Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up at three, four, and then five a.m. to the sound of someone screaming? A morning where that making that first bottle of milk more important than your first cup of coffee? A morning where you bolt out of bed as your CD alarm clock blares out the Wiggles because once again you forgot to put Sheryl Crow back in before you collapsed the night before? Have you ever had one of those mornings where you have to ask a very short person over and over again, “Have you gone poopies yet?” because you know you’re not getting out of the house until the answer is “Yes”?
If so, congratulations, you’re a mom. Or a dad. Or a nut, as the case may be.
My name is Helen Madden and for the last two and a half years I’ve worked as a stay-at-home mom. For two years before that I worked as a stay-at-home bum, leeching off my darling husband as I tried to figure out what to do with my life. My husband will swear to you that I was not leeching; rather I was taking some much needed time to discover myself. I will swear that during those two years the only things I discovered where the joys of Cartoon Network and an appalling lack of self-discipline. I couldn’t get my (insert expletive here) together to save my life.
Somehow, that all changed when my daughter came along.
I don’t know why, but the day the doctor cut that screaming, squalling little red-faced miracle out of my uterus, everything changed. Before, I had all the time in the world but nothing to show for it. Suddenly, I had no time at all but a desperate need to make something of myself. I have talent – I’m a writer and an artist – but talent is nothing without discipline and hard work. After Cassie came along, I found myself working harder than I ever had in my entire life, and it wasn’t just from taking care of an infant, although that’s hard enough. I needed to write, to draw, to create. To be a mom my daughter could be proud of, not someone who sat around the house all day saying, “I coulda been a contender…”
So these days I get up at the butt-crack of dawn to write for two hours. That’s my free time, and once it’s over, I slip into my real job as mommy. I spend the rest of the day chasing after my toddler. I don’t know why children around the age of two are called toddlers. Mine’s more like the Road Runner, and I feel like Wile E. Coyote waiting for an anvil to drop on my head as we tear around the house and yard. By two p.m. I’m exhausted but Cassie is still rolling, so I exercise that tried and true technique for saving a mommy’s sanity – naptime. Sometimes Cassie takes one too.
Just kidding. Cassie goes down without a peep once she’s had her fill of milk and stories, and I’m left fighting to keep my eyes open. Naptime means work time again for me, a time when I get to sit and work on my art or cartoons. Yes, I cartoon. In fact, there’s a sister site to this blog called Cynical Woman that’s host to various cartoons I’ve done on the trials of motherhood, angry babies, and the facts of life (sort of…). I think there’s a lot of humor to be found in parenthood. Perverse creature that I am, I view it all through a lens tinted with cynicism and a touch of snarkiness. So if you don’t mind laughing while you’re crying, let’s share a few painfully funny stories about being parents. Remember, it’s not just a job. It’s a life sentence.