I Prefer Real Moms to the Ones Who Write Parenting Advice Books
I’m not nearly the mother I dreamed I would be. I’m too frazzled to be a room mom. I detest cooking. And since I have anger management issues, I yell at the umpires in middle school softball. But I’ve recently discovered a mecca for brilliant parenting advice. It’s a place where you’ll find tips from more obsessive supermoms crammed into one space than in the dressing room on Toddlers & Tiaras -- the self-help shelves at Barnes and Noble.
This magic aisle boasts hundreds of titles written by successful “real” moms instructing us slacker moms on the secrets of how to do everything from organize and delegate to go green and get rid of stubborn belly fat.
Those over-achieving ladies also usually write blogs with charming names like “glitzysupermom” or “marathonmomof7,” in which the overriding themes are “I’m OK. You’re OK. I’m just better than you, hon.”
They make me wanna crawl in a hole with my Cheetos and Ho-Ho’s.
The truth is, I’m intimidated by the mothering pros on book covers -- the way they can run a corporation, communicate without screaming, make playdough out of dryer lint, and wear those skinny jeans. How do their teenagers turn out so perfect? If I were to try to implement their Five Easy Steps to Help Your Teen Express Herself, my daughter would probably respond by getting a Guns ‘N Roses tattoo and wind up on Jerry Springer.
If those pundits of self improvement, smiling at me from the bookshelves, are indeed as accomplished, confident, and slender as they claim, I probably couldn’t relate to them anyway.
I like a mom who, with frosting on her lips, fibs that it was Dad who ate the last piece of birthday cake. I can identify with the frazzled mom who wants to lock herself in her bedroom in the middle of the day after a horrifying trip to Walmart with two preschoolers and a sick baby.
I’ll bond with the mom who goes to the bathroom in the stall at Target holding a crying baby and her purse on account of there are no hooks on the door and who’s begging her toddler to get up off his hands and knees and stop sucking a receipt up off the floor. That’s the seasoned veteran I’ll listen to. She is real. She is an inspiration.
Give me a mother who threatens to tie her teenagers to the top of her SUV’s luggage rack the next time they mercilessly ridicule her for simply tapping her fingers off-beat to the radio. One who doesn’t bring weird vegetables for her kid to eat at playdates to impress the Oreo-packing moms and insist, “My son, Willow, would rather have raw okra than anything else in the world!” Puleeeeeeze. I guess he’s never had chocolate syrup then.
I don’t think I’d connect with an “I-can-do-it-all” female dynamo who writes self-help books about things like relieving stress and taking charge of your life. She would probably share her coping strategy with me instead of a gallon of Rocky Road.
You can bet your sweet mac ‘n cheese she’d claim she doesn’t have cellulite either. That’s because she probably teaches 5 a.m. Extreme Spinning classes at the gym. I have an annoyingly energetic friend like that who posts all her athletic accomplishments on Facebook. She touts that she exercises because she likes to push herself -- which sort of makes me want to push her down.
Truthfully, I don’t have much time for exercise or social media -- except to stalk my kids on it. An average mother can barely keep her head above water, much less find a working pen in her house and write a book.
As a matter of fact, “real” moms don’t write a lot of books. They’re too busy making dinosaur dioramas and scrubbing permanent markers off the carpet. They’re on their knees blowing bathtub bubbles and butterfly kisses, and pouring out anxiety and fear to the God of high fevers and brand new drivers.
“Real” moms are teaching their daughters how to stand up against the wave of public opinion and how to ride out the rip tide of teenage emotions. They are engrossed in their son’s school play, and they’re reveling in their daughter’s double-play. They’re teaching their kids to take baby steps and sometimes leaps of faith.
And there’s no where else they’d rather be.
So, to all my under-achieving sisters sloshing in the trenches of motherhood, it makes me feel better when you admit that you’re addicted to Reese’s Cups, that you don’t have all the answers, that a glass of wine makes you happy, and that you’re flying by the cellulite in your pants just like me.
And for the record, I most certainly did not eat the last chocolate bunny from the kids’ Easter baskets. It was Dad.
Photo Credit: heipei.