There’s one rule every new parent lives by in those first few months: You’re not going to make it if you don’t have a sense of humor.
No one knows this better than Ceylan Sahin Eker, a new mom who has used her talents to design custom onesies that capture some of parenting’s funniest frustrations.
Eker, an illustrator and graphic designer, began her Happy Thursdays project when her son Timur was born nine months ago. As Eker explains, Timur was born on a Thursday during one of the biggest winter storms Boston had seen in years, leaving the family holed up inside with no place to go. Eker had been stockpiling clever onesies since before Timur’s birth, and she began to photograph and post them to Instagram when she couldn’t leave the house.
Eker’s funny Thursday ritual quickly took on a life of its own after the family moved back to Turkey months later. While overseas, Etsy shipping grew too expensive for her pet project, so Eker started to design her own onesies to photograph — a practice she hopes to continue until her son’s first birthday.
Eker tells Babble:
“We started to take the onesie photos so that I won’t fill my friends’ Instagram feed with Timur’s pictures and become one of ‘those’ parents. It’s a constant battle because I am amazed of my little boy’s every facial expression, attempts to communicate with the world, what he is learning every day, and I want to share everything … [But] onesies are my moderation practice.”
As a relatively new parent who has just made it to the other side, I’d like to be the first to thank Eker on behalf of exhausted moms and dads everywhere. Her onesie designs may seem simple and even ironic, but they’re giving new parents that dose of humor they so desperately need.
If you don’t know what you’re in for (or if you believe everything your friends post on Facebook), new parenting can be quite the shock to the system. My kids may be 2 and 3 now, but my twitchy eye reminds me of those overwhelming baby years like they were yesterday. I happily charged into parenthood after being told to “enjoy every second,” only to feel like a failure when the baby blues hit me like a ton of bricks, and I couldn’t stop crying in those first three weeks.
It’s these unrealistic expectations that make parenting so hard in the first place. In fact, when Monash University researchers interviewed 45 Australian parents about their expectations of early parenthood as part of a study, misconceptions abounded. The researchers found most parents were overly optimistic and unprepared — a dangerous combination known to cause significant distress when a tired new mom or dad is already feeling vulnerable. (Sound familiar?)
In addition, German researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research discovered that it’s this jolt of reality after the new baby excitement wears off, that makes many couples less likely to have a second child. Even worse, playing into the “perfect parent” culture and not asking for help can lead to a host of mental health issues, for both moms and dads.
Laughing off your parenting fails won’t get your baby to sleep through the night, but it will make the bumpy transition easier. And having a sense of humor is one of the best ways to diffuse that new baby stress — instead of beating yourself up about the mistakes we all make. Eker explains that while Happy Thursdays was intended to be fun and whimsical, it was also a project created in solidarity with new parents. She says:
“Even if your bond with your partner is really strong, the whole baby thing is extremely difficult at the beginning. But if you can embrace the misery, even expect it, and find the humor in it, it becomes easier and fun.”