TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Ep. 337: It’s Your Fault I’m Upset! Plus, Love Poems with John Kenney

Biz and Theresa talk about a thing that keeps happening where our six-year-olds are going along, having The Best Day Ever, and then suddenly something switches and they decide their day is ruined and it is all Mama’s fault. Sure, our kids’ emotional regulation skills are in the process of emerging, but that doesn’t change the fact that it really sucks to get yelled at! Especially after we just spent hours facilitating play dates and/or engaging in quality time activities with our kids. Plus, Biz chooses Curtain Number Three, Theresa loves antibiotics, and we talk to John Kenney about love poems for people with children.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 337

Guests: John Kenney

Transcript

biz

This is Biz. I’m a part-time working mom with two full-blown kids.

theresa

And I’m Theresa. I have a family business, two young kids, and a toddler.

biz

This is a show about life after giving life. Don’t listen with your kids, ‘cause there will be swears. This… is One Bad Mother.

music

“Summoning the Rawk” by Kevin MacLeod. Driving electric guitar and heavy drums. [Continues through dialogue.]

biz

This week on One Bad Mother—it’s ruined! And it’s all your fault! Plus, Biz chooses Curtain #3, Theresa loves antibiotics, and we talk to John Kenny about love poems for people with children.

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: [Cheering] Woooo! [Biz draws it out into a song.]

biz

Theresa?

theresa

Yes.

biz

How are you?

theresa

[Excitedly.] Okay. [Biz laughs.] I just have to share that over Christmas, I don’t know—I didn’t post about this? But I really should have. I was in Urgent Care on Christmas day! I was in Urgent Care on Christmas Day. So—

biz

Merrrry Christmas!

theresa

Yes! And like— [Biz laughs.] I—oddly enough, I don’t know if I’m just really haggard and broken? Or I’m getting really good at this? Maybe a little bit of both? But it did not feel like a big deal to me. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] It did not feel like Christmas was ruined. It was not that distressing or upsetting to me, or stressful! It was just that we were going to the mountains the next day, and Curtis was on day five of, like, a fever! And, like, feeling really sick and that was after being sick so many times? That like—and we hadn’t had antibiotics and like—it was just not going away. [Biz laughs.] And I was like, we can’t go to the mountains like this! Like, it just won’t happen. So I said to Jesse, I mean, we can, like, postpone our trip, or like I can take him to Urgent Care today. And get antibiotics. And he was like—great! Sounds great! You wanna take him? Do you want me to take him or you wanna go? And I was like, I wanna go!

biz

I’ll go!

theresa

Yeah! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

Get me out of this house!

theresa

Exactly!

biz

I will take this child— [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: Yes! You stay here— Biz: Me! Me! [Laughs.]

theresa

—and, like, set up videogames or whatever you need to do. And we went, and you know, it’s like kinda quiet? And people are kind of extra-nice ‘cause it’s Christmas. And we—and Curtis was amazing because that’s Curtis. Thank you, Curtis.

biz

Hey, hey, hey!

theresa

Yeah! [Laughs.]

biz

Alright, alright, alright! Here comes Curtis!

theresa

Here comes the bangs! The bangs are long enough to hide the sore on his head that he keeps picking over and over again!

biz

Beauti—put a band-aid on it! [Both laugh.]

theresa

And so we went. And like, we got antibiotics and… I’m not—I understand that antibiotics are controversial— [Biz laughs.] —and that they have—like, there are some problems with antibiotics. And like, overuse of antibiotics. I really get that. This was a situation where—this kid has not needed antibiotics for a long, long time. And I really didn’t see another way out of this.

biz

Sure!

theresa

And, like, the doctor agreed. Y’know? And so we got the antibiotics, and I just—I felt great. [Biz laughs.] I was like—and he’s also—of course, because it’s Curtis, he’s great with taking his medicine.

biz

Oh, yeah!

theresa

He has no problem taking his medicine. He’s happy to do it 20 times. ‘Cause you have to do it for 10 days, twice a day! He was happy to do it every time. He even—I forgot to give it to him a couple nights? And I had to go in and give it to him in his sleep? That was fine, too. He didn’t even [though laughter] wake up! [Biz laughs.] Um—so I was just really happy. Like, and—

biz

[Singing] What child is this? [Laughs.]

theresa

I know! I know. And so partially—so partially it’s that, but also it’s that—I realize, like, partly the reason I was so happy was that he’d been sick for so long? And like—on and off? Where like I thought he would—he was better or he was better but then he would pick up something else. And so—the—the span of 10 days where he was on antibiotics, was like the longest chunk of time since the summer where I haven’t had to wonder—are you getting sick? Or see that he was getting sick again. Like, 10 days was a huge amount of time to have him be, like, basically healthy! And like, I—I had—like—I was pretty, like, secure that he was gonna be healthy during that span. Now we finished the antibiotics a few days ago. [Biz laughs.] He’s back at school. Christmas Break is over for him. So I assume—

biz

Just a sponge for disease! [Biz laughs.]

theresa

It’s coming—right on back into my house. I totally get that. But it was a glorious— [Biz sighs.] It was a glorious moment! It was a great Christmas at Urgent Care.

biz

I gotta tell ya—I love medicine. [Laughs.]

theresa

Mm-hm! [Laughs.]

biz

And—I just—I was listening to you, and—at the beginning, with a lot of justification there at the beginning about the antibiotics a little bit. I just… one, you’re doing a great job.

theresa

Thank you!

biz

Two, I’m just thinking about all of us. And like… I was like—ugh! We gotta save our judgment for other things. For like, when the flags are really waving! When there’s like—you can see fire and smoke! As opposed to like… you could’ve also told me that story, and I would hope for all of us that we would’ve been like, yeah! I—I’m glad you went to the Urgent Care and [though laughter] got medicine for your child! As opposed to us now feeling—

crosstalk

Biz: —that we have to, like—look, I know that the—look. Theresa: Like we have to justify that that’s okay. Yeah.

biz

I also know that some people don’t know! That’s our—I mean, like—there’s lots of levels of knowledge out there! But like… it… it is—I’ve just like… that’s one of those things I’m gonna try to do different! Right? To be like—I’m just gonna listen to my friend telling a story.

theresa

Like, don’t sweat the—that little stuff.

biz

Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah! I mean—

theresa

Don’t take on… antibiotics. Like— [Biz laughs.] —that’s not my job as a parent to take that on. That whole situation. Right.

crosstalk

Biz: And I, as your friend, just wanna hear this nice story about your time on Christmas Day. [Laughs.] Theresa: Thank you. Thank you! Very true.

theresa

Very true. My nice—my nice Christmas at Urgent Care.

biz

On a very special Christmas.

theresa

Yes. [Both laugh.]

theresa

How are you, Biz?

biz

I’m… I’m alright. First, before I get into my little story that I wanna share—I want to just say… I love parents. You guys are all doing a good job. Sometimes… sometimes I really don’t like parents. And sometimes we save the “good job” stuff for the end of the show, but like—today was—Stefan had taken the kids to school on their first day back after Winter Break last week and I got to take them today, and I just got to see all the parents. People were catching up. And I have—either I am more receptive to honesty from parents? [Laughs.] Or… or people are just getting better about talking about stuff? I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a better listener. But like—I heard some, like… y’know. Listening to people I was hearing the ups and down. Regardless of how—they weren’t saying it like I would say it, like everything is shit. [Laughs.] [Through laughter] But it was like, oh, this and a little drop about, y’know, neurodiversity, a little drop about, y’know, that break was hard. A little drop about issues with snacking at school. Y’know? Where I just was like—you guys are all just fucking working hard. And trying your best.

theresa

Yes!

biz

And we’re all very different. But like—I like it.

crosstalk

Biz: I like it! Theresa: I like it, too. I like it so much.

