TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Ep. 345: What’s It Really Like to Be Home All Day? Plus, Author Ann Napolitano on Creativity, Self Care, and Moving Through Grief

Biz and Theresa talk about what it is REALLY like when we are home all day with the kids…or better yet…the whole family. Be it a weekend, a sick day, school breaks…summer…it seems like a fun idea in theory but there are a LOT of hours in a day. A lot. Sleep isn’t even safe. Plus, Biz is scared of an uncertain future, Theresa is on edge, and we talk to Ann Napolitano’s about her new novel, Dear Edward.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 345

Guests: Ann Napolitano

Transcript

biz ellis

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

theresa thorn

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—so, you’re home all day with the kids! What’s that like? Plus, Biz is scared of an uncertain future; Theresa is on edge; and we talk to Ann Napolitano about her new novel, Dear Edward.

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Wooooo! [Biz extends her ‘woo’ into a song.] [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective weeks.]

biz

Theresa! Before I ask you how you’re doing—

theresa

Yeah.

biz

I’m just gonna shove you aside because there’s something very important. That we need to announce. Max Fun Drive! Is right around the corner! Like, it’s like imminently—

theresa

It’s coming.

crosstalk

Biz: It’s coming up right behind you! Ahhh! What’s that? Theresa: For you. Yeah. [Laughs.]

biz

Back there?! It’s the Max Fun Drive! It’s there! The last two weeks of March—this March! The month that we’re in!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Yeah! March 16th it starts. This is the time—real quick—all I wanna say is: this is the time you wanna be listening to the shows as they come out. And you want to be on the social media with the One Bad Mothers. Okay? So… Twitter. The Facebook. The Instagram. @onebadmothers! You wanna be on it! [High-pitched singing] ‘Cause we made videos again!

theresa

Yeah. We made videos. They’re really fun. [Biz laughs.] And plus, there’s just other stuff that will be going on? Like, outside of the days that the shows come out? There will also be other stuff on other days, One Bad Mother-related. I mean, the whole point of this is fundraising to support the show and keep the show going? But as part of that, we always make sure to also make it fun and do some like community-building things and… connect with you guys a little more than we normally get a chance to during the course of the year. So there’s always fun stuff going on.

crosstalk

Biz: We basically ignore our children and families for like two weeks. It really is. [Laughs.] So— Theresa: It’s actually true! It is actually true. And then at the end—

theresa

—when it’s over we’re like—

crosstalk

Theresa: Where am I? What am I supposed to be doing right now? [Laughs.] Biz: How’d you get so tall? [Laughs.] You’re really tall!

biz

When did that happen? So Max Fun Drive. Coming up. Keep it on your radar. Theresa? How are you?

theresa

Ohhhh! I— [Biz laughs.] —kind of hate everything today. [Biz laughs.] I’m … feeling agitated.

biz

Oh! Agitated!

theresa

Okay. So… [sighs]. I mean, there isn’t even like that much to say! It’s just that’s where I’m at right now? You guys know! When you get to that place! [Biz laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: You’re being stung by a thousand bees all the time! Theresa: We have—

theresa

It is! It’s like—or it’s just like the bees are taking turns. You know? Like, there’s a thousand bees. Some of them are being really friendly and I’m feeling like… oh, I’m good with bees! [Biz laughs.] Like, bees—I know how to be calm with bees and keep calm with them. I know what they need. I know what to do with them. But then simultaneously, some other part of the swarm… is… stinging me! Just over and over again! And then they’re gonna take turns.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

So… I’m a little tired. I—I’m—

biz

Tired of bees? [Laughs.]

theresa

Tired of bees. I’m tired of—trying to sleep when there’s bees around me? Um, and not being able to sleep ‘cause it’s hard to sleep when you’re in a swarm? That’s what it’s called—a swarm, right?

crosstalk

Biz: A swarm, oh yeah! I was thinking— Theresa: Yeah! It’s a swarm of bees.

biz

[Laughs.] Is a group of bees the scientific name “a sack of bananas”? [Theresa laughs.] Or—or is it a swarm? It’s one of the two.

theresa

It’s a sack of bees. [Laughs.]

biz

Ohhh ho ho hoo! Don’t upset it!

theresa

Or a swarm of sacks of bananas.

crosstalk

Biz: Could be a swarm of bananas. [Screaming] Ahhhhh! Theresa: A swarm— [Laughs.] Um—

theresa

Either way, you don’t want ‘em near you!

biz

No! No! The—none of this is enjoyable!

theresa

No. So, uh, let’s see. Gracie is about to transfer schools. The only update on that is I think it’s mostly positive. I’m really excited about the new school. I think it’s gonna be really great. But it’s just that transitional moment right now. So there’s—nobody feels like things are normal right now? Like, even the other kids? Everybody’s a little… just… off their normal track. Like, people—nothing is—there’s no routine. Everything is… everything is iffy! Like, there’s no—no—but you can’t—can’t predict how people are gonna be reacting in any given moment. That’s stressful! [Biz laughs.] Really, really stressful.

biz

[Yelling] It’s iffy!

theresa

And then, like—I have a three-year-old and he—he’s like not napping at home anymore. Which… is okay? It’s like not the end of the world? Like, I’ve been through this before. [Biz laughs.] Like, there’s a lot of other stuff going on so it’s not like my primary thing? But he still really needs a nap? Like, really bad? And so… like, yester—like, Saturday I did the thing of—he just didn’t end up napping ‘cause I just couldn’t get him to take a nap. Like, it just didn’t happen and he was a wreck. And then Sunday he was even more of a wreck ‘cause he hadn’t napped on Saturday and so I ended up, like, driving him to get him to go to sleep and then carrying him in and he ended up taking a really late nap, so then he was up really late. So—so I didn’t have—I didn’t have, like, my time last night? Y’know?

crosstalk

Biz: No, I know. I know “the time.” Yeah! Theresa: And I’m kinda used to that time now?

theresa

And so—then… and now it’s day! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

theresa

[Through laughter] So—

biz

Now it’s day, and the bees are swarming.

crosstalk

Theresa: It’s just all that—and none of it—it’s like— Biz: Yeah! No, it’s all that stuff!

theresa

I could tell you all the details but—you guys know! You guys are living this right along with me.

biz

That’s right!

theresa

It’s—if it’s not one thing it’s the other.

biz

Yeah! [Yelling] Damn the other!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Yeah. No. You’re 100% correct. I like calling it “the case of the ‘ifs.’” Or “a case of the ‘iffys.’”

theresa

It’s iffy. Yeah.

biz

It’s iffy.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

I like that.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

It’s—

theresa

It’s iffy!

biz

Iffy!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Yeah. Well—I do just want to say—side note, real quick—good job with all that you are doing and handling in terms of Gracie’s school stuff.

theresa

Oh, thanks!

biz

You are doing a good job. Like, being her advocate. And like, it’s a lot of change. Change is scary for some of us. And like… you never know what—it just opens a whole sack of bananas?

theresa

It does.

biz

And yet… you’re doing it.

theresa

I am.

crosstalk

Theresa: Thank you. Biz: And I just wanna say I see you.

theresa

Thank you!

biz

You’re welcome!

theresa

I really appreciate that.

biz

It’s a big deal.

theresa

No, I—that means a lot to me.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

Yes. Thank you. How are you?

biz

I have a case of the iffys.

theresa

Uh-huh.

biz

But it’s— [Laughs.] It’s more about—okay. Alright. You—you might’ve heard that something called the… coronavirus—COVID-19—little thing happening. Right? And, uh, first, I just want to say that a good place for information is the World Health Organization and the CDC.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

These are two really good resources to be going to get questions answered and information you may need. But in terms of the iffy, I find myself in this uncertain place of… is this a flu? Is it… the Black Death? But one thing I feel more certain about than the future of what the virus actually is and will do— [though laughter] is that there’s a really good chance they’re gonna shut down some schools and shit?

theresa

Oh, yeah.

biz

I mean, we’re in California, guys. They’re gonna shut down some stuff. And we’re all gonna have to stay home.

theresa

Hmmm.

biz

And to me? That currently—‘cause I don’t know what to do about the virus! I’ma keep washing my hands!

crosstalk

Theresa: Right! That one isn’t—really on you. Exactly. Yeah. Biz: Yeah! That’s actually—it’s not on me!

biz

I’m just gonna wash my hands and cough into my elbow and do all the hygiene stuff I know I’m supposed to do. Be a little more fervent on “stop picking your nose. Stop picking your nose” on my kids. Right? But like—what I feel fairly certain about is there’s going to be a moment in which we might have to stay home for an extended, unplanned, period of time. [Laughs.] [Through laughter] That’s gonna be a shit-ton scarier than the virus! Uh—and that is in no disrespect to this virus! Okay? And to, like, the—like, the real problems that have come along with this virus for many people in the world. But it does tie in nicely to what we are gonna talk about today, which is—what is it really like when you stay at home… all day… with the kids?

