Three new parenting books serve up a mix of sassy, sweet and sarcastic advice just in time for Mother’s Day.
Jill Smokler’s “Confessions of a Scary Mommy” (Gallery Books, 2012) includes what she calls the “Scary Mommy Manifesto.” Highlights:
• “I shall maintain a sense of humor about all things motherhood.”
• “I shall not judge the mom in the grocery store who … doles out M&Ms to her screaming toddler.”
• “I shall never claim to know everything about children other than my own.”
• “I shall remember that no mother is perfect, and that my children will thrive because of, and sometimes even in spite of, me.”
Smokler, the mother of three children, writes that she wanted a take-home fact sheet to refer to in the middle of the night after arriving home with her firstborn. Instead of the detailed “care and feeding” information she received when she’d gotten a puppy, Smokler says she gathered advice piecemeal from relatives, neighbors and friends. Sound familiar?
She sums up the plight of birth order and its effects on personality: Her first child had a baby book that was updated every week. The second child had a monogrammed box where she tossed in keepsakes. Baby No. 3 had no baby book, no keepsake box and only hand-me-down clothes, toys and strollers. As a result, the first child grew accustomed to having every little achievement applauded; the middle child became easygoing; and the third child is a clown desperate for attention.
She also shares anonymous confessions from other moms. For example:
• “When I’m eating my secret stash of M&Ms and my 3-year-old asks what I’m eating, I say broccoli.”
• “You know what’s worse than kids who refuse to eat vegetables? A father who sets that example.”
• “To the new mom who left the hospital looking like a million bucks: I hate you.”
• “Newborns are a breeze. Just wait until you have a 3-year-old.”
The second book gives toddlers everywhere a strong voice through the wit and wisdom of Suzanne Weber, author of “To What Miserable Wretches Have I Been Born? Revenge Poetry for Babies and Toddlers” (Atria Books, 2012). Highlights include:
• “You probably wanted to have a baby, but you probably did not think much about having a toddler. Or a child. Or a tween. Or a teenager.”
• “I find it incredibly amusing how you pore over books about how to be a better parent. … But it’s not working. I still won’t sleep when you want me to. … I will cry loudly for long periods … I’m a baby. It’s what I do.”
• “The (nap) window is magic. I rub my eyes. I stretch. I yawn. If you happen to be on the phone or in another room or on Facebook when it happens, then you will have missed the opportunity.”
• On Santa: “Who is this man and why are you handing me to him with a huge smile on your face?”
• On grandparents: “This is a world I could get used to … These people are rebels and I like it.”
• On getting more than you bargained for: “I’ve inherited your eyes, your hair, your nail beds. Why wouldn’t I inherit your obsessive need to control?” … “You wanted me to learn to talk. But you’re not interested in what I have to say when what I have to say is NO.”
• On growing up: “You took apart my crib. My crib! And now it’s in pieces in the closet, all because I spent one night – one night! – in my big-girl bed without complaint?”
• On sibling rivalry: “In what universe would I be okay with you bringing another baby into this house? You already have a baby … ME!”
The third new book is “Dear Daughter” (Gallery Books, 2012) by author and blogger Heather Armstrong. She first wrote to her daughter, Leta, when she was just 8 weeks old, and continued to write a letter each month for the next five years. Some of the best letters are included in the book. Highlights include:
• “Tomorrow you turn 4 months old. This is a time when I wish I could TiVo you, press Pause, and replay you over and over again so that I don’t miss anything.”
• “Your fifth year was by far the best yet,” Armstrong writes, because Leta had learned to dress herself, read books and pour her own cereal.
• On the joy and surprise at a positive pregnancy test: “I was not prepared in any way for what having a baby would do to my life, to my heart.”
• On a parent’s love: “Your father and I love you more than you could possibly know, and you won’t know how much or understand just how much until you have a child of your own. Love, Mama.”
Betsy Flagler, a journalist based in Davidson, is a mother and teaches preschool. If you have tips or questions, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-236-9510.