The new book Science of Parenthood perfectly captures every stage of family struggle from gastronomy to when parents can shower.
If you’ve spent longer than a Facebook newsfeed swipe online looking at the best memes and posts from Mom and Dad blogs, then you’ve seen most parenting jokes—until now. Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler have gone above and beyond the usual “kids are difficult” trope and bring us a fresh, brilliant, and thoroughly entertaining book in Science of Parenthood. Our interview follows:
JM: The book is brilliant because the humor is just right and the insights are so dead-on that any parent can agree with any graphic or joke. What are you learning from bloggers and parents on the blog and book tour?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Awww. Thank you so much. It really thrills us no end that parents like the book and relate to the humor. That’s the idea. We want to make parents laugh. (Who needs it more, right?) But you know, the book is all autobiographical. Even though Jessica and I didn’t write it and draw it as a first-person account of our early years flailing around as newbie moms, our stories inform the book throughout.
The cartoon, “When Your Kid Will Poop,” is based on a cross-country flight I took with my then-3-year-old son, after he’d refused all entreaties to go potty before we got on the plane. Naturally, he announced that he had to go “NOW, MOMMY!” when we were next in line for takeoff. The piece “Experimental Gastronomy: A Study in Potatoes” is pretty much verbatim the “discussion” I had with my son (a few years older by then) in which I begged him to try mashed potatoes. I even offered chocolate in exchange for “just one bite,” all to no avail. To this day, my son won’t eat mashed potatoes. So there you go.
What’s been so incredibly gratifying, as we travel around the country, is to hear from parents who come to our readings and commenters who chime in on the blog tour is that all this shit we went through? It happens to other parents too! It’s not just us! That’s enormously reaffirming, and not just from an author perspective of Yay! We nailed it! From a purely parental perspective, it’s wonderful to know that other parents are in the exact same position we are (at whatever stage of childhood we happen to be in at the moment).
And if other parents are going through the same thing, we can’t be fucking it up too badly. And that’s an enormous relief.
JM: How are dads responding to the book in a world seemingly run by Mom Bloggers? The jokes and writing are so universal, but I can imagine a heavy readership of mothers and female writers. What’s been the male response? And are the husbands keeping up with how famous you two are getting?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: My scientist husband told me that as soon as the book makes the New York Times best-seller list, he’s happy to turn in his beakers and bunsen burners and become a house husband. And he’d be a damn good one too. We’re glad our humor comes across as universally relatable. Our blog and book are Science of Parenthood, not motherhood. Yeah, we’re moms, but our aim is to reflect the whole of parenthood. Our husbands are full participants in the childcare department so naturally we included them in the jokes.
As for the “male response,” we are incredibly fortunate that we’ve got some really great dad bloggers in our corner, funny, supportive guys who not only keep us rolling with their own hilarious takes on parenthood, but who’ve helped Science of Parenthood grow. Guys like David Guest of Life of Dad; David Vienna (aka The Daddy Complex) whose viral Tumblr post “The CTFD Method” became the book Calm The F*ck Down: The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need; Jerry Mahoney, who blogs as Mommy Man, author of Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad; and Jason Good (Jason Good–Writer, Comedian), author of This Is Ridiculous, This Is Amazing and Rock, Meet Window. One of the pieces in our book is a h/t to Jason’s viral post “Approximately 3 Minutes Inside The Head of My 2-Year-Old.”
We love dad humor. And bless ‘em, dads seem to love Science of Parenthood too. Maybe it’s the charts and graphs or the algebraic equations. Or maybe it’s because, funny bloggers, regardless of gender will find the same situations hilariously frustrating. Just the other day, one of our favorite dad bloggers Simon Holland posted a meme of a Christmas tree, with all the ornaments clustered on a lower branch and the words “When your kids help you decorate the tree.” This morning, I re-posted one of our older cartoons, “OCD: Obsessive Christmas Disorder: The reason your child’s placement of ornaments on the tree causes a full-blown panic attack,” where the mom is flipping out because her kid is “helping.” (Incidentally, that one also came out of my own experience. I had a little panic attack when my son decided he wanted to “help” me decorate.) I shared Simon’s meme, and he shared ours. So, mom or dad, as parents, we’re all going through the same things and trying, desperately, to find the humor in these daily frustrations so we all don’t go absolutely batshit crazy.
JM: You’ve conquered the blogging and book world, and the Twitterverse, what’s next?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: We’re gonna keep on doing our funny. That’s what we do. We’ve got some plans for a third Tweets book in 2016. And further down the line, I can see us getting into products like daily calendars and notecards, kind of like a snarky Sandra Boynton. Our kids are just 9 and 11. Our friends with teenagers assure us there’s so much more “fun” stuff to come!
JM: Parents need smart humor like SOP to get them through the struggle of day-to-day, and your humor is refined beyond a lot of the mom and dad blogging memes and such. What advice do you have for those parent bloggers and writers out there who are trying to carve their niche and make their way in the wide world of online writing?
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Work on your writing and build your platform. Today, they go hand-in-glove. As Michael Hyatt says, it’s a “noisy” world, so if you want your writing to get noticed, you need to build relationships with bloggers who’ll share your work (and vice versa, because generosity is the currency of the blogosphere).
But you also have to have something worth sharing. So, read good writing. Learn how to craft a story. Be willing to put in the time to revise and revise and revise some more. Ninety percent of writing is re-writing. And the details count—spelling, grammar, punctuation. You could have a great story, but if the writing is sloppy, people won’t stick around to read it.
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel: Oh much. It’s endlessly versatile and vastly under-utilized. Plus, it comes in really fun designs.
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel is co-author with Jessica Ziegler of Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, published by She Writes Press. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold. Signed copies can be purchased here. Follow Science of Parenthood on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Photos and graphics courtesy of the authors.