Heather, you write the incredibly funny Minivan Momma blog about your life and hilariously funny times as a wife and mom of two girls and now you have a new book of essays, TMI Mom: Oversharing My Life (Volume 1), published by BuzzBooks about your life and hilariously funny times as a wife and mom of two girls. So, tell us, how did you get started? Were you always a writer? Or did having kids so turn your life upside down that you thought, Man, I have just GOT to write this stuff down?
I have always wanted to write. In fourth grade I set out to write my own mystery series (like Encyclopedia Brown). I got as far as the table of contents, scared myself and didn’t write again until high school. Then, I tried my hand at emo-poetry as a sophomore, but people kept laughing at it. It was supposed to be deep and serious and whatnot, and here I was making them laugh! Then about eight years ago, one of my cousins sent out an email saying she had started a blog. Ever competitive, I jumped on board the blogging band wagon with her. She hasn’t blogged in about seven and a half years, and I’m still at it. (Which kinda means I win … Just saying.)
When did you realize you were freakin’ hilarious? Growing up, were you always the funny one? The kid who made everyone else laugh in class?
I honestly didn’t think I was the funny one. I astutely observed the class clowns and made mental notes of what worked and what didn’t, but I really didn’t think my snark and wit developed until I was much older and more independent. However, the few people who do remember me in high school have all remarked that I have always been funny. Who knew?
Do your daughters ever get curious about what you’re writing? Have they ever objected to anything you’ve chosen to blog about or include in your book? For me, when I blog/write about my 7-year-old son, he’s always the hero; the joke is always on me. I love being his “straight (wo)man.” How do you choose what to include and what to leave out?
My daughters, who are now 11 and 9 years old, are my first editors. In fact, they’ll now say things like, “This would be a good story,” or “Do NOT write about this.” I am always respectful of their wishes. However, I really want them to be able to see the humor that surrounds us every single day. So, sometimes, after they’ve vetoed a story, I’ll revisit it with them and help them to understand it really is funny, it wasn’t the end of the world, and momma really, really wants to write about it.
What’s your favorite part of writing and blogging about your family?
I just chatted about this exact thing with the girls’ pediatrician this week. What’s a week without a virus, huh? She told me that she really liked how open I was about not being the perfect mom and how my “it’s okay to laugh” voice really comes through in my book. Then she said, “The bonus for your family is that they have a ready-made history through your writing.” Ultimately, that’s why I write/blog/overshare our lives: I want my girls to have this gift of heritage. It’s not every kid whose antics end up written down for the entire world to see.
This is the second book you’ve published after TMI Mom Bites The Big Apple. How did this newest book come together for you? My partner in Science of Parenthood and I are sifting through our cartoons, trying to decide which will ultimately make it into our book. How do you decide which essays you’ll post on your blog and which you save so they’re brand new for the book?
TMI Mom Bites The Big Apple, was an easy pitch. I was in New York by myself for twenty-four hours to appear as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show — about crazy oversharing moms—can you imagine?!? [To see Heather on Dr. Oz, click HERE and HERE] As I wandered aimlessly all up and down Broadway and Times Square, I texted my editor and then emailed my publisher and said, “I’ve got a gazillion stories in my head—let’s make this work.” They are both so easy to work with and the stories poured from my fingers to my Macbook on the flight from Newark back to Tulsa.
The second book, TMI Mom Oversharing my Life, contains essays that I purposefully kept for the day I would actually get to publish a book. When I first started blogging at Minivan-Momma, I was on a local news site that kinda, sorta had unwritten rules about keeping the story family friendly. All of my essays in Oversharing My Life are family friendly, but they do push that line. So, instead of going online, they were filed away for the book.
My third book, Fooling Around (due to release in fall 2013) has been “organically” written in that the essays about keeping romance alive after becoming a parent were written solely to be included in that book. And, while it’s not anywhere close to Fifty Shades of anything, it’s not something you’ll want to read together on family night either.
What’s your most favorite story in the book?
I love “Hot and Spicy Momma.” At the time, I had basically touched every sensitive part of my body with jalapeno juice, and I could not see the humor in any of it. But, as I lay in bed that night with bags of frozen peas on my face and a bag of frozen hash browns between my legs, the essay took shape. I had to wait for the swelling in my eyes to go down before I could type it though. I also like “Hall Of Fame Coaching” because I really put my own cockiness (and subsequent fall from arrogance) on display—and it’s just a fun story.
Ha! I totally get that. I find the most frustrating/embarrassing moments yield the funniest material, particularly when I’m the one being frustrated. I got a terrific essay out of my inability to breastfeed after I’d been on the breastfeeding soapbox for so long — telling everyone I was going to breastfeed till my kid went to kindergarten — you’d have thought I was Bill Sears. For me that’s the formula: ridiculous situation + my ineptitude = comic gold.
YES! We will all have those moments where we’re convinced we’re Super Momma and then the universe reveals us as BIbbo BIbbowski.
Who are your writing/humor role models? Besides your family, who inspired you to put pen to paper … or fingers to keyboard?
I was that nerd in junior high who actually read Erma Bombeck when everyone else was still reading Judy Blume (I read her in elementary). I adored Erma Bombeck and loved her way of shedding a funny light on every situation.
Me too! Though I was also a huge Judy Blume fan as well. But I absolutely ate up Erma Bombeck’s ability to find big, broad humor in everyday life. I’m also an enormous fan of Dave Barry’s for the same reason. Who else do you like?
I adore-to-the-point-of-a-crush Celia Rivenbark. Gah! Girlfriend is so danged funny and thoughtful at the same time. I reread her books a few times each year.
As far as inspiration goes, I woke up one morning and my younger daughter had painted a Picasso on the wall above her crib with the contents of her dirty diaper. There’s not one thing in the parenting books that tells you what to do when that happens. And I felt so alone right then. I was certain no other mother in the world had ever had this happen. So, I took a picture (why not, right?) and then cleaned her and the wall up. I nervously shared the incident with some other moms at our preschool dance class and they all had similar stories. Why didn’t we share that? I thought. Because I was raised on The Cosby Show‘s Clair Huxtable. I thought that I had to be pert-near perfect in order to be a good mom. And I don’t have to be. That’s ultimately why I wrote the book. I want those mommas out there who are feeling isolated to know that motherhood is not perfect. And that’s perfectly okay.
Ha! So glad you said that. Now I can share that I once went into my son’s room to discover he’d undone his diaper, taken out the poop pellets and was rolling them like marbles over the floor. Gross! By the way, I totally related to your resistance to being a soccer mom. Like you, I have no clue how the game is played — which is why my 7-year-old plays tennis! What frustrates you most about parenting?
Frustrations about being a parent: First I was frustrated thinking I was alone in this journey. All of my other momma friends never had kids who stripped naked in church. All my other momma friends never had kids who used KY jelly as “yotion for my yegs.” And I was frustrated because I thought I was doing it all wrong. Eventually, when I learned that I was just like every other momma and my kids were just like every other kid, I was able to see the humor that enveloped my life every single day (and most nights as well).
My second frustration is soccer games. They are SO long and SO drawn out and for what? One point? I’m thankful every day that my girls have moved on to softball and golf—at least at a golf tournament, I get a good walk in with great scenery.
True, that! What’s your favorite part of being a mom? Being a writer?
My favorite part about being a mom is watching these creatures that I’ve been entrusted with grow into independent, thoughtful, smart (and smart aleck!) young women. Their journey is amazing to me.
My favorite part about being a writer is having the gift to document their journey. I’m sure it will be quite useful in their future therapy sessions as well.
I couldn’t help but notice that there had been a bit of a catty backlash against the mom bloggers in the anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. Other moms were basically saying that all we bloggers do is complain about our kids and whine about how hard parenting is. When I wrote a broad humor essay about talking my somewhat reluctant husband into having our newborn circumcised — not really but I stretched our “discussion” for a good story — I got a taste of how awful the Internet can be when haters decide to pile on. What do you say to people like that who clearly cannot recognize (or take) a joke?
I know and love most of the bloggers who authored I Want To Pee Alone, and I know them to be really good mommas. I know them to also be very honest mommas. I think those who are charging against the “Peeing Alone” crew haven’t read the book. It’s honest. It’s a certainty of motherhood that you won’t get to pee alone until the kids go away for college. It’s also humor. In order to be funny, you sometimes go to the absurd. To those critics, I say it’s good thing there are other books for you to read. Not every book is written for every reader. Pick another book. Life’s too short to be hatin’.
That being said, there are momma bloggers out there who are gripey. I feel really sorry for them (and their kids) because that’s the focus they’re choosing to have in life. I have gripey moments myself. Last week, I did an entire load of laundry from one of my daughters that was nothing but clean clothes. In a moment of laziness, she just scooped all of her clean clothes and put them in her dirty clothes hamper and I washed them—again. I was frustrated. I could have blogged all about that. But, that’s not the life I want to lead. Instead, I hid all of her clean clothes, and she now has to check them out from me each morning. (I’m kidding. Ain’t no momma got time for that!) So, while I have those moments, I chose to focus on the fun and the funny. Life’s a much sweeter ride this way.
Thanks so much for talking with us! We look forward to more blog posts … and more books!
Thank YOU for having me! <<looking around>> This is a really nice spot you have on the world wide web. I love what you’ve done with the space.
If you liked Heather Davis, you may also like:
Dance Mom Survival Guide: Growing a Great Dancer Without Losing Your Mind
A humorous and helpful guidebook for parents of dancers, written by two dance moms who have not only “been there,” but “are there!” Authors Malena Lott and Jill Martin talked to dance professors and instructors, a psychologist and dance moms across the country to shine the stage lights directly on the difficulties and joys of raising a dancer and helping her/him be successful. Find out … Is it anything like reality TV? What’s the role of a dance mom? How do you make the leap from dancer to team or company dancer? What’s the time and financial investment? What’s the deal on camps, conventions and competitions? Plus, you’ll find tons of dance statistics along with key information about raising a healthy dancer, improving communication, developing dance manners, dealing with mistakes and how to make dance fun for moms. Dance moms with dancers of all ages and stages will find useful information to help on the journey from dance class to stage star. Find out more at www.buzzbooksusa.com