biz

I just was like—ahh! I’m gonna just try and really be listening more. That said—I was on Let’s Make a Deal! [Both laugh wildly.] Life dream fulfilled! And—not only did I get called up, I got to do the big deal of the day!

theresa

Oh my god.

biz

And this was very exciting, but there’s really two things I wanna talk about.

theresa

Okay.

biz

One was the story of what led me to picking Curtain #3. I was going to a Starbucks—not my normal Starbucks, but one I’m familiar with—on the way to pick up my friend and go to the show.

theresa

Uh-huh.

biz

Uh, very early in the morning. I go, standing in line, there’s this guy in front of me. Probably a little older than me? So like, maybe early 50s? And he turns to me and he says—I—I really like your glasses. And I say—oh, thanks! I mean, he wasn’t being weird or anything. Every time I tell this story, people look at me like, ohhh! Yuck! I’m like—no, he was just a human talking to me. And I said thank you. And he said—they remind me of my mom, and I was like, oh! I hope in a good way. And he said yes. And then, like, there’s this pause and he goes, “Well, there’s this picture… it’s making me think of this picture of my mom in front of this care that she used to have—” and he names the car. “Holding me and my—y’know, my brothers next to her, and it just—yeah. It’s really nice to think of her.” And I was like—that’s—that’s great! I am—I am so glad! Um, and there’s a little bit more interaction like that. He goes up to get his coffee. I go up to get my coffee, and when I order it, I’m ready to pay, and the woman says—uh, yours is already paid for.

theresa

Oh, nice!

biz

And I say, oh! By—and she’s like, yes. He paid for your coffee! And I turn to him and I said, thank you so much. And he said—y’know, thank you for helping me think about, y’know, my mom today. And so I sit down and I think—

theresa

Wow.

biz

This is—this is important.

theresa

Yeah! Yeah!

biz

And I turn to him and I say—I gotta tell ya. I think this is—we’re having an important interaction. I’m going to be on Let’s Make a Deal today. Y’know. And if I get called up—right? Like, I’m going to be in the audience. And we start talking about the gameshow. And I say—if I get called up and I make it to the big deal, what curtain should I pick?

theresa

Oh my god.

biz

And he does this whole, like, thing. Some of it involves religion. That’s okay. But anyway, the resulting number is three. And I say, you know what? I will pick curtain three if I get called up today. I got called up. I picked curtain three. And I won the big deal— [Through laughter] —of the day! The very next day I went back to that Starbucks.

theresa

Okay. On purpose.

biz

On purpose.

theresa

In case he might be there.

biz

Nope! I was hoping I actually wouldn’t run into him?

theresa

Oh.

biz

But I got a gift card for him and put a healthy amount of thank-you money on it with a note that just said, thank you so much, blah, blah, blah. This is when the show’s gonna air. And he was like, a regular there according to the woman. And I gave it to her to pass on to him.

theresa

Whoa!

biz

I know!

crosstalk

Theresa: Whoa! Biz: I know! I felt—

biz

Yeah.

theresa

And won!

biz

It was such a, like, an epic thing! Which leads me to the real prize—and the real—the real big deal was… the entire day. The entire time I was on that show, and getting there and prepping for it and picking the costumes. I felt… more like—not just a self, but myself? Than I have… since—definitely since kids. And if not longer.

theresa

Wow.

biz

Like—I… it was such joy and it was so—I felt so… me? If that makes sense?

crosstalk

Theresa: Completely! It makes complete sense! Biz: Like, I felt—

biz

Me. I didn’t think about anybody else. I wasn’t thinking—I just was like—I am here to do this.

crosstalk

Theresa: You were in your element! Biz: This is such—

biz

I was in my element!

theresa

You knew what you were there to do.

biz

Yeah! And it felt… so… great! I was like, oh, I remember who I am and what my skillset is! [Laughs.]

theresa

Yes!

biz

It was—anyway. So that was the real deal, and it was really nice and I had a really nice time.

theresa

Um, that’s amazing.

biz

Thank you.

theresa

Thank you for sharing that with us? Because may we all… like, learn from that— [Biz laughs.] —that that is—that that can happen. Like, can we all just be open to that.

crosstalk

Theresa: You know what I mean? Biz: I know. It was a very open day?

theresa

So good!

biz

And I just was like—I want more days like that, man. I want more of those days! Um—

theresa

Good job.

biz

Thank you. What I would like less days of, though, is… being blamed for all things wrong in a child’s life.

theresa

Yes.

biz

Today, we are gonna talk about how it’s ruined, and it’s all your fault. [Laughs.]

music

Banjo strums; cheerful banjo music continues through dialogue.

theresa

Please—take a moment to remember: If you’re friends of the hosts of One Bad Mother, you should assume that when we talk about other moms, we’re talking about you.

biz

If you are married to the host of One Bad Mother, we definitely are talking about you.

theresa

Nothing we say constitutes professional parenting advice.

biz

Biz and Theresa’s children are brilliant, lovely, and exceedingly extraordinary.

theresa

Nothing said on this podcast about them implies otherwise. [Banjo music fades out.]

biz

Theresa.

theresa

Yes.

biz

You and I have discovered we are experiencing something similar in our houses.

theresa

Yes.

biz

From our six-year-olds.

theresa

Yes.

biz

I… will admit that I’ve—have been feeling very alone in it? And overwhelmed in it. And while I do not wish it upon anyone, it did make me feel better. [Laughs.] Knowing it was happening to you.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

So I thought what we would do is at the beginning, talk about what’s happening. And then… really spend the—the time talking about how it makes us feel as people.

theresa

Yes.

biz

In the world. Not like a self. So I’ll start.

theresa

Uh-huh. [Laughs.]

biz

And that is—Ellis—who I have never… not said he’s a bit more.

theresa

Yeah!

theresa

From newborn days.

biz

From newborn days. I—he is emotion-led. Y’know. Very empathetic, I think is the word I’m starting to like latch onto to help me understand him?

theresa

He’s very sensitive?

biz

Very sensitive. Very—

theresa

In all the ways that you can be sensitive I think? Like—

biz

When he’s big, he’s big! When he’s happy? He’s happy! When he is sad, it is earth-shattering. I will give you a brief example and that is—a couple of days ago, Stefan and I were in our, like, den listening to records. Like, he was listening to records and I was reading. And the kids were in their rooms, and I thought I could hear Ellis screaming. Not like, I’m in trouble screaming, but like I’m really mad screaming? And… Stefan, turn it down. Turn the music down. I think Ellis is screaming. And… we listen again. And we don’t hear it and I call out—is everything okay? And I hear Katy Belle say, yeah! And I said, well I thought I heard Ellis screaming! And Ellis—I hear this voice—I wasn’t screaming! And that’s when I realized it was a power saw from next door? [Theresa laughs.] The guy was using, like, the full-on table power saw? Bzzz! And then the kids thought that was hilarious. That I thought that was Ellis. And then I realized I was a shell of a person. But currently, Ellis will be going through his day, doing many things that he likes.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Charmed life. ‘K? Then, something will happen like… it’s later in the day than he thought it was. Or… he didn’t—and he realizes he hasn’t had a chance to do something else that he wanted. Another example is, a friend left and this was very… upsetting. Even though we all knew it was coming. And it goes from everything is okay to… like, level 11, uh, screaming. Upset. Can’t control the emotions. I can’t calm down. My day is ruined. It’s ruined! Is it ruined? You’ve—we did all these—no! They were a waste of time! We—we played, y’know, board games! Like—all day! You wasted my time— [Theresa sighs deeply.] —doing that! It was a waste! My day is ruined! Everything is awful and it—and it’s your fault for ruining it. And for messing it up. And then you can’t help him calm down. I have yet—in the full six years [though laughter] of having Ellis in my life—found the—and I still try!—let’s take some breath. Let’s stomp it out—like, all the things you’re supposed to do! They do not do. Because he is in such a state that he’s like… I can’t do those things. And then even if it dips, it then… goes back up again.

