TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Ep. 378: Sometimes Daddy Cries, with Guest Todd Rennebohm

Biz speaks with Todd Rennebohm about his new children’s book about living with depression while parenting. Having depression is normal and having kids is normal, but having both at the same time can be hard to explain to kids. Plus we recorded this episode before the election! Let’s see if our prediction was correct? (Our prediction was that we’d be glad we had all that stashed Halloween candy.)

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 378

Guests: Todd Rennebohm

Transcript

biz ellis

Hi. I’m Biz.

theresa thorn

And I’m Theresa.

biz

Due to the pandemic, we bring you One Bad Mother straight from our homes—including such interruptions as: children! Animal noises! And more! So let’s all get a little closer while we have to be so far apart. And remember—we are doing a good job.

music

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

biz

This week on One Bad Mother—sometimes, daddy cries. We talk to Todd Rennebohm about his new children’s book about living with depression. Plus, Biz survives Hell Week and snack attacks!

crosstalk

Biz and caller: Wooooo!

caller

I… am doing okay. I am calling with a check-in and right now I am okay. I am sitting in the pharmacy parking lot, drinking some iced coffee because I got here a little early—three minutes before they opened—and I’m going to go get my flu shot and this is a moment of mom time. Because getting a flu shot is like… [Biz laughs.] I don’t know. Getting a pedicure now. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Everybody get their flu shot! I’m doing a pretty good job, and so are you! Bye! Love the show.

biz

“Getting a flu shot is the new manicure” is the greatest ad campaign for flu shots that [through laughter] I’ve ever heard. Wow! Okay. That—you are—I just wanna hang out in a socially distanced parking lot with you and have iced coffee and talk more about that. You’re doing a great job! Thanks for checking in! And—good job getting somewhere a little early so you can have a little mama time, and good job making sure you had coffee, and good job making sure you got your flu shot! We’re about to load the car up with [through laughter] all of us and do the drive-thru flu shot that our local place has? Surprise! You’re all gonna get shot. [Laughs.] But yes. Flu shot! Flu shot! Flu shot! Woo! I think you’re remarkable. Thank you for checking in! Guys? It is time for me to do the thing that has become so natural. It happens when I’m on the street. It happens when I’m just laying asleep. I wake up and I start yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, essential workers!” I’m gonna spotlight a big focus on our healthcare workers, once again, as we see a surge in this pandemic. Does anybody else feel like this is like a zombie apocalypse? I know that you all do. One of my favorite people, Liz Sauer and her podcast, Ghost in the Burbs, recently had a little spooky story. They kept referring to things like—it’s like slightly the future? Of the pandemic? And in the pandemic timeline? And they’re like, “Did you see the pictures out of Japan?” “Yes. I’d seen the pictures out of Japan, but I didn’t know it could do that to your body!” “Yeah. Who knew it was gonna be—” [Laughs.] “Who knew it was gonna be a plague?” Right? Like, just like how this develops. Anyway. Back to my point—there’s a surge! And it is filling up our hospitals and our medical centers again and so I have to say… thank you, thank you, to every single person who works in those facilities. The doctors. The nurses. All the administrative staff. All of the people who keep these places clean and spotless and sanitized so that whether we are experiencing COVID symptoms or any other reason to have to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, we can go in with confidence and feel safe. So I really appreciate you and I know that this is impossibly difficult. So thank you. I also wanna shine a spotlight on every person who volunteered to work as poll workers during this election, and those who continue to be counting the ballots and helping make sure that everybody’s vote is heard. There are still jobs that happen in an election after voting day, so thank you, thank you, thank you! And everybody. You’re all doing it! You’re all doing it! Teachers, thank you for continuing to show up. School administration? Thank you for still showing up. Thank you for creativity, people who are really putting out creative solutions and thoughts and ideas for how to make this more bearable every day. I see you. I appreciate you. And I will never get tired of driving by and rolling my window down and screaming out of it [shrill scream] “Thank youuuu!” [Regular voice] Thank you.

biz

Guys? Let’s just all take sort of a collective breath about the week of hell we just all went through. We just got through Halloween. We just got through daylight savings. I am so sorry to all of us. And we just got through with the election. I don’t know! I’m recording this before the election! I have no idea what is [through laughter] going to happen! It’s either business as usual right now or [through laughter] we’re in a complete civil war. I don’t know! But thank god I have a stockpile of Halloween candy to get me through most of it! Speaking of Halloween candy, I’m just gonna wrap up on one more little note of things happening around my house. Has anyone noticed that if your child is remote learning from home, an increase in need for snacks? There’s a lot of snacking. Ellis sits down. After breakfast. After two snacks. He will sit down. School will start. And, “Can I have a snack?” “You just had two snacks!” And they’re big snacks! It’s like a Fiber One bar, dude! That is full of stuff. And like a granola bar! Full of stuff! At first I tried to like fight against it and now I’m just like shoveling different versions of something that I think is very filling and should definitely do it? And it doesn’t do it? And he just keeps eating? And then… swear to god, it becomes lunch. I’m like, “Are you ready for lunch?” “No. I filled up on snacks.” And I’m like, “Gahhh!” And— [Laughs.] It’s like, I’m like, “You’re not watching TV right now! I mean, it feels like it, but endless snacking.” Can’t wait to see how that turns out. As we continue on through weird COVID life. But something we have spoken about quite a bit is how the coronavirus has been affecting our mental health, and long before this pandemic started, we have spoken a great deal about mental health. Especially with parents. And how important it is to have open and honest discussions about that with our family. Which I think ties in nicely to what we’re gonna talk about today with Todd Rennebohm, and his new children’s book, Sometimes Daddy Cries.

