TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Episode 379: Data Will Make Us Feel Better with Emily Oster

We are 9 months into the pandemic! Are you feeling better about how to make a decision about anything? I’m definitely NOT feeling better. Who can help? An economist! We welcome back economist Emily Oster to talk about data based risk assessment during Covid. Plus Biz is disappointed.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 379

Transcript

biz

Hi. I’m Biz.

theresa

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, data will make us feel better. We welcome back economist Emily Oster to talk about data-based risk assessment during COVID. Plus, Biz is disappointed.

crosstalk

Biz and caller: Woooo! [Biz laughs.]

caller

Okay, I was calling to leave a woo but also to leave a genius. My two-and-a-half-year-old and nine-month-old are napping at the same time and my husband is outside mowing the lawn. And I’m inside. It’s quiet. I’m just sitting. It’s great. So… it’ll probably never happen again— [Biz laughs.] —but I’m enjoying it while it’s happening. That’s my genius. Hang in there! We’re all doing a fucking amazing job. Bye. [Laughs.]

biz

Yes, we are doing a fucking amazing job. And I— [Laughs.] This—thank you for wooing. Thank you for leaving your genius. I really love the image of you just sitting? In a room? Or in the hallway, like, on the ground. Doesn’t matter. You’re just sitting somewhere. Wherever your body just dropped. You are sitting. And then that led me to think of like, what was that famous painting? Like, Whistler’s Mother? Is that what it’s called? I don’t know. But it’s the mother, just sitting. In a chair. Just sitting. And I thought, that makes sense. Now I will only look at fine pieces of art that are based on women just sitting as like having a moment to themselves! Just… sitting. So good job, just sitting. I have sat before. It is nice. It’s lovely. So I am glad you are doing well. Everybody—you’re all doing well. This is like a week where everybody is really essential. We are coming out on the other side of the election. Daylight savings may have sorted itself out. I don’t know. Not for me. And holidays are coming. And so I want—and COVID cases are rising again. And the news is not the best when it comes to that. So… I just wanna say… first off, thank you to everyone who voted in this election. It was incredibly important. Thank you for making that happen in whatever way you needed to make it happen. Thank you to the postal service and poll counters and… poll workers and ballot counters. This is a remarkable amount of work. And probably a rather thankless job and I see you and I thank you for the work you are doing. Thank you to all of the people in the medical profession. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Librarians, as always—thank you. Teachers—thank you! School administration—thank you! People at the grocery store working very hard—thank you! Like, I—it makes a difference. Our local store that wasn’t even the one we used to go to, we now have made a conscious choice that it is the only store we will go to because, y’know, there are still people out, like, wiping off the carts and handing them to you. And not just like a little wipe, but like wiping it all down! And I—and we always make a point to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” But it’s so nice! And it’s so necessary. Thank you to everyone wearing a mask correctly. That’s really good. So thank you, thank you. There’s so many people that need to be thanked and I just will never stop now. So thank you. I’m doing… eh, doing alright. First I need to give you guys a heads up. My darling, sweet Katy Belle, who is not eight but is actually eleven and growing up—making choices! [Laughs.] For herself! Has decided she would like to take on a more mature name of “Kat” instead of “Katy Belle.” And so she has said it is alright for me to let you guys know that so you will now hear me referring to Katy Belle as “Kat.” It just wouldn’t be One Bad Mother if we weren’t all changing the names of our children or our children changing their names at some point in time.

biz

Now, the holidays are coming, and I gotta admit—I’m not—I don’t think I’m going to do well with them. Usually I’m like… pretty smooth about holidays and happy when we get to do it just our sort of immediate family, but what I did not share with you guys, really, is over the last couple of years I’ve been working to try and get my folks out here from Alabama. ‘Cause there is no family in Alabama except my folks. And they… we have worked on trying to build a house in the backyard and make it work and make this house livable for us and it’s been basically two to three years of… learning a lot about Pasadena building codes and having to change things and things… being one thing one day and another day, rules changing again. And eventually we had to scrap those plans altogether for a variety of reasons. One, obviously, being COVID. So now nothing’s being built and my parents are still in Alabama and… y’know, they’re doing well. I just really was hoping… that… this would be a Thanksgiving we would have with them. Here. With the kids. And y’know I have missed having them be part of our life on a regular basis, and so I’m—I’m sad about it. I’m sad about it and I don’t really know how to make that period work. Like I don’t know… how to make… it… like a special time where… I can feel that they’re included at the same time that they’re not here. So I don’t know! Plus, Ellis’s birthday is at the end of this month and he’s turning seven and it was easy with Kat because she was old enough to watch movies with friends online and chat and like, y’know, do stuff. Seven-year olds? It’s just like all over the fucking place on a Zoom. No one’s listening. I don’t know how to make that special and I’m just getting a little bummed out! What I’d like to do is get on a plane and go visit my family. But that risk feels incredibly overwhelming. Which—nicely but sadly—ties into what we’re going to talk about today with Emily Oster: using data to assess risk.

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

biz

This week we are welcoming back Emily Oster, who is a Professor of Economics at Brown University. She holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University. Her academic work focuses on Health Economics and Statistical Methods. In addition to her academic work, Emily has written two bestselling books you’re all familiar with on data-driven parenting: Expecting Better and Crib Sheet. Emily’s work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, CNBC, Slate, and more. She has appeared on this show three times! In episode 40, 146, and 304, each time helping us navigate pregnancy and life with a baby using data [through laughter] to assess risk. And now she is applying that to the risks we face during the pandemic. Welcome back, Emily! Woo, woo, wooo!

emily

Thank youuu! Thank youuu! [Biz laughs.] I’m very excited to be back. We rescheduled—actually rescheduled this from like two days ago and I was explaining to my husband like I had to reschedule because I was not—I was so like down and tired and I was like, “But I love being on this podcast and I don’t wanna be like on the podcast being like [exhaustedly] hehhh.” So now I’m energized. I’m ready.

biz

Oh, was something happening last week?

crosstalk

Emily: No, nothing. I don’t know. Whatever. Nothing. It’s nothing. [Laughs.] Biz: That wasn’t… fun? [Laughs.]

biz

Well, let’s start with reminding us—who lives in your house?

emily

My husband and my two kids, who are now five and nine.

crosstalk

Biz: Wow. One Bad Mother—the time marker of guests. I know. [Laughs.] Emily: It really is. I know.

biz

How’s that going?

emily

Uh, it’s good! They’re in school. In person.

crosstalk

Biz: Wow. All days? Emily: Full-time. All day.

