|Courtesy Atheneum Books|
While pregnant with her second child, and simultaneously raising an 18-month-old, Doreen Cronin managed to find the perfect encapsulation of how she was feeling in an unorthodox place.
“I was just playing around on the computer and I came across the instructions on what to do if you run into a bear in the wild,” she tells PEOPLE. “I read the instructions and I thought, ‘You know what? This is so similar to what anyone should not do with me right now.’”
Getting a laugh from the list, which included such tips as “do not make eye contact” and “back away slowly to prove you’re not a threat,” Cronin was inspired to create her own guide for those dealing with sometimes stressed-out matriarchs, M.O.M (Mom Operating Manual).
“People need to know how to take care of their mothers,” she says. “Husbands and children need to know we’re all running on very little sleep, very little food and a shortage of time, patience and cooperation, so here’s how you can all make this go much more smoothly.”
From giving moms some peace and quiet to feeding them the crusts of peanut butter sandwiches, Cronin’s book offers tongue-in-cheek advice on how to handle a “malfunctioning mom,” which has helped it find an audience among fellow mothers who recognize their own behavior between its pages.
“I’ve heard a lot of moms get the book, then give it to their sister, mother, their friends, because they can relate to it. I think it’s a good opportunity to kind of laugh at yourself or let your kids laugh at you too,” she says, adding that older kids, like her own 5 and 7-year-olds, best understand the humor.
“The ‘Malfunctioning Mom’ page, I know so many kids who say, ‘I know when my mom looks like that,’” Cronin says. “It’s also comforting for kids to know that everybody’s mom yells sometimes, everybody’s mom has rough moments, and we all recover pretty quickly, but we do have those moments.”
– Kiran Hefa