Guilt, Lies and Regrets: The Tumblr Parenting Confessions

For parents, sometimes there’s no better comfort than hearing about the shortcomings of other moms and dads. Why? “Sometimes we get desperate or simply tired, and we say or do things we know aren't ideal for our children. Of course, we feel guilty,” New York child psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham tells Yahoo Shine. “So reading that other parents do the same thing makes us feel better. And reading that other parents do worse things makes us feel like fantastic parents!” Luckily, then, there’s now a great new place to go for that fix: Parenting Confessional, a darkly hilarious Tumblr filled with soothing fodder about fails both epic and minor, from Brooklyn author Julia Fierro.

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Fierro, mom to a 4-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy, has been curating the tasty tidbits in conjunction with her forthcoming parenting-themed novel, “Cutting Teeth,” due out in May.

“As a new mom, I’ve felt a lot of guilt and self-scrutiny,” Fierro tells Yahoo Shine about her Tumblr inspiration. “And while some things are OK to confess to parents on the playground, others are not, because you’re afraid of being judged.” (For example, she notes, when she had to formula-feed her first child, she felt forced to hide from the progressive-parents in her circle each time she prepared her son’s bottles.)

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“There’s so much pressure to feel like the perfect parent — especially mother,” says Fierro, 37, whose novel centers around a group of newish moms and dads and the secrets they keep from each other. “I thought it would be great to have a place to be able to confess and to even enjoy the process of posting it, like a release.” For readers, she’s hoping they’ll use it as a place to commiserate, “or just laugh.”

And the Tumblr, with submissions from as close as Brooklyn and as far as the UK, delivers. Among some of the most priceless posts so far:

“I tell my kids they are allergic to chocolate. They’re not.”

“Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we’d just adopted a dog.”

“I got so mad that I made my son cry after he said (with a big sweet smile), ‘Mommy has a fat butt!’ I’m still trying to fix that one.”

“I ate the cookie dough meant for my son’s class party. And then I blamed it on the babysitter.”

“My third career is my child. Sometimes I’m sad about it, sometimes I’m proud.”

“I tell my kids that they can eat their boogers and earwax. As long as no one is watching.”

“I find myself making up excuses for why I can’t play with my son. Suddenly, I must get the dishes washed! I must do the laundry! I must redeem the airline miles!”

“I don’t want to f****ing play.”

Fierro, whose last foray into the Tumblr world yielded the satisfying “Badass Lego Girls,” observes that the confessions typically fall into one of two camps. There are the funny truths (boogers, dog), and then the more painful ones (not wanting to play). “That was one thing I thought would be easier,” she admits about her own mothering experience. “But sometimes I don’t know how to play!” The ones that hit closest to home for the writer, though, are those about work-life balance.

“I’ve felt that guilt for years,” notes Fierro, who’s been running her Sackett Street Writers Workshop, offering classes in fiction, non-fiction and more to Brooklynites since 2002. And while she’s happy the conversation has hit the national mainstream, she still finds that it presents mothers’ choices as frustratingly black and white. “It’s like, lean in! Or stay at home and make soap!” she says.

For the rest of the parents gleaning support or amusement from the confessions on Tumblr, Markham notes, there’s also a sense of bragging rights that can give some people comfort. “Parenting is very private. Most of the time, the only one watching is your child, and children rely on us to tell them what's socially appropriate,” she notes. “So some of what's on the Tumblr Parenting Confessional is parents describing how they have broken a social taboo in secret, and they take pride in that.”

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