Exhaustion is typically the result when a woman tries to raise two small children while working two jobs. And while Terri Libenson may be tired, she’s turning her experiences into a comic strip called “The Pajama Diaries,” which recently debuted in about a dozen newspapers including Denver’s Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In addition, Libenson, 36, works part time as a greeting-card writer and illustrator for American Greetings. We caught up with her at her Lyndhurst home for a chat about motherhood, minivans and maintaining her sanity. — CM
Q: You and Jill Kaplan (the strip’s narrator and main character) both work and are raising two young daughters. Are you one and the same?
A:Jill is a lot like me, but I think she deviates a little bit in certain ways. I think she’s much more of an extrovert than I am. I tend to run more on the shy side.
Q:Do you, like Jill, drive a minivan?
A:Yes. I have a bad back and it’s easier to get the kids in and out.
Q: How long does it take to write a typical strip?
A.Anywhere from two minutes to two hours to come up with the idea and about three hours to execute it.
Q:You’ve said you’ve been inspired by recent books suggesting that women are trying too hard to be the perfect mother. How so?
A:The character Jill really struggles through this. Like myself, she’s a perfectionist and a worrywart. I think what my comic strip is trying to do is disassemble the superwoman myth. Maybe you can’t give 100 percent, but you try and do the best you can.
Q:What’s the best part about being a mother?
A:Experiencing childhood again through your kids’ eyes.
Q:What do you lose when you become a mother?
A:A cup size. [laughs] Other than that, I don’t think I lost anything. I think … a lot of women feel like they lost a sense of themselves. “Pajama Diaries” is about a woman who tries to keep her identity.
Q:How did you keep your identity?
A:For me — I hate to admit this — I identify myself with my work, probably because I’ve grown up kind of shy. Throughout my life I’ve always had a love of art and writing. It’s the way I’ve expressed myself throughout my life.