the success of “Confessions of a Scary Mommy.” By the way, despite Smokler’s humility, I managed to pull out of her that this success comes in the form of about 35,000 Facebook followers and 1.5 million views of her site per month.
Confessions, both Smokler’s and others’, are a large component of Smokler’s brand. When she first started writing, she noticed that people were much funnier in their comments when they were anonymous than they were when they stood behind their names. So she thought it would be interesting to see what people would say if they were 100 percent anonymous. Users can post a confession, defined as “An admission or acknowledgment that one has done something that one is ashamed or embarrassed about,” and other “scary mommies” can respond with a “like,” “hug,” or “OMG, Me Too!” These confessions even prompted the creation of an app for the iPhone that makes confessing even easier — and the key to grabbing any mom audience is finding a way to make everything just a little bit easier.
Each chapter in the book starts off with a list of “Mommy Confessions,” most of which will make any reader laugh out loud and some that will give you pause. Some of those chapter titles are, “THIS Is Supposed to Be Beautiful?” “Paying for the Nine-Month Binge,” and “I Hate Other People’s Kids, (Not Yours, of Course).” They read like an email from a close girlfriend, and are basically the stories behind her stories, containing original content that has not been included on the blog, and they are short enough to be read in small bursts of limited free time.
Smokler’s contribution to the well-being of mothers goes far beyond simply moderating what can be seen as a very honest virtual support group. Back in November, after a number of readers left messages describing the hardships that they were facing, Smokler asked her readers to donate $25, which would be used to buy grocery store gift cards. In doing so, she helped raise more than $20,000 — enough to give over 400 families Thanksgiving dinners.
Before hanging up with Smokler, I asked what advice she might have for a new mom out there who is trying to navigate her way through something truly scary — the first few months. She paused, thought for a moment and said:
“1. Relax and enjoy it because it only gets harder.
“2. Don’t listen to other people — which makes my advice irrelevant.
“3. Follow your intuition, follow your gut, we know innately what we are doing. It seems so daunting and scary to bring home this new little creature, but think about how many people have done this before — [people that have been] barefoot…Britney Spears.”
And in the event you are looking for even more Scary Mommy entertainment, Smokler will be blogging from her book tour, which will include, but not be limited to, a 20-hour car ride to Florida, with her children and her mother.