'Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to A-Holes': Take Five with author Karen Alpert
In the age of unattainable mom influencers, Karen Alpert keeps it real.
Honest about what it’s really like to raise kids, the hilariously candid and charmingly profane mom-of-two chronicles her #momlife on the blog, Baby Sideburns.
Her writing about the messy, unpredictable side of parenting struck a chord, and her first book, "I Heart My Little A-Holes" hit the bestseller list. She also wrote "I Want My Epidural Back," and recently released her third book, "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be A-Holes: Unfiltered Advice on How to Raise Awesome Kids." We asked Alpert for her matter-of-fact tips for raising happy, kind, and resilient kids.
1. You wrote “I Heart My Little A-Holes” when you had a baby and a toddler. Why a follow-up now that you’re a mom of pre-teens?
When babies are born, they basically do four things—eat, sleep, cry and poop. As a parent, you’re just trying to survive. There was a lot of funny stuff to write about that time in my life so I wrote my first book. But as my kids were getting older, I started to realize I have a HUGE responsibility. Eventually I’ll have to send these human beings out into the world, so I need to turn my children into self-sufficient, kind, awesome adults. That’s why I wrote this book. Like my first book it’s humorous and will hopefully make people laugh, but behind the humor is a serious message about turning our children into amazing people who can make this world a better place.
2. Your books and blog offer a candid and hilarious look at parenting. Would your kids say you’re a “funny mom?”
Sometimes they think I’m hilarious. Like when I lean over to put something in the dishwasher and I accidentally fart. And sometimes they hate my guts because I take away their screens or make them clean their rooms. I’m lucky that both of my kids still love hanging out with me, but I expect that to change so I’ve stocked my closet with a big box of chocolate I can turn to when I’m feeling rejected.
3. What’s the one part of parenting you wish you could outsource?
Sadly, it’s too late to outsource the poopie diapers. That would have been awesome. Now I wish I could outsource parenting when my kids are feeling hurt. I don’t mean the times they feel physical pain because they fell or got a shot or something. I can deal with those times. But when they feel emotional pain and come to me about it, I wish I could outsource those conversations. Seeing your kid hurt because they don’t fit in, or because they lose a friend, or because they aren’t invited to a birthday party, those are the hardest times as a mom. I’d also like to outsource clipping their toenails. Ewww.
4. You wrote a chapter about how self-expression is key to raising awesome kids. How do you encourage your kids’ creativity?
The best way to encourage your kids to be creative is to let them be bored. Will they bug the crap out of you complaining they’re bored? Yes they will. But at some point, they’ll pick up a cardboard box and turn it into a stuffed animal hospital. Or pick up a pair of scissors and make snowflakes. Or pick up a magic marker and draw an awesome picture, maybe on a piece of paper or maybe on your wall. But that’s why God invented 409. Well, God didn’t, but someone awesome did.
5. What advice do you give to yourself when you’re feeling like a bad mom?
There’s only one person who can judge whether you’re a bad mom. Your kid. When I yell at my kid because they didn’t put their shoes on or change their underwear or clean their room, I tend to replay that moment over and over again in my head and beat myself up about it. But at the end of the day when I kiss my kiddo goodnight, they’ll say something like “I love you to the moon” or “You’re the best mom on earth,” and that’s when I realize something. I’m not a bad mom. I have bad moments. I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. Overall, I’m a great mom. At least I’ve fooled my kids into thinking I am, and that’s what really matters.