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 and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss the weekly topic.]

biz

Theresa. You’re staying home all day with the kids. Whether it is… the choice ‘cause you’re a stay-at-home parent? Whether it is a holiday break? Whether it is… summer? Whether it is… vacation? Pretyt much any time you’re home—like, a weekend. [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: I was gonna interject that! Yeah! Yeah. I think weekends are— Biz: A weekend! Yeah, I forgot about that one. A weekend. Where—

theresa

—even more—just because, like, if you’re a stay-at-home parent you usually aren’t staying home with your kids all day during the week?

crosstalk

Theresa: Like, you’re doing—you’re doing errands or doing an activity. Yeah. Biz: Maybe you have an activity.

biz

But weekends, it—none of this—I am not including sick days in this.

theresa

Okay.

biz

Just because… sick days sometimes feel like a pass for television all day. Right? Like—or there might be sleeping. The child is not at their full capacity.

theresa

Okay.

biz

Okay? So—

theresa

Got it.

biz

That works as an advantage to me? If my child is not at… full given— [Laughs.] Lawrence-child potential? Then… that doesn’t stress me out as much. So I—I—I would like to not include sick days. If that is alright. [Deep breath, then exclamatory voice] Ohhhh!

theresa

So my only thing about that? Is like… sometimes if you have more than one kid, you’re staying at home all day because one kid is sick, but the other kids are not. But you’re still making the decision we’re just gonna all stay home today.

biz

We’re gonna all stay home. Okay.

theresa

You know what I mean? Like—

biz

Well, that, I think—that is, I think, its own unique thing. So I think that could be included. Okay. So—at least—

crosstalk

Theresa: It’s like any— Biz: 15% of your house is— [Laughs.] at full capacity.

theresa

Yeah. You’re not just like tending to a sick person all day. You’re also doing other—you’re making a plan to be at home all day. Yeah.

biz

Alright. So—you wake up. [Theresa laughs.] They’re gonna be there all day. And then you’re gonna go to sleep. But I wanna—as I was writing that out in my notes, and until they’re with you—you’re all there—until you go to bed. And then I thought, well, that’s not a true statement. Because what is going to bed? Sometimes it’s just having your kids at home all night, possibly waking you up. So you’re not—it’s not like you’re like—ah! End of day.

theresa

Right.

biz

Time for rest and repose.

theresa

Right.

biz

It’s—it could be a complete carnival. All night. So… with that said, I just wanna ask, like—initial thought. Like, your initial instinct. Theresa! You’re staying home all day. With your children. Initial thought!

theresa

Great.

biz

Okay.

theresa

If I’m being honest.

biz

Okay! Okay! That is honest!

theresa

It is—yeah. Can I say why?

biz

Yeah!

theresa

Okay. I… think that… usually when I’m—when I make that decision? Like, I think we’re just gonna stay home all day? It comes to me—as a bit of a relief? Because for me, I—well, I’m kind of a homebody but I also… find it just really challenging to leave the house with my kids? Like, that—that’s hard and being out in the world is anxiety-provoking for me, especially with my kids? And so the idea of staying home? Feels… like—like—it’s like—less energy. It seems—

crosstalk

Theresa: —seems when I think about it as, like— Biz: Right. This is initial—

theresa

Initially, I don’t have to go anywhere. I can just stay in my pajamas. We can do stuff at home. It will be okay. We don’t have to deal with leaving the house and all that that entails. Like, it feels like I’m taking stuff off my plate when I initially think of it. Yes.

biz

When you think of staying home. With the kids. That… makes sense. My initial thought is… [yelling] Oh no!

theresa

Right.

biz

I have the complete opposite. I mean, I—I am sort of a homebody. But I like to be an alone-body.

theresa

Right.

biz

[Laughs.] Like—I—so—my first instinct is… like… no. And the—this is… this is interesting. I wanna say why I think it’s no. And I think it’s because when the kids were younger—Katy Belle is 10, Ellis is 6—so I had a couple years with Katy Belle at home… as—by herself. And then Ellis was a baby and I still had to do stuff with Katy Belle at home for various times—weekends; Stefan travelled a lot; all that stuff. I used to make plans! We would—I had plans for us! We would go out or I’d come up with art projects or I would come up with science experiments. We had bubbles in the backyar—I mean, like, every once in a while I’d walk to the garage and I’m like, oh, I remember we used to do that all the time! [Laughs.] Right? And I think my “oh no!” is that I’ve definitely stopped? My first instinct is not “what shall we do? What fun thing can I plan to do with the kids”? And also… the sort of reality that if I do do all that, one of ‘em’s not gonna wanna do it or they’re gonna complain about it or it’s gonna lead to a fight. Or… it’s just gonna be a lot of work and I’m just gonna tell ‘em to watch TV while I clean it all up. Right? And like— [Theresa laughs.] And so I’m just like—eh… like—yeah! And I have found that… the day—like, even if the night before I’m like, thi—we’re all home, man! This is where we all are! Tomorrow? We are home. It’s Saturday or it’s whatever. That… I… have anxiety a little bit the night before if I don’t feel like we’ve made any sort—like, free-range days? Do not work well! They just don’t. Like, “everybody go do your own thing! We’ll figure it out as we go!” I find causes more trouble.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

And… two, when I wake up—even if I wake up thinking—we’re gonna do it! An hour in to the day, I’m like—I’m done! I don’t wanna be near anybody!

theresa

Are they done, too?

crosstalk

Theresa: Or is it just—they’re fine. Interesting. Biz: No, they’re fine. It’s just me.

biz

It’s just me. So…

theresa

‘Cause I feel like I have a little bit of that? Like, I have that—so—the way I was describing what—like, my feelings about it? It does—it’s not really accurate. That’s just my feeling. And so then when we actually do a day like this, I totally have that thing where—it’s not an hour in, it’s usually like a few hours in? That it starts to feel like—ohhh. [Biz laughs.] This is bad! This is very bad. [Biz laughs.] [Through laughter] This is not—we need to go somewhere. And usually the worst part about that is usually with my kids—unless we’ve been really clear from the get-go that at 1PM we are going to do x, y, and z out of the house? My kids—by the time it’s 1PM, they’re like, I’m not going anywhere today. I’m staying home all day. Like, they—they—they’re not ready for that. And it’s a—and it’s a whole thing. So… I have to—I have to plan ahead, too. And… it’s definitely more… I think it’s definitely more them than it is me. Because I [though laughter] still don’t wanna go anywhere. I’m still happy being at home. Like, I can busy myself at home, no problem. But for them, they’ve sort of… started climbing the walls. Like, they might not be… like, conscious of it. But their moods have gone south. Like, they need more—and this is even—I’m not talking about—that we’ve spent all morning on screens.

crosstalk

Theresa: I’m talking about, like— Biz: No! Yeah, just—

theresa

Even if there were no screens all morning, by, like, one o’clock? It’s like people need… real fresh air. Like, really to get—at least go for a long walk. Y’know? Um, or at least play outside for a while. Which makes me think about… like… we are very privileged to live in a place where most of the time, the weather is conducive to going outside in some way, shape, or form!

biz

That is true!

theresa

And there’s plenty of—I mean, like… you guys who have snow days regularly… and have days where you really—

biz

Can’t?

