Despite her blog’s name—Scary Mommy—Jill Smokler isn’t really so scary. Her son, Ben, inspired the title after seeing the witch in Snow White; for weeks, he prefaced everything with “scary”—scary baby, scary bottle, scary grilled cheese. “Scary Mommy seemed like the perfect name,” says the mom of three.
Smokler started blogging almost two years ago after moving from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to a suburb of Annapolis. She and her husband, Jeff, had lived in Georgetown, Cleveland Park, and other northwest DC neighborhoods for six years after college, before heading south and eventually moving back to the area. Her posts focus on the family’s latest adventures, Jeff’s aversion to “sophisticated” food, and of course the couple’s three kids: Lily, five; Ben, three; and Evan, one. The family’s golden retriever, Penelope, also makes appearances.
We caught up with Smokler on a busy week—Lily started her first day of kindergarten last Thursday!—so we got her take on everything from school-worthy outfits to fall fun with kids. Read on for her answers.
Five words to describe your kids:
“Funny, fascinating, loving, rambunctious, creative.”
Five words to describe motherhood:
“Wondrous, challenging, fulfilling, joyful, exhausting.”
Number of kids you imagined yourself having before you had kids:
“Two or three.”
Other names you were considering for your kids:
“Juliette, James, Charlie, and Gabriel. Those names remain a top reason I could be convinced to have a fourth.”
Best thing about being a mom in Washington:
“Being able to get to so many amazing places easily, such as the National Zoo, Glen Echo Park, the National Museum of Natural History. What I don’t like is sitting in traffic for three hours on the way home—that’s the worst thing about living here. There are few things I find more frustrating than being stuck on the Beltway with three children who are hungry, screaming, and need to pee. It’s my own personal hell.”
Best and worst things about being a mom of three:
“I love having a little clan. There’s nothing sweeter than watching the three of them play together and enjoy each other’s company, especially when they think I’m not watching. That said, it’s very exhausting to always be outnumbered. But it’s very worth it.”
Your thoughts on suburban living:
“I love the idea of raising kids in the city, but at this point, the suburbs fit my needs. I love the ease of a driveway and a supermarket five minutes away. I can’t imagine not being able to get to Target easily, and I adore our large fenced-in yard. But, I do miss the vibrancy of the city. Growing up in the heart of DC would be an amazing experience.”
Most sanity-saving and sanity-stealing toys at your house:
“I don’t believe in replacing the batteries in toys. My children make enough noise on their own, so every talking or music-making toy eventually dies. It gives me something to look forward to. I curse the inventor of Play-Do but adore Wikki Stix. Legos also meet my approval, as do puzzles, sprinklers, and sidewalk chalk.”
Best kids-and-husband-pleasing meal:
“I’ve been making lots of fresh tomato sauces over the summer, and everybody seems to enjoy those. My husband’s palate is much like a three-year-old’s, so it’s just like cooking for a table of children. Nothing too complicated, spicy, or gourmet. For someone who loves to cook, they’re a tough crowd to please.”
Where you go for a night off from kitchen duty:
“We love taking the kids to Punk’s Backyard Grill at the Annapolis Mall. Otherwise, we head to Chick-fil-A when it’s just me and the kids, or Central in downtown DC with my husband, though that rarely happens.”
Lily’s first-day-of-kindergarten outfit—who picked it?
“She did with much guidance from my husband and me. Keeping the girl out of glitter and sequins is an almost-impossible task, but we managed to pick an outfit that met everyone’s approval: a pink-and-red-striped polo with a pleated denim skirt, all from Old Navy.”
How you felt dropping her off at school:
“I’m the least sentimental person I know, but seeing her board the bus had me in tears. Lots of tears. She looked so grown-up and excited and independent.”
What you’ll do when all your kids are in school:
“I can’t even imagine! I’d like to become reacquainted with the gym I pay to be a member of and like to think that I may someday be able to read a book again. Maybe I’ll also shower without an audience. I really look forward to that.”
Favorite thing about the fall with kids:
“Hello? School! And Halloween. I started planning their costumes November 1 of last year. We're leaning toward a Wizard of Oz theme (if we can decide who gets to be Galinda—me or Lily). Evan would make the cutest lion and Ben, the tin-man.”
Best way to unwind at the end of the day:
“Blog, of course.”
Next week, Juliana Brint from Vox Populi makes us miss college. The Georgetown student and blog editor for the Voice answers our questions about campus life and clears up, once and for all, what exactly a hoya is. Stay tuned!
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