I'm a fan of mommy blogs and all sorts of parenting forums and websites. I follow Parenting Magazine on Twitter. I read Working Mother magazine as soon as it comes, even before my wife can get her hands on it. I'll read a daddy blog or two, but let's face it, there are way more mommy bloggers out there, and they do offer a lot of advice, stories and unique perspectives.
One of my favorites since I discovered her about a year ago is Scary Mommy, also known as Jill Smokler. For the uninitiated, www.scarymommy.com is a vibrant community of parents brought together by the common theme of parenting doesn't have to be perfect. Smokler takes a no-nonsense, honest and head-on view of parenting.
One recent blog posts for Smokler include "10 People Who Make Parenting Harder", featuring the rich tooth fairy, the obnoxious sports parent and the mothers who dress their daughters like whores.
Another is "Fifty Shades of Seriously?" where she talks about reluctantly reading Fifty Shades of Grey and describing it as mommy porn.
Yes, just from those two snippets you can see why this is my favorite mommy blogger.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Scary Mommy to talk about how it all started, the new book she has out, and to get a bit of a dad perspective of her world. Here's how it all went down.
Me: My wife always pokes a little fun at me for following you on Facebook, Twitter and reading your blogs and confessions. I know I'm not the only dad follower you have. But how much of the Scary Mommy nation is comprised of guys?
Scary Mommy: You are far from the only dad who follows me, I assure you. There are actually a bunch who are pretty dedicated on the boards! It's not what I set out to do, but I love that you dads are reading along!!
Me: When did you start Scary Mommy?
SM: I really started Scary Mommy simply as a baby book of sorts for my kids, nothing more. I was always terrible at keeping track of first steps, foods etc. and thought writing down little stories and experiences would be much more fun. For me, and for them, someday.
Me: I know it quickly transformed into the bigger and better thing that it is today but was the goal from the outset?
SM: Not originally. I had no idea of the potential when I started the site, but quickly became aware that it could appeal to more people than just my family and friends. I was quickly hooked.
Me: You might be what many mommy bloggers aspire to be. Speaking of that, you seem to be the type to hate a term like “mommy blogger”, do I have that right? Just seems too cutesy for you.
SM: I really don't mind the phrase all that much and find all of the fuss around it to be pretty silly. That said, I really consider Scary Mommy to be more of a parenting community than a mommy blog these days.
Me: Are you a SAHM [stay at home mom for those unfamiliar] who blogs? Or are you a full-time professional who happens to work at home and on a flexible schedule that works for you and your kids?
SM: I consider myself a full-time working mom. For me, working at home, for myself, on my own schedule is the best of all worlds.
Me: What would you say to other mommy bloggers who are hoping to follow a similar path and create a much larger thing than just cute stories about their kids on the web?
SM: Work hard at it. I very quickly began looking at the blog as a job, despite not having much of an income from it. But, I think taking it seriously was very important. Success doesn't come easily or overnight, unfortunately. But, it can come, if you work hard enough for it.
Me: You really go head-on with all your topics, discussions and opinions, just not holding anything back. And sometimes that gets people a little fired up. Is this just your natural personality coming through? Or is it a little bit of a character for the “brand”?
SM: For good or bad, it's me. That's my favorite part of the site -- I've built it by being myself and don't ever feel the pressure to be anything I'm not. That would be exhausting.
Me: I know the overall idea of what you do is that parenting doesn't have to be perfect and you can't be perfect, so hey, let's celebrate our struggles and commiserate about them. Do I have that right? And why celebrate it?
SM: As a dad? Yes, you have that right! And, it's not necessarily about celebrating the struggles, but rather coming clean with the reality of it all. Parenthood is wonderful and beautiful and miraculous, for sure. It's also the hardest thing in the world.
Me: I know many professional, hard working, have-it-all-together and take-life-by-the-horns kind of women who would argue that their life is perfect, their kids are perfect and they're keeping it that way. What would you say to those moms? [please read this as dripping with sarcasm]
SM: I would ask them what drugs they're on. Then, I would ask them to kindly share.
Me: What would you say to the husbands of an up-and-coming Scary Mommy or even just words of wisdom to help dads survive their own version of Scary Mommy at home?
SM: To the husbands of an up-and-coming Scary Mommies: Rub your wife's feet and get her ice cream. That's it. Current dads, same thing. And, change a diaper every now and then.
Me: Your book is out and you've been touring around pimping that. How long did it take you to do the book?
SM: The book took almost exactly nine months to complete, from writing the proposal, to shopping it around, to writing, editing etc. It really was like carrying and delivering another child.
Me: And now you've been all over national television, write ups in print all over the country and a lot of major attention, where will you take Scary Mommy next? What's the plan?
SM: Good question and I'm not sure of the answer. At the moment, I'm just getting used to being home again. I do think I have another book in me, somewhere. Just need to find the time to write it!
Scary Mommy isn't just just a place for funny parenting stories filled with all the poop and vulgarity your heart desires, it's also a community of parents sharing their stories. And Smokler is also a great story of taking something small that people like, filling a need or a void in the marketplace and turning it into something special.
So check out the Scary Mommy nation over at www.scarymommy.com and you can thank me later.
Confessions of a Scary Mommy, Smoklers first book, is a collection of original essays that take an irreverent look at the underbelly of parenting – things most moms would never admit, but feel every day. You can read more about it on her site here or go directly to Amazon to check it out.