Parenting culture is so much more than just a narcissistic breeding party — it's full of the kind of scare tactics, shaming, guilt, TMI, and navel-gazing that no one would ever, ever want to listen to at a party. That's where the publishing industry should be getting crafty. Just past the enthusiastic, aggressively helpful info found in the usual suspects like Parents, Parenting, Parenting Early Years, Parent and Child and other actual titles obviously written by an accountant, lies a booming, untapped market for the kind of real-talk publications that cut through the chirpy and meet new parents where they actually live, in the belly of the beast.
But You Chose to Do This Magazine
This weekly mag would be more than just the ultimate gift, it would be the definitive argument settler every time a parent opened their mouth and tried to even act like it was ok to gripe about the trifecta of parenting complaints: being fat, tired, or frustrated. No sleep? But you chose to do this. Can't focus at work? No one made you have a baby! Breastfeeding is hard? Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah. Alternate titles: Wah Wah Wah, Look at Me Playing My Baby-Shaped Violin and Oh Puhlease. Featuring a weekly column called "Don't Want to Hear It" written by a rotating cast of every childless person on earth.
Choking Hazards Monthly
The thing that's so great about this magazine idea is that it doesn't even need words or stories. Every month, a simple 300-page glossy thuds onto your doorstep with mouth-watering photo after photo of every bead, bauble and bite that you never realized could lead to your child's ultimate demise. Who'd want to advertise you ask? Only just about everybody! Emergency Rooms! Heimlich classes! Marbles! Pretzels!
'That's Your Kid's School' Weekly
A variation on the hilarious game of one-upmanship, "That's Your Boyfriend," where you point to someone hideous and declare the aforementioned. This helpful publication will instead feature a roundup of the worst possible schools photographed at their drab, dilapidated, lowest-standardized-test-score-having worst, with a blank spot where the offending parent could insert a ready-to-be-mocked child's photo into a classroom window. It will be circulated for free around the sorts of places where parents who thrive on competition with other parents like to hang out, like outside of Yale admissions or in Malibu. Recurring feature: "Don't Bother, You Won't Get In," written by the dean of admissions at every school your kid won't be going to.
But I Wasn't Planning On Becoming A Parent! Magazine
Thought you wouldn't have a kid? Now you do? You've found the right little subscription. Instead of making you feel weird or bad about the fact that you might not have been totally sure you were ready for parenting, this magazine will help you navigate the new terrain of parenthood without the judgment or condescension. This affordable, cancel-at-any-time publication, printed on recycled diapers, features monthly articles such as "Wow, So You Really Didn't Know The First Thing About Babies, Huh?" and "That's Not the Sort of Thing You'll Be Doing Now With a Baby Around."
Hipster Baby Journal
OK, so it could never actually be called Hipster Baby — too obvious — but this as-of-yet-untitled magazine already exists in the minds of every hipster parent out there, and would fly right off those antique shelves if it were ever brought to life. Every issue would double as a wearable piece of baby clothing or usable art, like a vintage onesie or a set of baby spoons made from the reclaimed wood of the floor of a Swedish cathedral from the 1600s. Issued quarterly at $250 a pop, it would round up the latest, greatest, coolest, newest, oldest and rarest of baby/parent presentation, from old-timey prams to infant-sized newsboy caps made out of doilies. It would include a free download code to a celebrity lullaby written by Zooey Deschanel. Possible names: Seed, Breed, Pod.
Is This Normal? Bazaar
I'd say the bulk of my Googling these days is trying to figure out whether a baby should slap your face right after it smiles at you. Or if it's really OK that your daughter calls every man she sees daddy. Consider these questions answered.
Oh Shit — Kindergarten! Quarterly
Sent four times yearly after your baby is born to remind you that you are supposed to be doing something to get that baby ready for kindergarten. Once the kid passes age 5, this title automatically changes to Oh Shit — College! at no cost to you.
Except That's Not Your Baby Magazine
For whenever you hear about someone whose baby sleeps through the night, never acts up, sleeps through the movies, doesn't like sweets anyway, is speaking complete sentences in French at 9 months old, this modest publications tiptoes reassuringly past those landmines and alleviates your fears by reminding you that you do not have that particular kind of baby, and that's OK. Tagline: Somebody's gotta bring up the middle! Regular feature: "Weekly Mantra: Babies Are Like Snowflakes."
You Fuckin' This Up Yet? Magazine
A gut-check of a publication meant to just swoop in, ask the tough question — with splashy photos — then swoop back out.
This Old Pile of Resentment
Accept it now: Even if you've done your job correctly, your kid will have gripes a' plenty about your parenting. Written from an insider's viewpoint by other gripey children just like yours, this handy guide anticipates that resentment, but does it one better by offering both sides of the argument, with regular columns such as "A Hug or Some Praise Woulda Been Nice" vs. "I Did The Best I Could Putting Food on the Table and Breaking My Back at Work So You Could Have Violin Lessons and What About the Pony and How Come Your Sister Managed to Turn Out Just Fine?" Recipes included.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles who can have any of these titles ready for publication in a breezy six weeks.
Image via Shanta Giddens/Shutterstock.