theresa

Right.

biz

And… it… it feels new? Even though…

theresa

I know.

biz

It’s—I know it’s just another version of it? But it feels new. And I hate it for a multitude of reasons that I will get into later. You—please, please make me feel better! [Theresa laughs.] By telling me what’s happening in your house!

theresa

Yeah! So it’s—it’s very similar with my six-year-old, Oscar. And… I will just add that—feeling like it’s new? I also am thinking—I was on the phone with my sister on the way here, and she’s like—and he—he didn’t used to do that, right? And I’m like—well, he’s always kind of struggled with like emotional regulation. I mean—most little kids do. To some extent. But this feels like some… new evolution of it. And I’m not sure—I can’t put my finger on what’s different about it. But it does feel like something we’re going through right now in our house. Just in order to, like, focus our conversation a little bit—‘cause we could go off in many directions on this—one of the things that has been really hard for me is [though laughter] the… like… this is your fault. You ruined this.

biz

Yes!

theresa

Thing.

biz

Yep.

theresa

Because—you know, I went through with Gracie—and we’re continuing to work on emotional regulation with her? With all our kids! It’s—it’s a common part of parenting and childhood! And I think I have… gotten a lot better at staying calm in those moments? Because I know that they’re doing work in those moments? And I know that those moments kind of need to happen and that—and I can help them by staying calm. That’s something I have to offer. And I—I have really gotten better at it! But there’s also, like, a limit to it! And… what I’ve noticed is that sometimes… I can be calm for a while, but… somehow, the like… somehow, like, when Oscar tells me that it’s my fault? Or accuses me of being the reason he’s upset? Which he does a lot. Like—that is when I really start my—my skills at staying calm start to break down at that pont. [Biz laughs.] Like, really. Because—and it’s weird, too, ‘cause it’s like—it’s almost like—I know he’s—I know he’s not, like, maniacal! But it’s almost like he’s doing it on—like, he’s finding a way to drag me to that place with him. Because it’s like… if I am not upset, I think in a way it kind of pisses him off! Because he’s like… you’re not seeing that this is like such a big deal! And that’s when he starts to say, like… well, this wouldn’t even be happening if you wouldn’t have—you started this thing about blah, blah, blah! And it’s like—it’s all complete bullshit. It’s—it’s such utter bullshit.

biz

Yeah! And sorry that I played with you today.

theresa

Exactly! Or like, I’m sorry that I… whatever!

biz

Wore a sweatshirt!

theresa

It’s beyond absurd. Or just like—he’s already upset and then I try to help him and whatever I did was the wrong way to try to help him and that’s the real reason he’s upset. Was the way I tried to help him when he was upset. He doesn’t—he’s already forgotten about why he was upset. The real problem is me. And—like—

biz

I can’t imagine why this makes us feel bad! [Laughs.]

theresa

Well—exactly! And—-so—it’s—it’s almost funny? It’s funny in the sense that it’s like… so absurd? But in the moment, if I try to laugh it off, obviously that makes everything worse. So I can’t laugh it off. And, like, I—like, thinking about it while you were talking just now, I was realizing, like—part of why… it’s so hard when he does this… is that… number one, like, we’re trained to defend ourselves. So like, immediately I’m doing what I shouldn’t be doing, which is going back through and saying, well that doesn’t actually make sense. You asked me to—and I’m trying to argue his feelings with him, which doesn’t work. But also, the core issue? Is—I’m already blaming myself for this whole thing.

biz

Yeah. Yeah.

theresa

From day one—

biz

From day one!

theresa

From the moment he was conceived, I am already blaming myself for all of the stuff in his life.

biz

Yes. There we go. Here we have landed in it. So I think one of the big feelings is… I—do not like… being yelled at like that. And being told that… I’ve ruined something for this child when my entire life has been about supporting and caring for this child.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

If, like, he had been doing chores all day, maybe I’m a monster. Right? But like—it’s never all day! Right? Like, there are expectations we have that the kids need to do and they know them. They’re not a huge surprise. It pushes a big button for me. And makes me feel like shit! And on top of that, I also—the other button that gets pushed is the—not being able to find a solution? Like, not for me. For him! The idea that he struggles with… regulating these emotions or finding the… good thing or the—remembering, like—seeing the balance of it all? Which again, I understand—developmental—everybody at their own pace. We’ve been doing the show for years, guys. We know the work! But for me—in a purely selfish, unscientific way—I am like, oh my god! Can you not? This is horrible that you can’t figure this out! Right? As a person whose sole motivation is hard work and problem-solving. Okay? Ugh! So—that’s… really hard. And what happens—what I have found has been happening with this is… it really is draining me? It’s just… sucking all the good out of me. And then filling me back up with his rage!

theresa

Yes.

biz

And then I feel… so gross. And as I mentioned before—and I told Theresa and I think this ties in to what you said earlier—I go—once he gets down to bed, I… was in my room, like, with my puzzle. [Laughs.] Like, I need to put things where they belong and they won’t argue with me. Puzzle pieces. Sitting there. I’m listening to, like, calming music in my room. And I’m so just, like, on that verge of tears where they’re just, like, here they come! Just a little! Now they go back. Here they come, just a little! They’re just, like, there. And I could hear this voice in my head, like, screaming? Saying—I am a good mother. I am a good mother. This is not your fault. This is not your fault! Because it puts into—like, I feel to blame that he can’t figure this out.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

And I’m like—I did not create this. Y’know? ‘Cause there’s that—we’ve talked about that. Like, “I created the monster! I am— ‘cause I didn’t do x, y, and z, my kids are assholes!” Right? Like— [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: It’s not—that’s not what it is. Yeah. Biz: It ain’t—that’s not it! But—

biz

That’s the state that I’m left in!

theresa

Right! Yes! I feel—my version of that? Is… I—I just feel so depleted. I’m not even thinking words. But I am, like, walking around the house like a—almost like an old woman. Like, I’m like—I have, like—I move slower? After, like, two or three of those really intense outbursts? Like—I just feel broken! I feel really broken. And like, the same thing used to happen a lot with Grace when she would have, like, a really hard time. And… sometimes I feel like I’ve, like, how people describe, like, oh, I’ve been hit by a truck. Like, obviously I don’t feel like I’ve actually been hit by a truck? But I just feel that, like—my body hurts.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

My body hurts. And… I’m just—I just—I sort of have this mental feeling of, like, I give up now. Like, there’s nothing I can really offer. Anymore. Like, I’m—I’m done.

biz

I feel like you talking about feeling like an [though laughter] old lady? Actually is a great—‘cause it—it—it feels like… you are physically depleted. You’re emotionally depleted. You’re energy deplete—right? Like, it’s… it is just, like, well, then I guess it’s time to pass on to the other side. [Theresa laughs.] You know what I mean? Like—

crosstalk

Theresa: I’m, like, shuffling around the house. Like—yeah! Yes! My life force! [Laughs.] Biz: Yeah! The moving slower. Your life force literally feels like it’s been ripped from your body!

biz

You’ve gotta wait for it to fill back up! That’s awful, guys.

theresa

It is!

biz

It’s awful! I hate it! This is one of those places as a parent that I fucking can’t stand.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Because… not only do you feel like shit during it, and you have to be, like, a reasonable person who, like… vaguely understands how children work.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Right? And you gotta try and remember those two things at the same time, which is really hard, and the struggle to not lose your shit is also depleting. And that said—I also hate it when I lose my shit on it.

theresa

Yeah. I’m with you. I think—I mean, I think—there’s work that I’m able to do with Oscar on this stuff when he’s calm.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