emily

All five days.

biz

Wow.

emily

7:30 to 3. [Biz gasps.] So it’s going good. Going good.

biz

What is—you live in Eden. [Laughs.]

emily

I do. I mean, I really like—it is one of the things about the pandemic where like, y’know, the littlest things? You’re like—I mean if you had asked me a year ago you’d be like, “What are your kids doing?” I’d be like, “Yeah, they go to school every day.” Now it’s like, “You don’t understand. They go to school every day.”

crosstalk

Biz: Every day. Take that! Yeah. Mine don’t. [Laughs.] Emily: Every day. So it’s been great. Yeah. It’s been great.

biz

Mine go to school every day in this house. I think actually this whole idea that you’ve got kids in school full time and I have kids remotely learning… is just a perfect segue into why we are so happy you are back on the show. I wanna talk about I—actually, I wanna start with just reminding us how data can help assess risk. Because when you first applied this to your pregnancy, I remember you were like, “Really? I can’t eat a deli sandwich? Like, what is that—like, really, where am I on the scale of risk? Can I not eat a deli sandwich today? Or sushi?” Right? Like, so… talk to us about the importance of data and risk assessment.

emily

Yeah. So obviously I believe that data is important for assessing risk. And I think, y’know, that’s—and I think, of course, parts of that are really obvious? Which are sort of like, of course I would like to—like before I decide to eat a deli sandwich or send my kids to school or do whatever it is, you kind of have this idea that you should evaluate how likely is it that something bad will happen if I do that. I think the piece—and so some of what I do in the books and now in the COVID space is really like answering the question, “Okay. Actually how risky is that?” But I think there’s another piece of it, which is to try to sort of put that risk in the context of other things? So like other risks that you’re taking. Right? So like the deli sandwiches is a good example of okay, y’know, it is true that like there have been examples of listeria coming from a ham sandwich. Right? Like that did one time happen. But y’know when you sort of—then you wanna calculate, like, what is the—what—if I never eat any ham sandwiches during my pregnancy, like, what am I going to do to my risk? And the answer is, y’know, maybe I lower it from 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 30,002. [Biz laughs.] It was like the change is so small! And you’re sort of like, hey, you’re actually not thinking about it. But every day you’re taking risks that are well beyond the kind of ham sandwich risk. [Biz laughs.] And so, y’know, it doesn’t mean you necessarily want to eat a ham sandwich, but it is also, y’know—like, somebody wrote to me just yesterday. Wrote me an email. And was like, “I’m pregnant and I am dying to have boxed mac and cheese. Like, it’s all I can think about. But I read something once about how boxed mac and cheese has a lot of phthalates in it.” Phthalates? Phalates? I don’t know that this is. And I was like, “Okay.” And it was like, “Is it okay?” And I was like, “Yeah. Yeah. It’s okay.” [Biz laughs.] Y’know, it’s okay. It’s okay. But it was sort of like that moment of—every day you’re doing a ton of things that are riskier than eating a box of mac and cheese? Like, I promise. I don’t know anything about your lifestyle but I promise you have taken risks larger than that mac and cheese box. And like you just like— [Biz laughs.] —move on.

biz

Did you take a shower? ‘Cause you could slip in the shower.

crosstalk

Biz: Did you get in a car? Yeah! Like just a piano! Yeah! Have you ever gotten in your car. Yeah. [Laughs.] Emily: Right. Exactly. Like at any moment you could be, y’know, have you ever gotten in your car. When you’re driving to the grocery store to pick up the mac and cheese box is riskier than eating a mac and cheese.

emily

That’s it! What?

biz

I know. And the deal is that like—and I think this is what’s important about data and risk assessment. And we’re sitting here kind of joking about mac and cheese boxes and junk food a little bit, but simultaneously we all have our own little box of, like, knowns. Right? Whether that be health issues that we know are there. Right? Or like we all—or relatives or family members that are in our house or nearby in which our choices affect them. We all are in different sort of classes and levels of risk. So y’know, if you have a super weak immune system, for example, maybe a ham sandwich during your pregnancy is not a good idea. But you can’t—we’re talking about the difference between… facts and taking factual data and then looking at that with our known history and making a decision. Not sweeping decisions based on sweeping statements. Right? Like, that’s… so… let’s talk about COVID. Because since it’s begun and amazingly now—nine months in to being in this house—I feel like I don’t feel any… more confident— [Laughs.] In what—I really don’t! Like I mean, there’s—look. I gotta go to the grocery store. And I gotta get food. But I—I do that once every like three weeks. Like, I have the big cart. Right? Like, y’know, we’re in California but we don’t have relatives. Like it’s—if they said they’ll open the school tomorrow, I would be camping out right now. Right? But… I’m also never going to a restaurant ever again. So like, I’m constantly feeling like—what—I don’t feel like I know more than I necessarily did? But I do feel a little more comfortable with the concept of assessing what my risk is. So talk to me a little bit about COVID Explained, which is a project that you’ve been working on, and the importance of understanding the data during this pandemic.

emily

I think one of the things that really struck me at the beginning? Was the sort of lack—even be—like before we got into the data, there was this period early on when I think people were really struggling with literally just the question of like how does the virus spread? And so the sort of origin of COVID Explained was really the idea that somehow people needed a kind of little bit of a virology crash course from somebody who is going to do a little bit of translational stuff, which is kind of more of the—that’s the space that I find myself in all the time. Is kind of, y’know, translating science for lay audiences.

biz

Right. For me! [Laughs.]

emily

Yeah! But just like people didn’t—it was hard for people to understand why should you wash your hands? And just making—I think there was this period where it was, you want to go to the grocery store, and I kind of have this idea that if someone has been there with COVID and they touch the salad box and then three hours later I touch it, I might just die. Like, I might just drop dead. Right there. Right there on the floor of the grocery store.

biz

Yes. That’s true, right? [Laughs.]

emily

Right! No. But then once you’re in that space it’s hard then to think about taking precautions because it’s like, well at any moment I could touch a salad box and drop dead. So why the fuck would I wash my hands? What are you talking about? And then once you have—it’s like, y’know, look. Actually the virus is not like a super—some kind of Superman thing. Like it has to get into the respiratory virus. It’s gotta get in. So if you’re wearing a mask and you wash your hands after you touch the salad box, even if somebody touched it—and by the way, now we know that doesn’t really live that great on surfaces so probably that was not really—really didn’t need to wash your groceries. But even in this phase where we thought you had to wash your groceries, it’s still, y’know, washing your hands afterwards is like okay. So I think we have learned more, but it is still—so when we were starting COVID Explained it was partly just to like say, look. Here’s why some of these things are gonna work, and if you have a better understanding of that then you’re going to be better able to make choices. That was sort of the first stage. And then even on top of that, then as we get into more of—okay, well now what are the activities it’s really okay to do? That’s where you kinda need the data. Because of course it is possible that COVID is well-spread at restaurants and bars and all these different places. At schools and so on. But we actually need to see some data to understand not just is it possible for that to happen, but how common is that. Y’know, where is the sort of source—the most common source.

