LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - 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.
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.”