Momma Knows Best

Write on: Mom blogger Jen Singer isn't afraid to raise eyebrows with her honest talk about parenting.

Write on: Mom blogger Jen Singer isn't afraid to raise eyebrows with her honest talk about parenting.

Jen Singer doesn’t like babies. It’s not that she hates them—she has two sons, 11 and 12—but she quotes her father when she talks of them: “They all look like Winston Churchill.”

Shocked? Regular readers of Singer’s work won’t be. She’s a Kinnelon-based mom blogger and author who has never been afraid to say what she really thinks about parenthood. Case in point—her dislike of babies is the first sentence of her next book, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself—Baby’s First Year: A Field-Tested Guide to Confident Parenting, which will be published in May.

The good, the bad, and the downright muddy: it’s all up for grabs for Singer, 43, who’s written multiple books about parenting, and runs Momma Said (mommasaid.net), a website started in what she calls “the dark ages of web 2.0 where people checked their e-mail once every few days—if that.”

Singer, who played soccer at Boston University and still has the tall, rangy, and toned look of a college athlete, started her career in pharmaceutical advertising. What she really loved doing, though, was writing the newsletter for her cousin’s band, the Flying Mueller Brothers.

So she left pharmaceuticals to write public relations and marketing copy, then transitioned into essay writing. Her first motherhood essay ran in Woman’s Day in 1999.

The idea of mommasaid.net sprang up in 2001 and 2002; it was launched in 2003. “I married smart—I married an IT guy,” she says of her husband, Pete, an IT project manager who helped set up Momma Said.

“At first, one mother came to my website,” she says. She slowly built her audience by being quoted in magazines and newspapers, which she says “was an odd thing” for a blogger. This was a time before bloggers were taken seriously, and before “mommy blogger” became a household term.

Singer always had books in the back of her mind, and used Momma Said as a platform to land an agent and a contract for her first book, 14 Hours ‘Til Bedtime: A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Life in 27 Funny Little Stories.

PARENTING PUNDIT: Jen Singer with her 11- and 12-year-old sons at their Kinnelon home.

PARENTING PUNDIT: Jen Singer with her 11- and 12-year-old sons at their Kinnelon home.

From there, the mom-writing business zipped ahead for Singer. In 2007, she signed two contracts: The first was to pen a column for Goodhousekeeping.com three times a week about parenting tweens. The second was to write a three-book series called Stop Second-Guessing Yourself, which offered parenting advice for the baby, toddler, and preschool years.

She and her husband also started an expansion of their home, adding onto their living room for the entire family, giving Pete “his kitchen,” as Singer calls it, and expanding Singer’s writing space into a real office instead of a corner of the basement.

But the delicate balance of it all nearly crumbled when, six weeks after signing her book contract, Singer was diagnosed with stage three aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma. A tumor the size of a softball was lodged in her lungs and around her heart.

Yet, she continued to write. She had pre-written columns for Good Housekeeping, but she still had four chapters to go on You’re a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either), which was published in 2008. While in the hospital undergoing treatment, she typed on the laptop her brother lent her. “I can’t tell you what chapters were written when,” she says. “Sometimes I’d write pages, sometimes I’d fall asleep at the computer.”

One thing she knew, though, was that she had to continue writing. “I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be. The house was under siege. People were cooking for us, and driving our kids where they needed to go,” she says. “I was not in charge. Writing was the one thing I could control. It was a safe land I could go to where everything was the same as before I got cancer.”

In November, Singer celebrated two years of clear PET scans by having a big blow-out bash called “Kiss Cancer Goodbye,” which benefitted the New Jersey chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and included performances of the Flying Mueller Brothers, the Sugar Hill Gang, and her mother playing the bongos. Singer is currently writing a memoir about parenting with cancer, tentatively called If Cancer is a Gift, Where Can I Return It?

Beyond finishing the memoir, her next step isn’t so clear. “My kids aren’t going to be kids forever,” she says from her home office, which was completed while she was undergoing treatment.

Her favorite office feature? “It has a door with a lock. This is mom’s hideaway,” she says. Though not entirely. The office windows, which are nearly ceiling to floor, are on level with the backyard. “This is where the children talk to me,” she says, pointing to the muddy fingerprints on the window.

8 Ways to Get Your Kids to Talk to You

With tongue in cheek, Jen Singer observes that children don’t talk to their parents until you:

1.    Make a phone call, preferably long distance.
2.    Step into the bathroom. Close the door. Lock it.
3.    Use a loud appliance, such as a vacuum, a hair dryer, or a blender.
4.    Read.
5.    Close your eyes for longer than a blink.
6.    Try to sneak a cookie before dinner.
7.    Make a speech in front of a group of adults that don’t normally get to hear things like “I gotta go potty!” or “Mom, do you have duct tape and some rope?”
8.    Turn on your favorite television show
for the season finale, preferably when the Tivo is broken.


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About this article


Author: Issue: Mar/Apr 2010
Credits: Photography: Sandra Nissen | Hair and Makeup: Hair by Cara Lynn and makeup by Andrea Summerville, both from B’CARA Salon and Spa in Florham Park
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