biz

Alright. Well let’s get into what you guys have been finding out so far. Because I am… in a city. In a state. Here in California. Where apparently they have assessed that bars, restaurants, and gyms are reasonable to open up, but our schools are not open. And there are some daycares and preschools are open, but like… in fact, my school may start letting my first-grader back in an outdoor space, but my sixth-grader, who would be at the same school, not back yet. 35% can come back. La, la, la, la. Alright. But I could definitely go to the gym tomorrow if I wanted to go to the gym. I mean, do you have any insight into why that decision was made versus a school—like, why are your schools open? It’s not fair?

emily

Well, the answer to that is that my governor— [Biz laughs.] —is really great, and she forced them to open because she’s the best. But I mean, look. I think one of the biggest—one of the most frustrating things about the school reopen stuff is that it has, like, somehow we have put it last. Right? If you sort of look at Europe—Europe is like, “We are gonna lockdown. No restaurants. Don’t go out to a bar. Don’t leave your house. We’re gonna monitor you. Except for schools and essentials. Except for essential services, like schools and hospitals.” And it’s like that’s the last thing. And the thing—I think the reason that that reflects—people think about that reflecting benefits. Like, how do we value schools? But it also—it is increasingly clear that schools are not a high-risk activity, particularly schools for younger kids. There are a lot of places in America where schools are open, like, y’know, some of them are places like where I am, but some of them are places like North Dakota. And South Dakota. And Wisconsin. And places with really bad COVID. And even there, when you talk to schools, yeah, it’s true that a lot of people affiliated with the school have COVID, but they are mostly not getting it at school and they do contact tracing. It doesn’t look like that is a major source of spread. If you put that together with the benefits? It really seems like schools should be kind of a high-priority open and not a low-priority open. And I think this has been a source of a lot of—like, for me that aspect is most frustrating because I can see people saying we should have—I think it’s consistent to say “Nothing should be open.” Like, we should all be locked in our houses and we should never go out. I’m not sure I think that’s the best solution, but at least that’s a consistent, y’know, a consistent view of the world. To say it’s totally fine to have gyms and restaurants at 40% capacity and bars and small weddings, but somehow not kindergarten—in-person kindergarten—that seems to be a poor decision from both public health and, y’know—

biz

Mental health?

emily

Mental health. Societal benefits. Like, seems bad. Seems bad. Seems bad.

biz

Yeah. No, it’s bad. So how do… I find and interpret the data to make my choices? So for example—yes. If they said school opened tomorrow, I would be there the night before. Maybe having done some research or maybe just ready to take a risk. But how would I look for and read that data as a person who’s not—that’s not my strength? [Laughs.]

emily

So we have a dashboard.

crosstalk

Biz: I know you do! I know you do! I did! I did. I even took the risk assessment. Emily: So I have—yeah, like go look at my dashboard. You did!

biz

And I don’t understand it.

emily

No, no. But I have like a—literally a dashboard of school infection rates. And so you can go to the dashboard and you can say, y’know, and what you can see—I think really what you can see in the dashboard is that the rates in the school are the community rates. And y’know the rates in kids are lower than in the community; the rates in staff and high school students are basically the same as what we’re seeing in the community. So that tells you a little bit what to expect. It also tells you there’s not a lot of spread in schools. So, y’know, it sort of tells you if you choose to send your kid to school, they’re probably not at much higher risk there—if at all—than, y’know, whatever you’re choosing to do with them at home. Now, of course, that depends a little bit on what you’re choosing to do with them at home. So definitely if you and your family have not left the house in eight months? Then leaving the house to go to school is going to increase your risk a small amount. It’s not gonna increase it as much as, say, starting to go to a lot of restaurants or indoor waterparks or, y’know, large singing events. Or whatever other things you’re thinking about doing. [Biz laughs.]

biz

I’m thinking about indoor _waterpark_s all day. All day.

emily

Indoor waterparks are one of my—like you know that stuff’s open in Massachusetts. Right? Like, there was like—I get—my husband at some point was like, “What are we gonna do?” I was like, “Well, I just got an email from the Great Wolf Lodge that they’re doing a lot of extra cleaning and we could go to a waterpark.” He was like, “You don’t understand. We get sick when we go to there. That’s like the main place you get sick.”

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah. On a good day. Indoors! I just love— Emily: On a good day! COVID or no, you definitely get [inaudible] at a waterpark. It’s a—you go to vomit.

emily

You’re vomiting the next day.

crosstalk

Emily: Probability of one. Definitely. That’s with the indoor waterpark. Exactly. [Laughs.] Biz: Yeah. No matter what. You’re going home with something extra from the lazy river.

biz

It’s totally fucking worth it!

crosstalk

Emily: No, absolutely! Absolutely. Maybe not in the era of COVID. Biz: I would be—yeah. Anyway. No! No.

biz

Everything’s different in the era of COVID. My sister and I were joking about like Halloween parties? We were like, “Could you imagine bobbing for apples now?” And she was like, “That’s like a waterpark for your mouth.” That’s like— [Emily laughs.] —what bobbing for apples—

emily

It’s funny to watch. I find it now sort of funny to watch television? Where people are like physically interacting in groups? I mean, I’m watching some really great HBO show called—about this NXIVM sex cult?

crosstalk

Emily: Which I totally recommend. It’s great. Very interesting. Right! But—yes! Biz: Oh yeah. The NXIVM sex cult. Yeah. Can we have sex cults during COVID? [Laughs.]

emily

Sex cults are frowned upon. And they’re like playing volleyball in these big groups and sitting close to each other and hugging, y’know. And it’s like a totally regular—it’s not like they’re showing the sex cult part. But even seeing people physically interacting in groups is like… it’s like, wha…? Put on your mask, man! Don’t do that! Blech!

biz

Blech! [Laughs.]

emily

You’re getting COVID doing that!

biz

That’s right! You have COVID now!