theresa

You really can’t or shouldn’t— [Biz laughs.] —go out unless it’s an emergency, like, I feel like you guys have a special—it’s like—it’s like me just like assuming, well they must know how to do this. [Biz laughs wildly.] Like, they must—‘cause they do this regularly! So they must—

crosstalk

Theresa: But I’m—I have a hunch— Biz: [Sarcastically] They know how to handle that!

theresa

—that like everything in parenting, you—it’s something people get better and better at over time but it’s still—there are some things that are just way fucking harder than other things in parenting, depending on your circumstances.

biz

I don’t think I’m getting better and better at, like—for example—the staying home thing. Like, that’s interesting! Like, I feel—

theresa

But you would if you had to.

crosstalk

Theresa: Like, you would if you— Biz: Right! But, like—

theresa

If you knew that—like if you knew that they’re gonna be home for a couple weeks, you would be like—I need to…

crosstalk

Biz: Well, we say that but we always hear— Theresa: —win this. Like—

biz

—“Summer Break” and I come back like a shell of a person! [Theresa laughs.] Like, I always know what’s—‘cause Spring Break’s just around the corner!

theresa

True.

biz

I got nothing!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

So… listening to you talk about… “I’m happy at home; I can find something to do—it’s the kids,” I feel like—and I feel like this is true for me too, when I think we’re home all day. But I’m—I’m hanging out with like… my roommates. Like, we’re all gonna be… like…

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Hanging out, like—watching movies. Then we’ll all go do our own thing—

theresa

For a little while.

biz

Maybe we’ll—

crosstalk

Theresa: —make a meal together. Yeah. [Laughs.] Biz: —put on a record!

biz

Like, we can read—but I mean, like, everybody’s happy doing their own thing! Yeah! I could stay at home all day with my family if that was the case! But it’s not.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

It’s not. And… there are definitely these windows and phases where they want total opposite things. So let’s say we were to be like—alright, we have to get out of the house. Let’s go to X. One will be like, yes! The other will be like, no. And then it’s like—do you have to do the—well, you’re coming. Right? And then you’re—we’re all miserable again because somebody’s in a Mood. Right? And something that I think I wanna make—

theresa

Or in my case, I can’t—

crosstalk

Theresa: —if it’s just me and there are three people—three kids— Biz: Physically get you—yeah. Yes!

theresa

I can’t make them go on a walk if one of them doesn’t want to. Unless it’s Curtis, in which case I could carry him? But—and I’ve—have to carry Grace and Oscar sometimes in life? But I’m not gonna carry them for a whole walk! I can’t do that.

biz

Yeah! It’s really hard. I feel like—that’s a struggle. Trying to get everybody on the same page.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

It’s a—being home all day with your family makes you really aware of how… you’re all people. With different… desires. And I—

theresa

It’s like the bees, man!

biz

It’s like the bees!

crosstalk

Theresa: Some of the bees are doing one thing. Some of the bees are— [Laughs.] Biz: It’s like, staying—yep. Some of the bees—

biz

Y’know, when it’s—when no one’s staying home, when it’s a school day, everybody’s like—let’s have games! Let’s play games! Blah, blah, blah! Alright. We’re home all day—let’s play games! [Sullen voice] “No.” Or “I wanna play this. I don’t wanna play that.” [High-pitched, frustrated tone] Oh my God! [Regular voice] Like, I find myself… by two o’clock being like—that’s it! I am tired of the yelling. For no reason. I am tired of the “everything is awful.” [Theresa laughs.] Right? Like—blech! It’s not awful! You have—you are like—you—[sullen voice] “I don’t know what to do!” I do! Let’s get garbage bags and go through your room and throw away all your stuff!

theresa

[Through laughter] Oh my god! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

biz

Right? Like—[sullen voice] “No. More.” Something I realized as well— [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Something I realized as well is—there’s an assumption that— [Theresa laughs.] —when we say we’re home all day with kids, that it’s just us!

theresa

Right.

biz

It’s not!

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Sometimes.

biz

Weekends.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

For example.

theresa

Some weekends.

crosstalk

Theresa: Depending on your family. Biz: Some weekends, depending on your family.

biz

Right. At some point, you’re all there. If you are in a partnered relationship.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

You’re alllll there. And that… adds a different twist.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

To the experience.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Yeah! Maybe we’ll— [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] The end!

theresa

The end of that! [Biz laughs.] Tangent.

crosstalk

Theresa: Tangent over. Biz: But like— [Laughs.]

biz

But in reality, it is like… maybe… the—we definitely had days where like Stefan will be like—alright. This weekend, I’m gonna take the kids to do this, this, this, and this! And I’m like, that is great. But by like ten o’clock, there’s been no movement towards this, this, and this. Or… like, it’s been very easily sidetracked into doing that. Right? And then it’s like—it’s getting pretty late! Do they know that there’s a this, this, and that? Are you gonna—lots of times, by like three o’clock, I’ll be like—I feel like the jerk ‘cause like—were you guys gonna—

crosstalk

Biz: —go out? Theresa: Were you still gonna go somewhere? [Laughs.]

biz

And do that thing? And he’ll be like—no. Everybody seems pretty happy around here. And I’m like, I’m not happy around here. I expected you guys to go out! Like, I had some expectat—right? Like—even though I get it, but I’m like… and that’s all about the two of us operating—

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Differently.

theresa

Yes.

biz

In how we see the children’s, like, emotional needs. [Laughs.]

theresa

Right.

biz

Right? In terms of prep, not-prep. Things like that. And that’s fine. I am—but like—[long pause]. That can really throw a monkey wrench in it? Or, like—Stefan and I have had to work really hard on communicating, like… if he says he’s got work to do? When we’re all home? I’m like—I need you to tell me what that means.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Is that two hours? I’m gonna add an hour to that. Is that, like, you need to be in the house or out of the house—when is that time gonna be? Like—

theresa

That’s really smart.

biz

We have to do—but even then, it—it’s still not perfect! ‘Cause sometimes, I’ll have ot be like—and you have to announce when you’re going to do it. You can’t just wander off ‘cause we’re watching television. I won’t have realized that the worktime has started. [Laughs.] ‘Cause like—when this is over, am I now responsible—right? Like—I feel… it’s very easy for communication to get lost?

theresa

That’s true.

biz

When we’re—

crosstalk

Biz: Allllll… Home. Theresa: When we’re all home. I’m totally with you on that.

biz

Because we’ve—that’s how we get to like the default parent thing. Like, one parent happens to be doing something with the kids and the other parent will just slip away—

theresa

Yeah! Sure!

biz

And then that—and then the parent doing something with the kids is like, well I’m done doing this thing. Am I just… parenting now? Am I—is it just me?

crosstalk

Theresa: Like, do I—Yeah! Do I— Biz: Do I need to set a timer? Yeah.

theresa

Do I come up with something new? Should we…

biz

Yeah! And then I feel like the joke is like—how much longer are you working? And then—

theresa

Or like—are you—

crosstalk

Theresa: Like, ‘cause Jesse—well, ‘cause yeah! Biz: Are you working?! [Laughs.]

theresa

‘Cause Jesse has, like, a home office. And he mostly is working when he’s in there. But sometimes he’s not. Sometimes he just goes in there because we’re doing something else that he’s not involved in, and sometimes I’m a little bit, like… it’s okay if you’re working, but like… are you—if you’re not working, can you like come back? [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! Because whoever—

crosstalk

Theresa: ‘Cause I’m done. [Laughs.] Biz: —it falls to—

biz

—primary parent-wise in those situations, it’s like, alright. Am I about to have to, like, also… like… come up with… like, being in charge? Of shifting the responsibility as well?

