Snookies and milk

Snooki from Jersey Shore is having a baby. Can a hard-drinking, pants-peeing, hot tub-loving party girl turn out to be a good mom? I did.

I’ll tell you a secret–I’ve never once thought of myself as a good mother.

The truth is the phrase “good mother” is subjective anyway, and I’ve no idea if I would fit the criteria on which you would base such a thing, but I’ve never thought of myself as that.

When my two children were young, I was a big mess (as opposed to the smallish mess that I am, currently). I divorced from their father when they were only two and four years old, and spent the next five years or so husband hunting. I had babies, and I thought I was supposed to be married, too. Let me tell you, the hunt for my next ex was grueling. There were many dates to go on, a lot of alcohol to consume (I had to seem fun!), and much wooing to be done. The race for the ring was a full-time job. But I already had a full-time job, and two full-time jobs left me little time for parenting. I figured I’d get back to it eventually–when I’d bagged me a man.

So my parents helped: taking the kids on weekends the way the other parent might were they so inclined (my children’s other parent was not), while I went out and had fun–but fun with a purpose. I married the next two men that I dated.

But even when I was there, I wasn’t really there. I was thinking about places I’d rather be, people I’d rather be doing. I half-listened when the kids told me about their days, I let them eat whatever they wanted, I became irritated when they stayed up too late. I was that mom.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is on the front of this week’s Us Weekly, looking much like her usual self but holding onto her belly in a way that let’s us know that, clearly, she’s with child. Like, duh. The headline reads “OMG! I’M PREGNANT!”

The feature is a six page spread that includes a detailed account of Snooki’s “Wild Past”; a picture of the entire cast of Jersey Shore, along with notes about whom she’d allow to babysit (spoiler alert: The Situation is o-u-t); and a short side piece about what she’ll have to do without while pregnant (tattoos, caffeine, tanning, jacuzzi, hair dying, and alcohol all made that list).

But the most interesting part of the story, at least to me, is the actual interview with both Nicole and her fiance Jionni, whom she has been dating off-and-on for a year and a half. It reads like something out of the The Onion:

Us Weekly: Take us back: How did you find out?
Jionni: Right after New Year’s. She was a month late.
Snooki: A month? A week! I blamed it on stress. Sometimes I’m a week late, but I always take a pregnancy test just in case.
Jionni: We got a box of three tests. If it has two lines, it’s positive. On the box, the two lines are thick. But she had one dark one and one slightly bright. We were kind of confused.

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: What was your first thought?
J: We were both excited.
S: Really? You screamed!
J: I got on my knees and said, “Noooo!” It was a joke.

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: Are you going through party withdrawl?
S: No. No more peeing on porches. Those days are over.

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: Do you want to find out the gender?
S: Yes, but we have a little time. He wants a boy–he says he doesn’t know what to do with a girl.
J: I did not say that!
S: Yes, you did.
J: If it’s a boy, he will obviously play every sport possible. If it’s a girl…
S: She will be pretty, popular, and wear animal prints!

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: What Did you think, seeing your sonogram?
S: It looks like an alien!

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: Are you at all frightened about the delivery?
S: I’m not scared. I’m getting an epidural. Natural birth? Eff that!

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: Any names ready to go?
S: Jionni Jr. for a boy. We haven’t thought of girl names, yet. I want something Italian and normal. Not like Blanket. Or Lamp.

— ∮∮∮ —

UsW: What about weird pregnancy dreams?
S: You know in when you hold in a fart and it hurts? In my dream they were contractions.

— ∮∮∮ —

At one point, Jionni guesses that a baby probably goes through about twelve diapers over the course of a week (actual answer: 80), and Snooki guesses that a newborn should be breastfed about four times a day (actual answer: 12). Basically, it reads like an interview with two twelve year olds. Two twelve year olds who you wouldn’t let babysit your children, let alone be responsible for one of their own. And it’s all very tongue-in-cheek, winking at the reader, as if to say “Can you believe these self-involved morons are breeding?”

But that’s not fair. What do any of us know about parenting the first time around? Or even after parenting for quite a while? Aren’t we all self-involved morons from time to time–some of us more frequently than others?

I didn’t come around to my parenting epiphany until my daughter, then seven, fell out of a tree and broke her arm. On the way to the hospital, I had to call my mom and ask if she knew the kid’s blood type. You know that oft-used image of a person with a light bulb going off over their head? That could have been a real-life photograph of me. Something changed, inside, and I realized that I should know that sort of thing and I suddenly really, really wanted to.

I started staying home (even on weekends!) and taking my children with me when I did need to go places. I listened. I read them stories. I learned to cook. I was stuck to them, like glue, and still am. In fact, at 17 and 19, “Get a life!” is one of their favorite phrases to whine at me while rolling their eyes. But I’ve missed so much already, and I’m not going anywhere.

So, Us Weekly asked 100 people in NYC’s Rockefeller Center “Will Snooki make a good mom?” and only 19% said yes. Here’s what I say: who the hell knows, but let’s give her a chance to make mistakes before condemning her for them. I’m proof that even self-involved morons can turn out to be loving parents. And, hey, at least she won’t be naming her baby Lamp.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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