crosstalk

Emily: You have COVID. It’s like the Rose Garden. It’s the Rose Garden of sex cults. Let’s get serious. Yeah. Let’s go. Biz: That’s right. You’ve got the COVID. [Laughs.] Alright. Let’s help people. Let’s help people. Because it is…

biz

It is terrifying. It’s terrifying! And we get so many mixed messages from everywhere. We were just talking the other day, Stefan and I, about like—it is amazing to us how there are people who are just fine without knowing facts. Like, they don’t need any facts. They’re okay just taking what’s said at face value and just being like, “Yeah! That’s good!” And so I—y’know, I actually wanna circle back because you’re very familiar with COVID Explained ‘cause you’ve been working with it, and I am familiar ‘cause I have gone to look at it and tried some of the tools you’ve made available on it. But now let’s pretend—like my mother used to say when you’re writing the book report, “You gotta pretend no one’s read the book.” Right? So… take us back ‘cause we’ve just done a lot of talking as if everybody’s read the book. COVID Explained—this website—this data collection site—tell us… what this is. Like, at its core.

emily

Okay. So there’s basically two pieces of this. So there’s—so COVID Explained, as a sort of overall website? Is designed as a place that you can go and see some basic information about COVID. So we have longform explainers on the path of the virus—how does it actually get in? What would happen if you got it? We have some discussions of treatments and vaccines and, sort of like, where that has gone. We have a lot of discussion of things like impacts on kids; impacts on pregnancy; sort of really running through, like, okay, if you’re thinking about the risks associated with pregnancy during COVID, like, here’s a kind of explainer for what kind of—what those risks are and how you should think about this. There’s a lot of stuff about kids and families and sort of those—and those risks. So that’s kind of one piece of it. And then there are… there’s an—oh, and I should say, one piece of that is there’s like some—some sort of childcare, so a discussion of childcare and the links to some decision tools to try to help you think about, y’know, what kind of—if you have the option, like what kind of childcare is good—should you be thinking about. And then there is a link to this school project, which is sort of part of this but I think sort of fundamentally kind of larger and separate, in which we’ve worked with a bunch of other partners including this sort of School Superintendents Association and a data processing firm called Qualtrics, and we have kind of put together this whole dashboard website about COVID and schools where we get in data from schools and districts and we’ve been tracking them over time and trying to figure out, y’know, what does COVID look like and so that has gotten to be a much larger project. So in the most recent wave of that—that’s been going on for y’know a couple months now, I mean the most recent wave of the data we have data on, like, 1.7 million in-person students and we have, y’know, infection rates in that group. In the next round I think it’ll be even more. So that’s become a much broader sort of bigger kind of project that goes beyond the website.

biz

But there are—you do have these tools. I fiddled around with my COVID risks. My risk-benefit matrix.

emily

Oh, your risk-benefit matrix! I love the risk-benefit matrix.

biz

I did—there’s a matrix, guys! And you go through and—like, there’s activities. There’s like a list of generic sort of activities, I guess some people like doing things. My risk was— [Laughs.] Weird. ‘Cause I’m like, “What?! Go to a mall?”

crosstalk

Emily: Never do that. Go to—yeah. Biz: “Zero! I wouldn’t go to a crowded area ever! Yuck!”

biz

Zero! Right? So it’s your benefit factor which means—I’m assuming—I interpreted that to mean, “What benefit would I get out of going?” Like, pure joy or like, “Eh, it’s alright,” or zero benefit. And then you can put in if you’re thinking you’re gonna do it or have done it in like a two-week period. Now that was—there were some depressing moments there. I was like, “I would love that! And that benefit would be huge!” And then it’s like, “But I haven’t done it. We’re not—haven’t done it! We’re not doing it!” So I filled it out. My total benefit was 40 and my total risk—15.

emily

Hm. So you’re not taking enough risks.

biz

Yeah, clearly! Is that what that means?

crosstalk

Biz: That I’m not taking— [Laughs.] Emily: Yeah, that’s what that means, yeah.

emily

You’re not taking enough risks. That’s what it means.

biz

I’m not taking any risks. We just—

emily

I mean I think part of that—sort of the idea with that matrix is to try to like… it’s just to try to help people both navigate how they would—there’s a piece of this which is ranking things. Right? Sort of saying basically if you really love, y’know, if like you’ve—I don’t know. The mall’s a little bit—but like—

crosstalk

Biz: No, no. Let’s say camping. Okay. Let’s say tennis. Tennis. Emily: Let’s say you had something—yeah. Well camping is like very—I’m trying to think about something that’s sort of intermediate. Tennis.

emily

Something where like you could get—yes, if you get too close to somebody it could, but it’s basically a pretty low-risk activity. If you really love that? Then that should be sort of high—you should rank that highly. And I think part of what we’re also trying to get at here is the idea that there’s a little bit of a risk budget, which is like—you may wanna almost use your risk budget in some things rather than others? Like you could sort of say “I’m willing to take some amount of COVID risk because I just have to accept that—but I wanna take it in things that I value a lot.” My husband and I were talking about this the other day. He was like—we were driving somewhere and our kids were begging us to stop at a rest stop for Doritos. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] And my husband was just like, “You know, guys? I’m not getting COVID for Doritos at a rest stop. That’s not where I’m gonna spend—” Y’know, there are things we’re willing to do. We send our kids to in-person school. We go to our jobs. There are some things we’re willing to do. I’m not willing to use any of my risk points for rest stop Doritos. And I think that there’s that, y’know, that’s it. So maybe some of these things are your rest stop Doritos. But it sounds like maybe you’re not doing enough things.

crosstalk

Emily: That’s what I get from it. Sounds like you have no rest— Biz: Sounds like I have no rest stop Doritos. [Laughs.]

emily

It sounds like you’re very far from rest stop Doritos.

biz

It sounds like I need to reevaluate. [Laughs.] Maybe I should—

emily

Now you could—now—the thing is now you have a lot of risk points. You could spend them on rest stop Doritos.

biz

I could. [Laughs.]

emily

It’s true.

biz

It’s—truer words. Emily? Choices are really hard right now. There are no good choices lots of times. Is there anything you’re like, “Know this. I’ve looked at data—just do no—try—understand—"

emily

Yeah. I think there are a few things. A bit like pregnancy. It’s like a few things where I would say, y’know, things are really clear in one direction or another. So, outdoor activities are way safer than indoor activities. If you are worried about going hiking ‘cause you think if you go hiking, you touch a tree, and someone touched the tree? Like, that’s not a thing. So if you—things sort of like outdoor—hiking—and I would honestly put playgrounds in that space, too? Like we really do not have any evidence of people getting COVID at playgrounds? This was like a thing early on, the idea that stuff could live on the—it’s just—y’know, no. So I mean—if there’s like a ton of other kids at the playground that’s a different story, but like solitary—early morning playground play? Y’know, I would say those—the sort of generally things outdoors are looking pretty good. And then there’s a set of things really should not be doing. Largely singing. Or at least—indoor singing is really bad. [Biz laughs.] Like a lot of these like major—like major spreader events involve singing or like loud talking inside. So getting drinking, getting in people’s faces—

biz

Karaoke: not a good idea.