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Or… can we all do it together? Right? Y’know, like—yeah. It is… I think there’s this fantasy of… “We’re all gonna play board games! We’re all gonna have a singalong! We’re all going to the park!” And then reality sets in and it’s like, you guys go to the park. I’m gonna do this thing here that I need to do. Or… maybe three of us are supercompetitive and one of us is not. [In an aside-voice] Stefan. [Regular voice] And so gameplay may not be as much fun. Right? Like, there are—we’ll all go outside but somebody’s got a magazine. [Laughs.] What does that mean? Right? Like—and I think— [Theresa laughs.] Why? [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: That is— Biz: Right?

theresa

Fucking hilarious. [Biz laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: Right? Where you’re like— Theresa: “We’re all gonna go outside but somebody’s”—yeah.

biz

But somebody’s got a magazine. [Laughs.] That’s telling a story.

theresa

It is.

biz

Right? And so— [Laughs.]

theresa

We have that, only it’s—we’re all gonna go for a hike to the lake. And somebody brought a book. [Biz laughs.] To read at the lake. [Laughs.]

biz

I know! But— [Laughs.] That is indicating… a separate set of plans.

theresa

It is! It really is.

biz

It’s so—I think… if we were gonna wrap— [Theresa laughs.] —up the discussion of… being home all day with your family, I think we’ve gotta bridge the gap between—yay! It’s a stay-home day! We’re all in our twenties. [Laughs.] That’s how this is gonna go down. And… a lot of communication about expectations from the people in the house that may actually be over twenty. Right? And—

theresa

More than usual.

biz

Right! And so—just to come back to the idea—I just wanna end on this—this very funny story.

theresa

Okay.

biz

I was saying to Stefan—if we were to have to be… like… at home.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

For, like, quote-unquote “quarantine” period, ‘cause schools are shut and work’s shut—whatever. What do you see us doing? Like, what do you—like, what’s one of your ideas? And he was like… okay. I think we would probably do some sort of, like, epic… Rube Goldberg, like, marble run that starts at one side of the house and we work on it all day and it— [Laughs.] And it build—like, it goes through and we do this whole thing! And I was like—that… has—that’s a really good idea. The first idea I had? Was like… movie marathon for three weeks? [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah.

biz

It’s time to watch every episode of Happy Days[Theresa laughs.] —ever made. Right? Like— l[Laughs.] just like—I think there’s this image, like, of “We’re all home. Something serious is happening. So we’re all gonna, like, Laura Ingalls out. And like, totally like… bond as a family in a way. And like… really—the kids are gonna understand that like, this isn’t about just watching TV. We’re gonna, like, really—blehhhh do something like life change—and then I’m like, it ain’t gonna be like that at all. We’re going to be so angry at each other in like— [Theresa laughs.] —48 hours. [Laughs.]

music

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

music

Laid-back acoustic guitar plays in the background.

theresa

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biz

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theresa

For a limited time, when listeners go to Grove.co/mother, you will get a free five-piece cleaning set from Mrs. Meyers and Grove. That’s a $30 value! So go to Grove.co/mother! [Music slowly fades out.]

clip

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.

biz

Genius fail time, Theresa. Genius me!

clip

Music: Dramatic, swelling symphonic 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! [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective genius moments of the week.]

theresa

I realized that I don’t really need to tell Oscar to buckle his seatbelt anymore. And this is why this is a genius—there was a time where I was so irritated with how long it would take him to… realize he was in the car.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

Sit down in his seat. Find the seatbelt. Untwist it or whatever it needs, ‘cause it’s still—he has the—like, high-back booster thing? So sometimes it’s twisted. Whatever. And then buckle himself in. And so even when I was trying to be really calm? I would tell him-slash-ask him to buckle his seatbelt, like… ten—ten times. Like, ten different ways. ‘Cause he would als—he would always be talking at the same time about something. And I would say, like, y’know—can you buckle yourself in and then we can talk about it. Or like, strap yourself in! Here we go! We gotta go! I can’t go until you strap yourself in! I have a snack for you! You can’t have it ‘til you strap yourself in! We’re—okay! I hear you? But can you please strap yourself in before—like, just so—and I just got so tired of hearing my own voice and waiting for this to happen. And the—I just started to realize—he just takes a little longer to do it? Than I want him to? But he knows what he needs to do and he does it! So if I just… use that time to… strap Curtis into his carseat and get myself in the car; turn on the car; buckle myself in and, like, plug my phone in or whatever—

biz

Yeah! All the stuff.

theresa

By the time I do all that, the car is on and he knows he needs to be buckled in and he’s always buckled in by then! Like, I don’t need to, like, manage it! I just need—I do need to help him, like, get to the car.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

But like… he knows—like—I—it was like that thing where I was like—oh. He knows what to do. I don’t need to be in—like, I can just shut up!

biz

You tried something different!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

You—what a good job!

crosstalk

Theresa: Yeah. It’s so much better this way, by the way. [Laughs.] Biz: That’s so much better! Yeah.

biz

That’s amazing! Okay. I’m… reading again.

theresa

Oh!

biz

It’s not like, a lot. It’s not like I’m, y’know, I don’t have a stack by the bed? But it all started with, like… uh, the latest Lee Child beat’em’up Jack Reacher book that I really like. And those are all—I’m always like, when one of those come out, they’re just really fun to read. And I like to read them. So I’m able to kind of commit. Then I followed that up with another book—the Elvis Cole Joe Pike series by Robert Crais—and I was like—oh! There’s a new one of those! And I went to the library and I got it and I was like—oh! This is a pleasure to read! Like, when I’m waiting to pick up the kids! Or—y’know? Like, I’ve been reading in different times. Not reading before bed, actually.

theresa

Wow.

biz

I’m reading, like, waiting—if I get to the school a little early. Ten minutes here—

theresa

Like, times where you would be on your phone!

biz

Yes! Times where I would be on my phone, I am instead reading. And I think because I kind of was doing it with two books that, like, I know are comfort zones for me? I then was like—I have this stack of cozy mysteries that—because of a book club that my sister gets me every year. I get cozy sent to me every month! I was like, eh, let’s just see what happens if I keep doing this! And I just keep the book in my purse or in my car like I used to before phones in New York where every time I was waiting in line I had a book. Right? Like… that’s how I used to live!

theresa

Yes!

biz

And I’ve been enjoying it tremendously! And—

crosstalk

Biz: I’ve got the little notice from my phone that was like— Theresa: I really wanna do that.

biz

“Your screentime is down by” like, y’know, “25%” And I was like—that’s great! ‘Cause usually it’s just garbage that I’m doing. Anyhoo! I feel really, really good about it.

theresa

That’s awesome.

biz

Yes. Thank you.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother! I am calling with a genius! Um, and this is the second time I’ve done this so I’m hopoing I didn’t already call the first time— [Theresa laughs.] —but it’s that much of a genius that I am this excited. So often I am… trying to eat my breakfast in the car, taking my son, y’know, wherever. He’s almost two. And instead of eating a granola bar or string cheese I wanted to have actual food? Um, so I tried making oatmeal but… it’s much better when it’s hot and it’s hard to get it to fit in my car without spilling. So I used my little coffee thermos? So it sits in my cupholder? And it keeps it warm the whole time that I’m eating it! And I feel like a genius for having a hot, actual food breakfast on-the-go. You’re doing a great job, and so am I. bye.

biz

I love this!

theresa

Yeah! It’s great!

biz

This is multifunctional, though. This isn’t just, like, about, like, hot oatmeal for you? Which is also—that is really good.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

To have, like, something warm like that in your car? Like, that’s nice in the morning when you’re like bleccch. Right? But it’s also a potential thing for kids! Like… if you also needed to have something war—like—I just realized, like, listening to you I was like—I send soup to school with my kids in a thermos. Why can’t I send oatmeal? To school for their lunch?