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

biz

This week, we are talking to Todd Rennebohm. He is a husband and father of two boys who has been advocating for mental health issues since 2016. Todd has personal experiences with anxiety, depression, and addiction. Today he is in recovery and works with others as a support in an addiction treatment center. Welcome, Todd! [Laughs.]

todd

Wooo!

biz

Wooo! [Laughs.] [Todd laughs.] I feel almost like I should’ve like ended that bio with “And he’s here to talk about cabaret!” Right? Like— [Laughs.] [Todd laughs.] Just nothing to do with any of that. But actually what I will say—that I didn’t add into that—is we had him here because you have written a new book for children called Sometimes Daddy Cries, and we’re gonna get into that in a moment. But before we do, I would love to know—who lives in your house?

todd

Well first off, me. My wife, Jennifer. My almost-sixteen-year-old son Jack, and my almost-fourteen-year-old son Howard. And two dogs, Lars and Ben.

biz

Two dogs! Lars and Ben.

todd

Lars. Like—

biz

Lars!

todd

Lars Ulrich of Metallica. [Biz laughs. Todd joins in.]

biz

I—what kind of dogs are they?

todd

One is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel mixed with a Sheltie, and the other one is just a little mutt. I have no idea what he is.

biz

Oooh, I love a mutt! [Todd laughs.] Alright. Well, let’s talk about the book. Sometimes Daddy Cries. This is a children’s book and it’s told through the eyes of a boy whose father suffers from depression. He sees his dad get sad, rest, and even go to the hospital, all while comparing his father’s depression to a physical ailment. I… thought the story was very… I liked that it was like this very simple, direct telling? Of what it’s like to live with depression as a child? I guess I wanna start with—what—I’m ready! I’m ready! I’m all buckled up! [Todd laughs.] What led to writing this book?

todd

Uh, okay. So about ten years ago—well actually, I mean, I’ve had anxiety and depression since as long as I can remember. I was in grade four diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, I had such bad anxiety. But it was about ten years ago, it was really getting bad. I was just—I’d had a suicide attempt. I was in and out of the psych ward. I was using lots of marijuana. Drinking lots to get rid of the anxiety, y’know? [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! Self-medicate, man. I’ve—y’know. I know. [Todd laughs.]

todd

Yeah. But—and then was about three years after that I went into addiction treatment center and that’s really when I started getting healthy. I mean, after the hospital and after the suicide attempt I thought I was—y’know, “I’m all better now,” but it— [Biz laughs.] —I was still drinking and using marijuana like all day, every day. So I mean the best—the very best thing I ever did for my mental health was get sober. Better than any pill, any doctor, anything. So it was about—it’s actually four years November 6th, is when I got sober.

biz

Congratulations.

todd

Well thank you!

biz

Yeah! It’s hard work, man!

todd

[Through laughter] You’re telling me!

biz

Yeah! It’s really difficult! [Laughs.]

todd

I actually work at the addiction center I went to now so it’s kinda nice. But when I was going through all that stuff I could see my kids were… y’know, they were… they didn’t really know what the hell was going on with dad. And I mean we tried to explain it the best we could with, y’know, “Dad’s just sick.” So it wasn’t until I got sober—well actually, that’s a bit of a lie. [Biz laughs.] The— [Laughs.] The night I wrote the very first draft was the night I got sober. I was actually, like, puking-sick drunk. Suicidal. I woke my wife up in the middle of the night and it was just five minutes before I puked and woke her up that I actually wrote the first draft of this book. So. And I—people always ask me what came through my head when I wrote it and like, “I don’t know! I was really drunk and sick!”

biz

Drunk! Yeah! [Todd laughs.] I gotta tell you— my first question is, “What was the draft like?” [Laughs.] [Todd laughs.] I am fascinated to know what the draft would be like. Like, that just, y’know. [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Todd: I don’t even know if I have it anymore! [Laughs.] Biz: I mean, not to laugh at alcoholism or depression.

biz

But the book—yeah. That draft must’ve been a—

todd

Was very vulgar and lots of slurring.

biz

Very—I was gonna say! I just was like, huh. [Todd laughs.] Anyway.

todd

No, it was really short, actually. It was really, really short. [Biz laughs.]

biz

“Daddy is sad. The end.” [Laughs.] [Todd laughs.]

todd

Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah. [Laughs.] Well actually I have—my wife’s cousin worked in publishing and that’s what—I showed it to her and she—yeah, she basically said, “This is… good luck. This is basically a poem. This isn’t gonna be a book.” So I worked on it over the years and, y’know, off and on. Being a flaky mental health type person. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] And then an artist—I would flake out for like a good year at a time. So I talked to a person that I knew was a good illustrator and we kind of started working on it together. That was the plan, actually at first, was her and I were gonna work on this together. But then again, I flaked out for a good year. And then COVID hit and I was sitting in my house, quarantined, and I thought, “What a great time to finish this project.” So I finished it!

biz

Well actually, it is a great time to have finished it and to have it out there, because the pandemic is not doing anything great for mental health right now. Particularly for parents! I mean… y’know. It’s… it’s a lot. I—but before we get into that, I do wanna circle back to the illustrator. What is so—I mean, the book is beautiful.

todd

It is. She did an amazing job.

biz

Yeah. She did. And what is so striking is… the use of colors to sort of show the emotional state of what’s happening. So when the father is having, y’know, a episode of depression, it’s—he is grey. The room around him is grey. But the son is in color. The wife is in color. The cat is in color. Right? Like, there’s… y’know, outside. I remember—it—so anybody who listens to the show knows that I also have depression. And—

todd

Oh, right on!