emily

Yeah. The thing I think is really hard right now that I am personally struggling with is like we’re coming up on a time when I would typically want to see my family? When I would typically plan to see my family? And I think one of the things we’re seeing is a ton of the COVID risk at the moment is associated with sort of small, indoor gatherings? Y’know, where it’s not—it’s not a big conference; it’s not—but it’s kinda “We got together. There was some wine. We were inside. We took our masks off of course to drink the wine and then you’re kinda in the people’s face—” So there’s sort of a little bit of a letting of the guard down and I think that it’s hard for people to—so y’know, going to Thanksgiving with your family is actually a fairly high-risk activity where it’s very difficult to lower the risk. On the other hand, y’know, in the moment? On the other hand, there is a real trade-off there because people are sad. And I guess… I guess that’s the other thing I would say is sort of like echo the thing you said of there’s no good choices? Which is kind of—we are used to, when we make decisions, feeling good about them? Like, feeling—y’know, like when you choose—we still talk about when you choose a preschool. When you choose a preschool like maybe you are not sure—should you do this one? Should you do this one? But usually when you finish the choice you’re like, “Yeah. That was a good choice. I feel good about this. I’m excited. My kid’s gonna have a good time. It’s gonna be great.” And here it’s like… if you choose to see your family for Thanksgiving or just in general, you will probably be anxious the whole time. And if you choose not to see them, you will be sad. And there’s no option where you feel great. There’s no, like, “I enjoy this preschool that I chose” option. There is only anxious or sad. [Biz laughs.] And kind of the faster that we recognize—although it’s a terrible thing to recognize, like, once you recognize that then it’s sort of like, I think it’s just—we’re spending too much time on these choices because we keep thinking, “Oh, where’s secret option C? Like, where’s secret option C where I don’t feel anxious inside?” No. No secret option C. There’s just A, anxious; B, sad. That’s it. You’re just gonna have to pick one. You gotta pick—anxious or sad. Two choices.

biz

Pick it!

crosstalk

Biz and Emily: Pick it! Pick it!

biz

Oh. Well. That’s a great note to end on. [Laughs.] Each your ham sandwich—

crosstalk

Biz: —in anxiety and sadness! Emily: Eat your ham sandwich! [Laughs.]

emily

And chocolate.

biz

And chocolate. [Singing] So much! [Regular voice] Emily? Thank you.

emily

Thank you.

biz

So much. It is… always great having you on. And it always is inspiring and makes me feel a little less anxious knowing you’re out there collecting the data on—like when most of us who don’t know how to collect it or understand it are like, “God, I just wish somebody would be like, ‘Look! Right here! Here’s—‘”

emily

I’m there for you!

biz

I know! And then you hear, like, in the wild—that’s how I realized you were doing this was we had another guest on. We were talking about choices and work and how this is disproportionately affecting women. And she was like, “Well, then Emily Oster’s out collecting data on preschools.” And I was like, “Hot damn! Emily Oster’s out there collecting—of course she saw there was a void that needed to be filled in data collection! Get that woman on the show!” So thank you.

crosstalk

Emily: Thank you. Well, I love being on here so this is such a treat. Thank you. Biz: You are like an economist superhero. And we love you. So thank you.

biz

You are welcome. And we will make sure that we link everybody up to where they can find COVID Explained and how to use the tools there, as well as your previous books that, y’know, are must-buys for everybody who is pregnant or has a kid in their house. So thank you, thank you, and good luck with your holiday choices! [Laughs.]

emily

[Through laughter] Thank you very much. You, too. [Laughs.]

biz

Alright. Bye!

emily

Bye.

music

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

music

Laid-back guitar plays in background.

theresa

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Dipsea. We talk a lot about physical health and mental health, but what about sexual health? Whether you hit the gym, take a walk, or meditate, if you want to take care of your whole self you need to prioritize your pleasure along with your body and mind.

biz

Dipsea is an audio app full of short, sexy stories and wellness sessions that are designed to turn you on and help you get in touch with yourself. I… downloaded it. I thought, “I’ll just go check out one of the short stories. Oh, will there be questions as to what I like? Ooh! Okay! I’ll—” [Theresa laughs.] “What do I like? It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about that!” And then I listened thinking I would just listen to like, y’know, a little 11-minute story. That’s nice. Then an hour later I had the earbuds in and— [Laughs.]

theresa

And for listeners of the show, Dipsea is offering a 30-day free trial when you go to DipseaStories.com/badmother. That’s a 30-day free trial when you go to D-I-P-S-E-AStories.com/badmother. DipseaStories.com/badmother. [Music fades out.]

music

Cheerful ukulele and whistling plays in background.

theresa

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Varsity Tutors. It’s been challenging for students to transition from being in a classroom for seven hours a day to learning from home. Yeah. Yeah, it has. [Biz laughs.] Varsity Tutors delivers free, live enrichment classes taught by experts that make learning fun.

biz

So Kat—as I have mentioned—is very interested in learning how to speak Japanese. And we tried a few different ways to help her with this, and what has worked the most has been Varsity Tutors. She’s been involved in a several-session-long class and she is speaking Japanese. And it’s kind of—

crosstalk

Theresa: Cool! Biz: —amazing!

biz

[Through laughter] It really is cool! And I’m not gonna insult everybody by trying to pronounce all the different things that she has learned. Thank you, Varsity Tutors, for doing this instead of me. [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

To reserve your spot in a free class, go to VarsityTutors.com/badmother. That’s VarsityTutors.com/badmother. Give your child the confidence and keys to success today at VarsityTutors.com/badmother.

