TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Episode 399: We’re On Double Secret Probation, with Melissa Korn

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 399

Guests: Melissa Korn

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—we’re on double secret probation! We talked with journalist Melissa Korn about the college admissions scandal. Plus, Biz doesn’t wanna do it.

crosstalk

Biz and caller: Woooo!

caller

Hey! Do you wanna know what my 20-month-old learned how to do? Do you wanna? I’m gonna tell you. She… has not only learned how to pull her shoes off while she’s in her car seat—in her rear-facing car seat, mind you, because obviously—but she has also learned to throw her shoes in such a way that it hits me while I’m driving! [Biz whoops.] Isn’t she so talented? This is great! [Biz laughs.] I—no one told me about this. No one told me that this could be a thing. That I would be hit with toddler shoes while I’m trying to drive. After spending a nice afternoon at the park. Just hitting me with shoes. It’s pretty great. [Sighs.] But yeah. Y’know. The weather is nice. We can be outside. My parents received both doses. My in-laws received their first dose and are scheduled for their second dose. And because I’m a full-time, stay-at-home parent, I will be vaccinated in 2025. [Biz laughs.] Whomp, whomp. Thank you everybody [through laughter] else for getting vaccinated so we can go to the park. I’m gonna keep dodging shoes. I hope you are all having a great day. Byeee!

biz

[Laughs.] I mean, technically you’re dodging two shoes? Unless… unless there’s something like, I don’t know, very unique about the car seat and your child has been hoarding shoes for—you know what? First of all, you are doing such a good job. Second, yes. Your child is a genius. A genius with a helluva over-the-shoulder shot. Alright? Watch out, Harlem Globetrotters. Here comes the baby who can throw over her shoulders. Also, you are right! No one told you this. There’s no parenting book where it’s like, “Chapter Two: Being Hit in the Head with Toddler Shoes While Driving.” It’s right around the same chapter as “Poop In the Tub” and “Being Bitten.” Your child’s gonna take your keys and hide them somewhere. Forever. And you’ll never get those keys back. None of those are books. And that’s… I guess that’s alright? No. It’s not alright. We need those books. So you’re doing an amazing job. Congratulations on all the people in [through laughter] your life getting vaccinated. And I’m with ya! “Mom podcast” is not on the top list. Not the first ones in line, and that’s okay. That’s okay. That is why I, like you, wanna say “thank you” to everybody else who is getting vaccinated because it is their turn. You are doing a good job. So let’s get to the thanking! [Laughs.] I’m thinking about thanking! So I wanna say thank-you—just like I—again—to everybody who’s getting vaccinated! Good job! I know that in every city and every state it’s a little bit different, and good job navigating it. Also, good job for those of you who are on lists and are getting notified that there’s extra! And that you gotta use it before it goes bad! Good job. Appreciate that. Thank you to all the people distributing those vaccines. In whatever way you are involved, be it volunteer, be it employee, be it the poker, being the prepper, being the sign-in-er or reschedule-r. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And I see you! You’re not just at a clinic. You’re at the CVS or the grocery store or schools or senior centers. There are so many places that people are out rolling out this vaccine and it’s so impressive. Thank you to all the medical professionals who are out there keeping us healthy. Keeping us safe. And keeping those who are affected by COVID as comfortable as you can. You have just run a relentless and exhausting year. And it sucks that… it’s not—I don’t know where the finish line is. [Laughs.] Ahhh! So there’s still more relentlessness all around and I just think you guys are all amazing. And remarkable. Teachers? I love you. Like… I love you. In a way that might, y’know, cross some lines sometimes. I wanna cheer for you and throw candy bars to you. Right? As if it is a Fourth of July parade and I got a handful of Dum Dum lollipops and as you walk from your car to your school I just wanna throw ‘em and be like, “Wowww!” And just celebrate you. Postal service. Delivery service. Grocery store employees. Packers. Warehouse workers. Deliverers. Farmers. Ahh! The list goes on and on! One of the bright spots of this pandemic is just… being aware of how interconnected we all are? [Laughs.] Oh my god! We just one big web. And I think—it’s like that Star Trek moment where humanity changes when they realize that they are not alone in the universe? The whole premise of Star Trek in that, y’know, boom! We become a peaceful planet. That is this moment for me. Okay? I hope it’s that moment for lots of people. We really rely on each other. So… I… I love knowing that. And I will continue to say thank you forever. Forever! And ever.

