How Stand Up Comedy Saved My Life: Coming Back to Me


Near the beginning of this year, I found myself in tears. My son lost a toy I spent all day making him out of toilet paper rolls, yes, toilet paper rolls, and didn’t care if he found it or not. He saw the design in a book and I couldn’t wait to use my creativity to make it. But then, after playing with it for two seconds, it was gone and my son could not have cared less.

When my husband walked through the door, what he saw was a woman who had discovered that she had unwittingly put all of her creative eggs in one basket and then had her son crush them in one blow.

I am so thankful for my husband for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is for what he said next:

You need to get out of here and find YOU again. This isn’t who I married.

I had become lost in motherhood like I have so many times before.

old fashion mic

Who would have ever guessed that two lost toilet paper rolls would lead me to stand up comedy?

Before my kids were born, my husband and I were a part of a sketch comedy troupe called Potato Sack Pants Theater. We loved it. It felt like we always had a way to blow off creative steam and follow a big project through. I loved being able to kick around weird, funny ideas with our friends and have a product we had worked together on at the end. I loved performing… and that’s when it hit me, I wasn’t just upset about a missing toy, I missed performing.

I had tried everything to fill this hole in me: running, writing, and just getting out of the house to think. I even tried managing my own parenting blog. But after a few months, I was back in the same place. Depressed and feeling empty.

After a lot of searching, I had to admit something to myself.

I need something more in my life than parenting.

Someone once told me that when you have kids, if you want to be a good parent, you have to put your life on hold. That is horrible advice, but it stuck with me. I love my kids and love being a stay at home mother and I thought that my entire life needed to circle around my kids in order for me to be a good parent. If I wasn’t thinking about them, working on something for them or writing about them, I thought I wasn’t being a good parent.

This mentality broke me and broke me hard. So hard, that I was in a blubbering mess on my kitchen floor, weeping over lost toilet paper rolls.

I had lost “me” six years ago when I became a parent, and now it was up to me to follow the breadcrumbs back to myself so I could be happy again.

I sat and thought, how can I perform again without the need to schedule time with other people to rehearse? The rest of the troupe now had children even younger than ours. We had grown up and in doing so, had outgrown the ability to spend hours together planning and rehearsing. This new endeavor would need to be a solo act that I rehearse around my schedule.

Then it came to me… stand up comedy.

I only needed me and I could rehearse in the car, shower, and while cooking dinner. It was the perfect fit. I had tried it a few times before but had never made it a regular part of my life. When January hit, that changed. Stand up comedy would now be part of my week.

I started by going to the open mic at Drink on Tuesday night. It was terrifying. I had lost the ability to relate to other adults that didn’t have kids and just other adults in general. I didn’t know any of the other comedians and was intimidated as hell to talk to them. I sat, stared at my phone until my name was called, and did my five minutes on stage. For a month, two times a week, I forced myself to push through the awkwardness of sitting alone, just to get to perform for five minutes, in order to feel that rush again of getting up in front of a crowd.

meredith performing stand up comedy

Slowly but surely, I began to make friends and talk to people. They began talking to me too. It began to feel more normal. More like this was part of my life instead of a fling.

I began to feel better about talking with people outside of stand up comedy too. I finally had something to talk about other than my children. It was wonderful. My husband began to help me with material and so we found that we could be creative again together. This has been one of the best pieces of the process for me.

Stand up comedy has helped our marriage.

One of my friends asked me what it’s like, trying comedy at night. The best way I can describe it is I have my regular life during the day, and this involves making lunches, paying bills, cleaning and cooking, running household errands, reading stories, dealing with temper tantrums, and all of the typical stay at home parenting tropes. But then for two or three hours every week, I open the wardrobe door to Narnia and hang out in this strange world. Except this Narnia smells like beer and has people nervously writing in little notebooks and talking about punchlines and material, waiting for someone to scream, “The list is out!” and hoping that I got to the bar or the club early enough to get my four or five minutes on stage. Sometimes, I don’t get there early enough and I get to do something equally amazing. I get to watch other people work on their material. 

