Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies) - Jill Smokler

Summary:  Newly pregnant and scared out of her mind, Jill Smokler lay on her gynecologist's examination table and was told the biggest lie she'd ever heard in her life: "Motherhood is the most natural thing in the world."  Instead of quelling her nerves like that well-intentioned nurse hoped, Jill was instead set up for a future of questioning exactly what DNA strand she was missing that made the whole motherhood experience feel lies than natural to her.  Wonderful?  Yes.  Miraculous? Of course.  Worthwhile?  Without a doubt.  But natural?  No so much.

Jill Smokler's first memoir, the New York Times bestseller Confessions of a Scary Mommy, rocketed to national fame with its down-and dirty details about life with her three precious bundles of joy. Now Jill returns with all-new essays debunking more than twenty pervasive myths about motherhood.  She gives you what few others will dare: the truth.

This is not a parenting manual or how-to guide (there are plenty of those out there and you've probably read more than your share).  Think of it instead as a coping resource.  (summary from book - image from amazon)

My Review:  Motherhood Comes Naturally is written by Jill Smokler, the brains behind Scary Mommy a website that touts pregnancy and parenting advice for imperfect parents, and an anonymous confessional where parents can give voice to their deepest and darkest.  I've tooled around the site a few times, lurking in the confessional, and come away feeling slightly amused, somewhat validated, and more than a little disturbed.  I haven't gone back to the site since those first few times.  Mostly, because my mama brain simply forgot about it's existence.  Whoops.

I found this book on my local libraries "for sale" shelf, vaguely remembered the site, and rifled through it a bit, landing on a page that was pretty dang funny. I decided to get it, hoping to read some snort-inducing stories and garner some mothering inspiration (aka. coping mechanisms) to make it through the rough days.  Alas, I only made it eight lies in before throwing in the towel, and quite frankly I had to force myself to make it that far.  Smokler drops some solid truth bombs (and a fair few B, A, S, and F-bombs, as well), but it wasn't nearly as funny or as inspiring as I had hoped.  Yes, motherhood is hard.  Yes, our kids can drive us crazy.  Yes, sometimes we want to lock ourselves in the bathroom.  Truth, truth, and truth, no denying it.  However, Smokler's general attitude towards motherhood came off cringe-worthy and brutal, with a touch of "....but I DO love my kids, I swear!" thrown in to keep CPS at bay.  I really felt that it needed a bit more positivity to balance all the negativity she was throwing around.  Maybe that came later in the book, but I'll never know because I don't have the emotional energy to wade through the darkness hoping for a glimmer of light.

We've all received a backhanded compliment before, right?  "You're lucky your husband works all day, so you don't have to!" or the inverse, "It's so great that you get to go to work.  I could NEVER let a stranger raise my kids!"   Ultimately, this book felt like a backhanded compliment to motherhood, delivered with just enough humor to make the reader question whether they should be offended or amused.  Mostly, I was offended.  Or I would have been, had I the time or energy to be offended by a book.  As it stands, I can't, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone....or, at the very least, to anyone who isn't already a massive Scary Mommy fan.  Find something else to read.  Might I suggest this...

My Review: 1 Star

For the sensitive reader:  Plenty of swearing, so discussion of sexual matters (though vague) and a general sense of disdain for the day-to-day aspects of mothering.

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