Admirably imperfect mom of the week: Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
It’d hard to be funny when you’re hanging out with tiny people who see no compelling reason to avoid gaping pits, ravenous dingoes, speeding Camaros, and large houses made of gingerbread. The parenting experience more typically facilitates freaking out, not the writing of a bestselling humor book.
So when someone like the truly hilarious Stefanie Wilder-Taylor* can turn parenthood into two such volumes, Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay and Naptime is the New Happy Hour, the conventional wisdom is: Keep churning out similar books whose titles allude to boozing—like Kindergarten Rhymes with Scotch-on-the-Rocksergarten—and try to cash in.
Stefanie didn’t take that route. Instead she wrote It’s Not Me, It’s You, a casually outrageous memoir of her wild-child, pre-marriage 20s and 30s. It basically challenges her fans to deal with her rougher edges and get past the notion that moms aren’t allowed to have a racy back-story or scandalous thoughts. Stefanie recounts distinctly un-maternal tales: her erstwhile fascination with strippers’ breasts, her unwitting misadventures with crack cocaine, and her bittersweet attempt to reunite with her estranged dad, a brilliant stand-up comic who’d devolved into a brilliant pothead.
It’s a brave, funny book. Comedy depends on honesty—for something to be funny, the truth must be in there, somewhere. But while comics like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin were recklessly candid, and Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin push the confessional edge, most “mommy humorists” are honest only up to a certain, decorous, wholesome, ultimately boring point.
I particularly liked the chapter about Stefanie’s attempts to be a Big Sister, and the loathsome, lonely child with whom she’s paired. It’s funny, sad, compassionate, infuriating, did I mention funny, and very, very real.
*Full disclosure: Stefanie “blurbed” The Perfect Baby Handbook, and has given me great advice. And, irrelevantly, is pretty hot. And, no, that’s not her on the cover of her book.