It’s loud. It’s chaotic. It’s amazing.

Then I go home to both my kids asleep and my husband watching Netflix on the couch or drawing. The silence is deafening and also amazing.

Almost a year out and I go at least twice a week to perform. I’ve even started my own comedy showcase that blends my true love of sketch and my new love of stand up comedy. I love inviting all of the new, amazing people I have met to come on and do their stuff. Most people don’t realize how much talent our little state has.

It isn’t easy though. There are times this new love pulls me into staying up late, being more tired than usual, having to say no to comedy opportunities so that my family still has time with me as well. Now my kids see me leave the house to do something other than spend time with them. Some nights it’s harder than others to pull away. 

I love parenting and sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right choice adding in this strange activity that has nothing to do with them, my husband, getting money for the house and is only for me so I can keep feeling more like me. Is it selfish what I’m doing? I wonder about it all the time. But how can my children really know the real me, if I kept it hidden this whole time, thinking I was being a better parent?

I feel like the best parents are the ones that show their children their passions and loves. Sure, most of the comedians I work with at night are in their twenties. So what? Does it mean that a thirty-six year-old woman with two kids doesn’t have the right to join them? No way, and I would never want my kids thinking that either.

I know my kids watch me head out the door twice a week. What I hope they will gain from it is:

Being true to yourself is hard work, but it is completely worth every late night.



  1. Great, post, and clearly reaching so many, myself included. I’m divorced with my son only half the time. I miss him like crazy when he’s not with me but when he’s not with me, I use the time to fuel the part of me that isn’t a mom. It helps me when I miss him, but it also helps me stay true to myself. When I was married, it was incredibly difficult to find the balance – mom-me versus real-me. One of the circumstances of divorce has allowed me to have this time back for myself, but I often wonder if the divorce hadn’t happened, how would I have found my way back to myself, or carved out that time, that is clearly so crucial even if there is a struggle with guilt or wondering if it’s the right thing to be spending our time doing. Thank you for this honest and authentic post.

  2. Meredith,
    This is Laurel’s mom, and I almost could have written this post. I had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years when my youngest, Alan, was born. I was not at all unhappy (this is where we differ), but SO missed my music that had been a huge part of who I was from age 7-23 when I acquired rheumatoid arthritis and could no longer play the piano or accompany my singing. Long story short: I found folk music and instruments I could play, began to earn a little money, then gradually was able to support myself with it after I became a single mom.

    My kids did think I was selfish, but as adults they have admitted to the positive enrichment my music brought to all our lives in various ways. Someone once said to me after a concert “Oh, your children are so lucky to have you sing to them” and I answered, laughing “My kids would probably tell you they had rather I had sung fewer songs and baked more cookies!” As adults, they denied that, and, in fact, Lisa, my middle child, has herself been a folksinger/songwriter most of HER life to date.

    I retired when my hands became too crippled, in spite of surgeries, then, 12 years later, started singing at open mics again with a friend as accompanist. I still do, at age almost 86! Not for money; just for joy! And it has been a blissful life: for 35 years I said “Other than pain and poverty, I’ve got a great life” then, finally, social security changed that to just “other than pain.”

    Follow your bliss, Girl–your kids will not suffer, but will benefit from a fulfilled mom.

    • Lyn! You will never know how much your comment has meant to me. It’s wonderful to be given perspective from someone who has been through the journey already and come out the other side. I am blessed beyond measure to be able spend my days watching these beautiful children grow and now, after reading your comment, feel blessed that they can learn who their mother truly is! Thank you so much for all of the kind support.

  3. Meredith, you are so inspiring to us parents and I love that you are willing to face your fears to re-find yourself during this intense and crazy life of little kids! Anyone that has become a parent has felt a bit lost in the transition of parenthood. Keep doing your amazing thing for yourself, your family and your big fans! We love you!!!

    • Thank you so much Erin! All parents are inspiring to me and the same goes for you! This is a hard and amazing journey. If there is anything I’ve learned from other parents, there’s no set path to doing this. The only set path we need to take is being true to ourselves while doing it. You are no exception to this!


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