Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Mother’s Day: Dark but funny turns in new derelict mom books

New books in time for Mother's Day have taken a dark yet funny turn  about derelict parenting. AP photo

New books in time for Mother's Day have taken a dark yet funny turn about derelict parenting. AP photo

By Leanne Italie

These moms curse a lot, drink to excess, reveal scary truths and draw twisted little stick figures of their kids pooping and whining relentlessly. And this Mother’s Day, they’re bringing their derelict parenting to you.

The authors behind a fresh round of parenting books love their munchkins, to be sure, but there’s something about the scorched earth narrative that sells memoirish parenting books these days.

Is the goal an instructional one? Inspirational? How about some advice?

“No, there isn’t any. I don’t have anything. No advice. Nobody has any advice,” laughed Amber Dusick, a Los Angeles mother of two who brings us “Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures.”

The book’s 50 “crappy laws of parenting” include this at No. 16: “When you sneak to the pantry to eat chocolate, you will get caught.”

The f-bombs fly, the flavored vodka flows and husbands pay dearly, but what’s the point of dwelling on the smeared, sleep-deprived underbelly of life with kids? Even if it is just for a laugh.

“We’ve opened up the dialogue,” offered Nicole Knepper, who has two kids and wrote “Moms who Drink and Swear,” complete with a chapter titled, “Suck it, Santa Claus.”

“People have really found ways to be more authentic about who they are and how it affects us as parents. My mom’s generation, they did a lot of pushing down their own interests and their own personalities because they were all about the kids, and this was their job and their focus, whereas my generation (she’s 43 and lives in Plainfield, Ill.), the expectations are different. You multitask. You do it all, only nobody can do it all well.”

Jill Smokler’s Scary Mommy certainly can’t. “Motherhood Comes Naturally (and other vicious lies)” is her second spin off her popular blog and parenting community at Scarymommy.com. The first was “Confessions of a Scary Mommy.”

The 35-year-old mom of three, including boys just 20 months apart, has noticed a difference in exactly how much filth and frustration parents are willing to reveal in the five long years since she first put up her blog.

“There wasn’t this acceptance about being this sort of less-than-perfect mother, but all of a sudden it feels like that is becoming the norm rather than the exception,” said Smokler, in Baltimore, Md. “There came a tipping point where everybody just couldn’t keep up that facade anymore and there was just a backlash, and here we are.”

On the dad side, Ian Frazier’s popular cursing mommy character from his columns in The New Yorker now has her own novel called “The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days,” a diary of dereliction spread over a year of boozing, bad parenting and expletive-infused mockery of a capacitor-hoarding husband named Larry.

There’s this entry for Wednesday, April 13: “Yes, lying in a steaming tub with a bottle of Kahlua and ignoring the children’s knocks on the bathroom door all afternoon is not the most mature coping strategy. So stipulated, your honor!”

And there’s Adrian Kulp, the man-child who lost his job and turned his stay-at-home dad blog into a book, “Dad or Alive,” writing of his daughter after his wife went back to work: “All I had to do was move our four-month-old from one station to the next so she didn’t get bedsores. … The idea of going outside seemed monumental.”

An engineering-minded dude pair, Andy Herald and Charlie Capen, have provided an illustrated primer on co-sleeping, “The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions,” complete with names for each diabolic configuration: The Stalker, the Yin and Yang and The Exorcist among them.

Dusick, whose boys are 6 and 3, began blogging nearly two years ago. Her childlike drawings lend a creepy air to life with the Crappy family, including that fateful day when they all get sick. Tempers and temperatures flare, and bodily fluids fly all night, brought alive by her hollow-eyed illustrations.

“It’s a healthy balance of being able to laugh at things and yet still reassure ourselves that this is normal and we still love our kids, and parenting is really hard,” she said.

Knepper’s kids are 13 and nearly 9. She considers it far healthier to share the grief than do what her mother’s generation likely did: “Hide their Valium and their vodka in the linen closet, where nobody could find it.”

But she acknowledges that “schtick is schtick,” especially when trying to sell books that began as blogs.

Smokler’s blog has a “confessional” for anonymous commenters and she weaves some of their contributions into chapter starters. “I invited you into my home as a guest. And you brought my 2-year-old permanent markers and Play-Doh,” reads the one for “Lie#4, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.”

“Next time I visit you, I’m bringing your teenage daughter condoms and crack.”

In real life, her kids are 5, 7 and 9. The oldest, her only girl, is a couple years shy of the first time Smokler’s own mom washed her mouth out with a bar of soap. Smokler’s crime? Telling mom she hated her.

“My daughter has told me she has hated me many, many times and I have never washed her mouth out with soap. I just roll my eyes at her, I get on my site and I say something snarky about her, and I move on,” she said. “It’s a big relief for my readers to realize that they’re not the only parents who have ever been driven crazy by their kids.”

Relief, yes, and also revelation. While her own mom never cursed, Smokler’s daughter dropped her first F-bomb at age 4, when a tower of blocks toppled over, her offspring making it clear, “I heard it from you.”

“My parents just didn’t talk like that,” Smokler said. “It’s funny, now they do. At least my mom does now.”

So what do these derelict moms want for Mother’s Day?

“I’ll beg for time to curl up in bed and read for the whole day,” Knepper said.

Dusick: “I would really like to sleep in.” Is that gonna happen? “Probably not.”

Smokler the Scary Mommy is doing the unthinkable.

“We’ll be in Disney World, so it’s sort of my anti-perfect Mother’s Day, but that’s OK.”

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

.

Arts

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6