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Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is the host of Parental Discretion on NickMom as well as the author of four books including Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour. She also hosts the podcast For Crying Out Loud.

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In Defense of Bitching

By Stefanie Wilder Taylor |

Being a mother is some hard shit. That’s the truth. But you knew that right? You knew that because a ton of mothers —mothers who write about mothering, myself included — love to regale you with stories about the crap parts, the times that try our souls, and some people are sick of it. Maybe not you but some people.

A parenting blogger at Jezebel wrote a post about dealing with the terrible two’s that inspired some vitriolic comments about the nature of complaining about having kids. I’m familiar with this. This is my territory! When I had my first child I couldn’t believe what a train wreck I became in such a short span. By the time my daughter was four months old I was an unshowered, sleep-deprived, uninteresting, breastfeeding failure who fairly constantly spewed negativity to anyone who would listen. As you can imagine, my husband got a little tired of it. Actually most of my friends probably felt annoyed. I imagine that at some point everyone in my life probably said a silent prayer that I would strongly consider Zoloft. I don’t blame them but it had to come out.

In desperation to find someone who would listen, I started blogging about it and very quickly I got a book deal. My first book, Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay, was born a year later and it sold quite a few copies. To my utter amazement and joy, many other mothers wanted to hear this stuff. No, needed to hear this stuff and this stuff, to the untrained eye, sometimes read like a rant about babies.

A lot of new moms, including me, just want to find their tribe. A tribe where we speak our own language and have our inside jokes. To these other mothers, loving our children is our baseline. Yes, we all love our babies. We want them to feel loved, nurtured, breastfed (until they’re 15) have high self esteem, learn their ABCs (in Spanish, French and Italian) and always always always know how we love them so much we almost can’t breathe when we watch them sleep. We sometimes have dreams we can’t find them, dreams so real we wake up in a cold sweat, tears running down our sleep deprived cheeks and walk around not feeling right for the rest of the day. Most of us would throw ourselves into traffic to protect them but first take them on an educational trip to the frog exhibit at the museum. Yes, this is the parenting 101 part.

But what about the days where our toddlers act like they’re possessed by the devil? How about when our eighteen-month-old decides sleeping is for assholes? Or our two-year-old throws a forty-minute tantrum because we ran out of Mandarin oranges?  Isn’t it cathartic to write that? Isn’t it cathartic to read that?

Well no. Not to everyone. To my dismay, one-star reviews came in on Amazon from people who didn’t appreciate me complaining about parenting. Reviews like this one from “Compulsive Reader”: An unbelievably depressing and simplistic memoir of sorts by a woman who evidently finds her ineptitude as a mother hilarious, this book manages to make babies sound like a cross between cancer and the IRS. The constant references to drug use are sickening, and her aversion to natural processes disturbing. Note to the author: motherhood can be a blast, and not just because of the hormones.

There were quite a few other like that one. Twenty four of them so far but who’s counting?

The truth is, I don’t care because when you’re in the trenches, which I believe is about the first six years (then you have a second tour of duty from about fourteen to nineteen), there’s a need to bond with other mothers, mothers who aren’t trying to put on a front, mothers who make you laugh and tell it like it is. I’m just entertaining the troops.

That’s why I write. And that’s why I read. I don’t care that you absolutely adore every part of motherhood. That’s not what I learn from. I learn from hearing your fears and insecurities. I learn from hearing about how you almost lost it and yelled “SHUT UP — PLEASE!!!” to your three-year-old. Or the time it wasn’t almost. Why do you think Go the F*** To Sleep was such a runaway best seller? Because it’s sweet?

So to Tracy Moore at Jezebel and to every other mother out there writing about the grueling, gritty underbelly of parenting, keep it up. We need your dispatches from the front lines. Just try to also keep it funny. Because like I said, parenting is some hard shit. We could use the laughs.

 

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About Stefanie Wilder Taylor

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Stefanie Wilder Taylor

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is the host of Parental Discretion on NickMom as well as the author of four books including Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour. She also hosts the podcast For Crying Out Loud. Read bio and latest posts → Read Stefanie's latest posts →

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17 thoughts on “In Defense of Bitching

  1. Jane Roper says:

    Brava, Stefanie! I seriously don’t know how I’d cope with the demands and occasional suckiness of motherhood without my virtual community of fellow moms going through the same thing.
    /
    On another note completely, I can’t help finding it humorous that the writers of Jezebel, who were scoffing at “breeders” and the idea of (mom)blogging in general a few years ago are changing their tune now that they’ve actually reproduced.

  2. kristina bachand says:

    All i can do is laugh. Every time I read your blogs, books, posts, etc, I feel such a relief that someone (a mother), can be so brutally honest and real about parenting. It’s so refreshing!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Keep it up!! There have been a few times when I wonder aloud “why is my 3 yr old such a little b*%ch?!”

  4. Kyle says:

    Fucking love this. Your first book absolutely got me through my first year of parenthood. Please never shut up. xo~

  5. JJ Keith says:

    Who are these women who have nothing but cheery feelings about parenting? More importantly, can they give me their nanny’s number? She must be fantastic (and work a hellova lotta hours).