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

Geeeniusss fail time, Theresaaaa! Wooooo! Y’know, I gotta tell ya—this… this would’ve been a really hard week except for the fact that I got to see Theresa.

theresa

Aw.

biz

This—I mean it!

crosstalk

Biz: I mean it! Theresa: You’re too kind. No.

theresa

I look forward to this all week as well.

biz

This is—I—holding—

theresa

Let’s hold onto this.

crosstalk

Biz: Death grip! That’s right. Theresa: Hold on tight to this.

biz

Just diamonds will fall out of our hands. [Theresa laughs.] I’m gripping so tight. With that said, genius fail time, Theresa. Genius me!

clip

[Dramatic, swelling music in background.] Biz: Wow! Oh my God! Oh my God! I saw what you did! Oh my God! I’m paying attention! Wow! You, mom, are a genius. Oh my God, that’s fucking genius! [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their respective genius moments of the week.]

theresa

Okay. I just… [Biz laughs.] I feel like I just deserve a genius moment for how hard I’ve been working on the distance learning with Oscar, my first-grader. I just deserve it. I just do. Like I’m not saying I solved anything or like— [Biz laughs.] —it’s going great or anything? It’s just a lot of work. Complex learner. Plus, seven-year-old in the house trying to learn. Hates Zoom. Like so many aspects of this are so hard and I just feel like—I’ve been so depleted and sad and frustrated, but also there have been moments of, like, progress and we’ve been trying new things—I’m just like not giving up. Like I’m not even going [with determination] “I’m gonna do this!” Like, I’m not giving up. Like I’m just doing it. I’m just—keep going. Keep trying. Blah, blah, blah. That counts as a genius moment.

biz

I think it really does. And it also counts as a good job. Like, it’s—I ended—I think it was last week’s show, I talked about like, I had this moment of realization of why “you’re doing a good job” was so important? ‘Cause I was in that same place of the “children don’t care about all this effort.” They don’t really see it. Like, no one is really seeing all this work! All this trying and researching and looking and prepping and—ugh—to make it work! No one sees it. And therefore no one is going to tell me I am doing a good job. So yes! What you did is genius. And continues to be genius. You, Theresa, are getting really good at this.

crosstalk

Theresa: Oh, I needed to hear that. So good. So needed. Thank you. Biz: How’s—how’s that? Yeah. Yeah.

biz

You are getting really good at this.

theresa

Thank you.

biz

Okay. So this morning we are like eating. Dining table is in our den. We have just like a small den, eat everything. Everything is all in one place. So it’s wedged in this area where—

theresa

It’s called an open floor plan, Biz. [Laughs.]

biz

Oh, sure. Yeah. Okay. I will— [Laughs.] It is—what is it?

crosstalk

Biz: 200—one room? Theresa: It is a one-room home.

biz

Right. Where you can see from one side of the—anyway. “Open floor plan” sounds like there’s a vaulted ceiling.

crosstalk

Theresa: I know. I know! It does! I know. I know. Biz: There’s no, like— [Laughs.]

biz

I can touch the ceiling. Anyway. So the table is near the fireplace and Kat sits—we’re all like, it’s benches. They’re benches on either side so it’s a picnic-y kind of thing. And Stefan and Kat sit on one side and Ellis and I sit on the other. And Kat is closest to the fireplace and the mantle. And… this morning I said to everybody in the family—I just called it out. I said, “I’m gonna need you guys to all recognize that there is something I am no longer doing.” And Stefan immediately said, “Watch your head?” And I said, “Yes!” Every time Kat gets up, I see her turning into the mantle—I mean, that’s how close it is. I mean, it’s really close! Like, or standing up into the mantle or turning into the mantle or walking into the mantle. It doesn’t matter. Every time—and by the way, she has done that. Like, not in recent years, but it happened once. And I’ve been sitting on it and not saying it. And everybody goes, “Ohhhh! Yes, you are—” that, y’know, “Good job!” Kat’s like, “You’re doing a good job.” “Unless you want me to tell you to watch your head, baby.” And she was like, “No. I’m good.” So I felt that was an ignored thing that needed to be seen. ‘Cause that is hard.

theresa

That is great. Good job doing it— [Biz laughs.] —and then good job, like, requesting acknowledgment for that.

crosstalk

Theresa: ‘Cause you’re right. Nobody’s gonna say it. Yeah. Biz: That’s right. ‘Cause they always make fun—yeah.

biz

They always make fun of the fact that I’m constantly, like, “Watch your step. Watch your step. Watch your head. Watch your step. Watch your head. Watch your step.” Blah, blah, blah, blah. My mother still does it to me. Okay? They always are like, “Stop saying it!” But no one cares when you do stop saying it. So fuck you! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Well now they do!

biz

Now they care!

theresa

You made them care!

biz

I will wake them up in the middle of the night! “Wake up! Kat! Wake up! Watch your head. Watch your head! Appreciate me!”

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother. This is Gabriel from Oklahoma. I’m calling with a genius moment. Our youngest, for about the past year, since he started wearing shoes ‘cause he could walk, loves taking his shoes off. Particularly in the car while we’re driving to or from daycare. So every morning I hear the little “clunk, clunk” as the shoes come off halfway there, and then I’ve gotta wrestle those little shoes onto his fat, little feet in this awkward position. It’s him in the car seat before we get out. So I started—I took a pair of my socks, and when I put him in the car seat, I’ll put a sock over his whole foot with the shoe on, all the way up to his knee on both feet, and he can’t get the shoes off. So we get to daycare, I peel the socks off, we have shoes on the feet and we’re ready to go. So I’ve been doing that for—well, a few months now—and it’s been working brilliantly. Thanks, guys! Keep up the good work. Bye.

theresa

That’s amazing.

biz

That is amazing! I also like the time you took to give it the scientific study to really prove the theory.

crosstalk

Theresa: Months of success before calling this in. [Laughs.] Biz: Yeah, months of success! [Laughs.]

biz

I—months of success is like dog years in success, right? It’s like, you’ve just lived a lifetime of success. If you’ve had months of doing this? Wow. You are doing a good job!

theresa

Really good job.

biz

Wow. 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. I… on Monday… broke down in a screaming rage fit at my family. Which hasn’t happened in a while.

biz

Not in a while!

theresa

But was— [Biz laughs.] It really snuck up on me? But it was truly a screaming, crying rage fit at my family. Like in the morning before stuff was supposed to happen? [Laughs.]

biz

Wow. Tell me more. [Laughs.]

theresa

And—I mean, like, it’s— [Sighs.] The whole thing was, this is—it’s kind of what you were alluding to earlier. There’s too much for me to do. Nobody’s noticing that I’m like essentially serving them. Like—

biz

Yes!

theresa

I’m serving them.

biz

Yes, you are!

theresa

Basically. Like that’s what it—

crosstalk

Biz: It feels… Theresa: Like, I’m maybe not literally serving them?