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah! Right? Yeah! Secret—I’ll give you the secret handshake later. Todd: Good for you! [Laughs.]

biz

And the picture in particular where the page, it says, “Daddy needs rest so he sleeps on the couch or in his bed.” But… what I—I am struck less by the image of daddy laying on the couch, all in grey, but the bright-colored life happening on the other side of the window.

todd

Yes.

biz

Because for me, that is very much what depression feels like. Where when it was at its worst, it would feel like I’m looking at everything on the other side of this window and it’s all fine and normal and beautiful, but I can’t get to it.

crosstalk

Todd: Absolutely. Biz: I’m on this side of the window.

biz

So I just—I have to—how much did you and the illustrator work together on this, or did she very naturally have an instinct for communicating these feelings?

todd

She was just very natural. She also, y’know, has depression, anxiety issues. So I sent her—I kinda—we talked briefly about it and then I sent her the manuscript. And she maybe sent me four or five pictures and she’s like, “How’s this?” And I mean, I was—I was crying. They were so beautiful.

biz

They’re beautiful.

todd

I said, “Keep doing whatever you’re doing. I’m just gonna shut up and just let you go with it.” And yeah. It’s—I mean— [Laughs.] I mean I don’t wanna pooh-pooh the manuscript— [Biz laughs.] —but if it wasn’t for the illustrations, I don’t know if this book would be as amazing as it is. So.

biz

They work hand-in-hand really, really well. Which is, I think, always a remarkable thing to happen when creating a book. [Laughs.] Like I’m always just like— [Todd laughs.] “Oh my god! Those two things went together and actually helped and supported and it wasn’t like, y’know.” It’s like a little magic, y’know, act that happens.

todd

You wanna hear something funny? I actually—

biz

Oh yes! Yes, I do! [Both laugh.]

todd

Well, it’s not ha-ha funny.

biz

[In a disappointed tone] Oh. [Laughs.]

todd

But I sent— [Laughs.] I sent the illustrations and the manuscript to a publisher and they tore it apart. They said, “These illustrations are no good! They’re too pointy! Kids won’t—they’ll scare kids” and all this stuff. [Biz laughs.] And I thought—

biz

“They’re depressing!” [Laughs.] [Todd laughs.]

todd

Yeah! I thought, “You know what? Screw this. I’m self-publishing this mofo because obviously this person doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.” And I’ve had nothing but positive feedback about the illustrations, so. So take that, publisher!

biz

Yeah! Take that, publisher! That’s right! No, I actually really… I actually really like that the skin colors are so bright and different from each other and I like the pointy—I mean— [Todd laughs.] —we could get really deep about all that I would love to read into this that may or may not have been there. But yes. They were wrong. Good job following your instincts!

todd

Well, thank you!

biz

Yeah! How did you decide what aspects to include and I ask this because the page that caught me kind of off-guard—though it shouldn’t have?—was the—and maybe you’ll be surprised at this one. Maybe it’s not the one you’ll think I’m gonna say. But—

todd

I’m curious!

biz

“So daddy’s doctor said he needed to take medicine. Just like I did to help make my tummy ache go away." And I take medicine.

todd

Shame on you!

biz

I know. I know! It’s the best. No, I’m like, “Yes! I’m so happy to have you back in my life and one day I won’t need you in my life and then maybe I’ll need you again in my life.” But—

todd

[Through laughter] Exactly!

biz

But my husband, every day, puts—he’s in charge of breakfast and he’ll put out like the kids’ vitamin gummies in front of their breakfast? And then he puts out my little dish? [Todd laughs.] With my little pill? And—

todd

Antidepressants should be gummy.

biz

I know. They should. But they—like, it’s been something—the moment that they came into the house I realized it was something I wanted them—I mean, my kids are the kind of kids that are like, “What is that? Why? I’m gonna need a full explanation and I’m gonna come back to this many times and ask you.” Talk to me about what you chose to really emphasize in the book.

todd

Right. So I wrote the manuscript and I sent it off to quite a few psychologists, psychiatrists. Counselors and whatnot. To get their opinion on it. And a couple of them are very holistic kind of psychologists? And they kind of pooh-poohed the medication part and they’re like, “Y’know, you should put in there yoga and all this other stuff” and I’m like—

crosstalk

Todd: “Well, yeah, okay. But.” [Through laughter] Yeah. Biz: If you can’t get up to do yoga, it’s hard to do yoga.

biz

I mean, that’s the thing. Yoga is very helpful. So is running five miles. But if I don’t wanna leave my house? It’s not gonna happen! Right.

todd

Exactly. And so I really… that page did—I went back and forth on it a bit. And then I thought, you know what? I’ve heard the term “pill-shaming” and I thought, you know what? Hell with it. I take pills. It’s a realistic view of what depression and anxiety is. If I’m comparing depression and anxiety to a physical ailment, then of course there’s medicine sometimes and it’s not a big goddamn deal that I take a pill every morning so that I can function at my highest efficiency. So I thought, “Hell with it. I’m putting it in there.” And plus it was one of my favorite illustrations of the kid and the father in the bathroom and he’s brushing his teeth and the dad’s taking his pills. So I thought, “Well, I want that illustration in there—"

crosstalk

Todd: “So that’s just even more reason.” Biz: Well, they both have their—

biz

They have their bunny slippers on. They both have their bunny slippers on— [Todd laughs.]