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Oh yeah. It’s about to be oatmeal lunch week! [Theresa laughs.] Anyway, you are a genius. Good job taking care of yourself! Good job using, uh, the materials at hand. You are doing… a great job. Failures.

clip

Music: Dramatic, tense 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 and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective failures of the week.]

biz

Fail me, Theresa.

theresa

Okay. So I recently talked about on the show that I have been using this book called Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and it has been really, really helpful. The fail is, I… thought that I could just do it myself. And Jesse would be able to… just not read the book and kind of just pick up on stuff I was doing and I could just like tell him little tidbits. Um, which he’s really receptive to? But like… it’s not the same as reading the book? And so there have just been some thing—like, there’s things about this approach that are really spec—like, really specifically different from things that we have done in our house? And… I just… it’s like one of those things where I would just—I think I just was too tired. To do the extra-heavy lifting of being, like, let’s talk this through, like, together, as coparents. How we’re going to handle these kinds of things when they come up. I just kind of thought… oh, I’ll just hope for the best. Like, we’ll just figure it out. And yesterday, in the evening, we had like a huge conflict with one of our kids. That Jesse and I were both there for and so we were both handling it in totally different ways that were not conducive. [Laughs.]

biz

Mmmm. Yes.

theresa

And it just made everything soooo much worse, so quickly. And it was so hard for me to… figure out how to walk it back, and at one point I just said to him, like—I’m just gonna ask you to, like, not be part of this anymore? And I’m gonna do it? And he was like—yes. Like—

crosstalk

Theresa: He—he was like—like, we— Biz: Yeah. No, he knew. Yeah.

theresa

We were being good to each other? We just didn’t—we just couldn’t do the thing together. At all. And so he was like, yeah. Sure. Definitely. Like— [Biz laughs.] —whatever—y’know, whatever you think. But it was like, pretty much too late at that point? And so then… he… came home—he had to go out? He had to go to work and then he came home later and I was like, I know we really need to like talk about this? But I’m so tired right now I—like, I can’t. And now I’m just like—I don’t think—-like, I don’t even know when that will be? And so… I think I just have to… have him read the book? I guess? And—but—do you know what I mean? Like, I just—it’s not even—I—it’s not even a fail… exactly? Except for that… I just hate that it has to be so complicated. Like, I just hate—how many steps are involved in this.

crosstalk

Biz: There are a lot of layers. Yeah! There are a lotta layers. Theresa: In getting better at this! Like—

biz

In this “getting better at this” onion. And so—yeah. No, I—I get where the fail is lurking about.

theresa

Yes. Thank you.

biz

Well, you’re doing a horrible job—

crosstalk

Biz: —at trying to make a difference in how you parent. Theresa: Oh, I know. [Laughs.]

biz

You should just use that book the way it was intended and throw it at the door when you’re mad! [Theresa laughs.] It’s dumb, but [goofy laughter] still feel [blows raspberry]. Last night, I bit my tongue. And I bit it like almost…

theresa

Oooh!

biz

Like, almost a little piece of it off.

theresa

Oh my god!

biz

Yeah. It hurt. It hurt so bad. Like, I bit it while eating hot fondue. [Laughs.]

theresa

Ohhhh!

biz

And then I had to stop eating the fondue.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

And… which was sad. ‘Cause I was not yet full of cheese.

theresa

That’s so sad!

biz

And I was like sticking it in a glass of water, like—and his parents were there—

theresa

Oh no.

biz

And I was like—now I’ve just stopped eating and suddenly I’m not like, I’m like sticking things in water and trying to do compresses on it. Y’know. Just to get it to stop—and… uh… it like—I mean, it hurt all night. It was not good. And then… I… like, had to read to the kids and I was like—uh, this is really hard to read to the kids! Right? Accents are hard with a tongue injury! And then this morning I woke up and I was like, tongues are amazing. Look at how it’s, like, healed.

theresa

Oh!

biz

And like, really, like, back and this is good. And then with my very first bite— [Theresa gasps.] —of oatmeal! I did not necessarily bite it? But I did something to it. And it immediately reminded me… you’re not okay.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

And… Uh… it just feels like… it—see—it’s not like it’s like a fail like I’ve, y’know, ruined my children’s life or anything? But like— [Laughs.] It just feels like… another thing?

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

That makes things a little harder?

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Especially things that I enjoy like talking?

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

And eating.

theresa

Yeah. Sounds like being a person.

biz

Yeah! Being a—a person. Fail. Oh. Tongues! [Theresa laughs.] Who needs ‘em?

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hey, Biz! And Theresa. This is Tyler, with a fail. I was gonna call you yesterday because I rolled up to work in my husband’s car without the key I needed to open the entire shop. Um, and was like—goddammit I did it again. Was like, the third time I’ve driven my husband’s car to work and not had my work key. So luckily my husband was off and he just drove me the key and it really [inaudible] whatever. But then today, we switched back? And uh… and my key was still on my husband’s keychain when I drove my car to work. [Theresa laughs quietly.] So I got to work today with no key. Again. And I just… think it’s, like, of course.

biz

Oh, yeah.

theresa

Yeah. You’re just failing all over the place.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

You have… used a… failure key to unlock the… failure offices! [Theresa laughs.] You are doing… it does stink when you’re like—ahhhhh and then it’s the next day and it’s on the keychain. Or it’s in the purse. Or it’s in the other pants or it’s in the—right? Like… you’re doing—y’know—this is all because… you’re trying to be a person in the world. With kids. In your life. So, y’know. You’re doing a horrible job! [Laughs.] Definitely.

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.]

music

Quiet, jazzy piano music plays in background.

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Third Love. Surprise! Not all boobs are alike. [Theresa laughs.] That is why I love [through laughter] my Third Love bra! Because they have half-cup sizes! As well as all the regular cup sizes. Uh, which makes it much easier to find a bra that fits!

theresa

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biz

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biz

This week’s interview with Ann Napolitano has a brief discussion about the subject matter of her new book, which involves a plane crash with only one survivor, who is a child. We talk about moving through anxiety as a parent. Hey, Theresa! Let’s call someone today!

music

Upbeat guitar with choral voices.

biz

Theresa. This week, we are talking to Ann Napolitano. Her new novel, Dear Edward, debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List! She is also the author of the novels A Good Hard Look and Within Arm’s Reach. She received an MFA from New York University. She has taught fiction writing for Brooklyn College’s MFA program; New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies; and for Gotham Writers’ Workshop! She is also the associate editor of One Story Literary magazine. Welcome, Ann!

ann napolitano

Thank you for having me!

biz

Oh, thank you for coming. Everybody should just let everyone know… I know Ann. [All laugh.] She and my sister—Helen Ellis—they have known each other for a very long time. And have been… doing a writer’s workshop together with another author, Hannah Tintini, and they—it’s amazing. That they continue to workshop their books with each other for—how long has it been?

ann

I think 24 years.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

Wow.

biz

I know! It’s—

ann

I know. It’s crazy.

theresa

That’s cool.

biz

It really is! It really [through laughter] is so cool. [Ann laughs.] It’s so cool! Um… alright. Before we get in to all the things we can talk about today, let us ask you—who lives in your house?

ann

My husband lives in my house with me, and then I have two sons. I have a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old.

biz

Oh my god.

crosstalk

Biz: Are you enjoying…? Ann: I don’t have any pets. I’m sorry.

biz

You have what?

ann

I don’t have any pets. I’m sorry.

biz

That’s okay. That’s—it’s okay. [Through laughter] You’ve got enough. [Laughs.] You’ve got—you’ve got tweens in your house, Ann! How’s that going?

ann

I know! I can’t believe it.

biz

Is anybody starting to, like, moustache out? Is that too early to like ‘stache out? [Laughs.]

ann

No, my—my 12-year-old doesn’t have a stache yet, but he grew six inches in the last year.

crosstalk

Theresa: Ohhhhh… my… god. Biz: [Through laughter] Ohhhhh!

ann

He’s 5’11”.

biz

Oh!

theresa

Wow.

ann

He’s 12 years old.

theresa

Wow.

ann

It’s insane.

crosstalk

Biz: That’s— Theresa: Yeah. Ann: Yeah. It’s really weird—

ann

When your kids, like, truly morph? It’s very, very strange.

biz

Whoa. Yeah! I was gonna say—[through laughter] what is that? Like, is it—was it gradual? Or was it like… he just woke up and came out and was like— [Theresa laughs.] [Deep voice] “Mom.” I’m—his voice changed. But I’m like—the six inches, to me, means he’s like shipping off to college tomorrow!

ann

I know! I—when I walk down the street with him and he still want—he still wants to hold my hand? And I’m like, from the back people think I’m walking with like my boyfriend. [Biz laughs.] Like, I know it looks like—it’s like my—still my child. And then he turns around and he has like a baby face.

biz

Babies!