theresa

But I’m at their service. [Biz laughs.] Like— [Laughs.] All day long! Just day after day! And Monday morning are always really hard for me and I should see them coming by now? Because even though we don’t necessarily have, like, as many places to go as we used to on Monday mornings? It’s like I’m really depleted from the weekend of just nothingness and having everyone there and being off schedule and whatever. And then it’s like the first day where people have things expected of them again and they are not handling that well and they’re not nice about it. They don’t wanna be helpful about that. They’re upset! They have stuff they have to do that they don’t wanna do. And—again, I should see this coming. But even though I see it coming, it didn’t—that didn’t soften the blow of it happening, and me just getting to the point of feeling like, wow, I’ve been working—working!—for hours— [Biz laughs.] —since it was dark out. It was also the day after daylight savings. Yeah. So I’m sure that contributed. But I was like, I’ve been like working and I’m still rushing and not done and no one’s help—like, I just… it was all—to the point where people were very concerned. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] And people immediately came to apologize and check on me and— [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. Yes! Yes! This is like where—

theresa

You can’t do that too often. [Laughs.]

biz

No. You can’t do it too often. But I think every once in a while, it’s worth it. I— [Theresa laughs.] I remember finding letters sometimes from Kat saying, like, “You are doing a… a really nice job. I’ve—here’s a dollar!” Right? [Laughs.]

theresa

[Through laughter] Totally!

biz

Like, you’re like, “Oh, I clearly—clearly scarred that one for life.” Wow. I hear you and I see you. No, yes. You are failing by showing your emotions to your children. [Theresa laughs.] But at the same time, oh man. I could talk for hours about being in the service of the people in this house. All… day.

theresa

Don’t know how to get out of it. Don’t know how to stop it.

biz

Well I would like to see you do a month-long trial in which—

crosstalk

Theresa: A few months. Yeah. Biz: In which you break down—a few months—

biz

—of you screaming every day. What was it? What was it? “Try something different!”

theresa

Oh, yeah! Try something different! Yeah!

biz

Try something different! Wow. Mine’s gonna sound like a real asshole sort of thing after that. I… went and did the big, like, pre-apocalyptic grocery run before the election but, y’know, cases are rising. War is imminent. Then the next morning I go to pour the milk on my cereal and it is a little watery. I bought totally skim milk! [Laughs.]

theresa

Oh!

biz

God! We are a 2% milk household and I would be a whole household—

theresa

We’re whole. We’re whole.

biz

I would be whole except Stefan’s like a 2%-er. And it’s just like, eh, I don’t care. My kids aren’t drinking milk so what do I care? Besides taste. And flavor. But the water milk…

theresa

In your coffee?

biz

The water milk had—oh! Try to make foam out of water milk! I mean, you can do it but it’s not—

crosstalk

Theresa: And the flavor. It’s like, why am I doing this? It just makes it worse! Yeah. Yeah. Biz: Every—there’s no flavor! It’s water. It’s water.

biz

And I was like, “I can’t believe”—and it’s the same color! I went to a different store! Same color! Light blue! Light blue. Light blue’s supposed to be 2.

crosstalk

Theresa: So wrong. So wrong. Biz: 2%. Not…

biz

Yeah. So you guys— [Laughs.] I am doing a horrible job!

theresa

And now you’ll never have a chance to buy the milk that you want.

biz

You are correct. It’s over!

theresa

It’s over! [Laughs.]

biz

It’s another four years of skim—skim milk! Ugh. No wonder I’m in a horrible mood all the time. [Theresa laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hey, all! I am calling with an awesome fail. So… Nano just turned four. And I was up late getting all—everything wrapped and put together ‘cause, y’know. We do it last minute. So then here comes the big day. We get the whole family on Zoom, all excited. She’s ready to unwrap. She gets her first present. She unwraps it. It’s a cool Toy Story scratch pad ‘cause she’s, like, loves Toy Story! Of course! And then her brother goes, “Hey, that’s mine.” And I was like, “No.” Like, “Oh, maybe you had one, too, and it was not her one—one for her.” He goes, “No, look, the stick’s missing.” [Biz laughs.] So somehow his scratch pad had ended up by her presents and it got wrapped and then she opened it— [Laughs.] And it was her first present she opened and it wasn’t even hers. Oh my gosh. Hanging in there. Hanging in there. [Biz laughs.]

theresa

That’s so funny. You could so see that happening, though, too!

biz

Yeah. Oh, yeah. And you never know which way that’s gonna go in terms of reactions. Right? Like—like is that hers now?

theresa

Yeah, I know!

crosstalk

Biz: Right? Like, that’s my question is— Theresa: I would be torn. I’d be like, “Well, I’ll get you another one—"

theresa

“—‘cause this one is now hers ‘cause she just opened it on her birthday.” [Laughs.]

biz

Can you go wrap the stick?

theresa

Go find the stick!

biz

Yeah! Go find the stick under your bed and wrap it! Give it to your sister. Yeah. That’s… a hard show-opener, as it were. I am—wow. I just like how—just wrapping. It’s the remote control. There’s the—unwrapping the remote. Unwrapping the 2% milk that you were supposed to have gotten. Just whatever’s around. You’re wrapping it. Well, you’re doing a horrible job wrapping presents. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

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

Inspirational music plays in background.

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in part by ThirdLove.

theresa

ThirdLove uses the measurements of millions of women to design bras with all-day comfort and support. I really love my ThirdLove bras. I think theyr’e pretty much the only bras I buy anymore, and I kind of like how they have so many different styles depending on the day and depending on my mood. They also have so many specific sizes. So they have an online quiz. You can take their online fit-finder quiz to find the size and styles that are right for you. ThirdLove is dedicated to creating bras that focus on what matters—keeping you comfortable!

biz

ThirdLove knows there’s a perfect bra for everyone, so right now they are offering our listeners 10% off your first order! Woo! Go to ThirdLove.com/mother now to find your perfect fitting bra and get 10% off your first purchase. That’s ThirdLove.com/mother for 10% off today! [Music fades out.]