crosstalk

Todd: They do! Yeah. Biz: Which is so nice. Yeah.

todd

I’m really proud of that—I’m actually—I’m proud that I put it in there, actually.

crosstalk

Biz: Good! Yeah! Todd: That page. Yeah.

biz

I am—it was very helpful. To me. To see it. Did you—was there anything—what about—I mean, you—that’s one thing. But then there are some other images that are scary, right? Like a daddy wrapped up in a blanket on the couch… where, like, the shadows look just almost like ribs. [Todd laughs.] That is—it’s—I mean, it’s a rough image to see. It’s hard to see it and it not be scary. Either as an adult who, y’know, it’s part of the things I think we all work on in therapy is what does my kid see when they see this? Or, y’know…

todd

Right. It’s not too scary, right?

crosstalk

Biz: No! No, no. I—it’s not—well, again, I’m looking out the window. Todd: Oh, okay. Good. ‘K, good. [Laughs.]

biz

No, but I mean, it’s sad! I mean, like you’re saying, it is definitely an image of “One time daddy got so sad he had to stay in the hospital.” And again, I mean, it’s showing you, I think… an illustration of what that depth of depression looks like. Right? Like, it captures a feeling. And…

todd

Definitely. Yeah.

biz

Yeah! And I guess besides just the pill one, talk to me about some of the other things that you were like, “I really wanna show this.” I mean, I love all the—and by the way, listeners, these are all coupled with these really, like, healthy, happy images as well. When daddy is up! When daddy is regulated and feeling good and not having depression. ‘Cause I think there’s a stereotype that with depression you’re one note the whole time and that’s not true. There’re lots of times when we’re healthy and happy and balanced. And… that is portrayed here showing all of the very strong, good, fun times that the son and father are having together.

todd

Right. So I basically just… used my own experiences with my children and depression and so I wanted—I wanted it to be not too scary. Not too gloomy and dark, but also not too fluffy and light so that, y’know, there’s real expectations of this is what actually depression looks like. So it was really hard walking that line. That fine balance of not making it fluffy but also making the expectations real but not making it too dark. ‘Cause it’s a kid’s book. And I like to think I did that, but— [Biz laughs.] —I also like— [Laughs.] But also like when he’s visiting his grandma—

biz

Oh, I loved that one!

todd

—when daddy’s in the hospital—like, my kids did that kind of thing. Grandma came and visited and helped my family while I was—at times when I was in bed for a week. And stuff like that. So, y’know, they have a nice fun time with grandma but daddy’s just resting. And so I basically just used my own experiences and I—what I really wanted to portray was that even though daddy’s in the hospital or daddy’s feeling sad, there is—the rest of the family’s got life happening and things. We have daddy in mind. We’re hoping for the best. We take care of him. We let him do his thing and rest. He takes his medicine. Sometimes he has a good day and we all go out and play in the park! Sometimes he needs to go to the hospital and then we go to grandma’s house for a while. Y’know? So I basically just used my own experiences and tried to not make it too light and fluffy but not too dark and gloomy either, so.

biz

Yeah. But it’s—it is the act of living with people. I mean, I think there is a notion that… I don’t know. It’s the notion of, “Whatever’s happening behind closed doors or pulled window curtains, y’know, it’s probably just like it is on TV.” Right? Like, y’know, we… we know that depression and anxiety are just two of many, many things that people struggle with and have. And yet still have families, partners, kids, y’know. Jobs. All this stuff. And it’s very hard to, I think, for sometimes people to put those two worlds together? And I really liked seeing how the family was stepping in to support the father? And I mean that made me—I was like, “This is how that works!” Right? Like, this is what that looks like. And so I… it normalizes—

todd

Good word!

crosstalk

Biz: Thank you. I love—I will normalize everything! Todd: I use that all the time. [Laughs.]

biz

We gotta normalize so much we’re like told to like not talk about. Like I was Southern and Catholic raised. Y’know. There are a million things that are supposed to be secret! [Todd laughs.] Alright. Talking about depression can feel depressing. So! [Laughs.] What do you think—except on this show. Clearly, we’re having a great time talking about it.

todd

Absolutely.

biz

What do you think is important in terms of talking about it within the family and to those outside the family and like what are good ways to get those conversations, y’know, started? I think I saw somewhere that you’d said you hadn’t—you guys hadn’t done a lot of talking before you wrote the book or, y’know, when—your kids and you were like, “Oh, we could’ve probably had this conversation earlier.” [Todd laughs.] Y’know, like all of us! It is one of eight million things in my life. I’m like, “I shoulda had that conversation earlier.” Right. Yeah.

todd

Yeah, exactly. Uh, yeah. I—like, we were good with talking about the kids but it was like in the middle of it happening. Where I kinda wish we had—like, ‘cause I already knew I had anxiety and depression all my life where I wish I kinda had the conversation before it happened so it wasn’t so scary or confusing when they saw it and was like, “Oh, okay. This is what dad was talking about six months ago” or whatever. So I think a good way to get that conversation going in the family is [salesman voice] to buy this book and read it out loud to your kids! [Biz laughs.]

biz

Ya welcome! I just set you up! [Laughs.]