theresa

That’s very sweet.

biz

That is sweet. And… terrifying. Uh—

ann

I know! [Biz laughs.]

biz

I keep—I am gonna derail. I keep thinking about the story when… he was three. And… you were talking about the fact that he didn’t need anything else from you. He’s three! He had announced, y’know, “I don’t need you to open this door for me. I don’t need anything else! I am three. I can do it myself.” And now he’s 12! And—

ann

I know. And he still needs me. [All laugh.]

biz

It’s all a lie!

theresa

Yes! I love it when we prove them wrong!

crosstalk

Biz: [Yelling] You’re wrong! Ann: I know! Over and over again, much to my detriment.

ann

It’s all the work that I [inaudible].

biz

Right.

theresa

True.

biz

You’re like—this is how you open the door, dammit! [All laugh.]

ann

Exactly. Exactly.

biz

Alright. Well let’s talk about Dear Edward. It’s your new novel, and it’s about a boy who’s—[Laughs.] Happy story alert! The only survivor of a plane crash. It is… uh, it’s really a remarkable book and I guess I have to start with—what inspired Dear Edward? What inspired this?

ann

Uh, there was a real—I became obsessed with a story that was in the news, basically, is the origin of it. And… in 2010 there was a real plane crash, um, there was a flight from South Africa down from London and it crashed in Libya. And there was only one survivor, and it was a nine-year-old Dutch boy. And they found him like a half-mile away from the rest of the wreckage? And he was still buckled into his airplane seat.

biz

Whoa.

ann

And he had a punctured lung and a broken leg, but he was otherwise fine? And everyone else in the flight—including his parents and his brother—had died immediately. And, um… it was huge news at the time? Like, no one remembers now because there’s so much that has filled our brains and fallen out the back of it? [Biz laughs.] But, um, but it was like—it was in all the papers. It was—it was completely unavoidable. And I was just—I was immediately… like, obsessed with this story. And with the idea—there was a photo of him in all the articles. One photo of him in his hospital bed? And he was so… beautiful. And so small. And so broken. And… I just thought, like, how can he get out of that hospital bed and walk out of that hospital without his mom and his dad and his brother?

biz

Yeah.

ann

Like, how is that possible and how could he possibly be okay? Ever? Um… and so… in a way, what I tried to do was to—like—create a set of fictional circumstances so that I could prove to myself that there was a way to go through something like that and eventually be okay.

biz

Oh my god. That—[Laughs.]

ann

I know! It sounds really—but I was actually—I’m like—I loved writing this book and it was actually a very joyful writing experience for me? [Biz laughs.] Weirdly enough? Because I had to imagine… what is—what is required in order for a person to be okay after going through something so horrible, is that it requires a lot of kindness from the people around him. And so I spent a long time, like, imagining a very kind world.

biz

Oh. That’s nice.

ann

Yeah.

biz

You’ve got… two kids so I have to… like… ask—because I think it’s pretty normal for a parent to, like, see a story like that or anything. That is… upsetting. Involving a child. And not like going and sitting on their children right away. Right? Like, just…

ann

Yeah.

biz

Sitting on them and being like, that’s it! [Ann laughs.] Locked up! Right? Like—

ann

No more planes. Yep

biz

No more planes! Yeah. No more. In fact, we’re never leaving the house. Enjoy.

ann

Yeah.

biz

So… you said for you, writing this book helped you… imagine this… kind world in which… this boy who survived the plane crash could walk out. How—did it in any way help you—in terms of processing your feelings about your own kids? And… and… what may come their way?

ann

Yeah. I think I was like—I was trying and it—by doing this for this other little boy, I was trying to—I wanted to try and save him. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah.

ann

By writing this book. And I kind of wanted to save my children before they needed to be saved. It was like I—I needed to believe that if something terrible happened to one or both of my children, that there was a way that they could be okay. Even if I wasn’t there to make it so. [Biz groans loudly and at an escalating pitch.] I know! I know. It sounds terrible.

biz

No, but it’s—it’s great!

theresa

I’m just curious—has writing always been… a conscious… like—exercise in… coping with your own anxiety? Is that a common—‘cause it seems like very… it seems like you are very consciously aware of “I am going to do this—” [Biz laughs.] “—so that I can feel better and like move on with my life?” [Ann laughs.] Um, is that—is that something that you’ve always done? Or is that a new thing for you?

ann

I think I’m more conscious now? Of it? I think I always did it, um, innately? I realized at some point like I my 20s—because I don’t write short stories. I only write novels. And if you write novels—like, Dear Edward took me eight years. So. It’s not fast. So… [Biz laughs.] I didn’t get published at all until I was like 31 years old because the first two novels I wrote didn’t sell. Like, didn’t find a publisher. Were not published. And so like when I was like 28 years old, I had told like everyone in my life knew that this was my aspiration. I was like, failing with a capital F. At what I had decided I wanted to do. I was working as a personal assistant to make money, etcetera, but this was like my… goal. And so I got depressed and my father was sending me law school pamphlets in the mail. [Biz laughs.] Which you can relate to, I’m sure, Theresa.

theresa

Horrible.

ann

But I—

theresa

So wrong.

ann

And there was—[Laughs.] Yeah. It was just like a fork in the road and which—which way do you go? But I—I found that the only way for me to climb out of that—my depression at that point? And it was like a legitimate, like, life-altering moment depression—was to write. Like, the only way that I could feel whole again was the act of writing? And at that point—at like, 28—I was just like, oh, okay. In order for my—it’s like your self-care routine gets bigger and bigger as you grow older? At least in my own experience? There’s not like seven things that I have to do in order to be, like, a— [Biz laughs.] —a complete human being who’s like nice to the people around her? And I realized very early that writing was one of them? So it’s definitely the way that I both process the world and—and stitch myself together on a daily basis.

biz

I—I just have to say—one of the things that I love about… you… and the writing group. Including my sister. And I feel like it was something that you guys maybe came to over having, uh, written together for so long? Is the acceptance of the failures? Because all of you have now been published. And—[Laughs.] And… y’know. Can say that you’re writers and novelists and all that. And like… but people—I don’t think we get to hear the stories of the, oh, my first two? Never seen. I know that for Helen Michelle, she just stopped writing for a while! Y’know? Like… that leads me to this question that I think a lot of people sort of wrestle with after kids wind up in their house. It’s really easy to stop doing the thing that you need to do to take care of yourself. To be a—a human. Did you struggle with that? How—how did you deal with that? With… kids?

ann

I think for me, the… [sighs.] It was always so stark? Like… I feel so subpar if I don’t write that it was—it’s very clear that I couldn’t be a good mother. And I couldn’t be a wife and I couldn’t be a friend if I didn’t give myself this. And the way that I kind of, like, eke it out through feeling really guilty and like this is… y’know… waste of time or I’m not making money, etcetera. Is that I’ll like make deals with myself where I have to write for five minutes a day. And then when I’ve written for five minutes, I put an ‘x’ in my calendar. And my job—my only job—is to see how many X’s in a row I can string together. And of course, many days I would write for more than five minutes? But that five minutes was like, taking my medication for that day? And that—and I could do more. And of course—and I couldn’t talk myself out of five minutes ‘cause we always have five minutes.

biz

Yeah! That’s genius! [Laughs.]

ann

Thank you! [Laughs.]

biz

I really like the idea of that ‘x’! I mean, like, that’s… and the five minutes. That feels like, uh, it’s a very realistic sort of goal as well as the, like, tangible satisfaction of… visually seeing and physically crossing that moment off?

ann

Yeah.

biz

And I don’t think we give ourselves—I know. I know that most of us do not give ourselves the importance of… giving ourselves that thing that makes us… a person. Uh, in the world. I wanna go back to… Dear Edward for a second. We’ve done a couple of shows on… grief recently. And… we actually just had a show where we were talking about being a parent. While grieving. With a grief expert. And I guess I’m curious to hear… [sighs.] Your relationship with grief and how that went into, like, Edward’s process of—of grieving.

