As we recover from the overly saccharine frilliness that surrounds Mother’s Day – where everyone who has a living mother supposedly tells her how much her sacrifice (of her body, her time, her sanity and her original hair color) meant to him or her, we revert back to the usual state of affairs when it comes to the media’s discussion of modern parenting . . . the one in which the media delights in panicking parents -- about the impact of their every move and how they’re likely negatively affecting their children -- and telling them that they suck as role models, and then giving them marching orders from a cadre of “experts” on how exactly they can do better at this child-rearing thing.
It never fails, that after a couple of weeks of glowing stories and reports about how great Mom is, that we then return to the stories which question the impact of mothers’ employment on children, to “studies” on how mothers can boost their babies’ IQ by committing to 27 hours of quality “floor time” a week while simultaneously breastfeeding said infants until the age at which the children take their first, standardized test in school.
And it’s at about this time of year when I start craving and seeking out alternative forms of media that don’t make me feel like dumbest parent on the planet, that don’t chastise me for unapologetically working instead of spending all my time volunteering in my children’s classrooms and that don’t make me feel selfish for wanting time to myself, time for an adults-only date night and a single day without one of my three children’s sports teams having a game or a practice.
So when I find kindred spirits, people who share my flawed and down-to-earth view on parenting, I get a little giddy. And I develop “Mom Crushes.” The first time I had a Mom Crush was when I stumbled upon fellow Mommy Track’d writer Christie Mellor’s  book, “The Three Martini Playdate.” Long story short: During a tension-filled family vacation, I became so frustrated and suffocated by my three children’s behavior, so desirous of a moment of peace away from my darling angels (and guilt-ridden for feeling this way), that I demanded some “me” time apart from the very young whippersnappers who were quite happy to be away from their crabby mother and to be spoiled by their father and grandparents. Then, like the sun unexpectedly appearing in a stormy sky, while browsing in a gift shop I spotted Mellor’s snarky book, which extols the virtues of restrained, reasonable parenting and of being an adult who isn’t completely child-centric 24/7. Smitten, I quickly bought the book and finished reading it by dinner time.
Several more Mom Crushes followed. During some moments of parental insecurity (most likely brought on by some over-hyped news story saying that if mothers don’t forgo their entire identities so they can be their children’s hand-maidens, their children will eventually become serial killers, or worse, turn out to be “average” kids) I developed Mom Crushes on brutally honest bloggers Melissa Summers of Suburban Bliss  and Mindy Roberts of The Mommy Blog . They told unvarnished tales about their imperfect lives with their children and their work, and bravely stood up to the folks who threw rhetorical brickbats at them and called them names. There was something empowering about their strength and truth telling.
When Judith Warner  wrote the book “Perfect Madness,” about the extreme pressure placed on this generation of college-educated moms to be perfect and, essentially, subservient to their children -- watching over their kids like unpaid security detail -- I felt as though my story had been told. While I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, her book gave me solid, independent evidence to present to my husband, who thought that I was just being “silly” about this pressure to be parentally perfect. And another crush ensued.
My yearning to locate positive mom role models also led me to embrace the fictional depiction of an imperfect, ambitious surgeon who struggled when she attempted to figure out how her new role as a mother figured into her life as a physician and wife. This character, well known by viewers of “Grey’s Anatomy” as Dr. Miranda Bailey, has kept me eagerly tuning in to the ABC dramedy on Thursday nights (when there’s no writers’ strike).
My latest Mom Crush involves a blogger-turned-author, Jen Singer , who just released a book, “You’re a Good Mom: And Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either.” After reading the book, I wanted to hug her. Here is yet another woman who disdains the media parental pressure and culture of blame-mom-first. Singer tries to put moms at ease in her book by telling us that Super Moms are all smoke and mirrors and that, for the sake of our collective mental health, we should simply choose not to compete or keep up with them because it’s not worth it. She calls for parents to stop “stalking” our kids at school, asserts that parents are NOT our children’s entertainment directors, recommends that we NOT pick up the phone when the class mom calls and to not feel guilty when claiming some well-deserved personal time. My favorite chapter title, “Don’t Let the Youth Sports Cartel Run Your Life” and the best sub-title, “Demote Yourself from The Great Nurturer to The Perfectly Fine Mom.”
The Mellors, Singers, Warners and Baileys of the world – along with the sage and quirky words from my gal pals – help me find my way as a mom at a time when we’re constantly told we’re doing this whole parenting thing wrong and how we COULD be doing so much better. They’re my connection to Real World: Parenting . . . Super Moms and passers of judgment need not apply.
Who's on your mom crush list?