Monday, March 5, 2012

Mama Never Told Me takes a fun stab at advice-givers

I vividly remember gazing at my newborn about two days after I delivered him when the nurse startled me by asking "Do you think you’ll have more?"
More? I thought. I haven’t even brought this one home yet so let’s see how it goes.
Author and Mom Emily Van Do understands. "As soon as I was on my way out of the hospital, I was hit with 'when's the next one?'" Van Do recalls. "I don't know if it was the pain killers or the fact that I just went through a day of labor, but I was off my game! I wasn't expecting to be confronted with such a crazy question so soon."
This question and others like it laid the groundwork for the second book in Van Do’s Mama Never Told Me series. The first book, published in 2009, revealed some of the unbelievable comments that a pregnant woman hears on a regular basis, mostly about her weight and obvious body changes. The second book covers similar ground while including comments that surprise many moms due to their almost-confrontational manner. Take, for example, the random mom we’ve all encountered on the playground who brags that her daughter spoke in full sentences at six months. Meanwhile, your own six-month old is happily making goo-goo noises.
Van Do has found a simple way to address these one-upping moms. "I mention in the book that I mostly tell people 'I am clearly an inadequate mother...'" Van Do says. "I notice that people will tend to feel almost sorry for me because it looks like I'm being so hard on myself. At the end of the day, you have to know that it's the mom who is bragging about her kid who has those insecurity issues."
In Van Do’s life, well-meaning neighbors showed up with advice based on old wives' tales (when was the last time a doctor recommended rubbing whiskey on a teething child’s gums?) and playground parents offered what can only be considered plain-old bad advice—such as "Germs are healthy for babies" while her toddler is spotted eating dirt.
Van Do slaps each of these bad-mannered comments on her pages and pairs them with quirky illustrations. The new mom in the book remains silent on every page, but we know what she’s thinking and can imagine what she—or we—might say in response to some of the crazy quotes.
Both Mama Never Told Me books are fast and fun reads for moms on both sides of the delivery room. And we can expect to see more in the series as Van Do’s acquaintances, and even perfect strangers, continue to offend and blindly advise her. But it’s all just material for the next book.

Both books in the Mama Never Told Me series are available through and Author Emily Van Do can be followed on Twitter at @mamanevertoldme.


  1. I can't help but growl at people who tell me their kid was potty trained young -- like 1 or 2. I have a 4 year old who still has accidents all the time.

    I like the line about being an inadequate mother. I usually say something like, "Ohmygod, you're so much better of a mother than I am." Works pretty well.

  2. Fun and informative piece, thanks!