What's A-Parent

Mom's 'Therapeutic' Parenting Comics Tap Into The Chaos Of Raising Kids

"To survive, one must also have a sense of humour when faced with parenting struggles."

Social media's been known to skew society's perceptions of what's "normal" in this day and age. When it comes to parenthood, for instance, users typically take to Facebook or Instagram only when their children have done something especially cute or silly. They share photos of infants sleeping and toddlers eating, but they rarely offer insight into the more common elements of daily life. For artist Brenda Li, however, finding humor in the midst of the mess and the madness has become therapeutic.

Li, the artist behind 'Summer and Muu,' began creating comics about her parenting experiences in 2015 after her son was born. "I first started drawing comics about my married life," Li told A Plus. "Soon, I realized that there [wasn't] anything interesting going on in my married life, ha! Then I became pregnant, so my comics started to evolve. I used to draw about life with my husband and workplace office stories. Now that I'm a mother, my cartoons ― and my world ― revolve around my son."

Her comics, which now have their own loyal Facebook and Instagram following, depict the dirty intricacies of parenthood and why this "dream come true" can often feel like a nightmare.

Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 

While her comics have become an outlet for her own personal frustrations, Li hopes that parents will gain a sense of therapy and relaxation, "just like the feeling they get when they first step out of a spa or a massage session," as they realize that they're not alone on their journey.

"My comics are honest depiction of real-life parenting," Li added. "Social media is merely a reel of everyone's highlights. Life is not staged, Instagram photos are. The chaotic household, the spilled cheerios with milk, the sleepless nights, and the screaming kids with no pants: these are all common scenarios that people don't share in a social media picturesque photo. To survive, one must also have a sense of humor when faced with parenting struggles. I want parents to be able to laugh at their parenting failures because, in the big picture, everything is (probably) just fine."

Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 

Li recently took her drawings from screen to page by publishing a collection of Summer and Muu comics, thereby giving parents another opportunity to relax and reenergize.

"Everyone is so digital nowadays that it's a very nice feeling to simply go offline, disconnect, sit down, and read a book," she explained. "There's a very organic and relaxing feeling about flipping through physical pages. [That's why] I have decided to turn my comics into a book so readers ― namely exhausted and stressed out moms and dads ― don't necessarily need to be online to be entertained."

"My book is also known to enhance the relationship between parents and their kids because I was told that parents read my book with their kids during bedtime! I guess I will have to be careful with my language now," Li added. "Apparently kids can also relate to my comics; they love it when I draw about pee and poop. My book has become my second platform for expressing my thoughts as a mom. Hopefully, more people will benefit from my sense of humor."

Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 
Courtesy of Brenda Li / Summer and Muu Comics 

Beyond humor, however, Li also hopes that her book will raise awareness about the struggles that many parents face and the toll such stresses can take on those whose emotional and mental state often go ignored.

"Always talk if you have concerns. You will be surprised at how many others are also dealing with your same issues," Li said. "They might not be able to provide a solution, but just acknowledging that you are not alone is sometimes all we need to hear. Also, we always tell new moms out there to reach out if they ever feel sad, dark, and need a chat. But oftentimes, it is the rest of us who needs to initiate and reach out. Instead of asking the mom 'Hey, how's the baby doing?' try asking 'How are YOU doing?' We might save a few lives."

Cover image via Cookie Studio / Shutterstock

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