Erma Bombeck Thinks I’m Funny
June 7, 2018
Last week a piece I wrote about moving an elliptical machine into our house was published on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop site. When I found out it had been accepted I lost my chill. ALL of it.
Because Erma Bombeck is the godmother of parenting humor. And not the fairy godmother, like the mafia godmother. She made lots of offers to her kids that they refused and probably at some point made a joke about lasagna being a dish best served cold because she forgot to turn on the oven. If she didn’t, then she certainly just inspired me to make those jokes.
Extra, #Extra, Read All About It
Many moons before the internet, there were these things that would come to your house every morning to tell you the news. I believe they were called newspapers. But it could be newspapiere. I think it’s French.
Within these newspapers in the 1960s, Erma Bombeck wrote a nationally syndicated column about parenting in a way that few before her had dared. She told the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the picked at dinners, suburban living, missing socks truth.
Every cliche joke about motherhood that has been played out over and over again was written by Erma years ago. These jokes are only old hat now because everyone could relate and we repeated them for generations. They freed us to laugh about the chaos and the mundane. Without Erma you don’t get Scary Mommy, or Sammiches and Psych Meds, or #IMomSoHard. We’d all still be taking ourselves too seriously.
Her career extended into the 70s, 80s, and 90s because she had “it.” It with a capital W.
If you’re a millennial like yours truly and haven’t heard of Erma before, ask your parents. They have heard of Erma. They probably had one of her 15 books. We did growing up. It was in the bathroom. Which I feel kind of badly about. But also, not really because in my very first blog post I (rightly) assumed that many of you were reading my post in the bathroom. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Motherhood is Funny
I love this line from a 2016 The Guardian piece about Erma that summed why she was the golden girl of parenting humor. “Motherhood, when stared in the face, was funny, could be funny, needed to be.” Needed to be. Seriously, how true is that? If we can’t laugh about oatmeal in our hair, toddler hanger meltdowns, or our walls turning into crayon murals then parenting would be so much harder. I tried being a serious parent for a day, I don’t recommend it.
Have you skipped down this page to see if maybe I threw you a video bone so that you could learn about Erma without reading? For once I totally did. Check out this quick piece and tell me you don’t fangirl just a little.
I’d Like To Thank the Workshop
Okay, so it’s pretty clear now why being published on the Erma Bombeck site is a BFD right? Thanks for the encouragement from the great beyond, Erma. And thanks to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop team. You’ve inspired a new post on With Love and a Little Self-Deprecation about hermit crabs. I don’t know if the world “needs” it necessarily, because it’s pretty darn funny. And I’ll get some working mom posts cooking on here too, because Erma showed us how to be with who you love AND do what you love. Dang, she was cool…
With gratitude to our foremothers,