todd

No, but— [Laughs.] But seriously, I’ve done a lot of mental health advocating before the book came out, and actually I was doing it before I even got sober. And—well actually, that’s a whole other story. But. [Laughs.]

biz

[Laughs.] That’s a whole ‘nother children’s book. [Laughs.]

todd

[Through laughter] Yeah. Y’know, I would petition the government and I would protest in front of the legislative building and all this stuff and I kinda got thinking that, y’know, well, I can blame the government and I can blame all these things for not having enough funding, but if people who are having these issues aren’t gonna talk about it themselves or talk about it with their own family, then of course governments aren’t gonna listen. It’s not gonna get funded until people do come out and actually talk about it. Like, I don’t know if that made any sense, but like. So now, I’m—instead of thinking big picture, I’m thinking smaller picture. Talk to your kids about why you never see your uncle or, y’know, that secret why grandpa is the way he is or grandma is the way is or mom is the way she is. Talk about it so then, like, the good word you used—normalize it!—so then people that do provide the funding for these kinds of things, they realize that it is a bigger problem than they think because no one’s talking about it. So. [Laughs.]

biz

Right. Yeah. I think it’s—why I think it’s so important that we talk about it is it affects so many people, and then people can feel isolated in a family dynamic in which it’s happening without feeling like they can ask for support. Because it is—things we don’t like to talk about: parents suffering from mental illness, or kids. Right? Like, it’s—everybody has the potential— [Laughs.] [Todd laughs.] —to go through periods of their life where it—y’know, it could be to a more minor degree or it could be more clinical. And I think yeah. I’m with you! [Singing] Let’s talk about it! [Regular voice] And what is great—is—I will say, your book is really a good way to start talking about it. [Todd laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: Which is why we will— Todd: Right?! [Laughs.]

biz

It is! You did a good job! We will link everybody up to where they can get a copy of that book.

todd

Oh, great!

biz

Yeah. Todd, thank you so much for joining us and sharing all this with us. I love a good share, man. Thank you.

todd

It was my pleasure. It’s been a treat. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

Alright. Well, good luck with the book and we will talk to you later! Bye!

todd

Great! Thank you. Bye-bye.

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

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Sweaty Betty.

biz

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theresa

So good.

biz

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theresa

Get 20% off your entire purchase when you visit SweatyBetty.com/mother and enter “mother” at checkout. That’s spelled S-W-E-A-T-Y-B-E-T-T-Y.com/mother and don’t forget to enter “mother” at checkout.

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.

biz

Genius fail time, Theresa. I’m not even gonna sing because I’m so used to having you here now.

crosstalk

Theresa: Oh yeah. This is so normal. Everything about this is normal. Biz: I’m so used. It’s— [Laughs.]

biz

Hey, guys. Didn’t we say when this whole thing started that everything was gonna be super normal throughout this? It’s normal.

theresa

Every day I wake up and I’m like, “God. I feel really normal.” [Biz laughs.] “I’m feeling normal. Let’s have a normal day.”

biz

Yeah. Gonna put on my normal pants. Have a little normal drink. Y’know. Do my normal screaming in the shower. A little normal crying. [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Normal!

theresa

Yes.

biz

With that said, 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! [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective genius moments of the week.]

theresa

Okay. My real genius is that I voted. [Biz laughs and sings.] So that’s great. But that’s not a story. So I’ll just really quickly say another genius—

biz

Yeah?

theresa

Which is that with none of my actual doing, somehow, y’know, we’re a few days from—actually, we’re a day out—as of this recording, we’re a day out from Halloween. Tomorrow’s Halloween. And my kids have fallen into this very… relaxed… position of not needing elaborate costumes this year. Like there’s so much buildup; there’s all this talk; everybody’s got big ideas and they’re changing their ideas a lot and it’s very stressful and overwhelming for someone who’s very not-crafty like me. [Biz laughs.] But somehow, like, I was just saying to you before we went on the air, I have one kid who’s gonna like put on a animal hat. One kid who wants to wear all black and be a shadow. [Biz laughs.] And one kid who is gonna be totally happy to just pull something out of the costume bin and maybe several—make several changes throughout the day, which is fine, ‘cause we’ll just be home anyway. And I’m really pleased with that situation. So that feels really great, going into tomorrow.

biz

That is great! Good job!

theresa

Yeah! Thank you!

biz

Good job just breaking everybody down. [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: Yeah! Yeah! I think that must be it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Biz: That must be it. That’s it. That’s it.

biz

Okay. Everybody remembers last week my fail was having committed to too-elaborate of a costume for both children. Yes. Again. This will be after Halloween when you hear this. But it is the day before Halloween. I am—there is literally a hot glue gun—thank goodness Theresa brought me those extra glue sticks that Jesse accidentally bought so long ago now. [Theresa laughs.] I am still hot-gluing costumes together, but the genius is—maybe three days ago, I was really trying to make the boots— [Laughs.] For Katy Belle—now “Cat”—costume—and I was gonna put fabric. I made ‘em out of foam and I was—foam doesn’t look right. I’m gonna make it—I’m gonna cover it with material. And this was getting really frustrated. And I had convinced myself that I couldn’t spray-paint this particular type of foam because it was gonna like eat it up and rot it away? Then I took some spare foam, and I always have spray paint around the house, and I went outside and I did a little test-y-poo and it worked fine. So I went to the hardware store where they had ballet-slipper-pink spray paint. Well two cans instead of one for the inevitable run-out. And then I spray-painted those bad boys and they are okay. You know what I mean? Like, they are okay! And they are okay enough.

