Book Review of Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler
By Brenda Robert, Ph.D.
Among the most cherished and iconic of our cultural mythologies is that of motherhood. Linked arm in arm with such other icons as baseball and apple pie, motherhood has been painted as a blissful, self-sacrificing state and those who occupy the pedestal are somewhere between the Madonna and sainthood. Depicted in art and literature as everything from soulful to stalwart, “mothers” of the world have an impossible standard to live up to. After all, who can possibly match the good deeds of “Mother” Teresa or the ferocious force of “Mother” Jones?
The welcome news is that someone has made it OK not to live up to those impossible standards. That person is Jill Smokler who has written a delightful and truth telling book called Confessions of a Scary Mommy (Gallery Books, 2012). Smokler’s book shines a light into the hidden corners of motherhood….you know those corners, the ones where the dust balls, animal cracker crumbs, and missing pacifiers congregate. It’s also the place where mothers hide their secrets, the dizzying and occasionally distressing aspects of being a mother which aren’t voiced to a judgmental society. Each of Mommy’s chapters is an essay prefaced by a list of Mommy confessions by other mothers on that particular subject. For example, in the chapter on husbands: “I tell my husband we are out of milk so I can run to the store for ten minutes of quiet time. I don’t tell him I drank the last of the milk.” On eating: “I eat sweets while hiding in the bathroom so I don’t need to share with my children.”
Scary Mommy is more than hilarious; it’s also addictive, especially so for someone who has been there. For those who haven’t, it’s a peek behind the curtain of that sanctified state known as motherhood.
Brenda Robert is an author, poet, and mother of three, grandmother of three, and greatgrandmother of one. She earned the badge of MOM long ago and wears it well. She is retired from a career of teaching English and then keeping those teachers in line as an administrator. She is also my mom!