promo

[A telephone rings.] Hotshot Hollywood Producer: Listen, I’m a hotshot Hollywood movie producer. Music: Fun, grooving music begins to play quietly in the background. Producer: You have until I finish my glass of [articulating] kom-bu-cha to pitch me your idea. Go. [Slurping sounds.] Ify: Alright! It’s called Who Shot Ya?: a movie podcast that isn’t just a bunch of straight, white dudes. I’m Ify Nwadiwe, the new host of the show and a certified BBN. Producer: BBN? Ify: Buff Black Nerd. Alonso: I’m Alonso Duralde, an elderly gay and legit film critic who wrote a book on Christmas movies. Drea: I’m Drea Clark, a loud, white lady from Minnesota. Ify: Each week, we talk about a new movie in theaters and all the important issues going on in the film industry. Alonso: It’s like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner meets Cruising. Ify: And if it helps seal the deal? I can flex my muscles while we record each episode. Producer: I’m sorry, this is a podcast?! I’m a movie producer. [Disdainfully] How did you get in here? Drea: Ify, quick! Start flexing! Ify: [Dramatically] Bicep! Lats! Chest! Who Shot Ya?, dropping every Friday on MaximumFun.org, or wherever you listen to podcasts. [Music ends.]

promo

Music: Gentle, upbeat piano music. Helen Hong: Hey, J. Keith. J. Keith van Straaten: Hey, Helen! Hey, you’ve got another true/false quiz for me? Helen: Yep! Our trivia podcast Go Fact Yourself used to be in front a live audience. J. Keith: True! Turns out that’s not so safe anymore. Helen: Correct! Next. Unfortunately this means we can no longer record the show. J. Keith: False! The show still comes out every first and third Friday of the month. Helen: Correct! Finally, we still have great celebrity guests answering trivia about things they love on every episode of Go Fact Yourself. J. Keith: Definitely true. Helen: And for bonus points, name some of them. J. Keith: Recently we’ve had, uh, Ophira Eisenberg plus tons of surprise experts like Yeardley Smith and Suzanne Somers. Helen: Perfect score! J. Keith: Woohoo! Helen: You can hear Go Fact Yourself every first and third Friday of the month, with all the great guests and trivia that we’ve always had. And if you don’t listen, you can go fact yourself! J. Keith: That’s the name of our podcast! Helen: Correct! J. Keith: Woohoo! [Music finishes.]

biz

[Singing] Here we arrrrre! Back with Theresa! [Regular voice] And it’s time to… sit back and listen to a mom have a breakdown.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, Biz and Theresa. Single mom here who has been listening to your show for several years now. And… I can’t say this is a genius, fail, or a rant, but rather a thank-you. For… [tearfully] having something available to someone who feels so overwhelmed. [Long, tearful pause.] And needs to hear that there are other people out there going through the same thing. [Long, tearful pause.] You’re doing a really good job.

biz

You… are doing a really good job. And I thought this—like, I wanted to play this clip because it is—I—I will spend every show reminding people they are not alone. [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: Like, if that’s all we come on and do— Theresa: That’s enough. Yeah!

biz

That’s enough! Because it’s… so fucking much! [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah.

biz

And… everybody out there is in a different situation to some degree. Right? We all don’t have the same kids. We all don’t have the same, y’know, partner set-up. We all don’t have the same home structure; extended family; work-life balance; I mean, it just—the list goes on and on and on about how we are all walking through this differently and yet? We are not alone when it comes to how hard it is.

theresa

Yeah. The word that stuck out from everything you said—to me—was “overwhelm.” Like, that has been just the recurring theme of this time in my life. It is overwhelming. It is overwhelming. It’s too much!

biz

Yeah. It feels like—you’re like, if you’ve ever been in an ocean or a wave pool where you’re trying to get somewhere and then you just get fucking knocked back? Jerked back? Knocked back? You’re like, ehh, you’re kind of floating? You’re like, “Finally I’m in the right position to body surf!” And then you get like a mouth full of sand and like your swimsuit—you’re turning it inside-out with all the sand. It’s not as fun. It’s not what you expected. It’s like all those things. And I—it’s just this constant churning? And slow movement, and I—it is overwhelming. And yeah. I… we see you?

theresa

And we’re with you.

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Yeah.

biz

You are doing a really remarkable job.

theresa

Yeah. You are.

biz

Theresa? You are also doing a good job. And never stop coming back to do these genius and fails and rants. Or I will come over—I’ll do what, like, Ellis is always making these random threats? “If you don’t, I’m going to shower you in trash!” [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

crosstalk

Theresa: Oh my god. That… is great. Yeah. Biz: By the way, which—Kat was like—

biz

“Yeah? You’re gonna do that?” And then there was this pause and we’re like, “You guys are too creative to not take that challenge of figuring out a way to do it. Don’t—don’t. I don’t wanna be pulling trash off of everything.”

theresa

It’s way too easy to see that actually taking place. Yeah.

biz

Yes. It is. So I think what I’m trying to say? Is you’re doing a good job and it is good to see you. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Thanks, Biz. You’re also doing a really good job and I will see you next week.

biz

Okay. Buh-bye!

theresa

Bye! [Laughs.]

biz

Oh, I love seeing Theresa. And I love talking to Emily Oster. [Laughs.] If One Bad Mother was ever gonna do like a cruise? You know, one of those fan cruises? [Laughs.] We would probably invite some of our favorite guests, obviously, to be on for panels and things. Emily Oster definitely would be on that list. She has gotten us through so many difficult times with understanding how data works. Huh! Weird! Facts! Who knew they could be so helpful? Wow! Do you mean I’m not just supposed to emotionally run at things? [Laughs.] And then—I don’t know—dwell in the carnage from that experience? Huh! Funny! Funny. Not very 2020, if you ask me. Now it was a pleasure to talk to her, so what have we learned today? We have learned—facts? Good. That is true. We’ve also learned that risk is really up to each and every one of us, and we all have the ability to, y’know, assess what our risk is and make those choices when those choices are even given to us. Lots of times, we don’t have choices and we have to go into work. Our kids have to go into school. There are larger risks some of us have to take, more than others. But it is good to know that instead of… letting fear and emotion drive it—those are there. They get to be in the car. Right? Fear and emotion, they get to be there. You can’t kick ‘em out. They’re with us. But facts and data and real… evidence-based information can really—it’s not scary. It’s actually very helpful and can relieve some stress! So I learned that. I always like learning that, when I can turn my emotional rants down to like a three. Frees up all this room for listening! So nice. We also learned that [singing] it’s all still happening! Nothing’s not happening! [Regular voice] You’re doing a great job. This is overwhelming. It’s difficult. It’s isolating. It feels like no one is seeing that you are doing this and getting through it and showing up. But we see you. Let’s remember to go out and see each other during this time. Say to the people around you what you also need to hear. Don’t forget to tell people they are doing a good job, because you are doing a good job. And we 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.

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MaximumFun.org.

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Comedy and culture.

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Artist owned—

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—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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Stream or download episodes directly from our website, or listen via your favorite podcatcher!

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