theresa

Yeah! That’s what we’re shooting for. Yeah.

biz

Right! And the genius really is—I stood back from the perfection cliff and it turns out that was okay!

theresa

That is so good.

biz

Right?

theresa

There’s a lot of good in there. Good job.

biz

There’s a lot of—a lot of good.

theresa

Yeah. Good job.

biz

[Through laughter] Thank you.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hey, One Bad Mother. I am calling with a genius. [Biz laughs.] Not only am I well-caffeinated this morning, but I have been reflecting on this last week of having school started and the regularity of our routines coming back—I mean, in a very weird and strange way, but we have some routines. My kid gets home from school just after three o’clock. My genius is that now I make some smoothies right away. I throw in a couple of frozen things, a couple of protein things. They love it. And then they don’t ask me for snacks until dinner. So I get like… an hour and a half of no one asking me for more food. [Biz laughs.] It’s literally the best. And I just—I feel like a genius. That’s all. Thanks for the show, guys.

biz

You are a genius.

theresa

Yeah! That’s really great!

biz

Yeah. The problem that was solved here was getting an hour and a half of no one asking you for food! I… just wish I had… the, like, energy to make smoothies. And look, guys. I know smoothies are very easy to make. But like, I don’t know. It’s on my boundary list.

theresa

Not as easy as passing someone a granola bar. [Biz laughs.]

biz

You mean throwing it across the room? Go team!

theresa

Yeah. Or telling somebody to go get their own granola bar.

biz

Yeah. Oh, there’s nothing easier. [Laughs.] Than that. [Theresa laughs.] So I think this is genius. And… I mentioned at the beginning of the show, Theresa, how somehow remote learning has seemed to fuel Ellis’s need for snacks?

crosstalk

Biz: Like… like, it’s—the moment the screen turns on, it’s like, “Can I have a snack? I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” So many snacks! Theresa: Yeah. Oscar, too. He’s—it’s the same. Oh, yeah. He needs so many snacks.

theresa

He needs—Oscar—he’s a bottomless pit of snacks. The whole time he’s on the screen. Yep.

biz

I know! I—[makes frustrated noise.]

theresa

It’s amazing.

biz

If I could rally the strength to make a fucking smoothie to give this kid in the morning, maybe they’d make it.

theresa

And I’m so curious about the science of this. Like, is it that your kids see you—is it that your kids see you making the smoothie and it feels momentous and special and so then it’s like, it feels like they’ve really been fulfilled? Or is it like ‘cause they sip it and it takes a while to sip it and it lasts a long time? Or is it like the fullness?

biz

Is it that they’re pumped full of like peanut butter and protein powder? That could be it.

theresa

Yeah! Like what is it about this that works? But I can see it working. I can see it working and that’s really great.

biz

I think you’re doing an amazing job. Failures!

clip

[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 and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective failures of the week.]

biz

Fail me, Theresa.

theresa

Okay! This is just a classic Halloween fail for you. We went ahead and got the pumpkins and we carved them way too early. And… we didn’t put candles in them because of—I guess—fire danger? ‘Cause there’s a lot of fires right now? And so we had like the little flicker lights in there or whatever? And I don’t know if the fire has anything to do with it, but for whatever reason—the fire or the lack thereof—for whatever reason the jack-o’-lanterns rotted instantly. I mean, in like 24 hours—well, in 24 hours it was mold. Like, moldy—visibly moldy, disgusting, terrifying—and I tried to like get in there with matches and trying to like kind of burn it and like see if that would— [Biz laughs.] —I don’t know what I was thinking. And I think I may have made it worse ‘cause by the next day they were so rotten that I couldn’t even pick them up to get them to the trash. I had to like scoop them off the cement and like hose things down and it was gnarly. And literally this was 48 hours after we carved them, which was like 10 days before Halloween. So yeah! That was a real—real bummer. Real failure.

biz

That’s a bummer. Well, you’re doing a horrible job celebrating and having fun.

theresa

It’s true.

biz

It is true. Again, this is sort of a prediction fail. That I know will happen. When you are listening to this show, as—again, I mentioned at the beginning—the election will have taken place. And my fail is that I know—despite my best sense—I’m going to watch the coverage. And it’s gonna make me mad and—

theresa

I’m already watching.

crosstalk

Biz: I know! Oh! Yes! Can’t look away! Can’t not look! Theresa: I can’t… yeah. Can’t not. Can’t not watch. Yep.

biz

Like… I know—yeah. Basically I am failing at respecting my boundaries to stay sane and not furious. So… so that… let’s all look forward to that. [Theresa laughs.] Fail.

theresa

To the additional mental health load that you’re taking on for yourself.

biz

Yes! Yes.

theresa

At a really great time to be doing that.

biz

At a really good time to do it. Yeah. This is—‘cause everything’s normal.

theresa

[Through laughter] Yeah. [Biz laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi. I’m calling with a fail. Today I ran over my toddler’s lunchbox while leaving the childcare parking lot. I know exactly how it happened. Usually I put the lunchbox in the car and then I put her in the car, but today I put the lunchbox on the ground and then I put her in the car and then I just forgot that a lunchbox was even a thing. Like, that it even exists. [Biz laughs.] And then I went around to my side of the car and started to pull out. And it’s funny because… [Biz laughs.] Y’know, you go over this huge thing and you’re like, “Huh, what’s that? What just happened?” [Theresa laughs.] And it took a couple seconds to realize… oh, it was a lunchbox. And I just ran over. It was in full sight of like a dozen families and cars, so that feels really good.

