When people ask me what I do, there is no hesitation, no trepidation, only pride: I’m a mom, a writer, and a comedian. And I love my life. But life as a momster didn’t always come easily to me — or should I say, I didn’t have patience and humor.
This is not for most people, but in my case, divorce helped. Yup. While not popular to say, getting divorced was by far the best thing I did for my parenting. I won’t go into all the details, but the release from the married relationship into separate homes as co-parents was exactly what I needed. Then I became a comedian in 2010, and comedy has taught me a lot of patience for people and their quirks, opinions, behaviors… And it’s made me a better momster for the same reasons.
“Happiness is like jam – you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.”
I get the quote, but it also makes me giggle. I’m pretty happy. I spread happy around. Maybe my life is just shit and I don’t realize it… But why question it? Once depressed and bitter and hopeless and mean, I somehow found laughter. Parenting and happiness seem to get better for me over the years and with (the dirty word) maturity. I learned to laugh through everything life threw at me because it was that or death.
“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”
~ Erma Bombeck
I LAUGH at EVERYTHING. Even tragedies. And you should too. Don’t be a douche, but make someone giggle. It’s a fabulous coping mechanism. I’m not just saying that because I’m a comic. I almost lost a parent as a teenager, I was an EMT and nurse’s aid in a geriatric psych unit and hospital which showed me gruesome morbidity and mental illness, I had hard relationships, and I raised a child with a serious mental illness. And bonus points for a couple of medical diagnoses for a few of us thrown in over the years. Somewhere around my 30s, I learned to LAUGH. Laugh and screw. And eat chocolate pie. Amen.
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
Laughter is good for future productivity. I laugh every day! I’ve not been very productive yet, but I know it’s coming… someday. I have a 14-year-old boy and an old pervert that reside always in my soul. They fight me for control of my filter. And apparently my penis.
I’ve been given responsibilities (like parenting and driving) that I clearly am not supposed to have. Yet here I am, and the kids are alive and happy. I have four boys spread 12 years apart in age. I’ve said before that boys are more resilient than girls: They’re easier to raise, and harder to ruin. I have no idea if that’s true, I’m still testing my theory out on them.
“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”
~ Mark Twain
Thankfully I have kids to keep me humble (ruin me). They’re amazing (crazy), resilient (stubborn), and loving (needy). Sure, without them I could have more money (fun) and free time (peace of mind), but where would I be without my kids (why won’t they leave)?
A lot of what I’ve added to this blog was recorded while my four were a toddler, teen, elementary age, and pre-teen. Spacing? Well, I guess I thought I’d give myself ALL of the pain at one time to see if I could survive. It’s been quite an interesting ride:
One with a very serious and mysterious mental illness and all that this entails
Another with depression (also serious, but different)
Another with anxiety and ADD
One with amazing sarcastic abilities
One ‘class clown’ type
One who knew early on that he’s gay
One on the autism spectrum
One who’s an attention whore. Maybe two
A couple who are sensitive or have been at certain points in their lives
One who hates my guts and yet loves me more than his hands at the same time
A couple with way too much testosterone and wide mood swings
And one with a language problem that went undiagnosed long enough we thought he was just a naughty, swearing toddler.
That sounds like a lot more than four kids, but some have multiple personality flaws.
At this writing, 23 years of kids have taught me that you don’t always like your child, but that will pass when another one takes over the helm of the Douchebag Ship. But in general, my kids really are cool. They’re evil, funny little Horcruxes of me, (so you should probably hunt them down and take them out). I actually love and adore these naughty, delicious, little monkey bastard children of mine. But a mom can still dream of giving them away sometimes…and post publicly or write books about it.
I bet the trick to raising funny kids like mine is a good balance of humor, love, inappropriate phrasing, and some neglect spontaneously injected here and there to make them crave attention. My children are such funny little creatures naturally. I mean, we have our down times, it’s not like we’re on fire with humor every moment of the day, and certainly years ago things were about 190% more stressful — but I would say that most of the time we’re ready with a smile these days.
I’m not a bad mother. I just play one at home.
As a comic, is it cheating to have kids this funny? I never go without material written by their minds and behaviors. Using my kids for comedy is just putting my eggs to good use, right? And I can’t be to blame for the children I spawn. You can only blame MY parents because I was born with these eggs. If my kids weren’t so funny, I’d have given them up years ago…which, huh… might have been better for them in the long run.
Because of my early comedy on stage, I actually had someone say I glorify child abuse. I guess I should have been a better mother by being a functional alcoholic or something. Instead, I’m a completely dysfunctional mom, but not in the drinking/drugging way. Somehow it works and we’re just a really cool family. My kids are waaaay less abused than Sybil. I mean, at best they’ll only have two personalities.
“I never know how much of what I say is true.”
Sometimes it’s a wonder I’ve flown as Momster under the radar of Child Protective Services for this long with the things I say publicly. A fellow comic once told me though, “You’re the only parent capable of making CPS laugh.” I LOVE THAT! I wonder how many people read my Facebook and tweets and think I’m actually a terrible parent. And then I wonder if I really care. Don’t like that last tweet? Call CPS… if they’re parents and understand comedy writing, they’ll just nod and read some more.
Look, if I was actually an abusive mom, I’d take away their cheese.
