Featured Writer: Jenny Mercein
Pregnancy, Birth, Motherhood
JENNY MERCEIN IS AN ACTRESS AND AN ACTING COACH, A WRITER AND A DIRECTOR, AND A COMEDIAN AND A MOTHER. SHE WRITES ABOUT PATIENTLY WAITING FOR PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD TO BECOME INSPIRATION FOR COMEDIC MATERIAL.
Yo Kid, Where’s My Material?
After years of writing autobiographical comedic solo shows about my dysfunctional childhood and my misadventures as a perpetually single actress/waitress in New York City, the first few years of my married life were rough on my comedy. As much as it sucked to be single for pretty much all of my twenties and thirties, I never lacked for good stories. In fact, I once had a New York City therapist tell me, "You know, I so look forward to your sessions. It's like having a live sitcom in my office every week!" A specialist in humor of the self-deprecating variety, being happily married deprived me of my main source of material. But, then we got pregnant! I fully expected pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood to be a comedic goldmine.
But, here's the funny thing about pregnancy and my first eight months of motherhood: it's not that funny. I keep waiting for the hilarious anecdotes to roll in, but they aren't really coming. Now, before you start to worry, the opposite is not true. Knock on wood, pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing have been blessedly smooth so far, relatively speaking. Yes, we had to do IVF, but my husband and I are old AF (as the kids say), so that was not too unexpected. The in vitro process provided a few fairly funny gems—like the day I was in the fertility doctor’s office for a procedure and the waiting room was packed. The nurse came out and called, "Jennifer?" and all six of us stood up. Hello to my 40-something sistahs of the 70s who put off childbearing! I was swimming in a sea of Jennifers. It was like the 7th grade all over again. And once, during the painful shots phase, I iced my butt so long I gave myself frostbite. For real. But, that's about it. The rest of the IVF process ranged from reasonably smooth to mildly tedious. Not great fodder for a future stand-up routine.
Childbirth was certainly memorable. For reasons I don't quite fathom, I decided to go completely drug-free. But, excruciating pain and barfing between every contraction is also not a laugh riot. There is probably a humorous way to spin the time I spent in physical therapy for my vagina following my episiotomy, but I’m not sure I am that gifted a comedian.
And, being a mom … well, yes, it is awesome. As I mentioned earlier, I am pretty old, and I've wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. Our daughter is not a disappointment. She has the most sparkly eyes and the most adorable smile imaginable. But sappy "I love my child! I love being a mother!" stories are neither funny nor theatrical, in my opinion. Plus, that is only part of the story. The other reality is that motherhood is so much harder than I imagined. Again, knock on wood, we've been very blessed. Our baby is healthy. But, sleep is a major challenge. As is self-doubt. As an artist, my biggest struggle is to let go of self-criticism and not be so hard on myself. As a mother, the same demons creep in. Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Why is this so much harder than I thought? This is honest. But, funny...? Not really.
So, motherhood has yet to provide the key to a burst of creative, comedic output. Oh well. I've been pretty busy just keeping my daughter alive, so maybe that's enough for now. And, who knows, in a few months she'll be talking. Here's to hoping she spouts one-liners like a mini-Henny Youngman.