biz

Wow. This—I am surprised. This is one of the first failures we’ve gotten in which the lunchbox was run over. As far as I can remember. Like—

theresa

It almost happened to me one time. I came very close. Somebody yelled and waved at me when I was about to roll over my kid’s stuff. And I got out and I was like, “Oh yeah. This.” And it was that same thing! Like I had just set it down instead of putting it in the car first and just forgot that it existed. Yeah.

biz

Yeah. I’ve driven off and just left things on the side of the road? For sure? Where you’re like, “I’ll just put that there.” And you—I always think about that when I’m walking through parking lots or like at a—y’know, when we used to go outside and you used to walk past things?

theresa

To places?

biz

Yeah. To places.

crosstalk

Theresa: With stuff. Yeah. Biz: And you’ll see, like—

biz

Like a full, beautiful drink. Like a coffee. Like a nice coffee that’s just… sitting on a car. And you think, “I bet—I now assume a parent left it.” Right? Like I kind of peep in the car and I’m like, “Car seat. Oooh. That’s bad. I’m so sorry.”

theresa

Yep. That person needs their coffee more than the average person and yet they’re more likely to forget their coffee.

biz

I… think that is the case. Well, you’re doing a horrible job of taking care of a lunchbox. [Theresa laughs.] I will say it’s better to go that way than the inevitable “my lunchbox is lost forever.” Because I hate replacing lunchboxes and water bottles. Maybe I’ll just start putting them under the car. [Theresa laughs.] And rolling over them. Maybe that’ll just make me feel better. [Laughs.] Well, you’re doing awful! Awful, awful with lunchboxes! Somebody, don’t let that family have lunchboxes anymore!

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

[Singing] Boop boop boop boo boo! Da-da, duh duh dat dat! Jumbotron! [Regular voice] We have a Jumbotron! Everybody listen up!

music

Inspirational music plays in background.

theresa

I’m very excited about this. Stuck in Stoneybrook is a podcast about The Baby-Sitters Club books. [Biz laughs.] As kids, the hosts were BSC obsessives; as adults, they’re re-reading the series through their professions—a pop culture writer, a feminist theorist, and an adolescent psychologist. From Reagan-era politics and mean girl behavior to ‘80s heartthrobs and junk food, Stuck in Stoneybrook gives fun, funny, and informed insights into the books that you just couldn’t see as a kid. So to go StuckInStoneybrook.com to learn more.

biz

Search for Stuck in Stoneybrook wherever you get your podcasts! Hot dog! I got something to listen to tonight while I puzzle. [Music fades out.]

music

Cheerful ukulele music with whistling plays in background.

theresa

One Bad Mother is supported in part by KiwiCo, which delivers hands-on science and art projects for kids of all ages and makes a great gift for all the kids on your list.

biz

I honestly love KiwiCo and speak about it often on the show and recommend it to people often out in the world. Because… the projects that they send are super fun and appropriate for all different ages! From Kiwi Crates—which are for younger kids—all the way up to the Maker Crates that I openly have admitted to stealing from my oldest child and making myself! [Theresa laughs.] This house is full of macrame right now. Thanks to Kiwi Maker kits. Also, with the holidays coming up, I think we’re all still gonna be at home. So Kiwi Crate makes a great gift.

theresa

KiwiCo is redefining learning with hands-on projects that build confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills. There’s something for every kid—or kid at heart!—at KiwiCo. So get 50% off your first month, plus free shipping on any crate line, with code “badmother” at KiwiCo.com. That’s 50% off your first month at K-I-W-I-C-O.com, promo code “badmother.” [Music fades.]

biz

Music: Ethereal, sustained bells. Benjamin Partridge: The Beef and Dairy Network is a multi–award-winning comedy podcast here on Maximum Fun. And I would recommend you listen to it. But don’t just take it from me. What do the listeners have to say? [Two internal phone signals.] Speaker 1: I would rather stick a corkscrew inside my ear, twist it around, and pull out my ear canal like a cork, than listen to your stupid podcast ever again. Please stop contacting me. Speaker 2: Hell would freeze over before I recommended this podcast, The Beef and Dairy Network, to anyone. Speaker 3: Not in a million years. Actually, scratch that. Um, make it a billion years. No, how long's infinity? Benjamin: That's The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast, available at MaximumFun.org and at all good, and some bad, podcast platforms. Speaker 1: Disgusting. [Music stops.]

biz

[Radio interference followed by laidback music with a snare drum beat. A phone rings as the DJ speaks.] Radio DJ: Welcome back to Fireside Chat on KMAX. With me in-studio to take your calls is the dopest duo on the West Coast, Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes. [Click.] Go ahead, caller. Caller: Hey. Uh, I’m looking for a music podcast that’s insightful and thoughtful, but like, also helps me discover artists and albums that I’ve never heard of. Morgan Rhodes: Yeah, man. Sounds like you need to listen to Heat Rocks. Every week, myself—and I’m Morgan Rhodes—and my co-host here, Oliver Wang, talk to influential guests about a canonical album that has changed their lives. Oliver Wang: Guests like Moby, Open Mike Eagle, talk about albums by Prince, Joni Mitchell, and so much more. Caller: Yooo! What’s that show called again? Morgan: Heat Rocks. Deep dives into hot records. Oliver: Every Thursday on Maximum Fun. [Music suddenly gives way to static and a dial tone.]

