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7 Lessons I Learned from Ali Wong’s Dear Girls

by Laura Lambert

If you don’t know who Ali Wong is, please stop now and quickly Google her. And if you like what you see, then we’re in business.

Wong is a half-Vietnamese, half-Chinese, 100% hip-hop loving comedian. She’s the mother of two, a San Franciscan, more or less my age, and I feel a keen sense of familiarity with her. She has excellent tastes in glasses and tracksuits and a wickedly raw sense of humor. One of her first bits as a comedian was to moon the audience.

But she is not a parenting expert. When I cracked the spine of her book, Dear Girls — essays written as letters to her two young daughters, ages 4 and 2 — I expected to laugh. And I did. I did not expect to learn much about being a mom. But I did anyway.

Here are seven truths only mothers of a certain age will understand. There are many, many more, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they are.

The first rule of having kids? You can’t control anything.
And it starts right away — like when or how you are going to give birth.

Miscarriages don’t discriminate.
And we should talk about it. “It helps so much to know you’re not the only one who has had one, because then you realize it’s not your fault,” Wong writes. And if you’ve had one, and Beyoncé has had one, and Michelle Obama has had one, man, is that a special club. “It is one thing to hear the statistic that one in four pregnancies will result in a miscarriage. But it’s another thing to put faces to actual women who have experienced the same loss, like the beautiful face of my BFF Beyoncé.”

How to wring everything out of the hospital birth experience.
If you’ve not yet given birth, pages 33-37 including vital, deeply practical wisdom, like “Require all visitors to bring food from your favorites places that don’t deliver” and “Make the nurses teach your partner how to change all the diapers and bathe the baby.”

Bringing Up Bébé is a bunch of lies.
Your child will eat more goldfish, mac ‘n cheese, and chicken nuggets than you could ever imagine. And they won’t sleep through the night. Sorry.

“No one tells you how utterly disgusting motherhood is.”
There will be body fluids — and not just your baby’s. And it will be everywhere.

90% of life is just showing up.
And this is especially true when it comes to parenting — and being parented. When Wong’s mother descends upon her house to help care for babies, or during sickness, Wong has the epiphany that most new parents have. “It made me realize that the most important part of parenting, relationship, pretty much anything — is just actually being there,” she says.

Do not believe Jessica Seinfeld’s Instagram.
Or any other picture-perfect feed of a fellow parent. You’ll just get a warped sense of parenthood.

How to choose an Asian restaurant.
What does this have to do with parenting? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s a core life lesson that everyone — mom, dad, or otherwise — needs to know. Please go directly to chapter 9 — and heed Wong’s wisdom.