I've already posted an excerpt and a review of Robin O'Bryant's Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves. Now it's time for the official author interview. Grab yourself a glass of wine and kick up your feet and relate, y'all.
Extra credit if you stay till the end.
And yes, I will totally know if you actually read the post or just skipped to the end.
Aspiring Mama: Let's cut to the chase. What do you mean, ketchup isn't a vegetable?
Robin O'Bryant: It IS. It totally is. Isn't it?? It has to be at my house because it's the only thing my seven-year-old has eaten besides Cheerios and chicken nuggets since she started taking solids. Occasionally I make her eat something green-- which she then slathers in ketchup and gags down. Sometimes you just gotta get by and figure out what works for you. That's what Ketchup is a Vegetable is about: figuring out this whole motherhood thing as you go, doing what works regardless if it's what somebody else would do and learning to laugh at yourself.
AM: And this girl doesn't mess around, ladies and gentlemen. Did you see that segue way into her book and why you must have it?
So, miss smooth operator, I can laugh at myself. Am I doing it right if other people are laughing, too?
RO: Definitely. I think people in general are drawn to others who they can relate to, and who can relate to perfection? If you can laugh at yourself and let others laugh with you then everyone feels less alone.
Being a mother, especially if you stay at home or work from home, can be very isolating. (*Sidebar* I am not saying that being a working mom is easier. Being a parent is hard anyway you slice it!) But nobody wants to be friends with the mom who is always put together and has "perfect" kids-- she makes the rest of us feel bad about wearing yoga pants and baseball hats everyday.
AM: Please tell me you base your clothing choices on what has the least amount of food stains visible. Cuz then? We are totally relating.
RO: Lawd, yes. After I had my third daughter in four years (did I stutter?) I was so proud of myself for getting Dressed to run errands one day. I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a newborn and actually not having a breast exposed was a pretty big deal. I mean at that stage in the game getting dressed was yoga pants with snot stains crusted on the knees and a t-shirt off the floor. But I got Dressed-- which means I got all fancy and put on pants with a zipper, a real bra, makeup-- the whole nine. I went shopping after I dropped my oldest two at preschool. I felt so sassy, I tossed my hair and sashayed all over town.
That night when I was getting in the shower, I pulled my shirt over my head and felt something crusty... dried baby puke all the way from the shoulder to the waist of my shirt. That's when I gave up. Now that my kids are a little older (7,5 & 3), I've started getting fancy again, you know-- bras with underwire and pants with zippers.
AM: Swanky. Now, I've never met you in person but I imagine you talk just like you write and really? I totally think we are the same person. Only my hair is much more confusing. So I imagine that reading Ketchup is a vegetable is a lot like drinking too much boxed wine with your favorite girlfriend after the your kids (and hers) kids have passed out from their Kool-Aid induced sugar highs while watching SpongeBob Square Pants. Please tell me I am correct and that this is how you will describe your book to anyone who ever asks for a description from this point on.
RO: Oh abso-freakin-loutely. I grew up in Alabama and have always lived in the South so I may have a little more twang than you'd expect! But yeah, these are my thoughts about being a mom, just like I'd share them with my bestie. It was hysterically funny to me to see how many synonyms I could come up with to call my lady bits. And if you're going to write about being a mom then you are going to be writing about your lady bits-- a lot.
AM: You know you have to share now, right? I want the top five lady but synonyms. Go!
RO: Britney. Coo-coo. Zipples. Lady Bits. Big Berthas. There are STORIES there. (Also my best friend is the sweetest person in the world and her only concern when reading my manuscript was that one day Britney Spears would read my book and have her feelings hurt that I called my bidnass *BONUS synonym* Britney.)
AM: I am so using that. The Britney reference, I mean. Well, maybe not. "pushed a baby out my Britney" sounds like an MTV reality show that's supposed to run right after 16 and Pregnant. I prefer the terms *hooha* and *cabbage*.
But back to the book: what was your inspiration? And why do you think it will resonate with other moms out there?
RO: I've always been very introspective and terrified by the temporary nature of life. I've spent a lot of time in my life worrying about things that never happened, then a childhood friend of mine was killed in a boating accident. It was like someone was shaking me and SCREAMING, "STOP BEING AN IDIOT! Enjoy life while you can!" Then I had kids, and I made a conscious decision to stop worrying and enjoy my life... even if to do that I'm sharing some of my most embarrassing moments for the world to laugh at.
I wrote this book for other moms because like I said, we can feel so alone and we don't have to. But I think anybody with a sense of humor will enjoy it. I have a self-syndicated humor column and I get so cracked up when I get emails from people outside of my demographic-- some guy in his 20s told me once that he and his childless girlfriend read my column out loud every week and laugh until they cry. Prolly good birth control, too.
AM: I'm sorry about your friend. But I'm glad you are inviting the world to laugh at you. Dare I ask what didn't make it into the book?
RO: I don't mind being the butt of my own jokes but I never want to share other people's stories without their permission. There are things I have written about that I will never share because I don't want to hurt or embarrass my family or friends.