Tracy Beckerman traded in her TV job and cool NYC existence for the New Jersey suburbs when she became a mom seeking space and a nice place for her child to grow up. But her new life as a stay-at-home mom knocks her for a loop in more ways than one. It took the embarrassment of being ticketed while driving in her bathrobe, which was covered in Ducks, gaining weight, the challenge of making friends in the “land of big hair and minivans,” to make Tracey pick herself up from rock bottom and try to get “her cool back.”
Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir: How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs is her story.
Tracy Beckerman is relatable and funny—very funny. So who better to interview her than Stacey Gill? Gill spoke to Tracy—One Funny Motha to another—about her new book:
BK: I’d like to hear a little about your background prior to motherhood and the book. I know you worked in the television industry and also wrote a syndicated humor column. Did you go directly from one to the other? What preceded the book and was there was a gap in your professional life once you had children?
TB: First there was the job delivering singing telegrams in a gorilla suit. Not my proudest moment, but I made a helluva chimp and I did have a lovely singing voice. That actually preceded children, because, really, who would procreate with a woman in a hairy primate costume?
Many years later I had a career in the TV industry writing and producing promos for a local New York news station. It really wasn’t all that different from the gorilla grams, except I got to dress better, but the tips weren’t as good.
I quit my job when my son was about five months old to be a stay at home mom and didn’t work, or rather, did not get a paycheck, vacation time, or sick days for about five years. I started writing my newspaper column when my son was in kindergarten and my daughter was in pre-school. So there was about a five year gap in my resume, but I was able to add Professional Peanut butter and Jelly Maker and Laundress Supreme to my job skills, so I think it was time well spent.
BK: Your writing is super funny and very real, but aside from a humorous, relatable, enjoyable read I wonder if you have a message you hope to impart or a strong personal reason for writing this memoir.
TB: I do! A couple of messages, actually. The first is that it’s really normal to lose yourself in parenting. Especially if you had a big career before you had kids and then you decide to stay home with your kids and chuck the career. We are a very title driven society. I found that when I didn’t have an impressive job title and a big paycheck to define me, I kind of lost my identity. It’s not that I didn’t love the time I was spending with my kids or see the value in being with them, but society really sends us mixed messages. We are told that being home with our kids is the best thing we can do, but when I would go to a party and tell working folks that I was a stay at home mom, they would walk away and go find someone else more interesting to talk to. I was no longer getting the external validation I was used to receiving for my job and I had a really hard time with that. Especially after we moved to the suburbs and I had trouble connecting with like-minded women.
Eventually, as you know, I got both my inner and external cool back, but I learned a lot about myself along the way, and felt it was an experience worth sharing with other moms.
The other message is that it is not only important, but crucial to keep your sense of humor when you become a parent. So many “experts” tell you how to be a good parent, how to discipline and set limits and talk to your kids about drugs, etc. I found that teaching my kids to laugh at their mistakes and find the humor in disappointments and just enjoy life in general is a lesson we need to focus more energy on!
We highly recommended you read Lost in Suburbia, follow her at @TracyinSuburbia and meet Tracy yourself when he visits Montclair for a book signing at Watchung Booksellers this month:
Meet the Author: Tracy Beckerman Talks Lost in Suburbia
What: Beckerman reveals the universal trials, tribulations, and triumphs of every mom who has to figure out how to stay sane while fishing Barbie heads out of the toilet; how to laugh when your kid asks the fat cop at the doughnut shop if he’s having a baby; and how to look good when your post-baby butt is so big you want to hang a “Caution: Wide Load” sign behind you.
Where: Watchung Booksellers, 54 Fairfield Street, Montclair, NJ.
When: Wednesday, April 24 at 7 pm