Monday, August 13, 2012

ARC Book Review: Sh*tty Mom by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, Mary Ann Zoellner

Title: Sh*tty Mom: The Guide for Good-Enough Moms
Publisher: Abrams Image
Release Date: Sept 1, 2012

Cover Impressions: This cover is fun.  The colors work well, the font is cute and the image of the exhausted mom, sipping a latte and fiddling with her phone while hiding from the kids - is perfect for this title.

The Gist:
Sh*tty Mom was written by four moms who are willing to concede that while their children may not grow up to be rocket scientists or president, they will damn well know how to get their own breakfast and turn the TV to cartoons so that mom can get an extra hour of sleep!  It provides a tongue-in-cheek guide to the mom who wants to raise her kids with the least amount of effort possible.   

I don't normally read and review non-fiction or humor but, as a new mom, this title caught my eye and I had to give it a shot.  Over the last year, I have been inundated with advice from moms who know it all (and some non-moms who know it all).  I have gotten "the look" when I feed my baby store-bought food right out of the jar and felt out of place when my son is the only one at a party not wearing the latest teething necklace made from self-sustaining bamboo that I grew in my own back yard.  The I-read-all-the-latest-articles-on-soothing-techniques-and-am-on-a-first-name-basis-with-5-pediatricians moms are all too vocal.  However, the moms you never hear from are the ones who are willing to lock themselves in the bathroom to play Draw Something for 5 mins or count down the hours, minutes, seconds until bedtime.  Those moms stay quiet because the Perfect Moms shame us into doing so.  They judge us with their cloth diapers and all organic burp cloths.  Well, in the interest of an honest review and to take a stand against the Perfect Moms, here are my Sh*tty Mom Confessions:

1) I let him watch TV- lots.  I even put on the Little Einsteins DVDs when I really need him to bliss out in front of the boob tube.
2) I let him snack on cheerios - a lot.  They are a major food group for him.
3) Cry-it-out is the only go to sleep technique that ever worked for us.
4) I only dress him in real clothes for pictures or if someone is coming over.  Otherwise it is just a diaper or a sleeper (depending on the temp that day).

Sh*tty Mom must be taken with a large dose of humor (and perhaps an even larger dose of wine).  It is NOT the book for a mom looking for sound advice on how to raise her little one.  It IS the book for a frazzled mom who needs a little time out and, perhaps, some perspective.  With chapter titles such as "How to Sleep In Until Nine AM Every Weekend" and "How to Drop Off Your Sick Kid at Daycare before the Teacher Figures It Out" it is clear that this book provides some serious humor and would go great with your copy of Go The Fuck To Sleep

There were a few moments when I was a little put off by the humor.  For example, in a section entitled "How to Leave Your baby in the Car While You Dash into a 7 Eleven" the authors discuss babies being locked in cars, pardoning the parents and blaming the child:

"The real problem here is that babies do not know when to cry.  it would behoove them to learn.  How is it that babies can scream through the night but when you're about to leave them in the hot car, not a peep?  Do they even want to live?  Why hasn't the evolutionary process hard-wired an 'I'M IN THE BACKSEAT' scream into all babies' DNA?"

This didn't come off as remotely funny for me and, had the section been seriously edited or removed entirely, it would have increased my enjoyment of the book immensely.  After this point, I found myself constantly anticipating the next slip while reading and it set me on edge.  Interestingly enough, a further chapter "Rediscover Your Passion for Violent TV, Movies, and Jokes" brings up exactly this point with the illustration of a new parents' inability to laugh at dead baby jokes.  Those, I never found funny and perhaps that shows that my sense of humor was never crass enough to enjoy the passage above - kid or no kid. 

Ignoring those sections, Sh*tty Mom is extremely funny.  The writing is witty, and the layout marries short chapters with lists and notes of advice that make for a very quick read.  It also cleverly buries moments of wisdom.  For example, this is something that I wish I could tell the parents of all my students who sit in the middle of the pack:

"Average kids inherently understand that they don't have the goods.  They develop other skills precisely because they can't get an A-plus on a paper that was begun the night before it was due.  They grow into college students who can study for a test and into competent grown ups who can install a kitchen backsplash and use a slow cooker."

In the end, Sh*tty Mom does have a deeper purpose.  The message of this book is not how to do the bare minimum and get away with it, ok well it is, but it goes deeper than that.   It teaches us that if, at the end of the day, your kid didn't really have a balanced meal (cheerios count as a food group remember?), he didn't learn a new word (at least not one you want him to use in public) and he didn't have an enriching and educational outing that will surely set him on the path to school super-stardom.  That's ok, because he is alive and (relatively) healthy.  He will grow up just fine even if you don't celebrate every milestone (no first-poop-in-the-potty parties for you!) or sacrifice every moment of your time to his fulfillment.  And hey, even if you are a Sh*tty Mom, at least you aren't a REALLY Sh*tty Mom!

Notable Quotables:

On managing PDA time for your kids: "Imagine for a moment what it must be like to dole out coke to a cokehead.  That's a cokehead that you can control.  That's a cokehead who will brush his teeth the first time he's asked.  Who will be quiet at a Starbucks and engrossed during the aforementioned seven-hour drive."

"People get annoyed if you stop at one child.  They say you're selfish for not giving your kid a sibling, that your kid could turn out spoiled and awkward.  These people are usually called 'grandparents.'  Beware the grandparent!"

"Remember: Nobody dies in Goodnight Moon."


Kat Salazar said...

I got a sample booklet of a few chapters of this from BEA and loved it. Very amusing.

Unknown said...

I really liked this book too. I agree with your statement : "It is NOT the book for a mom looking for sound advice on how to raise her little one. It IS the book for a frazzled mom who needs a little time out and, perhaps, some perspective"
Read my review of Shtty Mom when you have a chance!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the review. We're all frazzled moms at one point or another.

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