Like, at other times. And like—I think part of why this is so hard is that there are so many times in the day where he’s so… thoughtful! And caring. And like— [Biz laughs.] “I’m so sorry, Mom, I don’t wanna be like that!” Y’know? Like—and so, like… and—and like—I really believe him! Like, it’s very sincere. And… and then—like, some—seemingly with no rhyme or reason, something that would never have been okay when he was upset is completely fine and a good suggestion! When he’s feeling calm. But it—what’s hard about that is it— [Laughs.] I know that, like, we’re the parents? And we’re just supposed to be strong and be, like, happy with them that they’re having those, like, moments as well? [Biz laughs.] But it feels—it just feels very unfair? To feel… that… I’m always carrying this feeling… that something’s about to break.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

And he doesn’t have to do that! Like, I—and I—I understand that… he has different—his workload is different than mine. Like, his things that he’s working on are also really hard. For him. But like… it’s just… it just feels…

biz

Unfair?

theresa

It feels really unfair sometimes!

crosstalk

Theresa: And like, I feel like— Biz: I agree!

theresa

—when it comes to… getting help from professionals—which we do, in our family, like we have—I’ve joked on this show about how many [though laughter] therapists we have supporting our family. [Biz laughs.] And like, I’m really grateful! Because we have really learned a lot from our therapists and we’ve… we have come a long way? But like, one problem that I have, I think, is that… y’know, when I’m talking to my therapist about how hard it is, you know, she’s very—very supportive of how I feel and what I’m going through, but she doesn’t know a lot about how to help my kids. Whereas when I’m talking to my kids’ therapist, they sometimes have a lot of really great ideas about how to support my kids? But it feels very dismissive of me. And like, what I’m going through. And like, how… how hard that it on me and, like… so…

biz

Yes.

theresa

I’m doing a lot of that integration myself? Like, between working with those different people? And sometimes it’s… sometimes it’s just… too hard! Sometimes it’s just not enough. Like—

biz

It’s really hard when you’re already carrying—like you said—the emotional weight of—when’s it gonna happen? Like, Ellis is a fucking joy. I mean, he is just like a little bit of rainbow just shoots out of his face!

theresa

You guys heard him on the show. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! I was like—I was like—I will say it took me back to that day of, like… no one believes my house is haunted. Because they’re seeing my house look so nice!

theresa

I know.

biz

And then… three hours later, the walls are bleeding! But that’s a reflection of, like—the—and I’m trying to do the celebrating those moments versus the other. But you are—it’s the walking on eggshells. It’s the anticipation, which is also hard work to carry! Yeah. I just—I just feel like… there’s just so much… work. It just reminds me that, like… this is unbelievably hard. And… like… I feel… physically and emotionally just, like, fucked up. [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Yes!

biz

And—and yet—I’m gonna keep doing it. And like—

theresa

You’re gonna keep doing it.

biz

I’m gonna keep doing it, and you’re gonna keep doing it. And I just… really—gonna try real hard to be nice to fucking everybody. ‘Cause everybody’s got some version of this in their house! There is a hard thing happening—different degrees!—different degrees. But like… holy shit. I am tired of feeling—like, from a purely selfish One Bad Mother standpoint, I’m tired of feeling like shit. I don’t like getting yelled at. If anybody else yelled at me like that, I would be done with them. [Laughs.] They would not be in my circle. Anymore. I am tired of feeling that drained? And I wish my kid could figure it all out instantaneously. [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Yes, please!

biz

Yes, please! I’ll have what she’s having!

music

“Ones and Zeroes” by “Awesome.” Steady, driving electric guitar with drum and woodwinds. [Music fades out.]

biz

Music: Laid-back acoustic guitar plays in the background. One Bad Mother is brought to you in part by ThirdLove.

theresa

ThirdLove uses measurements of millions of people to design bras in over 80 sizes with all-day comfort and support. I have to say—I really enjoy my ThirdLove bra. Did you know that breast shape matters when you find a good fit?

biz

What?! [Laughs.]

theresa

In about 60 seconds, ThirdLove’s fit finder quiz helps you identify your breast size and shape and finds styles that fit your body.

biz

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theresa

ThirdLove knows there’s a perfect bra for everyone. So right now they’re offering our listeners 15% off your first order. Go to ThirdLove.com/mother now to find your perfect-fitting bra and get 15% off your first purchase. That’s ThirdLove.com/mother for 15% off today. [Music ends.]

theresa

Hey, you know what it’s time for! This week’s genius and fails! This is the part of the show where we share our genius moment of the week, as well as our failures, and feel better about ourselves by hearing yours. You can share some of your own by calling 206-350-9485. That’s 206-350-9485.

clip

Genius fail time, Theresa. Genius me!

clip

[Dramatic, swelling music in background.] Biz: Wow! Oh my God! Oh my God! I saw what you did! Oh my God! I’m paying attention! Wow! You, mom, are a genius. Oh my God, that’s fucking genius!

theresa

Okay. So Jesse and I have been plotting to make our kids— [Biz laughs.] —do sports. [Biz laughs.] And um—and I mean that in, like, the kindest, gentlest way possible. But, um, Gracie has been taking this, like, girls softball clinic and it’s like really small and sometimes she’s the only one there and so she gets a lot of personalized attention and it’s like… she’s been doing really great with it. And then we figured out that there is a little kids’ soccer class that meets at the same time at the same park!

biz

What?!

theresa

And so we’re like—let’s do—let’s just do it! And so we agreed we were gonna do it. And it’s like through the Parks & Rec, so it’s like very inexpensive and y’know, whatever. So we’re like—

biz

Freaking love Parks & Rec!

theresa

Yeah, it’s the best! And so we—we were gonna do it, and then we kind of forgot about it ‘cause we got busy over winter break. And then yesterday—Monday—Jesse texted me like, what are their birthdates? I’m at the park getting them registered for the thing. [Biz gasps.] And I was like—okay. Great! But then I found—like, he told me then that the first one was that night. And you know my kids. They need to prepare. They can’t just… come home from their day and find out we’re going at 5:00 to the park for your first class! And even Grace, who had done this clinic before, it’s been weeks ‘cause it was like the last session. And so… I— [Laughs.] I took it upon myself to make this happen. ‘Cause I didn’t want them to miss the first class. I wanted to get started on the right foot. And basically I knew Curtis would be happy to go. [Biz laughs.] ‘Cause that’s him. And he’s just been watching—he just wants to. So I knew he’d be okay. But I had to, like, explain it to Oscar in a way that made him wanna go? But I did using mom magic? And then Grace came home from her first day back at school— [Biz whoops.] —from winter break, and I started telling her right away when she got home, like, we’ve got about an hour and then we’re going back out for—for softball! And she’s like—what? I didn’t have any warning on—‘cause she knows she gets a warning? So she’s like, I didn’t have any warning on this. This is the first time I’m hearing about this. I’m not doing that. There’s no way I’m doing that. [Biz laughs.]

theresa

And I just remembered that I had been thinking I would get pizza for them that night anyway? So I said, like, well after we go—well, yeah, we are gonna go, actually. ‘Cause I’m sorry we didn’t realize tonight was the first night. We are gonna go. But afterwards we’re gonna get pizza! And like, it just shifted her gears to where—she never said, like, okay, fine, I’ll go? But she just did it? Like, she just got ready and went? Pizza, guys. Pizza.

biz

That… is so great.

theresa

Thank you.

biz

Good job! That’s a lot of fucking work.

crosstalk

Theresa: It was. Yeah. Biz: Good job. Good job!

theresa

Thank you! [Biz laughs.]

biz

This episode is coming out on my birthday week!

theresa

Yayyy! Happy birthday!

biz

And the big difference between when we started this show—

theresa

Uh-huh.