biz

Well, here we are. It’s been a week. Let’s all… sit down, relax, and snuggle up close to Theresa. And listen to a mom have a breakdown.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] This is a mom having a breakdown. I’m a stay-at-home mom, first-time mom to a awesome nine-month-old little girl. Military spouse. And I’ve been living in Japan for almost three years. And I am exhausted. My husband’s schedule changed. He’s working nights and sleeping during the day. I have zero support. I have no one to talk to. I just needed to tell someone that. Thanks for the show. Bye.

biz

You’re doing a good job.

theresa

Yeah, you are.

biz

That’s really hard. That’s like… incredibly difficult. In case it was missed, she was saying that she has zero support there, which is a real reality when you are based overseas in a place where you don’t have family. So many military families have to deal with this, yet that does not take away the isolating sting of each individual set of circumstances?

theresa

I also think when you’re that far away from your support system, just the fact of the time difference being so different? Like I know I felt far away from my family when I was just on one coast and they were on the other coast and they were three hours different in their day. It just felt like we were living different lives because we were having a different kind of day. And when you’re on the other side of the world, that’s really different. You’re living out the day-to-day stuff just on a different schedule from everybody who you’re close to.

biz

Yeah. And a nine-month-old? Congratulations! Also! It’s so much! [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah! Yes.

biz

It’s… a lot. For… for you! I mean, yes! Maybe trying to figure out things in the world. It’s a lot. But for you, this is a whole new—a whole new thing. A whole new experience. Every episode we talk about how much it caught us off-guard how hard that transition would be. And it is a transition. And it is isolating, even in the best of circumstance. And you’re remarkable and we usually don’t push, like, some things? But One Bad Mother has a sub-group for everything on Facebook, and I know that there is a sub-group for military families and I know there’s a sub-group for like expats who are in different places. So… as a way to just support you, y’know, you can check that out by going to the main One Bad Mother private Facebook group and in the documents there is a list of every single sub-group that’s out there. And how to access it. And I say that to everybody! Guys, we are not alone? We feel very alone. We are not alone. There is a community out there to support you and listen to you and… allow rants and no judgment and just general support. So I hope you will just—it’s just—it’s like listening to One Bad Mother? But in a more, like, weird, like, y’know, kind of group way. It’s like a group watch! It’s like a group watch. Like—

theresa

You can also—you can also always post whatever you’re going through in the main group and people will come to you. And say… [Biz laughs.] “Here’s the sub-groups that you need.” It’s that kind of community.

biz

You’re not alone. And also—Hotline always here! Hotline is always here for the calling and the talking. You’re doing a remarkable job under incredibly difficult circumstances and we see you? And hear you. And… you’re doing a great job! Theresa? You’re also doing a great job. I am… still… thrilled every time I get to see you. I always wish we could spiral off into all kind of—I mean, we could do a whole show on snacking in front of remote learning screens. A whole show!

theresa

Maybe someday we will.

biz

Maybe someday we will. Don’t worry—I’m keeping a list! [Both laugh.]

theresa

Thanks, Biz. You are also doing a very good job.

biz

Thank you. I’ll talk to you later!

theresa

Okay. Bye!

biz

Bye. Oh, I do love talking to Theresa and just people in general and now I’m going to ask the very important question—what did we learn today? Well, we learned that not only is everything “normal” right now, it is also important that we normalize many things that people experience. I actually don’t wanna normalize the coronavirus? [Laughs.] ‘Cause none of this is fucking normal and I don’t want to live in that normal yet? But mental health? [Singing] Normal! Having depression? Normal! Having, y’know, kids in your house? Normalll! [Regular voice] And I say that because, y’know, this whole idea of “I have to work! Where am I gonna put the kids?!” Well, they’re probably gonna wander through at some point in time. Because children are normal. So many things that we have touched on on this show over the years, the biggest takeaway has just been—guys? It’s probably more normal than you think. And the more we talk about these things without judgment and with an open mind, the better it’s going to be for not only us, but for our kids and our community. So good job, Todd, for writing that book! And good job for everybody who is out there talking about mental health awareness! Woo wooo! I appreciate you. Everybody? You’re doing a remarkable job. It is no joke that this pandemic is taking its toll on our mental health. I had therapy today and was talking about one thing very specifically, and then I just like casually brought up a few other things that had happened in the last two weeks? My therapist was like, “What?! Wait—what? Wait… what? Wow. No wonder you’re tired.” [Laughs.] It was like, “I am! I’m really emotionally very tired! This is a lot of heavy lifting!” And you’re all heavy lifting, too. Like, even the most mentally healthy person in the world—it is weirder if you are not feeling a little drained right now. Okay? And, you know what? We just got through an election. You guys did it. We all did it. We survived. We survived Halloween. Ya did it. We probably are not surviving daylight savings. Not even like a little bit because that always just fucks up everything when it comes to sleep in our house, and you all are doing a good job! Look at us! Day by day! I shoulda said [singing] Day by dayyyy! [Regular voice] And break out into a musical. We’re doing it. I see you. You’re doing a good job. Yes! The holidays are coming! Yes. They are there. But we don’t have to think about that right now. You’re all doing a good job. Go find your secret stash of candy that you already stole from the children. Cuddle up and give yourself a break. You’re all doing a good job and I will talk to you next week. Bye!

music

“Mama Blues” by Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans. Strumming acoustic guitar with harmonica and lyrics. _I got the lowdown momma blues_ Got 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, Gabe Mara; 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.]

music

A cheerful ukulele chord.

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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