  6. Candice says:

    I’m ordering this book tomorrow! I can really appreciate honesty. The more honest I am about my feelings of being a mother the better mother I am. My grandmother was an amazing “mother” to me, but she let me know when I tired her out and when I was nagging her to death. I never thought she loved me any less, but I did learn to respect her and her needs. We are, after all, human.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Yes! You are completely right. We need the laughs. We need to know that we are not alone in the thought that being a mother isn’t all sunshine and rainbows with sparkly unicorns wrapped in puffy hearts. Motherhood is difficult (to put it lightly).

    Thank you Stefanie Wilder Taylor for writing the way you do. You gave me so much hope and a great deal of laughter during some very difficult times. You deserve to have all four of your books on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

  8. Maggie says:

    Motherhood isn’t all sunshine & roses. It’s usually about cleaning up puke & shit. And kids CAN be real assholes. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they don’t suck sometimes. Keep writing. We’ll keep reading. And agreeing.

  9. Darcie says:

    My son is now 8 and reading your blog during those years (and book) was such a help to me because you said SO many of the things I felt but didn’t feel safe saying to other people. I also blogged (and bitched) and found a tribe through the blogosphere. I was a post-partum depression sufferer and it was therapy (in addition to my visits with an actual therapist!) I dont read parenting blogs much anymore but I’m still grateful for your candor, Stef!

  10. Crystal says:

    OMG sooooo nice to hear that I am not the only one that thinks being a parent sucks sometimes. I had no idea till today that books that tell parenting like it really is and not the stepford version.. ugh…. I am 23 year old mother of a 20mo and a 9mo ugh! plus a full time student.. most days I want to punch myself in the face for real! and its those days that make me 2nd guess my ability to be a parent!…. :/ where do I get these books and stuff?? I need a laugh and a daily reminder that I’m not the only one!!!

  11. Misty says:

    it sounds to me like these oh so critical women must be snorting their zanax first thing in the morning…And… I would bet good money that it’s probably before their sweet lil darlin’s feet even hit the floor(probably out of a coma induced by allergy meds prescribed by a dr because of their oh so severe allergy problems)lol. yeah right… Hey,instead of wasting their time judging, they are more than welcome to come hang out with my delightful 2 year old that I already know is gona put me in my grave early.lol… Oh was that tooo offensive? MY BAD!!!

  12. Jeka says:

    This is FANTASTIC! Thank you. I’m keeping a lookout for your books. I must have them! :-D

  13. Trish says:

    Humor is what helps people through tough times. Yes there are people who never complain and are offended when anyone disses a child….but I am not one of them. I even complained about my grand-daughter who throws a fit if her pants touch her or her hair style is changed. This complaining did 2 things: 1. it got out my frustration without it affecting her in any way and 2. I found others with the same problem. I am happy to report that I do not have to buy her 27 pairs of the same pants any more and she now has added 3 new hair styles to her repertoire. All that before she turned 5 :) A bit of healthy complaining never hurt anyone.
    When I had my 3rd child I never complained, I was “the best mother”. I washed and waxed my floors every day, vacuumed at least 4 times a day. I took all three children out at least 3 times a day for several hours at a time and had meals ready on time….I found I was depressed lol. When I started to lighten up a bit, that included dropping the everything is perfect act, and I did say stupid things about my children I started to get better. Yes we love our children to distraction (I still have dreams I am hugging my grandchildren and get sad when I wake up and find they are dreams) but it is still okay to say silly things. I just threatened my 30 year old that I am going to stuff her back if she does not smarten up…. It is all good :)

  14. Cheri Demarest says:

    I appreciate it all. Every.single.last.word. From the gloating to the complaining, I would be no where without mom bloggers, so keep it coming. I am not alone, and I know that thanks to every mommy blogger I know. So thank you :)

  15. Casey says:

    Amen for honesty! Keep it coming! Only 6 hours until bedtime, warrior!

  16. Robin Gonzales says:

    OMG where were you when I had my kids at 35 and 39 years old I really thought I was an awful mother for the last 22+ years, I though I was so wrong for feeling and thinking the crazy thoughts that mother hood sucked and it’s all shit and no glory. And now here at 57 years old with a 19 year old girl (who knows everything) yeah right! and a 22 year old son in the ARMY who married his on and off girl friend of 7 years (BECAUSE ALL THEY DID WAS ARGUE) through the Internet from some place in Montana, where the biggest question on the marriage certificate was where did your mothers go to Elementary and High Schools and $900.00. BOOM your married. So even though they both are decent people and have a mother who would do and did everything for and with them, I am so glad to hear that it is OK to say or complain when you are tired and shit and puked out. Thank you looking forward to following your blog. P.S. So far being the perfect mother-in-law sucks too, already every Holiday is with her family not both families sharing the day!!! sucks

  17. Laurie C says:

    Gah…I love the heck out of my children, but sometimes I just want to duct tape them to a wall. Especially when I have one that keeps me up all night and another that likes to sass at me.

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