PPCo: Do you have a favorite essay in your book?
Jenny: I actually don’t have a favorite piece, but that’s because I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a favorite one of anything (food, movie, song, you name it). I do have some that I like more than others, such as “Uncut” and “My Pets,” but then again, some of my favorite lines are embedded in pieces that aren’t my favorites at all. For example, I don’t think “Suck It, Twiggy” is among the best in the book, but I’m kind of fond of the line in it about the Edward James Olmos texture of my thighs.
PPCo: Has anything ever happened that was such a “bad mommy moment” that you couldn’t bring yourself to blog about it?
Jenny: Oh, yeah, plenty of times. For me, I don’t like to write about those moments right away at all. I don’t do it until I’ve processed and come to terms with them in some way. Otherwise, it’s kind of invitation for criticism and judgment, neither of which any mom doesn’t already get in spades just walking down the grocery store aisle with her kids on the average afternoon. I like to write things that make people think deeply and laugh hard, often at the same time. I can only do that when I’ve got some real perspective and am not just cataloging my failures to get them off my chest or exploit them for “likes” and “shares.”
PPCo: Mommy bloggers often talk about how blogging about their mistakes helps them find perspective and can take the sting out such moments. Do you find that to be the case in your life? Does blogging help make the good moments feel even bigger?
Jenny: I think my blogs are almost always about putting things into perspective, yes. During the day, when we’re doing our family thing, there’s typically just a lot of sensory input with voices and body parts all competing for space, so I think I inadvertently end up on auto-pilot more than I’d like. After everyone’s in bed, after my brain has settled back into the quiet, that’s when I find I can really process the highs and lows that occurred while it was being overloaded during the day. Just thinking about those peaks and valleys isn’t the same as writing about them, though. It’s when I write about them that I am forced to ask myself the burning questions, like, “What am I going to do with that experience?” and “Am I being fair?” and, finally, “Why should anyone else care about this story?”
PPCo: What is the most surprising or interesting thing that has happened to you since publishing your book?
Jenny: I was invited to appear on our city’s CBS news affiliate station to talk about the book and have had total strangers telling me they saw me on the show and bought my book as a result. That was the most interesting thing, and the one directly relevant to the book release. The most unexpected thing was that one of the women to whom I dedicated the book had a freak falling accident in the bathroom the week I released the book. She broke her neck and in the blink of an eye became a partial quadriplegic. She was my fourth-grade teacher, is a family friend, and her daughter is among my best childhood friends. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always known I was going to acknowledge her in my first book once I got around to writing it. Now I realize I should have told her as much instead of waited until I had a book in hand. Damn vanity! I almost missed the chance to tell someone she changed my life for the better, all because I wanted to do it in a fancy way. Lesson learned.
PPCo: If you could write any kind of book, any genre or topic, regardless of questions about appeal and marketability, what would it be?
Jenny: I would write humor essays until I’m blue in the face. I love writing them, so I’m happy I managed to create a first book that is heavily weighted with them. Next time, I think I’ll go for it and do only humor essays and not just about parenting. Oh, and I’d love to write an exposé on an unsolved murder from my hometown that took place when I was a teenager. I tried once, but I learned pretty quickly that the west still has a bit of old west lawlessness to it. It occurred to me that I could put my family in danger if I kept poking around, so I stopped.
Learn more about Jenny here, including where to buy her book.