biz

Now, here’s where I am. I… don’t wanna do it. Somebody asked me over the last couple of weeks—I have been asked, [goofy voice] “Hey, how are ya? [Gibberish]” And I’m like, “Okay.” ‘Cause we all know what “okay” means. I don’t… want to parent? And I don’t want to partner. Like, that’s where I am. I have parented and partnered consistently for eleven years. And… a year of it is—like you know—fairly intense. And I would like to be a parent and I would like to stay partnered. I just don’t wanna do it right now. [Laughs.] Like, before kids and before partners, y’know, if I just wanted to watch movies all day I just laid down and I watched movies all day. Right? If I wanted to sleep in really late, just did it. Just did it. If I didn’t wanna cook dinner? I just wanted to order some food out or just eat chips—all day—I could do it. Let’s say one of those choices were healthy. Let’s say I just wanted to get in a car and go on a hike. Y’know? Those are things when you parent and partner you cannot just willy-nilly do. That sort of—we talked about this before. That wanderlust. That ability to just get up and go and do a thing you wanna do. Because whatever you do affects others. Not that I can’t do those things. It’s just I have to literally say, “Okay, guys, on Wednesday I want to not talk to anyone all day. How’s that?” See, that doesn’t sound right, either. So that’s where I’m at. And I guess it doesn’t really matter how much I don’t wanna do it! But! I gotta do it. You know why? ‘Cause I am a person in the world doing it. I’ve got to be a good example for my children. For my partner. For those around me. I gotta make good decisions. And I’ve got to work my hardest knowing that every decision I make will deeply, deeply impact where my children will go to college. I’m just kidding. [Laughs.] Which I think ties in nicely to what we’re gonna talk about today with our guest, journalist Melissa Korn, one of the reporters who covered the college admissions scandals and has a new book out with her co-writer, Jennifer Levitz, Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit, and the Making of the College Admissions Scandal. Whew!

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

biz

This week, we are talking with Melissa Korn, who cowrote Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit, and the Making of the College Admissions Scandal with her Wall Street Journal colleague Jennifer Levitz. Melissa covers higher education for the Journal, writing about college admissions, university finances, education policy, and—lately—the impact of the pandemic on those students and institutions. [Singing] Welcome, Melissaaaa! [Laughs.]

melissa korn

Thank you for having me! [Laughs.]

biz

Thank you for joining me! Do you have two weeks to talk to me? [Laughs.] [Melissa laughs.]

melissa

Let’s see. I’ve been talking about this topic since March 12th, 2019. So sure! Yeah! I’ve got two years! [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. We’ve got a little time. We just circle around with it. Before we get into this and probably just a list of panicky questions from me regarding higher education and children, who lives in your house?

melissa

My house. It is me and my daughter is here half the time and at her dad’s half the time. And she is in hybrid kindergarten these days. [Biz laughs.] So it’s… days are either really calm and I’m really focus on my day job, or just a total circus.

biz

Yeah. How’s that working out? That sort of pivoting back and forth? [Laughs.]

melissa

I mean, I was already sort of pivoting, right? My on-and-off parenting days. But it ratcheted up a lot. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. It’s—I don’t—I keep waiting for somebody to be like, “Oh! Yeah. You feel—[Laughs.] So physically done because you’re just like—back and forth! Back and forth! Go! Ah! Ah! Ah!”

melissa

I’m sick of people saying—and I know this has been written about and talked about before— [Biz laughs.] —I’m so sick of people saying, “I don’t know how you’re doing it.”

biz

I know. I know.

melissa

We’re not! None of us are! Not really!

biz

No one’s doing it! No one’s doing it! No one’s doing it on a thousand levels. [Laughs.]

melissa

No. Absolutely not.

biz

Well, we do say here that we’re doing it in the sense of, “I woke up! And I did some things and I went to bed and I got up and I did it again. I’m doing it. Yayyy!” That’s—

melissa

Right. Everyone is surviving in your household. That is a big, y’know, that’s a big win. For sure.

biz

It’s a big win! Yeah. I’m not a big fan of that myth of… that anybody is achieving anything, including great pleasure, from the entire experience. So, y’know, myths, I think, will tie in nicely to what we’re gonna talk about! So I wanna get [singing] into… college! [Regular voice] And the—actually, I kinda—before we even get in specifically to the story that you covered and the book about the whole college admission [dramatically] scandal— [Melissa laughs.] [Regular voice] I wanna start—you’ve been covering higher education for a number of years. I feel like there is this… story. About college. And there are a variety of different stories, all sort of that come together when one thinks “college.” Y’know, I think of “you have to go to college to get a job.” “You have to be the first person in your family to go to college.” I think about the… like, all these—

melissa

“You have to go to a four-year school.”

