When I decided to take a leap into the world of motherhood, I was working as a stand-up comedian. This might surprise you, but it turns out that slinging jokes in comedy hot spots like Elko, Nevada, and Orem, Utah, is actually great preparation for raising kids.
Here, five essential parenting lessons learned on the road:
1. A little heckling won't kill you.
Toddlers remind me of drunk adults -- unsteady on their feet, slurring their words, crying over the silliest things. Once you've talked an unhappy audience member out of bashing your head in with a beer bottle, you're not intimidated by a child screaming about a lollipop.
2. Staying present = survival.
Bombing onstage is almost as painful as my natural, unmedicated birth. Every single second feels like an eternity and you just want it to be over. But the only way you're going to survive, and have even a slim chance of turning that set around, is if you stay present. Surviving parenting requires the same level of commitment to being in the moment, but instead of having to do it for 10 or 15 minutes, you have to do it all the time. I'm talking 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Your kids will test you -- whether as a colicky newborn or a hormonal teenager -- and the trick is to not emotionally check out during every unpleasant moment.
3. Nothing is ever too gross.
The comedy world is still very much a boys' club. I spent close to a decade listening to immature men discuss the most disgusting topics under the guise of being "funny." I have heard it all (and I do mean all) and nothing fazes me. This has come to serve me well now that my kids are 2 and 4 and think anything having to do with poop is absolutely hilarious. I am proud to say that I am perfectly capable of having an entire conversation about bathroom habits while still enjoying a meal.
4. Flying tomatoes are to be expected.
It's pretty much par for the course that during a comedy career you will be pelted at least once. It's usually a limp wedge of lime from someone's cocktail as opposed to an actual tomato, but regardless, it's humiliating. While I can count the number of times I was the target of fruit-rage during my comedy career, the last four years of motherhood have been a veritable bounty of food-throwing. At least with parenting, I know not to take it personally; it's just my children testing limits, which is totally developmentally appropriate.
5. It's fun to act like an idiot.
I've been making a fool of myself for years; it's just that these days I only have an audience of two. But I'm still a comedian at heart, so I'm willing to do anything for a laugh. The truth is that parenting is a lot more fun when you're not worried about how you look. You're going to get dirty, you're going to make silly faces and funny voices and pretty much act like an all-around idiot, because there's nothing better than the sound of your children's hysterical laughter ... except maybe a standing ovation.