by Steve Ahern
Bethany Meyer is among the first to stir in the early morning hours of her Flourtown home. Most days, at 5:45 a.m., the 38-year-old mother of four boys, author of the increasingly followed Mom blog, “I Love Them Most When They’re Sleeping,” contributor to the Huffington Post Parent section and one of several humorists in a collection of essays by Mom bloggers titled “I Just Want to Pee Alone” (available on Amazon in paperback and kindle), slinks toward the kitchen with the fragile hope of having a solitary cup of coffee and a few titters while listening to “Howard” (Stern).
“I like witty one liners,” she says. But because the creaks in the stairs and floorboards signal to her 4-year-old son that mommy has arisen, that walk to the kitchen is freighted with pitfalls. One wrong step sends her four-year-old skittering down the stairs to kitchen to play the unwitting wrecking ball to her morning solitude. Meyer knows that much worse could befall her on any given morning, but she loves them most when they’re sleeping.
The weekday mornings typically unfold this way. A few moments of solitude usher in her day if she’s lucky, before she is pressed forward by the arrival of her children, 11, 9, 6 and 4, for whom she commences cooking breakfasts, packing lunches, dressing the younger children, supervising hygiene and quelling misbehavior with threats of no dessert and early-to-bed times. To shield them from the dark side of the school bus (and the high likelihood, according to Meyer, that her sons would participate in back-of-the-bus behavior including mooning), she loads her particularly kinesthetic quartet into the eight-year-old, untidy minivan and drives them to school.
Back home, after the dishwasher has been emptied and refilled and one of several loads of wash has been done, after perhaps a phone call from a teacher, a stop at the Acme (where she shops at least once daily) or thoughts about dinner, she writes the “I Love Them Most When They’re Sleeping,” the blog she began writing in January, 2012. The blog comically renders her life as the overstretched mother of a quartet of sometime chaos-wielding marauders and her accident-prone, athletic and super-competitive husband, David. (He is in promotional advertising.) The blog is stacked with hysterical incidents you would be happy to read but not have to face (or resolve).
In “Little Boy Blue, Navy Blue,” Meyer, after encouraging her very private 11-year-old son with a fine singing voice to participate in a boys’ choir, discovers midway through the winter concert that he is singing his heart out in a girl’s blazer Meyer bought on sale (by mistake) for $10. In “The Time I Chanted Poop on the Sink,” her four-year-old son fouls his hand while pooping and smears it on the sink, leaving Meyer to explain why it is his responsibility to clean it off.
In another, one of her sons accidentally urinates on the Italian leather bag she cherishes, the one her college roommate got for her in Italy on the study-abroad semester Meyer forwent after she fell in love with her now husband. In a blog titled “Friday Night Lights,” her husband curtails their fun-filled family evening of sledding when he accidentally barrels into a tree of debatable proportions and ends up under the lights of the emergency room with his concerned but mildly perturbed family members looking on. These are only a few of the always amusing and often hysterical posts.
“I rarely have to wait long for inspiration,” Meyer says. The more time I spend with the kids, summers, winter and spring breaks, the more material I have.”
While humor clearly buoys the blog, Meyer also conveys in non-schmalzy fashion the pride and love she feels for her children. She also uses the blog to muse about her own triumphs and mistakes as a parent: the hope of getting more right than wrong; her evolution as a parent since the birth of her first child (written about in “The Evolution of a Parent,” a piece which, among others, also ran in the Huffington Post); restoring temporarily fractured relationships; of the self-sacrifice and indignities of motherhood (e.g. having to pee in empty discarded cups and bottles she finds in the minivan).
Meyer’s blog began to draw attention just months after she began writing it. “Jen,” the blogger of “People I Want to Punch in the Throat,” which enjoys a sizable following, read Meyer’s blog and contacted her about writing an essay for her collection of essays on motherhood, “I Just Want to Pee Alone.” Meyer’s piece, “Parenting is Taboo,” is an email exchange between two mothers initiated when one mother learns her son has been bullied by the other mother’s son.
The mother whose son has been bullied has been pregnant and nursing for most of the last 10 years while the bully’s mother has the time (and the means) to vacation in the Caribbean, a waist line to brag about and time to read a book. Amid a saccharine tone that dissolves by the end into an openly hostile exchange, they trade barbs about mothering styles, figures and free time. Like most of her other blogs, it is hysterical and poignant.
“I may have been intimidated,” Meyer says, when approached by Jen to write the piece for “I Just Want to Pee Alone.” She has 75,000 Facebook likes. “I’m like a little tiny house in a neighborhood of mansions.”
Her success did not stop there. A teacher where her sons attend school sent Meyer’s blog to a longtime friend who happened to be an agent. The agent contacted Meyer to inquire about her interest in writing a book, which led to Meyer’s decision to write a memoir about her children’s playground years. It is expected to be released sometime next year. Around the same time, Meyer was contacted by two writers of the Parenting section at the Huffington Post and asked to contribute to that publication. “I felt a little intimidated,” Meyer says, “but the fact that they wanted me to lend my voice to that series [Parenting] was validating.”
Meyer has motherhood to thank for awakening the innate writer and humorist in her, which may have been, at least to some degree, suppressed by the order and practicality of her childhood along with 12 years of Catholic school. During dinner time, Jim Gardner, the news anchor, did most of the talking on the kitchen TV set, her father avidly attending to it and insisting on silence so he could hear it.
The Hill resident graduated with a BS degree from St. Joseph’s University in food marking and worked selling pharmaceuticals for five years until she had her first son nearly 12 years ago. She has not worked outside the home since. In 2012, she began to feel a pull to do more. An avid runner, yoga practitioner (written about in her story “Namaste Bitches”) and overall good athlete (Meyer played field hockey and basketball throughout high school), Meyer considered becoming a personal trainer. But the storyteller, writer and humorist in her won out, thanks in part to feedback from friends.
Indigo Schuy, a clothing store at 8432 Germantown Ave., where Meyer works Sundays from 12-4 p.m., will be hosting a book signing for Meyer for “I Just Want to Pee Alone,” a collection of humorous essays by blogging moms on Thursday, April 18, 7 to 9 p.m. Her memoir is due out sometime next year.