In M is for MAMA (and also Merlot): A Modern Mom’s ABCs, Benanti, and her friend and fellow performer Kate Mangiameli, give moms a good laugh by zooming through the alphabet with sobering reminders.
Benanti, 40, shares with PEOPLE that she and a singer at the Metropolitan Opera, Mangiameli, wanted to create a narrative that went against the “mom judgment” many mothers battle. One line in the book reads, “E is for Everyone and all of their advice, F is for F ’em. Even better … F ’em twice!”
“We really wanted something that is for moms, something that’s comedic, that’s easily digestible that you can read on the toilet, which is usually the only time you have to yourself if you’re lucky,” Benanti jests.
“We thought it would be really funny to do a board book because board books are what moms read to their children.”
“We began the process thinking we would write as a baby’s voice, but soon after realized we wanted it to be the voice of one mom to another,” Mangiameli adds. “Our friendship was so nourishing as we were raising these little people, and we wanted to pass that feeling along to every other mom out there.”
Benanti is mother to Ella Rose, 3, and admits how she has to battle “mommy shamers,” on breastfeeding, her choice to go back to work or what school she would send her kiddo to.
“There are so many different ways to raise your child, and those ways should be up to you as an individual. And the fact that people feel like it is appropriate, at any point, to shame you or say their way is better, it’s really astonishing,” the My Fair Lady actress adds.
Benanti decides to combat these situations with humor.
“[Kate and I] both had postpartum depression after our children were born,” Benanti shares with PEOPLE of herself along with her co-writer, who also has a daughter, around the same age as Ella. “I was not able to see the humor in things in a way that I usually am, and so it was important to me that we be able to bring some levity to a situation that can often feel like life or death.”
“You’re keeping a human alive and that can be a lot of pressure, so I think any opportunity that we have to laugh is a positive one,” she continues.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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