Relating to the Funnies

I’ve been identifying closely, a little too closely I’m afraid, with the funny pages these days. As we hurtle toward summer and I’m trying in vain to keep tabs on our exploding family calendar - attempting to remember the end-of-the-season soccer parties and gifts for the soccer coach, the end-of-the-year school concerts, the end-of-the-school-year parties, the last-minute school projects and . . . what’s that, Father’s Day is a week from Sunday (!) - it dawned on me that my quiet days of working and writing from home are numbered. And that’s not so funny.


Within a few weeks, my three kids - ages 12, 12 and 9 - will soon be home for the summer and my daily negotiating sessions will commence. I’ll be all, “Please let me do my work for a few hours then I’ll [take you to the pool, the library, buy you a pony, i.e. -- essentially bribe the offspring in ways that cost less than summer camp if they’ll just behave].” In the morning hours when I’m trying to meet deadlines and develop concepts about which to write, I’ll be fending off the repeated requests from my trio, most of the time to referee a dispute over the remote control or some other silly thing, maybe whose turn it is to take the dog on a walk or who left the milk on the counter and needs to put it back in the refrigerator. Then my polite “please” tone will be replaced by, “Don’t come fighting in here [meaning my office]! Work it out yourselves!” Or there’s the “I don’t care if you’re fighting! Only come to me if someone’s bleeding.” What can I say, I’m no Dr. Phil.


This is where Ohio’s Terri Libenson comes in with her comic The Pajama Diaries. Libenson is like my virtual work-from-home gal pal who gets it. Her comic strips, featuring work-from-home freelance graphic designer Jill Kaplan, a married mom of two, are a touchstone for me, a freelance writer and married mom with three kids with a home office.


Jill Kaplan is Terri Libenson’s doppelganger as Libenson, a mom of two who decided to become a work-from-home graphic artist but who also does part-time work for a greeting card company. “I usually work on the strip during most weekdays and I write the cards on weekends and weeknights,” Libenson wrote on her web site. “Somehow I manage to squeeze in a bit of family time, so my kids seem pretty well adjusted and not yet ready for intensive psychotherapy.” She described The Pajama Diaries, which started in 2006, as “a strip that echoed new family dynamics,” created when Libenson “was also reading a lot about the plight of modern, stressed-out mommies.” And stressed-out both the fictional Jill Kaplan, and the real life me, certainly are.