This New Book Totally Nails the LOL (or SMH) Humor of Motherhood
Ilana Wiles' The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting is one of those rare must-read books on parenthood.
My daughter, who's about to turn 1, makes me laugh pretty much every day. She makes this funny gremlin face whenever she's concentrating on grabbing Cheerios and guiding them into her mouth. When I pick her up from daycare, she shouts an extended, "Hiiii!," in a tone of voice that sounds eerily adult—similar to the way my mom greets my aunts after a long absence. And even when confined to her baby carrier, she dances wildly—if awkwardly—if she hears any kind of music bumping from a car stereo as it passes us on the street.
These little giggle-worthy moments are my favorite parts of my day but, usually, describing them to other people doesn't really get others to laugh. In my first year of being a mom, this is something that's surprised me the most: Parenthood can be so, so funny, but that humor can be hard for me to share. In my conversations with other parents, we've empathized with each other about moments that have concerned us, comforted us, and even creeped us out. (I've told many people the story of how, one night when I was home alone with my daughter, she stopped dead in her tracks, pointed down a dark and empty hallway, whispered "Dada," and then went back to playing as if nothing had happened.) But the funny stuff? You kinda had to be there.
That's why I'm always so taken aback when I run across a writer, much more talented than I am, who can take the funny and frustrating parts of parenthood and reflect it back at other parents in a way that makes strangers laugh. As soon as I come across these voices, I try to get them into Parents magazine. These really resonate: In our audience surveys, humor is ranked as one of our readers' favorite things about the magazine.
Recently, a laugh-out-loud book came across my desk. And by "came across," I really mean shoved into my hands with "you've just got to read this" notes stuck on them. Twice.
Yes, I'm now the happy recipient of two copies of Ilana Wiles' The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting. Wiles is the brain behind the Mommy Shorts blog, as well as the Instagram accounts @mommyshorts, @averageparentproblems, @insta2yearold, and @pinkinnyc. And she gets it.
You know what I mean when I say she gets it: She can describe in one line that ineffable parenting struggle you've been mulling over for a week. For me, it was this simply elegant way she titled a chapter on the transition to solid food: "Yogurt on the Ceiling." Yup, been there. The wisdom that followed came with this simple formula: "The longer the baby has food in front of her, the more likely that food will work its way up past her eyebrows and into her hair."
The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting takes readers through the ups and downs of parenthood, from pregnancy pains to potty training to that moment when you realize that you're never getting your iPad back. It's a combo of funny lists, scripts, quick essays, funny baby photos, and—my personal favorite—charts and infographics. (A pie chart that looks like a plate of chicken nuggets swimming in condiment breaks down a toddler's meal thusly: 78 percent ketchup, 22 percent whatever food is supposed to be eaten with ketchup.)
I can see now why other moms have passed this along to me (twice). Once you read it, you want to flag down every other mom you know, put it in her hands, and say, "This!"
Marisa LaScala is News Editor at Parents and mom of a 1-year-old daughter who has thankfully stopped talking to the shadows in her hallway.