Motherhood is a job which charges completely inexperienced women to care for, keep alive and mold into bright minds the next generation of the human race. It takes determination, heart and strength. It also takes a sense of humor. Tulsa-born Mary Ann Zoellner wrote the book on it.
Zoellner and her friends hatched the idea for the hilarious, unabashed book, Sh*tty Mom, the Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us over margaritas one evening. Zoellner and co-authors Karen Moline and Alice Ybarbo were swapping nitty-gritty and completely comical tales of stumbling through motherhood. They soon had enough material that a book had to be written.
They wrote a first draft and enlisted comedian Laurie Kilmartin to add her not-so-finest motherhood moments and a little bit of funny to their snark.
The result, Zoellner hopes, will help the rest of us laugh at our less-than-perfect parenting moments. It blows the lid off all the thoughts most moms – and dads, for that matter – have had but were too afraid to say out loud.
Zoellner is an Emmy Award-winning producer who lives in New York City and works on NBC’s Today. She and her husband have two daughters and a very full plate. Zoellner is funny and lively and someone you’d love to have a margarita with. She made time to chat briefly between tucking in her girls and running against deadline for a Today show segment.
Oklahoma Magazine: Do you get home often?
Mary Ann Zoellner: Because of family we always go back. I try to do stories that bring me near them.
OM: You’ve got so much going on. What does a typical day look like for you?
MAZ: Every day is something different most of the time. I’ve been a producer so long. I love that every day is so different. Every day is a big surprise.
OM: How do you balance it all?
MAZ: It’s hard. That’s why I’m a sh*tty mom. Some days my kids get 10 minutes. But it’s the net that matters. You just try to make sure it all balances out.
OM: Where did the idea for this book come from?
MAZ: Three of us came up with the idea over margaritas…maybe too many margaritas. We came up with the idea for Sh*tty Mom sharing our own sh*tty mom stories. Because everyone has a sh*tty mom story. We had too much snark, not enough funny, so we recruited Laurie Kilmartin, who’s a writer for Conan, and she added the funny.
OM: And you have another book, Today Moms?
MAZ: That was a straightforward, baby’s-first-year advice book. All the hosts from Today weighed in. It wasn’t in the same vein as Sh*tty Mom. We wanted to do Sh*tty Mom to make moms laugh. Everything is going to work out and don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at yourself.
OM: Have you had any criticism about the book?
MAZ: Only criticism is from people who haven’t read the book. Before you give your opinion, read it first. It’s a shocker to me because the reception is so great. Everyone has a sh*tty mom moment. It’s mostly, “Oh my goodness, I so get it.”
OM: There’s definitely no shying away from anything.
MAZ: It’s kind of like if we’re going to go there, there’s no holding back with anything – language, topics, taboos.
OM: How about your kids?
MAZ: They are 8 and 6 years old. They go to a dual immersion Spanish-English school. We are really, really pleased with the program. They are awesome human beings. I had to warn the teachers this year. “Nice to meet you. I’m Mary Ann and if my daughters say sh*tty …”