biz

And the last two years at least that I can think of—I… just wanna pat myself on the back for getting really good about asking for what I want! I still have not figured out about asking for plans or—I still really wanna have, like, a Kenny Rogers party where everybody has to come dressed up as Kenny Rogers?

crosstalk

Theresa: That sounds good. Biz: And we listen to Kenny Rogers—

biz

—and we watch The Gambler in the backyard?

theresa

Yeah.

biz

But—I also am like, ehhh, maybe we’ll do it in the summer. But in terms of gifts that I need, or would like—I have been really doing a great job! Last year, I got everything I wanted!

crosstalk

Theresa: Because you knew what you wanted and then you went to ask for it. That’s so good. Biz: And I loved it ‘cause I knew what I wanted and I asked! And then I asked again!

biz

Yeah! Even though there was some, like, hinting, oh, all your shopping’s already done! Uh-uh!

theresa

No.

biz

Here’s my list!

theresa

I haven’t asked yet! Yeah.

biz

I haven’t asked!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

For anything.

theresa

Very nice.

biz

And so I just am like—I can do that.

theresa

Good job!

biz

Thank you!

crosstalk

Theresa: So good! Biz: [Singing] With age comes wisdom! [Laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother! I’m calling with a genius! I am currently a stay-at-home mom with a 11-month-old baby. Um, I’ve been off with her since she was born and I have a four-and-a-half-year old who goes to school. And I was feeling kind of resentful that I was the only one home and I was cleaning the kitchen constantly. Um, and always cleaning up after kids and it felt like I was the only one who was ever standing in that kitchen. [Biz laughs.] So I decided that—for my own mental health—I would stop cleaning the kitchen during the day. So now during the day, the dishes pile up. The dishwasher doesn’t get touched. I don’t rinse things. I don’t clean things. I just put them in the kitchen. And then when my husband gets home from work? I clean up the kitchen before I prep dinner because it’s really annoying to cook in a messy kitchen. But I don’t do it all day long. And the resentment about being in the kitchen a lot has definitely lessened. And I’m actively not looking at my kitchen all day. And it feels really, really good. That’s my genius. I stopped cleaning during the day. [Biz laughs.] Thanks, guys. Take care.

biz

It’s a really good genius!

theresa

Yeah! That’s really good!

biz

I suffer from the constant cleaning.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Just for it to get trashed again. I… totally… this like reminds me of, like, one of my favorite genius calls from the latest spectacular. The woman who chose to sit in a different spot at dinner.

theresa

[Laughs.] Yeah.

biz

I think this is a good “Let’s try this!”

theresa

Yeah!

biz

I will admit—I was thinking you were gonna say—“And then when my husband comes home—"

crosstalk

Biz: “—he cleans all that shit up and then I cook dinner.” We can work towards it. It’s okay. It’s okay. Theresa: Yeah. He cleans the kitchen. Yeah. Yeah. That’s okay. Yeah.

biz

We can try something different another day! [Laughs.]

theresa

Maybe—but maybe she also wants a break from the kids at that point.

biz

Yes! By that time.

theresa

And so it’s like a good—you know what I mean?

crosstalk

Biz: That would be me! Theresa: Like, turn on some music and clean the kitchen—

theresa

—while you make dinner. While husband is like hanging out with the kids. I could see that—

crosstalk

Theresa: —being even better. Biz: Actually—

biz

—that would be me. So you’re doing an amazing job!

theresa

Yeah! You’re amazing.

biz

Oh, I love it!

theresa

I love it, too.

biz

Failures!

biz

[Dramatic orchestral music plays in the background.] Theresa: [In a voice akin to the Wicked Witch of the West] Fail. Fail. Fail. FAIL! [Timpani with foot pedal engaged for humorous effect.] Biz: [Calmly] You suck!

biz

Fail me, Theresa.

theresa

I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to have… Curtis, my almost-three-year-old, walk one of my dogs. Um— [Biz laughs.] I—obviously, I supervised. But I was like, I think—I think he can do this because Cocoa is pretty old now and she can’t go that far? So I was like—we’re just gonna do, like, a short little walk and then we’ll go back! And he was actually doing so incredibly well. I was amazed at how well he was doing. And he had the leash all by himself and they’re walking along. And then what I forgot is that Cocoa always gets really excited when it’s time to turn back and go home? [Biz laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: [Through laughter] Thank God, I’m going home! Theresa: I just completely forgot!

theresa

And as soon as she heard me say, like, “Okay!”, she just turned around and just… ran full-speed towards home? And it—of course—Curtis just face-planted. Like, didn’t occur to him to let go of the leash. So he just slammed [though laughter] his whole body on the ground and he’d been doing so good and then now he was crying and his face was covered in dirt.

biz

Ohhh!

theresa

And that—and I was also holding my camera. [Biz laughs.] Like, as that happened because it—

biz

Smile! [Laughs.]

theresa

—I was like, thinking I was doing such a good, cute thing. [Biz laughs.] Yeah.

biz

I—gotta tell ya. First, you’re doing an awful job. But as you started, I was like… I really wish that—I know she’s not gonna say this. But I really hope she says, “I figured Curtis was old enough to walk the dog, so I let them go.”

theresa

Yeah. [Laughs.] And that—and they never came back!

biz

And they never came back! It was great.

biz

So—uh, my mother’s, uh, birthday is two days before Christmas.

theresa

Uh-huh.

biz

Hasn’t changed!

theresa

Uh-huh…?

biz

And I—and we even do, like, an advent calendar thing at home? Like… not just the chocolates, but like, we’re counting down. So I know it’s two days before. Uh, we called her? We did all the songs. And happy—in English and in Swedish. And whoopity woo—call us back. ‘Cause it’s the mess—the answering machine. And then… the next day… or maybe even two days later—I was like… huh. It’s Christmas Eve! That’s two days after I called her—yeah! Okay! I called her on the wrong day.

theresa

Wow.

biz

Yeah. I… did not, uh, feel great about that! I mean, there was nothing to do.

crosstalk

Biz: Can’t fix that! It’s done! Theresa: No. it’s already done. Yeah.

biz

But like… wow.

theresa

Yeah. That sucks.

crosstalk

Theresa: I’m sorry. Yeah. Biz: It did! Eh, it did—

biz

It did really suck.

theresa

Probably confused her, too! [Laughs.]

biz

I know! I know. I know. Probably. [Laughs.] Ho hooo!

theresa

Like, is today my birthday?

biz

I would’ve been that way. I would’ve been like, thanks! [Laughs.] Happy birthday to me. [Laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hello! This is a fail. We make, uh, smoothies in our house that have, like, broccoli and carrots and banana and lots of peanut butter. And spinach. And vanilla. And… milk. And cocoa powder? And it—maybe it sounds more vegetable-y than it is. I don’t know. It’s great ‘cause it tastes pretty good and it has a shitton of vegetables in it! And that’s not really the point of the story. The point of the story is—we use baby carrots, and three times now, I have accidentally put the bag of baby carrots back in the freezer instead of the fridge. Which means that I’ve taken three bags of baby carrots—like, full!—that we would otherwise be able to snack on, and I have instead frozen them. And… it’s not—it’s not good. I mean, it still works for smoothies but then we don’t have carrots to eat. [Biz laughs.] Uh, which is actually fine? ‘Cause I hate eating raw carrots? [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] But my husband and my children really like it. [Laughs.] Yeah. Anyway. Uh—God bless this hotline. Okay. I love you. Bye.

biz

Yes!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

God bless this hotline.

theresa

Putting stuff—

biz

Biz and Theresa: —in the wrong place.

theresa

Just a constant struggle.

biz

It is!

theresa

For all of us. Isn’t it?

biz

I—I still today, will be going over to pour water in the coffee machine and I hover over the grinder.

crosstalk

Theresa: You think about it. Yep. Biz: I hover over the grinder!

