Bad parents bare all on Bad Mom Web sites

Bad parents bare all on Bad Mom Web sites

By Chrisopher Noxon
Mon Nov 5, 2007 7:40 AM ET


It was, when she looks back on it,
a fairly routine disaster. Late one Sunday, after a busy
weekend with three kids, working mother Romi Lassally was
staring down at a pile of her son’s vomit in her hallway.

"I left it there. I hoped the dog would eat it," she said.

But when the dog failed to oblige, Lassally was left
cleaning up and with a feeling that she’d sunk to a new
maternal low so she did what she often does when mortified —
picked up the phone and called a girlfriend.

"She was amused and disgusted," she says. "I felt better
right away. At that moment I knew I was on to something."

That "something" was True Mom Confessions
(www.truemomconfessions.com), an online posting board for
momsto share their worst mistakes, misdeeds and misgivings.

Since starting in April, more than 100,000 women have
contributed confessions, from one-line gripes about in-laws, to
intimate accounts of diminished sex lives.

"It turns out we’re all riddled with guilt and ambivalence
and regret," she says. "We’ve bottled this stuff up for too
long. Now it’s time to unload."

Parents are unloading like never before. Whether trading
horror stories at birthday parties or penning "momoirs," more
parents are finding comfort in swapping tales of their woes.

Parenting books once dealt primarily in sweet sentiment and
motherly resolve. Now they’re filled with tales of supermarket
tantrums and strained marriages, each a supposedly more
intimate expose of the ugly underbelly of family life.

SIPPY CUPS NOT FOR WINE

The titles say it all: "Mommies Who Drink," "I Was a Really
Good Mom Before I Had Kids," "Sippy Cups Are Not for
Chardonnay."

Lately, what began as an all-mom gripe-fest, has grown into
an web-accelerated airing of grievances from moms and dads.

"Fathers came late to the party, but I think we’ve finally
realized that there’s no real honor in decorum," says writer
Steve Almond, who chronicled his paternal missteps in an essay
titled "Ten Ways I Killed My Daughter Within Her First 72 Hours
of Life."

One dad got big laughs recounting how he nearly gave his
daughter a concussion carrying her through a doorway. Another
confessed leaving his toddler in a car seat for two hours
during a school basketball game.

The "new parent" website, Offsprung.com, includes parental
tales of dropping children and doping them with Benadryl while
on Babble.com, one mom reveals her secret to keeping calm with
her irritable toddler — time-outs to get stoned.

At worst, the warts-and-all disclosure is a self-conscious
exercise to make the teller feel better about their failings.

Elisha Cooper, a writer and illustrator who wrote about his
first year of fatherhood in the memoir "Crawling," says he’s an
eager player of Bad Dad One-upmanship.

"Sometimes it’s an attempt to gauge other people’s failures
so we can say to ourselves, ‘thank God that’s not us,"’ he
says. "We want to know we’re all in the same boat – but we also
want to know we’re on the drier part."

Still, Cooper welcomes the outpouring, mostly because it
affirms a truth he holds as self-evident — that raising kids
is messy, undignified and fraught with disaster.

"So much of parenting has to do with failing. Why not
remember the bad things?" he wrote in Crawling.

Lassally of True Mom Confessions adds the current wave of
complainers aren’t oblivious to parenting’s joys and hopes.

One mother, who recently confessed to kicking her son out
of bed after three years of co-sleeping, wrote: "My confession
is I miss my son."

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