On June 13, 2016, Knisley welcomed her son, whom she refers to as “Pal” online. (The pseudonym is short for the word “palindrome,” a reference to the date of his birth.) Since becoming a mother, the cartoonist and author has drawn her parenting experiences and shared them with her fans online. During Pal’s first year, Knisley has captured both heartfelt and hilarious moments with her family.
Knisley told HuffPost her motherhood journey has inspired all of her comics about Pal and parenting. By sharing the comics online, she’s learned that even the strangest moments she’s experienced are relatable for many parents.
“It’s incredible how often I’ve thought, ‘This is weird and I am a weird person for thinking it’ about one of my comics on parenting, only to find that my weirdness is shared by literally every parent on Earth,” she said.
From capturing Pal’s antics at bedtime to drawing what it’s like to change a wiggly baby’s diapers, Knisley uses her comics to sum up her everyday life as a mom. One topic she has focused on frequently is breastfeeding. Before Pal was born, Knisley was in labor for 40 hours and had undiagnosed preeclampsia. She finally had to have an emergency C-section during which she had two seizures. Needless to say, breastfeeding Pal after recovering “felt laughably hard,” in Knisley’s words.
After finding an “awesome” lactation consultant, Knisley has managed to find the humor in Pal’s shenanigans while she breastfeeds him. In many of her comics, she jokes about his sharp teeth and the way he snaps her bra straps.
“A year out and we’re still going strong!” she told HuffPost about breastfeeding. “In the end, I’m glad to be nursing Pal, for convenience and regular connection breaks in my day, but I will literally fight anyone who ever says anything judgmental about parents who choose not to breastfeed.”
Knisley, who is working on her sixth published graphic novel, Kid Gloves, to share the story of her pregnancy and birth experience, told HuffPost she draws most of her comics in the little time she has after Pal falls asleep and before she heads to bed.
“Ninety-nine percent of them are drawn in the half-hour between getting the baby to sleep and going to sleep myself,” she said. “One percent gets drawn during rare times when he is chill enough to not grab the pen out of my hand when I’m trying to draw while he’s awake.”
Pal has gotten a head start on sharing his mom’s love for art. He’s already tried crayons and finger paints, which Knisley said “he tried to eat and throw respectively.” He also loves to read with his parents.
Knisley described parenting to HuffPost as being “inherently vulnerable” and realizes that sharing her experiences so publicly can add to that. Luckily, she has a group of friends and fans she calls “an incredible parenting network of support.” She also loves that she now has a creative way to remember both sweet and funny moments with Pal.
“It’s fun to look back on how I felt and what he was doing a few months ago, and reminisce,” she said.