I feel like I've grown up with Karen Alpert. I don't mean in the traditional sense of growing up as children. But rather, growing up together as parents--navigating the ups and downs, twists and turns, and exhilarations of parenting. I feel a particular connection to Karen, the widely successful blogger and author, better known to her fans and readers as
. We're raising our kids in the Chicago area with girls the exact same age. Just yesterday we were in line together at preschool pick-up and then, in a blink, here we are--in the throes of middle school with our daughters.
With a half million followers on social media, Karen entertains parents every day, showing the "other" side of parenting--the messy, scary, painful, challenging, unpredictable side. For nearly a decade, her readers have been along for the ride, taking enormous comfort and inspiration from Karen's daily life with her husband and two children, Zoey and Holden.
Karen's notable accomplishments as a blogger and author have resulted in tremendous success--and a tremendous archive of entertaining content for parents. Her first book,
I Heart My Little A-Holes
(William Morrow), made it to
The New York Times
best seller list and the Top 100 on Amazon the first week it was out. In 2016, her second book
I Want My Epidural Back,
(HarperCollins) also climbed quickly to the Top 100 on Amazon. Her recently released third book,
Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be A-Holes
, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is the hilariously honest parenting guide you and your best friend need right now.
"Every mother out there had a blog. I couldn't be the only one without one," Karen recently reflected when I asked her to remind me how it all began. "I had never read a blog when I started. I had no clue what I was doing. I just wanted to write entertaining, funny stories about Zoey."
The first blog, Karen recalled, was about a trip to the library with her then infant daughter that resulted in one very dirty diaper but no diaper bag in tow. "I just wrote about how awful it was," Karen laughed. From them on, she wrote a blog or two a month, with about 170 people following her on Facebook. Then, in 2012, after Holden was born, Karen wrote a blog called:
What Not to F--ing Buy My Kids This Holiday
. From that moment on, everything changed.
"I remember watching Zoey in her gymnastics class, and also watching the numbers on this blog post go up and up," Karen said. The post reached 60,000 people (thanks in part to a great share from a fellow blogger), with moms from all over the country simultaneously spitting their sides in laughter and nodding in solidarity with Karen and with each other.
From there, she began blogging 2-3 times a week. Her short, pithy musings on her life with two small children did something much more meaningful than just entertain her readers (which she did with much ease and success). Karen created a community of parents who craved connection, who rejoiced in the happy moments of parenting, and who knew that in many of those not-so-happy moments, they were not alone. Their child was not alone.
For Karen, creating this community has been the most surprising and most rewarding aspect to her success. "An amazing community formed. They know each other," Karen said with noticeable pride and admiration for her fellow parenting warriors. "I have received emails from moms battling postpartum depression and letters from parents who have lost their own parents and never thought they would smile again. But they tell me they do. That truly means the most."
Elizabeth Abrams is the Assistant Vice President of Communications for JUF.