Ruckus Book Review: Confessions of a Scary Mommy – Jill Smokler


Originally published in Ruckus Magazine.

When Jill Smokler found out she was pregnant, she had a “hysteria inducing, this-cannot-be-happening-to-me, why-did-I-not-triple-up-on-the-birth-control shock that rocked [her] selfish, skinny life to the very core.” Her life consisted of working, shopping, eating out with her husband, drinking with friends and shopping some more.

Surprisingly, once her first child was born, she quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. She found out “endless games of peekaboo and board books were not as fulfilling as [she] thought they would be” and she felt like she was “drowning in boredom and lame nursery rhymes.” So, she started a blog, which later turned into her first book, Confessions of a Scary Mommy.

Her blog originally started as an outlet to vent some of her frustrations that came along with being a mom and a way to keep a baby book that didn’t involve sending what she viewed as annoying picture-filled e-mails to friends and family. Plus, she figured it would give her something to focus on between laundry, diaper changes and grocery shopping. The blog became an inspiring community for moms who found themselves drowning in mommyhood.

She added an anonymous confessional section in a forum, sensing there was so much more that her readers wanted to say, but didn’t, for fear of being recognized (and possibly arrested). This section produced enough “scary” and hilarious fodder for this blog-turned-book.

Confessions of a Scary Mommy includes short stories detailing Smokler’s own “scary mommy” moments, as well as some of the best anonymous confessions left by her readers — real moms leaving real thoughts, without fearing judgment or negative reactions, a lot of the time finding reflections of themselves in at least a few of the other confessions.

Some anonymous confessions were more disconcerting than others, including gems such as:

  • “I ‘accidentally’ tripped another child on the playground yesterday.”
  • “When I married my husband, he could do no wrong…when we started having babies he could do no right.”
  • “Contrary to popular belief among my family, I don’t have postpartum depression. I’m just upset about being so freaking fat!”
  • “I let my husband name my daughter and I spend every day regretting that decision. Able Luna. What the hell kind of name is that?”
  • “We have breakfast for dinner once a week. OK, three times a week.”
  • “I sometimes crush up my Midol and put it in my husband’s food — it makes him sooooo much easier to deal with.”

Smokler includes a “Scary Mommy Manifesto,” in her book, asking the reader to “not judge the mother in the grocery store who, upon entering, hits the candy aisle and doles out M&M’s to her screaming toddler because it is simply a survival mechanism; not compete with the mother who effortlessly bakes from scratch, purees her own baby food, or fashions breathtaking costumes from tissue paper — motherhood is not a competition and the only ones who lose are the ones who race the fastest; and, most importantly, no mother is perfect and your children can thrive because of, and sometimes even in spite of, you.”

For anyone who has ever felt like they’re a failure at being a “perfect parent,” or are scared they wouldn’t be good enough parents to have children, after reading this book you’ll know you aren’t alone. Some of the “scariest” confessions will give you the confidence boost you need to realize you’re not so bad after all … and, in fact, you’re pretty normal.

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