biz

And I think—look at me! I’m starting to do the pour! I’m tilting! I need to go here. Yeah! Things that—there is a sausage missing in our house.

crosstalk

Theresa: Ooooh! Biz: Stefan says—

biz

—he brought—we were gonna do, like, smorgasbord? Y’know, like, cheese and sausage thing? Which is what we do on Christmas just to chill out. And he had brought all the stuff. And then… [Laughs.] Like—that night he’s like—I coulda sworn—I know I bought a sausage! I don’t—I don’t see where the sausage is. And I was like, we are gonna find that sausage one day. [Theresa laughs.] And it’s gonna be… One day the sausage will come to us.

theresa

It will. It will find you.

biz

It will find us. Well—despite all the validating of the good job you’re doing making those healthy fucking smoothies, you’re doing a horrible job just functioning as a human in the world.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Ugh. Whoa. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] You’re doing awful.

music

“Mom Song” by Adira Amram. Mellow piano music with lyrics. You are the greatest mom I’ve ever known I love you, I love you When I have a problem, I call you on the phone I love you, I love you [Music fades out.]

biz

Hey, Theresa! Let’s call someone today! Theresa! Today we are calling John Kenney, who is the New York Times bestselling author of the humorous poetry collections, Love Poems for Married People and Love Poems for People with Children, and the novels Talk to Me and Truth in Advertising, which won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He has worked for many years as a copywriter and he has also been a contributor to the New Yorker magazine since 1999. He lives in Brooklyn, New York—welcome, John!

john kenney

Thank you so much for having me.

biz

Thank you so much for joining us! Before we get in to, uh, the very classic art form of poetry, I would like to ask you what we ask all our guests, which is—who lives in your house?

john

Who lives in my house? Um, I live there. Um, when I’m allowed to. Um— [Biz laughs.] —I live with my, um, amazing wife, Lissa. And our two children, uh, Lulu, who turns 11 next week, and wants an iPhone desperately— [Biz laughs.] —and her little brother, who’s seven, Hewitt. Who is a Yankees fan despite the fact that his father is from Boston and our 11-year-old—I don’t know what breed she is—dog, Muffin. [Biz laughs.] And I did not—I did not name her. Uh—

biz

Wow. Uh, 11 and 7. That is one year off from both of my children. Uh, we should really just one day have a forum for people with 10- and 11-year-olds to talk about iPhones. But that’s not why we’re here today! We are here to talk about [though laughter] your poetry books, Love Poems for Married People and Love Poems for People With Children. These are a delight. They are a delight. And I—I just wanna start with a poem, so that our listeners can understand why we think it’s so delightful. Let’s start with… “Orgy”! I believe that came out of… the Love Poems for Married People? Is that correct?

john

That’s good.

biz

Okay. Would you please share us?

john

“Orgy.” Autumn, overcast and cool. Woodsmoke-scented air. Leaves in the yard. We decided to go out back, among the tall hedgerows to rake and bag the leaves. You said, in a very sexy voice, “We’re out of garbage bags.” And then shrugging, I might have seen your breasts move— [Biz laughs.] —had they not been covered under your fleece sweatshirt, work shirt, and t-shirt. “Well, I’m going in now!” You said. Later, we heated up Dinty Moore beef stew. [Biz laughs.] And then you went to bed. I watched half of a Jason Bourne movie. [Biz laughs.] Did I say “orgy”? Sorry. My mind wandered. I meant “yard work.” [Biz laughs.]

biz

I… I—I love this so very much. Because… it is steeped in honesty. I—I—I don’t know if it was the description of the sweater? The clothing attire? Or the… watching half a Jason Bourne movie? But I understand all of that. [Theresa laughs.]

john

Yeah, I mean, for six months in the winter we live in Brooklyn, New York. You know—uh—the number of layers on my wife? I don’t see her naked in—for—I would say five months. [Biz laughs.]

biz

Yeah. It’s—Theresa, that was one of your favorites.

theresa

Yeah! I just—the amount of acceptance? In this poem? I really appreciate. Like, it just—it just is! It just is what it is. [All laugh.]

biz

I would like to now, uh, share—with you guys—I—Stefan and I—uh, my husband Stefan—he and I read them all over the holiday break while eating fondue. [Theresa laughs.] Which seemed the most appropriate way to read anything titled Love Poems. And we—we took turns swapping the books and—and reading them to each other. And then when my daughter would in come in—because we were like, uh, you’re eating early. It’s fondue night for your parents. [Laughs.] It’s for us! Fondue. She’d come in and be like, what are you reading? And we’re like, nothing! For you! Go to your room! And be sullen! And then we would sit and eat fondue and read the pieces, and I would like for—I have another request for a poem that really tickled us while we were having our fondue in our very, I guess, romantic evening? And that would be… one about… the phone sex?

john

Yeah, absolutely. Uh—and—yeah, I just—I don’t write just about sex. So—

biz

No, it’s okay. We have another one that we will request later. But— [Laughs.]

john

So, this is called, “Sexting Isn’t This, Apparently.” [Biz laughs.] I did not know, during the monthly wrote calisthenics of our sex, that you would be upset if I sent a quick text message to my college roommate, Marie. Who texted back, and asked if I had watched Ozark. I texted, yes. It’s amazing! I love Jason Bateman. And I guess I was surprised—and from the look on your face, you were certainly surprised—that I was sexting. Except you said, that’s not sexting. [Biz laughs.] So I texted Marie to ask her, and she texted back: LOL, are you really having sex right now? [Biz and Theresa laugh.] I said I was. But not anymore. That you had stormed out of the room and tripped and fell in the hall. And Marie said, that’s a little funny. I sent a smile emoji, because it was a little funny.

biz

I… also really like this. And I—

john

Not that any of these are autobiographical.

biz

No, I appreciate that! But let’s actually—let’s talk a little bit about what inspires a poem, like, where do you start with your—with your poems? And obviously we do not assume they are all autobiographical. However, there’s a feeling of realness to all of your poems. [Laughs.]

john

Um… thank you, I think. Um— [Biz and Theresa chuckle.] You know—they start—the—the heavy lifting, I think, is that—the title.

biz

Mm.

john

It’s almost like a kind of a headline. And… you know, I—I can’t give enough credit to my wife. Uh, we’ve been—I mean, I’m the luckiest man in America. We’ve been married for 15 years, and she’s a wonderful writer and a great editor in that she’s incredibly honest. Y’know? She—she will both line-edit something, but also sort of macro-edit and say, look, it’s just—it doesn’t work. But she’ll also come up with great ideas, uh, for things. So… poetry! And again, I—I don’t think what I do is poetry. Poetry is so hard because it’s this incredible distillation, right? It has to be such a clear little diamond of a truth, and there’s no room for excess. So, y’know, so much of it lies, I think, in—in the title.

biz

Well, that’s interesting that you say that about your wife. I—there—two things. One, there are definitely some poems that are written from the perspective of—I could—I assume—the wife! Like, where it’s—you come up behind me, you put your hands on my shoulders, you—right? Like, there’s—

crosstalk

John: Absolutely, yeah! And—and I made a point— Biz: And I—yeah! And I love those!

john

Um, y’know, the guy is always the—the boob in these. And the women is—the woman is always the hero in these. That’s how it is in my marriage, anyway! So um—

biz

Uh, that’s very good! But let’s talk about kids. Let’s talk about the Love Poems for People with Children. And this is one that doesn’t talk about sex. Could you share with us—I think—is it “Family Vacations”?

john

“Family Vacation.”

biz

Yes.

john

“Family Vacation.” This is relaxing, I think to myself— [Biz laughs.] —on the first day of our vacation, as I hide in the men’s room of a Roy Rogers at a rest stop, just off bumper-to-bumper I-95. While the kids continue fighting with tennis rackets in the backseat, and only five more hours to go. I don’t want to leave this place, I whisper aloud. Neither do I, says the man in the next stall. [Biz laughs.]

