If I had to pick one TV mom to be my idol, it would probably be Linda Belcher from Bob's Burgers. Linda is a charismatic mama bear that puts her babies above all else, but still has a deep unshakable sense of who she is as a person. She lights her own fire, and dances to the beat of her own drum (or more often, Gene's keyboard). She knows that living through the drama of motherhood requires a little humor and the occasional glass of wine. Linda Belcher gets it, people.
As a fellow mother of three, um, spirited children, I sometimes wish Linda Belcher was a real-life person who could sit down with me, have some Pinot Noir with me, and help guide me through this rocky terrain of motherhood. She pulls it off with such generosity and good humor. She knows how to deal with the rollercoaster of kids' emotions without losing her cool (seriously, who else would navigate the murky waters of her daughter writing erotic friend fiction with such a cool attitude!?), and always stays true to herself. She's the laid-back woman and role model I aspire to be.
I decided to channel my inner Linda Belcher, which to be honest, is hidden not so deep beneath the surface. I spent a week in her constantly-dancing shoes, living off her life advice, and doing my duty as a mother of three to see the humor and fun in both the ups and the downs of life with three kids. Life as Linda was full of song, dance, and, yes, vino... as it should be.
Here are some lessons I gleaned from living like Linda Belcher:
Day #1: Use The Power Of Persuasion
You know what Linda Belcher is really good at? Getting people to see that her way is the best way. How? Enthusiasm! Puns! Sweet dance moves! Linda's ideas may seem crazy or uncomfortable or overly-elaborate at first, but trust me, she knows what she's doing.
Mostly, Linda wants to convince everyone around to her let loose a little and have some fun. So I did just that. I persuaded my kids to come play silly games with me. I danced to YouTube videos until everyone felt compelled to join me. Most often, I persuaded my husband to watch my telenovela at the end of the day with me and urged him to give in to the passionate nonsense. He's still resisting, but I'll get him there. I will.
Day #2: Have Some Wine
Linda just wouldn't be Linda if she wasn't reaching for a glass of red wine at the end of the day. She's a bit of a lush, which I don't aspire to be, but she does enjoy her me time at the end of the day once the kids are in bed, and that's a mantra I'm all too happily to go along with. Parenting is hard work, and if you want to celebrate surviving the day with a glass of wine, more power to you. But if you prefer to chill on the couch sans glass, that's totally fine too. Linda wouldn't ever judge how you unwind.
I went out and got myself a bottle of cheap Merlot from Safeway. It was a nice relaxing end-of-day ritual to have a glass of wine after the day was finished. It may not be a habit I'll keep up so strongly — there are just some days I'd rather do something else for myself than have a glass of wine — but it did give me some good bonding time with my husband (have I mentioned his name is Robert, and so I am technically married to a Bob? #fate), and helped me laugh off the absolutely absurdity of what I have to deal with as a mother of three: the dog eating diapers out of the trash, the epic meltdown over marshmallows, how I had to use the bathroom while having a baby Bjorned to me ... as I channeled Linda and poured through the day's activities, I realized a lot of things that stressed me out really were hilarious.
More than just drinking on the couch, channeling Linda in this way reminded me that life with three young kids is funny (even if it doesn't always feel like that). It was less about the wine (though that was good) and more about carving out some time for me. Ensuring that I had this time to myself (with my partner) to unwind helped remind me that whatever happened that day was done. Tomorrow would be another new day for the kids and for me, and that was something to cheers to.
Day #3: Know Yourself
The number one thing I admire about Linda Belcher is most definitely her authenticity. She knows what kind of woman she is. She knows what she wants. She is never, ever afraid to be wholly herself. She's got a thing for Tom Selleck, and she doesn't care who knows it. She is honest and upfront about who she is and what she wants in her life.
During my Linda-inspired week I really strived for authenticity in everything I did. It seems like a counter-intuitive thing when you're attempting to "be" someone else, but following Linda's self-confident ways led me to being way happier. I seized opportunities to hang out outside with my kids, because I love being outside. I tried new recipes, because I love to cook. I ignored laundry for as long as possible (laundry's not my thing, who knew). I even looked up lyrics to songs I used to sing and practiced them over and over again. Unfortunately, Tom Selleck just doesn't do it for me.
Getting in touch with myself and my desires made me happier, and therefore a much more fun mom to be around.
Day #4: Break The Rules
Linda is a rebellious mom from time to time, and she's not above breaking the rules to have a good time with her kids, like that time she walked in on them turning the deep freezer into an ice-skating rink and instead of telling their father, she decided to host a frozen child-version of Thunderdome. Yeah, that was awesome.
As a stay-at-home mom who's the constant rule-enforcer, I know how hung up I can get when it comes to doing the responsible thing. Sometimes I can feel like a constant killjoy. I'm the one who is responsible for keeping routine and making sure everyone follows the rules all the time. But with Linda as my inspiration, I let loose and had a little bit more fun with my kids.
Instead of telling my kids to immediately put back the couch cushions (which they KNEW they shouldn't be taking down), we went ahead and built a massive fort in my son's room. We ate marshmallows in the fort. We promised we would not tell dad about my indiscretion, and then I learned my kids are really bad at keeping secrets. Sometimes, rules need to be broken, and sometimes, it's good to be the rule breaker.
Day #5: When In Doubt, Dance It Out
Linda knows that most things can be solved through the majesty of song and dance. She's not afraid to belt out a made up tune or shake it to whatever music is available. Linda has moves. Linda has some shake. And you know what? So. Do. I.
I danced every chance I got during my week as Linda, because Linda is always dancing. Believe it or not, it really does help you keep your cool while you're parenting three wild and crazy children. More often than not, they decided to join in. Even when they didn't want any part in my dancing, I felt good about moving my body. Dancing is something I love. It doesn't have to be good, and no one has to be watching (actually, it's probably better if no one is watching). It's simply a release and a great way to get a burst of energy to keep me going through those long, drama-filled afternoons.
Day #6: I'm Very Punny
I decided to really get into my Linda Belcher groove by not cooking much and instead letting my very own Bob do the cooking. I got all sorts of fancy burger ingredients and let my husband have at it while I cheered him on and came up with great names for our burger.
My plan was to call our grass-fed beef burger the "Your Ass Is Grass Burger" (I know, I'm a GENIUS), but then I realized I had forgotten buns at the store. I brought home three different types of fancy cheese to put on our burgers, but no buns whatsoever. My husband thought it should be called "The Hobo's Delight," but where is the pun in that? (You see what I did there. I know you do.) I call it the, "I'll Hold Your Buns, Baby." I know. I'm just that good.
Day #7: Not It
Self-preservation is the name of the motherhood game, and Linda Belcher knows it. She's not above handing off the reigns to Bob, and this week, neither was I. When my toddler decided to hide in her brother's closet and pee, I called dibs on not handling it. Ditto when she decided to unroll an entire roll of toilet paper and shove it down the toilet. In fact, if it had anything to do with potty training, I decided that when my Bobby was around, I was going to hand that (literal) sh*t over to him.
It's such a norm for moms to try to bear all the responsibilities of parenthood, but Linda knows that it takes teamwork to raise kids (especially when you are outnumbered). It's too exhausting - too emotionally frustrating - to handle alone. Sometimes it's best to have a glass of wine and let someone else handle it, so you can be you best mama self after the poop in the hallway is cleaned up.
Was Linda Belcher A Good Mentor?
Spending a week channeling Linda Belcher was everything I hoped it'd be. I found myself more relaxed, more fun-loving, and more authentically myself. Even though I may not be quite on Linda's level yet, I believe with enough time, I can get there by the time my oldest becomes an awkward teen and the three of them start getting into serious hi-jinks.
Taking on Linda's unapologetic "be yourself" attitude reminded me to remember that even though my kids are my world, I'm an individual worthy in my own right. That's some true "mom-sense" right there.