ann

Well… [Biz laughs.] I guess where I came—Edward and I came out—one of the sort of ideas that I developed through it was—which is not a new idea, but of course it’s where he came to—is that… love and grief are two sides of the same coin. So… if you risk your heart—and we should risk our hearts! It’s about connecting and loving and smiling kindly at someone and—and doing the small things that make lives eas—the lives of the people around us easier. You’re putting yourself at risk for the other side of the coin. ‘Cause if you lose what you love, then you’re in grief. Whereas we accept—and it’s much easier, obviously, for us to accept that love is beautiful and necessary and—and enriching. The thing is it’s the grief is beautiful. And deep. And… even enriching as well. And we all go through—at some point in our life, if—probably multiple times in our life, we encounter some kind of an event—whether it’s your mother dies or your biochemistry changes and all of a sudden your bones are soaked with sadness. [Biz laughs.] Where you feel like it’s impossible to move past this moment that you’re in? And—and not be destroyed by it but to be more on the other side. So what interests me the most about it was how do we take ourselves through it in a conscious way so that we’re more on the other side. And that’s what Edward has to do.

biz

Ohh! I love that! That is a… a nice narrative to put on that process. That’s—[Laughs.] You should—you should write a book! [Laughs.] Okay. So—[Laughs.] [All laugh.] I wanna, uh, wrap up on a different project that you… have been working on that all of you have been involved in from your original writer’s group. And—that I am a huge fan of. And that is… the One Story literary magazine. And there’s also One Teen Story literary magazine. And we just… In a world of… online—online, have no time, blah, blah, blah—I love literary magazines. I think it’s such a wonderful idea! Can you talk about—One Story? ‘Cause I would really like people to know it is out there.

ann

Yes. It’s—it’s an amazing thing. Which I play a very small part in. Hannah Tinti, who’s with Helen and I in our writing group. While we were actually in graduate school together, she and another writer named Maribeth Bacha started One Story together. So it’s been running for… I think 17 years. But I’m very bad with numbers. [Biz laughs.] And so what it is is literally one story that comes in an envelope to your house about once a month. And the truly genius thing about One Story is that it’s in its—let’s say, 17th year—and… it’s in, like, issue 240-something? I think? Now? So you’re getting one a month for 17 years. And the pledge is One Story never publishes an author more than once. So that is 243 different authors! That are being delivered to you. So it’s—it’s not just the big names! It—actually, we do publish the big names sometimes. But we also publish, all the time, debut writers from around the world. And we’re giving voices to people that don’t have voices. And it’s very fulfilling and it’s—it’s such important work that Maribeth and Hannah do and our editor, Patrick Ryan, is—is spectacular. So I highly recommend—you can go to One Story—if you—just google “One Story literary magazine” it’ll come right up. You can subscribe. It’s extremely affordable. It comes right ot your mailbox. And it’s just like—it’s goodness in the world

biz

Oh yes. It’s just like a little reading candy that you get.

ann

It is.

biz

Every month!

ann

And it’s excellence, too. Like, it’s just a very high standard of fiction.

biz

Well, we’ll make sure that we add that link in the show notes so everybody, check out the show notes as where they can find Dear Edward. Give a shoutout to your indie bookstores! Everybody [through laughter] go check out those indie bookstores! As well as where they can find out more about you, and thank you so much… for coming on and chatting with us.

ann

Thank you so much for having me! It’s a pleasure.

biz

It was our pleasure. And we hope that you have a wonderful rest of your day and say hi to Hannah and Helen if you see them! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

ann

I will! Thank you, Biz and Theresa!

biz

Alright. Bye-bye!

ann

Bye!

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

[Airplane intercom chimes.] Speaker 1: This is your captain with an update from the flight deck! We’ll be reaching Max Fun Drive on… March 16th. That’s right on time. As a reminder, Max Fun Drive runs for just two weeks and it’s the best time of year to support the podcasts you love. If you look towards the front, you’ll see your favorite hosts with special bonus content and lovely thank-you gifts for new and upgrading monthly members. Now, sit back. Relax. And catch up on your favorite Max Fun shows now! So you can listen to the new episodes releasing March 16th. And thanks again for choosing Maximum Fun! [Airplane intercom chimes.]

promo

[Cheering crowd.] Danielle Radford: Mmmacho man, to the top rope! [Thump!] Danielle: The flying elbow! The cover! [Crowd cheering swells.] Speaker 2: [Distant; impact on each word] One! Two! Three! [Ding ding ding!] Danielle:: We've got a new champion! Music: Excited, sweeping music. Lindsey Kelk: We're here with Macho Man Randy Savage after his big win to become the new world champion! What are you gonna do now, Mach?! Hal Lublin: [Randy Savage impression] I'm gonna go listen to the newest episode of the Tights and Fights podcast, oh yeah! Lindsey: Tell us more about this podcast! Hal: [Continuing impression] It's the podcast of power, too sweet to be sour! Funky like a monkey! Woke discussions, man! And jokes about wrestlers' fashion choices, myself excluded! Yeahh! Lindsey: I can't wait to listen! Hal: [Continuing impression] Neither can I! You can find it Saturdays on Maximum Fun! Oh yeahhh! Dig it! [Music fades out.]

biz

Ann Napolitano. Dear Edward. And the literary magazine One Story. These are all things that we should be checking out. I just—I loved when she said—I had to write this in order to go on the journey with this child that they were gonna be able to walk out of this.

theresa

Yes.

biz

And I… and I think that is the crux of every… anxious… y’know, concern we have is—is my child gonna be able to… get on the other side of this.

theresa

Yes.

biz

Ahhhhh. Great! Speaking of getting on the other side of things—[Laughs.] Let’s listen to a mom have a breakdown!

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mothers! I am calling with a rant. I just got in my car so that I could… run an errand for myself. And… I should be grateful but I’m just so sad. [Tearful voice.] That I just feel like… quitting my job three years ago and being a stay-at-home parent was a huge mistake. It was fine for a while and I felt like it’s been a really good decision, but then my husband and I just had a baby again. And like, all things considered it’s actually been going really well! [Biz laughs.] Like, motherhood has been just a little bit easier this time around and I feel like I’m not as anxious about everything. I’m kind of rolling with things more. But… ever since we had our son, my husband has just been working crazy hours. And… I just feel like my schedule is so unpredictable and I just have to roll with all these things all the time. And like I totally get it! Like, he’s supportive and he communicates with me and he’s not doing [inaudible] at all! But I’m just pissed at him all the time! [Biz laughs.] And I feel so resentful that, like, everything I do is just for other people. All the time. Like, I used to have a career that I was really good at. And… I had… friends that I used to go do more things with. And… I just felt like I had a life. And… like… people who saw me as something other than just a mom. And I’m just like, really… [sighs]. I feel like I’m really falling apart right now. [Sobs.] And I’m like going to the grocery store to go get food to take to this party that we’re all going to later. But like—[sobs.] I need to get myself together. But I just wanted to call because no one else gives a shit. And… you guys are doing a really good job helping me through some really hard times. So. Even when I suck, thank you. We’re doing great. Bye.

biz

I—I love you? And you are doing… such a good job? And I think Theresa and I could have many things to say about this? My main things is—it is alllll real. Everything you just said. Those are truths.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

And… uh, the—the resentment factor in particular?

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

I think it is unfair for any of us to think that when children come into your house—[Laughs.] Any big change like that… that you can avoid it.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

You can’t. I just don’t buy that. Okay?

theresa

Yeah.

biz

The best relationships in the world—at some point—it’s gonna feel off.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Okay?

theresa

Yes.

biz

And… it—y’know—uh, we all know… you didn’t marry an asshole. Your feeling experience? Is what is at play here. Okay? That is… and those are really valid… valid… feelings. In fact, I started a whole podcast. [Laughs.] To talk about those exact feelings.

theresa

I had… a really odd reaction to your call? Which was that it made me feel like laughing hysterically?

