Regular moms dish their ‘dirty little secrets’

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Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile conducted interviews with hundreds of mothers while researching their best-selling book “I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids.” In “Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms,” they reveal their surprising, thought-provoking, guilty confessions they hadn't told anyone else. These are the private thoughts that every mom has — and every mom can relate to. Here's an excerpt:

Reluctant as many of us may be to admit it, we Moms have all got dirty little secrets. Whether we’ve got one child or five, a 50-hour-a-week job or full-time duty as supermom, we’ve all got a few small, not-for-public-discussion yet utterly crucial coping mechanisms.

A couple stealthy habits or indulgences we rely on in times of need, and then conveniently neglect to tell our partners or closest friends. Even the authors of this book have a few dirty little secrets.

What’s more, after interviewing hundreds of moms to write our first book, "I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids," we discovered that pretty much every mother out there does as well.

Of course no one wants to admit that, at least at first. But once we got moms talking, anonymously, and once we’d listened to their initial raps about how truly amazing and balanced and blessed their whole lives are, we burrowed down to the truth.

This process of emotional realization took a few minutes. Twenty-two to be exact.

Us: How are you handling motherhood right now?

Them: It’s amazing. I love it! I am so balanced. My husband is my best friend ...

Twenty-two minutes later:

Us: Sounds like you have a real balance in your life. How do you do it?

Them: Ummmm, well, maybe balance isn’t the right word. Ummm, actually, I haven’t taken a shower in three days. And, OK, my husband and I haven’t had sex in three weeks ...

Then, after the truth about sex and hygiene came the secrets — the late-night grocery store runs to buy milk, just to steal a few minutes alone or the phony “latte names” used at Starbucks and the elaborate fantasy lives that went along with those names, primarily involving still living in the city and not having kids. When we first stumbled upon these secrets, we added a few of them to our book, on the theory that even a mom with a howling newborn and a terrorist “don’t-make-me-hurl-this-mac-and-cheese-at-you” toddler could hone in and hit pay dirt in the five seconds a day she managed to read. We thought of the secrets as mom candy: a quick, delicious hit. What we didn’t yet see — in fact, what we didn’t realize until moms from near and far started telling us — is that those secrets aren’t just juicy. They tell a whole story. Packed into mom shorthand, each contains a highly condensed accounting of the issues we’re all living with in motherhood today.

So we went on a mission to uncover more. In some cases moms mailed us their typewritten dirty little secrets to ensure their privacy — they wouldn’t risk being identified by their handwriting or sharing their email address. In others, moms approached us in person, eager to share their own realities, both for the sake of connecting and for the catharsis of coming clean. We hope you’ll read the secrets that follow in the spirit that we gathered them: without endorsement, without judgment, but in solidarity. Our goal is to puncture the overblown expectations we all have of ourselves to be “perfect,” and in the process make our generation of mothers feel less guilty, less burdened, more unified and less alone.

Excerpted from "Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms" by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. Copyright 2008. Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.