Jill Smokler can easily be labeled the fairy godmother of parenting. The 34-year-old mother of three is coming out with a literary gift for moms everywhere: A book that defends -- even celebrates -- parental imperfection.
Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood -- The Good, The Bad, and the Scary is being published by Gallery Books of Simon & Schuster and is scheduled to hit bookstores on April 3. It will also be available electronically.
The book is an extension of the author's website, ScaryMommy.com, which started off as an online baby book and evolved into a full-blown community group. The gist of Smokler's book is that parenthood, motherhood in particular, isn't always the fairy tale it's made out to be, and parents who feel alone in their misery need to realize they have plenty of company.
In an interview with International Business Times, Smokler discussed annoying pregnancy and parenting questions, maternal hygiene, and anonymous Mommy Confessions.
So, it's 10:30 a.m. on a beautiful Thursday morning. How's your day been so far?
So far it's been fantastic because it's the first day in three days that my kids are healthy and in school. My little one was home for a couple of days with strep, so it's good to have an empty house to get things done.
How did you get the idea for this book?
An agent reached out to me and asked if I thought about writing a book. Writing a book was never something I set my heart on. I don't think of myself as a writer. The blog started purely as a baby book and everything that it's grown into has grown into a pleasant surprise. I wondered how I could make the transition from writing short blog posts to writing a book.
Wait, an agent approached you and not vice versa? That's every aspiring writer's fantasy!
I had written an article for CNN and she read it and liked it and checked out the website and thought there was something there. She thought there was a shortage of honest parenting books. I'd gotten a pitch about a year before that and I wasn't at a point where I could think about tackling that, but this time it seemed like something that would be interesting.
What do you want readers to get from Confessions of a Scary Mommy?
I'm hoping for them to get a sense of camaraderie. When I started the website and it morphed into more of a community, I realized just how many people there are like me. Some of us are making it up as we go along and doing the best we can. I just hope it makes people feel better about their parenting and themselves.
Tell us about the Mommy Confessions that are sprinkled throughout the book and your decision to include them.
They are all true. Those come from a section on my website that has been around for a little over a year. It's completely 100 percent anonymous. Getting the perspective of other moms out there was a needed addition to the book.
The topic of hygiene comes up more than once. One mother even confessed to going on day three without a shower.
I think when you're a mom, especially of a newborn, you're sort of in survival mode. The most important thing is to take care of the kids. We come in so far down the totem pole of roles and responsibilities that moms have to do. I don't think it's something that any mom is proud of. We're just sort of at a point where we want to take care of the kids. Three days is a long stretch but I think I did that when my daughter was a newborn so I'm not one to judge.
You have three children. What pregnancy questions did you hate getting the most?
The most offensive to me were along the lines of Are you sure about your due date? and Are you sure you're not having twins? It was somewhat understandable because I was large. Still, in what world is that acceptable? It's very interesting that once you're pregnant and have kids everyone thinks they can ask anything they want when they wouldn't do that the same way with a single person.
What parenting questions do you hate the most?
I don't really get any these days. I think if people know about my website they steer clear of asking me things. I'll get people commenting on my kids' bedtime. People who don't know us really well will call at 9:15 p.m. and ask why the kids are still up. When I was formula feeding I got tons of remarks on that from everybody, it seemed. That was a tough one to take.
How would you advise pregnant women and/or mothers to respond when confronted with intrusive questions?
I would just ignore it. It's very easy after the fact to come up with these incredibly witty retorts. I think if somebody says something outlandishly rude and you can think on your toes and give some funny response, give it. I would just put an end to it and turn your back and show that you're not open to whatever they're trying to do.
Any other thoughts?
When I started the blog, most of the mommy blogs and parenting websites were all about being perfect parents. It's very intimidating. It's really tough to be presented with information like that. I may not do everything right. But if at the end of the day my kids are three happy, well-adjusted children, then that's all that matters. We just do the best we can and hope our kids come out relatively unscathed.