Situation Momedy: A Labor of Love
Back in my single-girl, my-time-was-my-own, it-still-made-sense-to-wear-dry-clean-only-clothing days, before I was officially the mom of tiny humans, I was mommy to my very own canine brood. We aren’t talking one small step into a lifetime commitment with man’s best friend here; we’re talking one giant leap: I managed to amass five dogs. I repeat: five. Let’s just say I’m a big believer in the saying Go big or go home.
The fact is, I’d desperately wanted children for so long that I started baby-stepping my way toward them with kids of the hairy, salivating, kibble-eating kind. In the interest of full disclosure, I first attempted fish and a pet lizard, but those didn’t go so swimmingly. Fortunately, I’ve had better luck with mammals. Sort of. I took a few tumbles along the path to becoming a decent doggy parent too.
Case in point: Not long after I turned 30, I brought my third puppy home—a basset hound named Mia. She was a spur-of-the-moment adoption I’d made with a lot of heart and very little consideration for what our future together might entail. In my optimistic, carefree world, what was one additional dog in the house when I already had two? I’d convinced myself she would add more character to my life.
For the record, wrinkles add character; basset hounds add chaos.
Nonetheless, Mia’s still camping out on my loveseat as I write this (read: drooling all over it and leaving behind her very special brand of basset hound funk), so I guess my decision couldn’t have been too misguided. But it took a while to come to that conclusion.
First, Mia and I had to undergo the Pottery Barn Bench Construction Debacle of 2007. That’s when I learned putting together any sort of factory-made furniture that involves more than ten parts and over one page of instruction is not a puppy-friendly home project, no matter how careful you think you can be.
I congratulated myself on remembering to let three-month-old Mia outside before she christened my new rug. Then, while lost in the oblivion of bench assembly, I missed her stealthy entrance into my work zone (impressive, considering that bassets are anything but stealthy). That little rascal managed to snag a few nuts and bolts without me noticing!
That evening saw Mia trembling and vomiting. Clearly my baby was ill—at least I was astute enough to recognize that fact—so I rushed her to the emergency vet. Turns out she’d ingested two interlocking metal pieces that wound up lodged in her intestine. Their removal required immediate stomach surgery—and most of what I had in my checking account.
Numerous vet bills and countless hours of worrying later, I was in possession of frayed nerves, a doped-up dog, and the most expensive bench in the history of Pottery Barn benches. It was a financially and emotionally costly parenting lesson.
The moral of my story? Sometimes labor and love don’t mix when it comes to parenting. Oh, and installing baby gates is a must, whether your kids have paws or feet.
People sometimes use the term labor of love rather loosely.
“I just finished filming an exciting thirteen-hour documentary on the mating rituals of wombats; it was a labor of love.”
“I climbed K2 wearing only a Superman cape and a pair of Mukluks; it was a labor of love.”
“I simultaneously wrangled two kids, five dogs, and my husband for a photo shoot, just so we could have a kitschy Christmas card; it was a labor of love.” (For the record, I’ve tried this one, and it’s no easy feat.)
But as often as I hear the phrase labor of love, there’s one experience I’ve had in my own life that truly exemplifies it: trying to give birth to a book while being full-time mommy to the two girls to whom I also recently gave birth.
Years ago, in my dreamy little head, being a published author resembled Ernest Hemingway brooding over martinis at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Dorothy Parker wisecracking at the Algonquin Round Table, or William Faulkner puffing on pipes and slugging bourbon at his writing desk in Oxford, Mississippi. What it definitely did not look like was sneaking in twenty minutes on chapter 17 while simultaneously breastfeeding, making a meatloaf, stepping on wayward crayons and squeaky toys, and desperately wishing that third pot of high-octane coffee hadn’t just run out. As it happens, motherhood and manuscripts aren’t always an ideal (or productive) combination.
Nevertheless, just as the legendary phoenix rises from a pile of ashes, inspiration sprang from my new mommy chaos and took flight. It’s how my book— Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom’s Guide to Laughing Your Way through Pregnancy & Year One—was conceived, and writing it brought my notion of a labor of love to a whole new, sometimes sanity-defying level. But it was more than worth it! I mean, how could I ignore an opportunity to merge my lifelong love for comedy with my passion for raising my daughters? Better yet, how could I pass up the chance to let my mommy peers laugh at my hectic and hilarious motherhood misadventures, snafus, and hard-learned lessons, such as the one I mention above involving my four-legged, fur baby?
I believe we are all better parents when we can take a step back and find the funny, and this is especially true when one is experiencing pregnancy and the new-mommy learning curve. My prevailing motherhood motto? A sense of humor—never leave home without it.
That said, every now and then a new mommy’s sense of humor gets lost in the shuffle. Mine did. I used to catch it skulking behind my morning sickness and the uneasiness of an unfinished nursery, hiding under dirty diapers and never-ending laundry loads, attempting to escape the threat and absurdity of the Mommy Wars, and getting overshadowed by that monster called The Fear of Screwing up My Kids. (Welcome to the wonderful world of anxiety!)
After I’d done enough fretting and over-Googling for all of us, I finally decided to shake it off, trust my own instincts, and laugh a little. While I was at it, I figured why not embrace the honesty and vulnerability and write a book that reminds other moms to locate their own intuition and inner comedienne in the midst of the anarchy? Sometimes it’s nice to know we aren’t alone in the madness.
With Situation Momedy, I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel; I’m just trying to encourage us all to laugh as the notion of motherhood perfection rolls on by. As I mention in its preface, Situation Momedy “isn’t meant to be a how-to book. There are already tons of those out there, and they cover everything I can’t, won’t, couldn’t, and shouldn’t. Instead, this is meant to be a best friend’s guide to laughing about the realities of motherhood. Because sometimes laughter is a contagious cure-all. . . . Think of me as your self-deprecating Jiminy Cricket with a baby on her hip.”
After all, parenting may be a lifelong commitment that involves intense love and dedication, infinite patience, and more energy than you thought yourself capable of without a lifetime supply of caffeine (or maybe wine), but it also offers an abundance of seriously comical moments worth pausing to appreciate.
Because what’s the fun of the labor without the love and laughter to go along with it?
Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,
Jenna von Oy
*** For those of you who know WAY more about parenting than I do—and that’s probably most of you—you may not need my book to remind you to laugh in the face of your daily parenting challenges. Not to worry, Situation Momedy has something for everyone, so I hope you’ll read it anyway. It happens to be chock full of ridiculous stories from my past, both personal and career-related, in which I repeatedly throw myself under the bus. And who doesn’t love laughing at my expense? You won’t want to miss it. And it comes out THIS WEEK! You can order it HERE.
Also, a huge congrats to Christy of Marietta, Georgia, who won the SnuggBugg contest last month! Thank you to everyone who entered, and please check back soon for more fun giveaways!
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