How My Failures as a Mother Inspired My Comic
I wrote a guest blog for the Really Real Housewives. Here it is, republished in it's entirety:
I’m here to talk about how I have fun despite the trials of being a mom. There’s two things you should know about me before I get started:
1. I’m a yellow personality. I thrive on fun and excitement. If I don’t have something to look forward to, I fall into a bit of a depression. So I chase “fun” like it’s my job and sometimes that means I do too much and go too hard.
2. My third child, Hazel, broke me. My two older ones were pretty easy babies (I realize now). They were cheerful and didn’t mind my nonstop, chase-every-moment lifestyle. They were also well-behaved enough that I could feel relatively secure in my mom skills. But then Hazel came along. Every opinion I had about myself as a mother; every plan I made; every hope and dream I held for the future – she shat on all of that. Firmly and intentionally, while maintaining eye-contact.
Once Hazel came along, I realized that I wasn’t in charge anymore and my previous priorities would have to be seriously rearranged.
No, I can’t show up at church with perfectly coifed children. You’re lucky they’re wearing pants right now.
No, I can’t go on an extended family camping trip. I have no plans to leave my house for the next five years.
No, I won’t join you in scoffing at that mom with the out-of-control toddler. My youngest just threatened to kill me with a pillow. I have no room to judge anyone.
I make light of it, but the reality was hard. By the time Hazel was two, I was in a dark place. Really, real dark. I had some hard thinking to do about who I was and what my limits were.
I made the choice to keep going, to keep trying, to keep failing, to keep trying again. My vision of being this awesome mother had been totally shattered. I mean, straight to pieces. But in the end, it was a good thing. Instead of momming like the magazines and the commercials, I started momming based on what I was actually capable of doing. Instead of looking outward and mimicking the moms that seemed to have it all together, I realized I couldn't -- literally couldn't -- keep up if all my goals for myself were based on what other people were doing and thinking. I had to get down on my rusty knees, beg for Heavenly help and accept that I would always be just a bit of a hot mess.
Once I did all that, something amazing happened. I started having fun again. What can you do but laugh when your four year old calls the doctor a “bastard” for giving her a shot? He said he would count to three but then did it on two. It was kind of a dick move.
And when your seven year old repeats a very embarrassing health problem you’re having to a table full of church friends, you can only shrug and say, “Don't worry, it's not contagious.”
And when your ten year old asks why his friend’s penis is so much bigger than his, you hunker down and have a conversation about anatomy. Because why not? I’ve been to the edge and back. I’ve got nothing left to fear.
I used to be so scared of the judgments and the humiliation of letting people see how flawed I was. But the absolute worst happened (someone called the cops on me because Hazel wouldn’t stop crying and they thought I was abusing her) and happened (AJ told me a horrific tale of playground bullying so I confronted the mother, all froth and anger, only to find out that about 80 percent of it had been exaggerated or outright made up and my daughter was actually the one bullying) and happened (after my first year of homeschooling, I took Griff in for a reading test and found out he was well below grade level). And I lived.
So I guess that’s my big secret: understand that being a mom is ugly business and any moms who act otherwise are probably faking it. Or they haven't been blessed with their own Hazel yet. Once you’re secure in this reality, you can enjoy the particular bit of madness you’ve been given.
And then you can turn it into a comic like I did! And I named it after my general plea to the world: Please Don't Call Child Services.
Crystal Liechty is the mastermind behind the webtoon, which details the always funny and often inappropriate hijinx involved in homeschooling three mischievous children. If you’ve been to college lately, you might have seen one of her essays in the textbook (Macmillan Press). When not homeschooling or torturing college students with argumentative essays, Crystal can be found watching Korean dramas, teaching herself Kpop dances or in general working as an unofficial ambassador for South Korean culture. Find out more about her online comic by visiting her official page or blog.