But anyway, being a mom comic is like living two lives — like being a streetwalker at night and Betty freakin’ Crocker during the day. I don’t do the Betty well though, so some of it bleeds over. Sometimes I use a filter for them, you know, to try to be super nice and appropriate, but it doesn’t suit me and makes me feel all gross inside. I’d rather parent authentically.
I talk a lotta smack about my kids — they didn’t nickname me “Momster” for nothing and a friend once said, “On a touch-tone keypad, 666 spells Mom. Absolutely no coincidence there.” But they’re also some of the most well-grounded-from-love kids that I know. I have to keep the kids healthy and happy so they don’t mind when I talk a LOT of shit about them. Absolutely there’s so much love in this house and I want there to be love and laughter in yours too. Hug your babies as close as you can, no matter how old they are, and do it repeatedly.
But In case you missed it, we’re not really a “normal” family.
Someone once told me my kid stories aren’t believable. If he wasn’t a douchebag, I’d invite him over to show him the crazies are real. We are real and unfiltered and a mostly happy mess of a family that prefers to be together in one room than spread out behind closed doors. That leads to a lot of funny aggravation too, like too many rats in a cage. They’re social creatures and need each other, but they’ll also fight and eat each other if there are too many.
As tough as raising one of my kiddos was, as much of a war zone as some days were, at 16 he told me that he loved to make me laugh and that it inspired him to be funnier. Humor carried us through some gruesome years.
My kids say the damnedest things. I think that it’s hard to blind-side me with humor, and I love it when my kids find a way. I’m sooo glad I started writing down as much of their “stuff” as I could the last few years. Even I’m amazed at everything that comes out of their mouths. And mine!
Just think, my beautiful, smart boys today are the slightly functional crackhead dads of tomorrow. You’re welcome.
When they were younger, my kids didn’t know their mom’s not supposed to be like this and I’d hoped they would never realize, because we have a lot of fun. The majority see it now, but they don’t ask me to change. I laugh at myself a lot and test things out on my kids or unsuspecting victims in public so through their reactions I can visualize people’s eyes getting wide when they read my status updates on Facebook, see my stage act, or read my writing in general. I really am getting more immature the older I get. One of the best parts about me is that I don’t even know what I’m going to say most of the time so I keep myself interested too.
“Mom, did you mean to say that out loud?”
I don’t want to brag, but I say some really messed up things to my kids… and they (almost) always laugh. I need to do some maintenance on my filter, but then, they’re always telling me they love me for who I am too. Along with a lack of filter on themes, generally, we also cuss a lot here. Don’t judge me for swearing around my kids, I’m teaching them critical life skills here, yo. Like cooking and persistence. Or manipulation and white-collar crime.
It used to be that somehow even though I swear like a drunken sailor, my kids were pretty good about it. When they slipped up they were reminded that only Momster can talk like that. Usually, little boys will swear like banshees when they’re away from home, as far as I know, but mine would come home from school with stories about people swearing and they sounded genuinely shocked, so I wondered if they really were innocent!
But alas, they’ve gotten older and as of this year, they will turn 23, 20, 17 and 11. They’re now quite foul-mouthed smartasses, with the exception of my little guy (more about him in a bit). But curbing swearing is just not important to momsters like me. While I meter the dosage of swears allowed, I don’t shut it down altogether. In the grand scheme, it’s not as important as mentally healthy kids.
It’s not JUST about swearing, it’s about the freedom of thought and expression and communication. My kids are very open to communicating with me, they tell me important things, they know I have their backs, and in return they have mine. I guess I’ve done something right. I often get a glimpse of why it’s awesome that I had so many boys: they do love their mamas, huh?
You’ll notice quite a few quotes in here from my youngest that are full of swear words. From 0-5 years old, or so, we had no inkling yet that he had a communication disorder. We now realize his behavior (he was quite snarky and angry as a toddler) had more to do with his anger about not being able to articulate and communicate. His brain worked differently, it seems. Like a stroke patient, I swear, he couldn’t put a normal sentence together unless he used profanity. He began swearing “appropriately” and in context since before we could understand most anything else he was saying.
At two years old he had rage issues that I loved too, though he was exhausting. Remember, I had no idea there was an actual brain issue going on. It just seemed there was no way out, only through it. So I would sit back and listen to his ranting and hope by not making a big deal out of it, he would eventually stop swearing. But boy, was he adorable too! Like one day he dropped his stuffed penguin on the floor.
He’s all like:
What the frig?!
Oh my goddamit! Stupid penguin.
Mom! The fucking penguin’s on the floor again.”
(And really, he was a lot like me. My kids weren’t around, but I used to say that to my first husband: ‘What the frig?! Get up. Fucking drunk.’)
Although once he turned five and stopped swearing, he didn’t know how to formulate sentences anymore. His grammar was much better when he randomly swore. And interestingly, he was accepted into a Spanish immersion school and has always done quite well learning Spanish as his primary school language. His brain is all his own and amazing! I still worry, especially since he’s been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and due for more testing, but luckily as he’s gotten older and his neurons are making the right connections, now at almost 11 years old, he’s quite mild-mannered and the worst thing he says is ‘fart’.
He leaves the swearing to the rest of us. What a disappointment he turned out to be.
Wanna read some of the things we say? I’m Raising My Own Enemies.
Check out Momster Gina’s Convos with Kids (and Not Parent Coaching)
Check out Gina Ritter.com for more blogging about women and humor.
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