My name’s not really The Ringleader . . . that would be weird. It’s Ashley, but in the spirit of beating the bag out of this circus theme, I thought I could go by both.  I started this circusy family blog in 2013, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to be published on The Huffington Post, ScaryMommy, and BLUNTmoms, star in Listen To Your Mother, and have one of my stories published in a real book called I Still Just Want To Pee Alone.

I started this blog because when I was around 11 years old, I used to read a comic strip called “Family Circus.” I loved keeping up with its big, unruly family’s misadventures, because here was a family who made being chaotic, and messy, and flawed  look super fun and amusing. Reading it was a nice dreamy getaway for me, mostly because I struggled to see the humor in my own big, unruly family’s misadventures.

My mother had been one of eight kids in an Irish Catholic family who believed that you shared the load, and whether she meant to or not, I felt like she passed that LOAD right on down to her own family. I learned a lot back then about the mechanics of taking care of kids, like changing their diapers, getting them dressed, feeding them, wiping their noses, and bouncing or rocking their little butts to sleep. I did mounds of kid-stained laundry, hand washed dishes (because. No dishwasher), cleaned godawful bathrooms, and vacuumed countless Cheerios. I’m not complaining NOW; I’m trying to say that back THEN, I wasted hours complaining about my responsibilities, adding woebegone proclamations about My Life Enslaved, while endlessly bartering with my mother for my free time.

Years later, in my twenties, I wailed to my therapist about what I believed was my Lost Childhood, because combined with my familial responsibilities, I knew about other stuff most kids I knew didn’t have to. I knew what food stamps were; I knew the worry of whether the power/water/gas companies would cut us off ; and I knew the stress of moving just about once a year, every year of my childhood.

www.bigtopfamily.com / About the Ringleader

The Big Top Fam!

In my thirties, I got married to a good guy and had three kids, all boys, including a set of twins. I love all the men in my household so much that the pressure of which could make me spontaneously combust.  With that being said, being a mother is HARD. I realize now, that during my childhood, I never really understood a thing about responsibility, or worry, or guilt, or sacrifice. I also realize now that I wasted a lot of time focusing on the bad things, the sad things, the things that made me feel ashamed, and the things that made me worried. Lately, even on my hardest days as a mother, when I’ve wanted to bitch and moan and go fetal in some crumb-infested corner of my home, I’ve started trying to refocus my lens through that Family Circus cartoon strip window. I’m not denying that I’m tired, anxious, cranky, and insecure just about every single day, but if I look hard enough, I’ve discovered that just about every single day gives me something to laugh about.

Now you know why I started this blog, so go check out the main Blog page to start navigating around this crazy place!

AshleyAbout the Ringleader

22 Comments on “About the Ringleader”

  1. Carolyn

    I agree with you. Life is all about attitude. Have you watched the documentary “Happy”? (loved it). Its hard with our increasingly superficial (money, success, power) lifestyles to focus in on what really matters – and stay positive. But if we all stick together with our smiles and giggles about our crazy up and down lives, it really helps us weather the ride. Thanks for putting this out there.

  2. Christina Dumas

    Ashley….I am not surprised that this is the direction you are currently taking with your writing! You have always been a gifted one but your ability to be a comic while sharing is what will personally, keep me reading & following you! Keep up the great work & wishing for much success in your future with it!

  3. Katy

    Ashley! Hi cuz. I really enjoy your blog. You are so brave & such a talented writer. Way to go. I enjoy your stories & empathize with you.

  4. Sangeeta

    I’m so sorry I haven’t subscribed sooner. I love reading your adventures in life and remember you still as young Ashley the cute and hilarious tech writer.
    This is much more interesting and fun than your writings as a Tech Writer! Love it.

    1. Ashley

      Aww, thanks, Sangeeta! Yep those days are far behind me – I remember all of you had families and I was always wondering how you managed to do it all. (Now I have an idea or two or three). 😀 Thanks so much for reading – it means a lot to me!

  5. Jessica Campbell

    I’m so proud to life next to such a refreshingly honest women! I will definitely keep following and spread the word! Keep it up…please 🙂

  6. Nola Jean White

    Hi Ashley! Just like me to be so late to the Family Circus party, but I absolutely love your writing and honesty and humor! I never want to miss another article or blog. I was an “outsider” to some of your memories of your childhood and I am very proud of you for the way you are sorting it all out! Ya gotta laugh!!!

    1. Ashley

      Thank you so much for being here, Nola, and taking the time to read, and being proud. I really appreciate it. And I’m so happy we’ve reconnected. “Ya gotta laugh” is right! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *