Disclaimer: This is a review, and as such will contain opinions, spoilers and (often) general shit talking. (If you talk about what you don’t like about a work, you learn a lot. When you think through a work with the stakes presented to you by the creator, by the context of the work, you learn a lot. I review things, not because I love to dislike things, but because dislike contains rich and vital information for the process of experiencing something, but I cannot access it without interrogating it.) So, if you don’t want to have this thing spoiled for you, or don’t know how to behave when a person on the internet, that you don’t know, has opinions that don’t line up with yours, this review is not for you. It’s also not for the author/creator of the work. Please and thank you.

If you don’t have kids yet, this is for you.

If you have kids, then this is definitely for you.

Cartoonist Brian Gordon started a web comic as an outlet to vent about the challenges of being a dad.

His basic premise is that parenting is hard. And often gross. And laughing about it really helps.

We’ve had the Fowl Language books in the shelf for about as long as we’ve had our daughter. They’re light, easy reading that takes your mind off how tired, confused and overwhelmed you are.

And, oh, how they make you laugh.

Even if it means you’re cackling through the tears like I was!

The perfect gift for anyone expecting a baby or who already has a whole house full of them. You read these books and find yourself in the pages of these books – both because you’ve already experienced a lot of the same things and because it gives you a glimpse of what’s still to come.

Gordon’s interpretation is charming in its honesty.

Modern parenting culture is so performance-based that there isn’t a single area of being a parent left that you don’t feel guilty about.

But in the end, we’re all just making it up as we go. And it’s refreshing to read that I’m not the only one who loses her shit on this magical journey of parenting.

The first “Fowl Language” book is the ultimate gift for new parents.

Welcome to parenting.

“I used to be cool and do cool things,” sounds about as accurate of a description as I’ve ever heard about parenting.

Especially for first-time parents, there are so many, well… firsts.

You don’t know what to expect but you’re under the very comforting illusion that you’re going to coast through it.

When other parents jokingly welcome you to “not sleeping” you just smile and shrug it off.

And then it hits you like a ton of bricks.

Sleepless nights, constant crying, rocking till your arms hurt, and hustling to learn how to take care of that helpless little creature, really takes its toll and makes you think about the choices that led you to this sleep-deprived, puke-covered, poo-smelling moment at 3 am.

My SO gifted it to a colleague for the birth of their first child.

The birth ended up in a c-section and the baby on a short detour to the NICU, so this book was a welcome distraction for the frazzled, tired, new parents while in hospital.

A few days after gifting the book, we got a message; they were both in stitches over it.

The wife was both literally and figuratively in stitches, so they had to break up their joint reading into smaller sessions because the laughing hurt too much for her.

“The struggle is real.”

With slightly older kids, Gordon has learned something important: it’s all about setting expectations.

Especially if it’s your first parental rodeo.

The first three months with a newborn can be the most nerve-wracking, especially when it’s your first.

But they’re still relatively easy – compared to what comes after, in any case.

Newborns are cute and cuddly, they’re fairly easy to satisfy and it’s easy to get other people to watch your baby for a bit while you go take a shower or a nap.

Good luck trying to get other people to watch your kids once they see the world, and everything in it, as their personal experiment in how to human.

And the forming of desires and opinions (that often contradict what is best for them or for the world at large) don’t make things any easier.

Not to mention the questions you’ll be expected to have answers to…

Parenting a toddler takes energy. Copious amounts of energy.

You’ll find that you’re not the same person you once were. Or even the person you thought you’d be after having kids.

I know I feel disproportionately older compared to before becoming a mum.

Cramming all the adult activities, like work or eating junk food and candy, into the few hours after she falls asleep doesn’t leave me very presentable for the outside world.

And to think I used to get so embarrassed about the little things. LOL.

With my limited sleeping hours and demanding day-to-day schedule of keeping up with a toddler, I found I didn’t have the capacity anymore to get hung up on the minor details.

So long as the kid is still alive and in one piece at the end of the day, it’s a job well done.

The one thing that was important to me was to introduce her to books and reading from an early age.

Now she loves reading books but we did lose a few copies in the beginning due to user instructions being unclear to the youngest participant.

“Winging It: The Art of Imperfect Parenting”.

The early years of parenting are a paradox of overload cuteness and sanity-depriving chaos.

Sleep regression and teething achieved almost curse-word status at our house.

Seeing that little black silhouette sit up in the dark still makes me freeze with panic like I’m facing a wild bear.

Having kids is trying like few other things in life are.

The fewer adults there are per offspring in the family to help out, the more demanding it is. How my mum managed as a single parent I’ll never know.

The funny thing is that once you’ve gotten used to having the little bastards around, it surprisingly confusing to be without them.

When you’re with them, you have all these plans and wishes for things you’d like to do in peace for just five minutes. Once they’re actually out of your hair you feel like you’ve literally forgotten how to be just you.

And it’s really comforting to know that it isn’t just me.

Other people feel exactly the same way about their kids and have the exact same struggles that I do.

The Fowl Language books are absolute diamonds that I keep in my library for those days when I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I can’t get through another minute.

I sit down and flip through them and I remember that  y’all are in this shit with me and we’re all managing it just one day at a time.

We got this!

Plus there are those times when you get an unexpected hug, an earnest ‘I love you’ or just the cutest-face-ever from your kid that propels you for another 24 hours even though you thought you were all tapped out.

What I absolutely love about these books, is that Gordon reminds you that in between all the frustration, tedium, exasperation and way too many cups of coffee, it’s still magical to have kids.

Exhausting though it is.

But it’s those little moments when your kid suddenly stops being so self-reliant, independent, self-centred and argumentative, and thinks of you for a change, or needs you like they did when they were tiny, that makes it all worth it.

Because those moments remind you that it only gets easier as they grow and that, despite all your doubts, you’re doing okay as a parent.

Did I enjoy it?

Absolutely. And I go back and leaf through them every now and again.

It’s light, it’s easy, it’s funny, it always its the nail on the head.