biz

I love this one so very much! It’s so—

john

My—we—we just—we just got back from, y’know, through about—it was a long Christmas break! And uh… y’know, we stayed local and did lots of daytrips with the kids and on the day—[laughs]—the kids went back to school, my wife texted me at about 9:30 from her office, saying—I’m so happy today I could cry. [Laughs.] [Biz and Theresa laugh appreciatively.]

biz

It’s also a good working title for a poem! Uh—

john

Yeah.

biz

Do you have a favorite that—that you would like to share?

john

There’s—there’s one I’m fond of. That I will be happy to read!

biz

Oh, thank you!

john

Uh, it—this is called “Why Are You in the Shower With Me?” [Biz laughs.] Did the bathtub shrink? I ask, because here we are—naked, showering together, like we once did all the time. Remember? At the beginning? We would stand and talk, seals slipping by one another, a playful ease letting the other into the stream. Now? I’m not sure what you’re doing in here. [Biz laughs.] I’m—I’m freezing. There’s shampoo stinging my eyes. You just stepped on my foot. For the love of Christ, who flushed the toilet? Because I’m being scalded alive. Get out, now! It was a nice idea, though, honey. Could you close the door?

biz

[Laughs.] Oh! That is a very good one.

theresa

It really is.

biz

Yeah!

john

If—if I tried to get into the shower with my wife… she would beat me senseless with a bar of soap.

biz

Yeah, I—there are definitely moments where I think back to the beginning stages of the relationship with my husband. And I—there was!

crosstalk

Biz: Shower, bathtime, lotta fun—lotta fun stuff! Theresa: Yeah! Shower, that was nice! Yeah! John: Oh! There was—

biz

And I, too—

john

There was lots of stuff. [Theresa laughs.]

biz

Yeah! And I remember thinking—I—it—it is that exact thing. How could there possibly be room anymore? In this shower? I—it feels impossible, and ugh! I don’t want to be touched! There’s so much touching! [Theresa laughs.] There wouldn’t be enough room in here!

john

A lot of touching. There’s a lot of—there’s just—there’s just—I don’t—

biz

I don’t—how is that a thing? Uh—

john

I think we crave privacy now. [Biz and Theresa agree; laugh.] I have a friend who’s a comic, and he has an eight-year-old and twin three-year-olds— [Biz gasps.] —and he has to go on the road a lot, and his wife said to him—listen. You better be having sex in that hotel room because if you’re sleeping through the night, I’ll kill you. [Biz and Theresa laugh.]

biz

[Through laughter] That is—that is—uh, yeah! I’m familiar with that feeling! Well, let’s wrap up on—what are you—what are you working on now?

john

Well, there is talk of a, uh, a new book called, uh, Love Poems for Anxious People. [Biz laughs.]

biz

Yeah? That’s—

john

But I’m too stressed to write it.

biz

Yeah. Well that is wonderful. John, I cannot say thank you enough for these two love poem books. I—I will have to say, as a parent, I find reading to not be the thing that was—that is pleasurable as it once was. [Laughs.] And so—what I love about these collections is that I can enjoy them a page at a time. Any time! And yet they are each filled with such… honesty that it is just, like, little tiny delights that I get to unwrap whenever. Whether I’m having fondue or not. We’re gonna link everybody up to where they can get a copy of it, as well as to your other works. Thank you so much for joining us!

john

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

biz

Absolutely. I hope you have a good new year.

john

You as well.

music

“Telephone,” by “Awesome.” Down-tempo guitar and falsetto singing. Brainwaves send a message: Pick up the phone (When you, I call) Arm is moving now, no longer stone (When you, I call) Hand reaches out with a will of its own (When you, I call) [Music fades out.]

promo

Music: Upbeat, cheerful music with clapping in the background. Jesse Thorn: Hey, gang! Jesse here, the founder of Maximum Fun, and with me is Stacey Molski, who is—among other things—the lady who responds to all of your Tweets. Stacey Molski: Hi everyone! I also send you newsletters. Jesse: Uh, so anyway. Something really awesome. You! MaxFun listeners have given us the chance to do something really cool on behalf of our entire community, and we wanted to tell you about it. Stacey: Last summer, following the MaxFun drive, we put all of the enamel pins on sale to $10 and up members, with proceeds going to the National CASA/GAL Association for Children. Jesse: Your generous support and enthusiasm raised over a hundred thousand dollars. Our bookkeeper, Steph, would be quick to tell me the exact total is $109,025, to be exact. Stacey: Your money will go toward pairing kids who've experienced abuse or neglect with court-appointed advocates or guardian ad litem volunteers. Jesse: In other words, kids in tough spots will have somebody in their corner. Knowledgeable grown-ups who are on their team through court dates and life upheavals and confusing situations, whatever. Stacey: The money we raised together is going to help a lot of kids. Jesse: Whether you bought pins or not, you can help us build on that $109,000 foundation. Make a donation to support National CASA/GAL, and help some of our nation's most vulnerable children, at MaximumFun.org/casa. That's MaximumFun.org/casa. Stacey: And seriously, thank you. Our community rules. [Music fades out.]

promo

[Music.] Travis McElroy: I'm Travis McElroy. Courtney Enlow: I'm Courtney Enlow. Brent Black: I'm Brent Black, and we're the hosts of Trends Like These. Courtney: Trends Like These is an Internet news show where we take the stories trending on social media, and go beyond the headlines! Travis: We'll give you the actual facts of the story, and not just the knee-jerk reactions. Brent: Plus we end every episode with a ray of hope that we call The Wi-Five of the Week. Travis: So join us every Friday on Maximum Fun. Courtney: Or wherever you get your podcasts! Brent: Trends Like These. Real life friends talking Internet trends.  [Music ends.]

biz

Do you think that poetry is like those songs that like Daniel Tiger’s mother always—y’know, like, we’re always like, ah, if there was a way—maybe if I sing it it’ll feel better?

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Like, maybe there’s something about seeing it in poetry? That makes you go, oh.

theresa

Like—my life is actually beautiful!

biz

It’s beautiful. [Theresa laughs.] It’s beautiful. [Laughs.] I love these poems, guys. Love Poems for Married People and Love Poems for People with Children. I cannot recommend it enough. What I also will always recommend, is listening to a mom have a breakdown.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Okay. So this is a rant. I’m standing in the stupid Target line— [Biz laughs.] Um, and—which, to start off with, there’s like more than enough people in this Target ‘cause it’s Christmastime and I’m shopping. And all I want is a dustpan. So I go to Target and I get in this stupid line and everyone in front of me is buying everything and in the course of, like, our shopping, of course my, like, 21-month-old has picked up a stupid $5 toy that I’m not gonna buy for him but I’m gonna let him hold ‘til we get to the register because he’s almost two and because he does things like have tantrums if he sits in the carseat for too long. Anyway, the lady in front of us turns around and says, oh, does he like that strawberry thing? And I say, yeah. I said I’m not gonna buy it for him, but yeah. And she picks up the puzzle that she has in her hands and says, oh, well this is actually really good too! It has numbers on it and, y’know, my son is—my grandson is two and he’s already counting all the way up to 100! Fuck you, Target lady! [Biz laughs.] My son is 21 months old, and he hasn’t talked yet! Besides to say “mama,” “dada,” and “moo” and “baa.” Okay? So why—what is your need? What is your need here to, like, brag to me about your grandson who’s just so smart and counting all the way up to 100. My kid has sensory processing disorder! And he was a preemie! And he was three pounds when he was born! And I just don’t—really, really, really, really, really, really don’t like it when other people out in public make me feel shitty for what my child can do at his age. I just don’t like it. How about if you really wanna comment, how about you just turn around and say, oh my god! He’s so cute! What is—what is the deal? So that’s my rant. I’m really upset. I know I’m gonna come across this the rest of my life with my kid, but I just—just stop it! Just stop making me feel shitty because my kid is at a different developmental level than yours. Thank you. You guys are doing a good job. Bye.

