POPs: Parents on Parenting is a zine for parents whose lives are unlikely to be profiled in a glossy parenting magazine any time soon. It’s for parents who feel like fuck-ups as often as they feel like they’ve earned their World’s Best coffee mug. As editor Jonas, author of 2014’s The Greatest Most Traveling Circus, says in the introduction the zine is intended “to showcase the non-traditional & alternative voices in parenting that aren’t heard in mainstream media.”
This half-letter size, 48-page black and white zine features essays by half a dozen parents, including zine scene heavy-hitters like Tomas Moniz, Kelli Callis, and Jessie Lynn McMains, better known as Rust Belt Jessie. The essays serve as both statements of intent and as personal appraisals, looking ahead at the types of parenting they’d like to be and what they’d like their kids to learn from them, and looking at the past and present at the ways parenting has caught them off guard, surprised them in ways both good and bad.
Eddie Jenkins Hernandez kicks things off with “When I’m Gone,” an essay in which he explores the ways parenting has raised existential questions for him and has lead him to try to live more in the present, relishing his time with his kids. Kelli Callis and Rust Belt Jessie are both parents of children on the autism spectrum, and write about the unique challenges and also unique perspectives this affords the. Justin Birnholz writes about his experiences as a stepfather, and Kristi Nommensen talks about the heartbreaking custody battle she is in with her ex. Tomaz Moniz writes one of the best essays in the collection, talking about toxic masculinity, and being a parent in a society that is still money-driven and anything but post-racial.
Overall, I really enjoyed this first issue of POPs. Our own home is certainly not typical. My daughter was born in a foreign country and was adopted, her mom and I got divorced, and my wife–her stepmom-and I are an interracial couple. Our house holds three different skin tones and hell of a lot of stories. Life doesn’t always turn out how we expect, and we do everything we can to help our kids through that and to prepare them for their own adult lives. It’s nice to read about other parents in non-typical situations who are doing their best.