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah. Like a crazy person. Yeah. Me, too. Theresa: And I couldn’t control myself? And…

theresa

I think it is literally just because it was so absurdly true. Like, literally every word you said, I feel… personally so deeply. And it’s… like, all I could think was, well—

crosstalk

Theresa: Yeah! Yes! Yes! [Laughs.] Biz: Yeah! Yes! [Laughs.] Yeah!

theresa

Um, I texted Biz before—[through laughter] before this show. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Saying how, like—how iffy I was feeling.

biz

Yeah. I’m not sure you used the word “iffy,” but yes.

theresa

I don’t think I used the word “iffy.” I used—

crosstalk

Theresa: —a stronger word. Biz: A different word. [Laughs.]

theresa

It is so hard and it is why we’re here. And… it is so relentless.

biz

It’s relentless.

theresa

I feel like we are constantly… telling each other that we’re doing a great job and we’re working really hard and that’s important? Like, I feel like that’s really important. But there is this other… kind of… problem. With that. Which is that… we keep saying it… but it’s still really hard and we keep needing to hear it. Like, do you know what I’m saying?

crosstalk

Biz: So it’s like—you’re doing a good job— Theresa: Like, because—

biz

—it’s not getting better!

theresa

Well, ‘cause it’s never enough! [Biz laughs.] Like, it’s never—like, I feel like… I… sometimes feel like I’m the only one in the world… who wants everything to be good and easy and for me to relax. [Biz laughs.] Do you know what I mean? Because like I feel like if I ever… get to the point where I could have that… I have things being dumped on me.

biz

Dumped! Yeah.

theresa

And I interpret it that way. This is my interpretation. I could just say, that’s not for me. I’m not gonna take that on. [Biz laughs.] I could do that a lot more. But I wasn’t… raised to do that.

biz

Yep.

theresa

And our society doesn’t teach us to do that.

biz

Yep.

theresa

And sometimes it’s just not possible.

biz

Oh, that’s a big one. Yeah! I agree!

theresa

So… I don’t know.

biz

Yeah. I—the—

theresa

It’s angering.

biz

It is angering!

theresa

We don’t—

biz

It’s maddening! It’s—

theresa

It’s maddening!

biz

It’s maddening.

theresa

Yes.

biz

And in the full sense of… both anger and, like, hysterics and like true madness.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

Like, true, unstable, madness.

theresa

The feeling of questioning yourself—well, is it hard? This isn’t—this couldn’t be that hard! Someone else has it harder!

biz

Yeah! And/or—or I—y’know, I really… I think one of the things that made us laugh in that, like, true madness we all are in the institution moment is the, like, where you were like—I mean, it’s a little easier than it was last time.

theresa

It’s actually going really well!

biz

It’s actually going really well!

theresa

It’s going really well! [Biz laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: How many times have I sat in front of the laundry machine or in a parking lot— Theresa: I’ve said that! Yes! Yes!

biz

Crying hysterically, going like—[sobs] Things are really better!

theresa

Yes! It’s so much better!

biz

It’s—[Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

‘Cause it—there’s—yeah! It’s not wrong! Like, that’s the thing. That’s not—it’s not wrong! But like—we—[Laughs.] We’ve gotten to this place that is so absurd.

biz

It’s absurd! And yet—that’s where the—I think the maddening laughter comes from? Is it’s like—we’re all in on this secret.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

That it’s absurd. But the image that is all around us… is this one of like… perfection? And order? And…

crosstalk

Biz: White furniture! Theresa: Fulfillment. Yeah.

biz

And fulfillment! So we’re all walking around being like—are we the only ones? Who see this?

theresa

Yeah.

biz

All of this is to say— [Theresa laughs.] You are doing… a good job.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

That is not to… say… or disrespect how fucking hard and absurd it is. That you woke up… and you’re still here.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

You are doing… a good job.

theresa

You are!

biz

And we see you.

theresa

We do!

biz

Oh, we see you.

theresa

We are living it!

biz

We feel you in our bones!

theresa

Yes. [Biz laughs.]

biz

Theresa? What did we learn today? We learned… that… staying home… for whatever reason… with your family… may not be… the… dream that was promised to us by various advertisements. Stories. [Theresa laughs.] TV shows. Movies. Or even our own memories.

theresa

Mm-hm!

biz

Of what it was like staying home all day. Sure! I bet there are pockets of fun. [Laughs.] But this isn’t about that. This is about… our feeling experience. Trying to get through… what is a very long day! It’s a very long day.

theresa

There’s many hours in the day.

biz

Many hours! 24 of them, in fact! [Theresa laughs.] Any one of them… potentially up for grabs! [Theresa laughs.] ‘K? We also learned… that… it is really important to… when you have the clarity? And the thing that you need self-care-wise is screaming at you?

theresa

Mm-hm!

biz

To listen to that? And that it is okay? And you have permission to try and find a way… to do it! To take care or yourself.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

You—you actually do.

theresa

Yeah.

crosstaltk

Biz: Get to take care of yourself. Theresa: And—and I like the…

theresa

We often talked about setting the bar low, but this is about… what can I do that will work?

biz

Yeah!

theresa

And sometimes it’s five minutes and focusing on getting as many X’s as you can. And that—if that will work?

biz

Yeah!

theresa

Then perfect!

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah! It’s not—somebody shouting at you… Theresa: That’s enough! Yeah!

biz

“Do your self-care already!” is—yeah! That doesn’t—that’s not how that works. Low bar, guys! Low bar. Very big thank-you to Ann Napolitano for joining us. Uh, again, her new book is Dear Edward, and, uh, we’ll link everybody up to that as well as One Story literary magazine. Everybody? Let’s just say it. It is a weird time right now.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

I know the show—ephemeral—supposed to be timeless, not timely. But… it is… uh, weird all over the world. Right now. And… it is… really a hard place… to try and organize your thoughts in my opinion. Like, I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts and, like, knowing where my concerns should lie right now? And… that’s a real place. And… I mean, we mentioned it earlier on, the anxiety, the things that we can and can’t control and aaaaah? Y’know. And we need to be really kind to ourselves and each other if we can. ‘K? You’re all doing… a remarkable job! Okay? And… there are so many things happening in your day and in your life that… the rest of us don’t see. And… y’know, being home all day presents challenges; having to go to work all day presents challenges. Your children present challenges. We have other family members that are in our lives that we care about and that we have to take care of and—y’know—that—that doesn’t even… begin to hit all the—just—social around us. Right? Like… it’s… its own little sack of bananas and bees. Just right in our own houses. ‘K?

theresa

And by the way—whatever is working well?

biz

Yeah!

theresa

In your life? That… is great.

biz

Yes!

theresa

I love that.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

I want… none of us to feel… that we need to suffer…

biz

Yeah!

theresa

In order for this to be real. [Biz laughs.] Like…

biz

If I just keep poking myself!

theresa

Yeah!

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah, no, I agree. Theresa: Like, we don’t—

theresa

Like, if—if it’s going great? That is so great!

biz

[Sighs] Oh, it’s so good.

theresa

Y’know?

biz

Yeah!

theresa

Like, I feel like I had a few days there.

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah! That were really great! Theresa: And that was really great!

biz

Yeah!

theresa

Y’know? And I don’t…

biz

Yeah!

theresa

I don’t—I—I don’t see why we can’t…

crosstalk

Theresa: —have that? Biz: Have really good days.

theresa

For free. Like—

crosstalk

Biz: For free! Without an excuse! Theresa: Like, without a—yeah!

theresa

Without an excuse or without feeling like, well… who knows what’s to come, then?! Or—y’know. [Biz laughs.] ‘Cause obviously everything has to be…

biz

Horrible!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

That’s right.

theresa

Yeah! And if I—and if I get some time to myself—oh, I probably should’ve spent that doing something else so that things could be horrible.

biz

Yeah! [Laughs.]

theresa

No! [Laughs.] No!

biz

No to that!

theresa

No to that. You guys are doing enough!

biz

God! You’re doing so much!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

And you’re… you’re doing it!

theresa

Yeah, you are.

biz

And we see you doing it.

theresa

We do.

biz

Let’s celebrate the successes without apology?

theresa

Mm-hm!

biz

And let’s high-five those of us crying at Target parking lots. You got this! And you’re gonna get it again tomorrow. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Theresa? You are doing such a good job.

theresa

Thank you, Biz. You are also doing a very good job.

biz

Thank you. And 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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