biz

You are doing… a good job!

crosstalk

Theresa: Uh-huh! You’re doing such a good job! Biz: And—just such a good job!

biz

And I really like the advice— [Laughs.] That you, uh, recommended of—oh my god, that’s a cute baby! You can’t go wrong with “Oh my god, that’s a cute baby!”

theresa

Oh, look how cute your kid is!

biz

Look how cute your kid is! You’re avoiding all the traps. ‘Cause again, we don’t know what somebody’s going through!

theresa

May I also recommend saying, “What a cutie!” or “Look how cute your kid is!” and not gendering your little kid! Like—there’s so many—you can let go of so many additional weird things? [Laughs.] And just limit it to—look at that kid. What a great job you’re doing. Or—look how cute that kid is! ‘Cause all of the kids are cute! That would be true no matter what!

biz

[Laughs.] You won’t be lying!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

And I—like—I just wanna tell you what a good job you’re doing and I—[sighs.] Listening to you talk about the, like… sensation of when this woman said this to you, feeling… like… feeling judged and feeling bad and feeling like, y’know, my kid’s gonna have struggles, y’know. This is gonna be—like… it reminded me a little of like what we were talking about at the beginning. And about like… [sighs.] You are doing a good job? And there’s nothing anyone is ever gonna say that should make you feel like you are not. You are so in the middle of it right now. And with 21 months? The—after—uh, premature birth, after all of those things—I mean, 21 months is not a time—enough time to have processed and, like, integrated those different events.

theresa

Yeah! Well, and there’s also still just, like, a lot you don’t know! Like, you’re just—you’re just living with your kid! And caring for your kid. And learning more about who they are while they become who they are.

biz

That’s right! And as we have proven time and time again, we all feel super responsible for the things that aren’t in our control.

theresa

Yep.

biz

And you—

theresa

I mean, you should be buying the puzzle—

crosstalk

Biz: Oh, obviously! Theresa: —that has the letters on it?

theresa

And the numbers? Because that will make a big difference.

crosstalk

Biz: Oh! It’s a huge difference! Yeah! Yeah! Theresa: It’s better than the strawberry thing that he was holding. [Laughs.]

biz

He clearly is begging for something different than the strawberry thing. Right? Like… what the fuck! [Theresa laughs.] What did—that’s what—I like that this woman’s like—

crosstalk

Biz: What’s the—does he like the strawberry thing? Theresa: So—yeah. Does he like it?

biz

I like that you give such—you gave no shits about the strawberry thing that—I’m like, why would this woman ask about it? Were there numbers on it? Was there an activity related to the strawberry thing, or was it just a fucking strawberry? ‘Cause if it was just a fucking strawberry? This woman… had no right to compare it to a puzzle! [Laughs.]

theresa

It seems like she was—it seems like, from your story, that the woman was looking for an opportunity to talk about her grandchild. Great.

biz

That’s fair.

theresa

Fine.

biz

Mm-hm.

theresa

Great for them. [Laughs.]

biz

Yes. But what do we know? We know… we know nothing about what is going on with other people! And sometimes we can innocently step in it by wanting to talk about our own experiences.

theresa

Mm-hm!

biz

Right? Yes, we all know… we’re not doing it at anybody and they are not doing it at us. None of that takes away from the feeling experiences we have when we run into it.

theresa

Yep.

biz

Okay? And you are doing… a remarkable job.

theresa

Yeah, you are!

biz

You’re in Target and you’re standing up to your 21-month-old about a—to me, I was like—I didn’t know where this was going? But I was like—good job not buying that toy!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

You got this! Right? Like—I—you’re doing such a good job.

theresa

Yes, you are.

biz

Should just be high-fiving at Target all the fucking time. Theresa, what did we learn today? I… I don’t think we’ve done a show like this in a—in a while. But like… I really… feel like… I—I’m not sure I learned anything? Except that, like, the reminder of how… really hard it is? As, like, my voice cracks. [Laughs.] How really hard it is. At different stages. And… y’know, I think I had texted you a show idea about, like, the ebb and flow of how I feel about parenting? But I think we just covered that today. Like, there’s… there are definitely moments where I feel great about [though laughter] life choices and the job I’m doing and my family and, like, all those things. And then just as quickly, I will get hit by the sensation of why am I doing this? I don’t like this at all! Like, at all! I feel bad about it. I don’t like how I feel; I’m feeling tired and depleted and I don’t wanna be yelled at by my kids and like no one understands and I could be doing something else with my life, and—I hate that feeling!

theresa

Yes.

biz

‘Cause I feel like I’m not supposed to feel that way.

theresa

Yes.

biz

And… that is the rub, as it were. Like… I think one of the hardest things about parenting for me is… when I have those feelings, feeling like I’m doing something wrong for having those feelings.

theresa

Yep! Feeling worse because of the feelings.

biz

Yeah! Because of the feelings. Oh, I have to fucking stop that. Y’know? I guess we just learned that kids are all struggling. I like that you kept referring to it as work? They all have their own work that they’re doing? And… that… we as their caretakers have to… live through it.

theresa

Yep!

biz

[Through laughter] I was just—we have feelings, too! We have feelings, too.

theresa

We do. Did you guys know that?

biz

Did you know that?

theresa

Did you guys know that we have feelings? [Laughs.]

biz

We have feelings too, you know. It’s not my fault! This is your fault! You ruined my life! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

I was just gonna say, we definitely deserve trophies for having not ever have said that. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. Yeah. Obviously—[though laughter] this is—this is my safe space to come in and say all the things I’m not gonna say! You guys are like my hotline.

crosstalk

Theresa: [In voice of exaggerated outrage] I ruined everything? I did? [Laughs.] Biz: I ruined— [Laughs.]

biz

Look at yourself! [Laughs.] I could be playing the banjo by now! I could have a—I could be on the stage! Getting my Academy Award! I could be doing… something different! [Theresa laughs.] Definitely enjoying showers with my partner in a different way! God! Your fault! Your fault. On that note—you guys are all doing a remarkable job.

theresa

You are.

biz

We see you. Let’s go out and see each other, and let’s go out and look for those moments when they present themselves that allow us to feel like a self. Step out of our parenting bodies and approach the world as we once did. Theresa? You are doing such a good job.

theresa

Thanks, Biz. So are you.

biz

Thank you. We will talk to you guys next week!

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Byeeee!

music

“Mama Blues” by Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans. Strumming acoustic guitar with harmonica and lyrics. I got the lowdown momma blues Got the the lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues The lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues Got the lowdown momma blues You know that’s right [Music fades somewhat, plays in background of dialogue.]

biz

We’d like to thank MaxFun; our producer, Hannah Smith; our husbands, Stefan Lawrence and Jesse Thorn; our perfect children, who provide us with inspiration to say all these horrible things; and of course, you, our listeners.To find out more about the songs you heard on today’s podcast and more about the show, please go to MaximumFun.org/onebadmother. For information about live shows, our book and press, please check out OneBadMotherPodcast.com.

theresa

One Bad Mother is a member of the Maximum Fun family of podcasts. To support the show go to MaximumFun.org/donate. [Music continues for a while before fading out.]

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

One Bad Mother is a comedy podcast hosted by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn about motherhood and how unnatural it sometimes is. We aren’t all magical vessels!

Join us every week as we deal with the thrills and embarrassments of motherhood and strive for less judging and more laughing.

Call in your geniuses and fails: 206-350-9485. For booking and guest ideas, please email onebadmother@maximumfun.org. To keep up with One Bad Mother on social media, follow @onebadmothers on Twitter and Instagram.

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