'Our Dumpster fire is normal': Viral video mom's book gets real about parenting

In "Ask Me What's for Dinner One More Time," Meredith Masony helps moms and dads feel better about absolutely everything.
Meredith Masony of That's Inappropriate
Meredith Masony of That's InappropriateMeredith Masony / TODAY

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By Laura T. Coffey

There’s far too much for parents to cry about during a global pandemic — so one mom has decided to take a very different approach.

“I’d rather laugh than cry,” said Meredith Masony, 40, founder of the online parenting community That’s Inappropriate and a longtime contributor to TODAY Parents and the TODAY Parenting Team. “Parents are so weighed down right now. Every feeling and every decision we have to face is so heavy. I’m just hoping to bring people some levity and some humor.”

Masony is doing just that in her new book “Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time: Inappropriate Thoughts on Motherhood.” A collection of hilariously honest essays about mom life, marriage, sex, aging and anxiety, the book provides comedic relief for weary moms and dads who have been carrying the burdens of quarantining and remote learning for months.

“I looked for things I was really struggling with in my life, and I figured that if I was thinking about it and feeling it, then other moms were thinking about it and feeling it,” Masony told TODAY Parents. “I just want people to be able to have that sigh of relief, like: ‘OK, our Dumpster fire is normal. I’m not the only one who feels this way.’”

The former schoolteacher and Florida mom of three has been finding creative ways to explore the challenges of modern-day parenting since October 2014. That’s when she started her That’s Inappropriate blog — just two months after she underwent surgery to remove a tumor that was crushing her esophagus.

Her doctor cautioned her that the tumor could be cancerous and gave her four weeks to get her affairs in order. Masony describes the entire harrowing experience in her book — including the post-surgery rush of relief she felt when her husband told her the tumor was benign and everything would be OK.

“My tumor made me realize that ... life is way too short to try to please everyone. Life is way too short to give up dreams,” Masony writes. “We get one shot. My tumor made me realize that I had things to do.”

Meredith Masony, founder of the online parenting community That's Inappropriate, has written a collection of essays about motherhood and marriage called “Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time.”Judy Lynch Photography

That realization inspired her to launch her blog. She wrote anonymously at first, but by early 2016, she said she decided to “come out of the shadows” and post a video that clearly revealed her identity and her distinctive voice.

She quickly could tell she was on to something. Masony had her first experience seeing one of her funny parenting videos go viral in May 2016. That video — about what moms really want for Mother’s Day — garnered more than 10 million views and brought nearly 60,000 new followers to her Facebook page.

Since then, Masony’s creations have gone viral many times. Her videos about “the mom cold vs. the man cold,” all the funny “things moms say,” boys’ inability to pee “inside the bowl” and more have been viewed by millions and featured on TODAY. That’s Inappropriate has more than 4 million followers across social platforms.

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Now Masony is sharing her funny observations about motherhood and marriage in book form. In “Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time,” she describes what she wishes she could say in reply to all the things her kids say and details the visceral reaction her body has when she hears the word “snack.”

“It is almost like being stabbed with a thousand needles all at once,” she writes. “Maybe you think that is a bit of an overreaction, but come back and let me know how you feel about the word snack after an eight-week summer vacation with three kids who you are positive have a six-foot tapeworm living inside their bellies.”

Simon and Schuster

In another essay, Masony explains how she felt the first time her oldest son “love shunned” her as she was dropping him off at school because he was embarrassed to show affection in front of other kids. She also writes with raw candor about “different-needs parenting in 2020.” (Her youngest son Brian has autism.)

In one of the most reassuring chapters of all — “You Are a Motherhood Expert: I’m Not Kidding” — Masony chronicles all the reasons why most parents are crushing it at the hardest job in the world.

“I am an expert when it comes to Matias, Brian, and Sophia,” Masony writes of her three kids. “I know them better than anyone else knows them. ... I am exactly what they need. It is not my job to be the world’s best mom. It is my job to be the best mom I can to them, and no one else.”

Masony said her goal in writing the book was not to provide authoritative advice about what she thinks moms and dads should or should not be doing. Instead, she had a different aim.

“I just want to make people feel better about motherhood and marriage and life and to let people know that it’s OK to just worry about getting through tonight,” she said. “Don’t worry about the next week or next month or next year. Just get through tonight.”

Visit the TODAY Parents Facebook page at 4:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, Sept. 8 for a live conversation with Meredith Masony about motherhood, marriage and the message of “Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time.”