Every mom has had one of those days: a day so horrible, so terrible, so no good very bad (thanks Alexander!), that it by 10 a.m. you know it’s going to end with wine/chocolate/Ben and Jerry’s/Xanax (pick your toddler antidote of choice) or simply locking yourself in a closet so the tiny lunatics raging in your kitchen can’t find you. So mamas everywhere rejoiced when the first trailer for Bad Moms came out, starring Mila Kunis, Katherine Hahn, and Kristin Bell (mom, you know her better as Princess Anna from Frozen).
Just two and a half minutes of watching the hilarious antics of these three ladies gave all of us a tiny spark of hope. Maybe we all feel like we’re pretty bad at this mom thing some days…but laughing about it definitely helps. So grab your partner-in-crime parents, book a babysitter, and go see Bad Moms—in theaters today—and then pick up one of these seven books to convince yourself that no, you’re not a bad mom: you’re actually a rock star and the kids are going to be all right after all.
1. Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler
Since the demise of the Longest Shortest Time Facebook group, Scary Mommy is my number #1 most recommended new Facebook “like” for fellow moms and mamas-to-be. With contributions from moms (and dads) from all walks of life, this site tells it like it is about parenting, with articles on postpartum body image and potty training fails to picky eating and infertility. Jill Smokler is the O.G. Scary Mommy and the brains behind the site, and Confessions of a Scary Mommy is her hilarious and poignant collection of original essays that take you into the underbelly of her personal mommy journey…and how she came to understand why some animals eat their young.
2. The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl by Jaime Primak Sullivan
From her Bravo reality show Jersey Belle to her daily Facebook video series #cawfeetalk, millions of women turn to Jaime Primak Sullivan for her signature blend of NJ no BS-advice and ball-busting meets hard-earned Southern wisdom and kindness. Jaime reached a whole new audience when a parenting video she made in April 2016 went viral, in which she speculated that she was the worst mom ever because she threw out her kids’ ice cream cones when they didn’t show proper respect to their server. Moms everywhere cheered in solidarity—and then rushed online to pre-order Jaime’s book The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl (out next week) to learn some of this Jersey belle’s lessons on life and love.
Ayelet Waldman may be well-known in literary circles for her vicious Twitter spats (remember when she called out the New York Times Book Review because they didn’t include her well-reviewed novel Love & Treasure on their end-of-year “Notable Books” list?), but in mommy circles she’s infamous for her 2005 comments that she loved her husband (ur-hipster novelist Michael Chabon) more than her children. Waldman refused to apologize to the mama-shamers who grasped their pearls upon hearing that Waldman actually enjoys sex with her husband and couldn’t imagine how to live without him, and she doubled down two years later with the publication of Bad Mother.
In it, Waldman explores the complications of being deemed a bad mother by society, and encourages moms and everyone else to get over it and simply do the best you can. This candid and hilarious memoir is a hit against the mama-industrial complex and a win for women everywhere, both the breeders and the childless.
4. Reasons My Kid is Crying by Greg Pembroke
In the last two days, my two-year-old son has cried about the following: he couldn’t pour water from a bottle into his cup (he was holding it upside down), his face got wet (he sprayed himself with a hose), his strawberry tasted bad (he dunked it in ketchup). So while it’s a cruel joke that Reasons My Kid is Crying is one of his favorite books, at least I get to read it and laugh-cry often.
Based on the website Reasons My Son Is Crying, this book is exclusively made up of photos of kids of all ages caught mid-tantrum, along with the ridiculous, nonsensical reason they’re crying. Dad Greg Pembroke started the site after he snapped his 3-year-old son sobbing when he broke his cheese block in half—the project took off and I’m sure some traumatized toddler parent who happened to also be a book editor stumbled upon the site, and the rest was history.
5. The Honest Toddler by Bunmi Laditan
For years before I had kids, I would see missives from The Honest Toddler speckling my Facebook timeline—some highlights included the Honest Toddler’s rants about Mom leaving the strings on her bananas (I mean they are pretty gross, am I right?) and disbelief over Dad still being asleep when she barged into his room at 3 am (RUDE). Mom of three Bunmi Laditan honed The Honest Toddler’s dictatorial yet somehow charming voice on social media for years before publishing her first book, and this is one I know I’ll be turning to time and time again amidst the storms of the terrible 2s (and the 3-nager stage, and the F-you 4s..)
6. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Comedian Jim Gaffigan and his wife/saint Jeanne live in Manhattan in a fifth floor, two-bedroom apartment with their five kids. Allow me to repeat: 5th floor. 2 bedrooms. 5 kids. If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, well, it is! And Jim writes about the absolute chaos in his essay collection Dad is Fat, outlining everything from the families’ bedtime routine (which to me sounds more complicated than manning the air traffic control tower at JFK airport) to their sunblock application process (all kids are, like him, practically translucent). I fell in love with this big Irish New York family…and then promptly went online to research birth control and bigger apartments.
7. Momzillas by Jill Kargman
Calling all fans of Bravo’s amazingly funny sitcom Odd Mom Out: did you know that Jill Kargman, the show’s star and creator, is also a novelist? After I binged season 1 of the show I downloaded Momzillas instantly for a fix of ridiculous Upper East Side mommies and what it’s like coming into that world as a semi-punk, anti-establishment outsider from San Francisco.
(Featured photo: STX Productions)