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"White Trash Mom Handbook"

October 7, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
Last night, my husband told me one of his co-workers has a solution to our dilemma of getting Emma to stay in her bed at night: Whenever she comes in our room at night, scare her. Shout, growl, do whatever it takes to make her scamper back to her own room for refuge.

Yeah, like that would work. Not only would we have a youngster scared out of her wits, we'd have one scarred for life!

It reminded me of a solution that might be suggested by blogger Michelle Lamar, a.k.a. the White Trash Mom. Not that I disagree with everything this woman says. In fact, I like most of it — if not because she offers realistic solutions for today's stressed-out mom, but because she makes me laugh and feel better about my daily struggles. After all, she maintains in her new book, "The White Trash Mom Handbook," that all kids will need therapy for something in their childhood and that we moms should just get used to it.

I'm going to give my husband's pal a break and hope she was just kidding. In that case, the notion provides a sort-of twisted comic relief to a sleep situation that is growing more desperate by the night.

For more groan-inducing, guilty-pleasure reading, check out Michelle Lamar's blog (see link above) or her new book, "The White Trash Mom Handbook," which she co-wrote with her friend, Molly Wendland, alias The Tacky Princess.

Michelle is the quintessential White Trash Mom, which to her is not a derogatory moniker but instead encapsulaltes a mindset that is "the opposite of perfect," giving hope to all imperfect moms everywhere (yes, that means YOU & ME!). Molly is a reformed member of the Muffia, Michelle's borrowed term for the "mean and snobby mothers who are the adult bullies at the school your child attends."

In her chapter on The Muffia, Michelle writes: "The Muffia has far less to do with the external things like how you look, how you cook, what you wear, or how you fix your hair. It has to do with the inside stuff like being mean to other mothers (and sometimes even their children). Being a Muffy is about being hurtful and superficial. It's about upholding a totally bogus and stupid standard of perfection that is completely unrealistic and, ultimatley, damaging to the whole family."

I can think of a few Muffies, how about you?

The three overriding themes of the White Trash Mom, according to Michelle, are to trust yourself, work around the rules, and laugh. A WTM has a "hearty guffaw" that can't be missed. On that last score I am definitely guilty -- ask anyone who knows me.

Tips in her book range from how to "play the game" of parenting and school politics without sacrificing your sanity, how to get the most bang (recognition) for your volunteer buck (time put in), and what lies are perfectly acceptable to tell your kids (e.g., "Chuck E. Cheese is only open for birthdays").

As I read snippets from Michelle's book, I am dutifully shocked by some tenets of her philosophy. Cussing around your kids, letting them watch nighttime soaps and taking them to see the new Will Ferrell flick or horror movie ... ummmm, huh-uh.

Other things ring so true or are just that funny that I heartily guffaw:

-- According to Michelle, WTMs are known to pretend "it just happened," like a stain on a shirt or a small rip in a pair of pants, even though they just never got around to doing anything about the problem.

-- WTMs host sleepovers for their kids during which the kids' activities include trying to get the pug to pee in the toilet and making a fort out of the inflatable pool and Slip 'n' Slide that are still in the backyard even though it's February.

-- And my favorite: WTMs will never have a Pottery Barn home, no matter how many pieces of Pottery Barn furniture they buy. "If you are, in some fashion, holding on to the fantasy that you can have a perfectly appointed home and live with children, you need to wake up. Unless you have a full-time maid, butler, and perhaps a toxic cleanup specialist on your payroll, give up the fantasy, sister!"



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