crosstalk

Melissa: That’s what college is. Biz: You have to go to a four-year school. Yeah. Right.

biz

And all these different sort of meanings and emotions that we have tied to college. And I think a lot of that plays into what led to this scandal, amongst many things that surround college. Has that story evolved? Is that narrative different now? What do you think that narrative is? Answer all my questions. What have you learned? [Laughs.]

melissa

So—[Laughs.] Let’s see. I’ll answer everything all at once. [Laughs.]

biz

Everything! [Laughs.]

melissa

I think that the way we talk about college has started to change in the past five or ten years? But it’s not yet where it needs to be. So there was this great push of, “Everybody needs to go to college because that’s the education you need in order to be employed.” Now people talk about it—policymakers talk about it as, “Everyone needs to have some sort of post-secondary education.” Which is, y’know, super jargon-y and not as easy to say as “college.” [Biz laughs.] But it’s also more expansive. It’s—it could be a vocational or technical program. It could be a certificate. It could be an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree or continue on to graduate school. But the acknowledgment that a four-year, full-time college experience is not for everybody? It’s actually not the norm? And I think we’re still behind the curve when we talk about who’s going to college. There’s still so many assumptions that it’s 18- to 22-year-olds living on campus. Going full time. Mom and dad are paying at least a portion of it. And that’s not who’s going to college now.

biz

Who’s going to college now? [Laughs.]

melissa

The people who used to be called “non-traditional students” are now the majority!

biz

That’s right! Right. Adults. Yeah.

melissa

Working adults. People who maybe started school a decade ago and are going back now. People going part time. People going online or hybrid, even before the pandemic. People, y’know, taking on loans themselves. Their parents aren’t contributing. They’re kind of above that age when that would be considered appropriate or necessary parental duties. [Laughs.] And y’know they’re working part-time or full-time on the side. They have kids of their own. It’s—there’s this myth of kind of the traditional college student and that is just so not who we are right now. And I should say, there’s more also about the socioeconomic status of college students? And there is just some great research out, a big survey that came out—I wanna say—earlier this week. About food insecurity and housing insecurity among college students. Most colleges, big universities, have food pantries now. Because they’re necessary.

biz

Yeah. No. It’s so funny. I—[Laughs.] When you were talking about the image of college versus what it is, it’s like that comparison of like… y’know. Animal House versus—or worse, like, Saved By the Bell: The College Years. [Melissa laughs.] Or—[Laughs.] What is that Rodney Dangerfield? Back to School. If you’re an adult going back you have no middle ground. You are Rodney Dangerfield and you’re really excited about getting laid. [Laughs.]

melissa

I will say—and it’s kind of funny in the role I have, talking about college or writing about college, just because the word “college” can mean so many things to different people? But I spend so much of my time writing about super-selective, very pricey, colleges. Y’know, kind of the Ivies and Ivy-plus institutions and schools that the parents involved in this scandal thought that was kind of the list of acceptable destinations and that was it? So they’re that, and then you also have—talking about food insecurity. And students who are drowning in debt and parents who are drowning in debt and it’s—[Laughs.]

crosstalk

Melissa: There’s some dissonance there! Biz: It’s one of those—yes!

biz

Some dissonance! And it’s one of those… topics that again… what makes it appeal to the soundbites are one or the other. There’s no, “This is how these are all interconnected and this is how—not only is it connected, but how it branches out leading up to it and out of it.” Let’s get to the scandal! [Laughs.]

melissa

Yes. And you have to say it, [dramatically] “Scandal!”

crosstalk

Biz: [Laughs.] I know! You have to say— Melissa: Y’know, jazz hands.

biz

Jazz hands! Scandal! This was a crazy shitshow of a story. Lot of fun. Also super depressing. I mean, it was fun like… it’s fun, like, y’know, “Oh! I’m doing my—[Laughs.]” Like I’m some ‘70s housewife who’s doing her ironing, getting all twitterpated by like, “Oooh! Who did what?! Oooh!” Right? Like, I don’t… it’s… really fucked up. [Melissa laughs.] So I wanna ask—you’ve been covering this for a while. Was this at all a big surprise? I mean, haven’t people been using money and power to manipulate systems for ever? Like—[Laughs.] [Melissa laughs.] What was it about this?

melissa

I think most people who are involved in higher ed or college admissions or work with high schoolers, even—it’s not a surprise that—as you said—power and money play into admissions. That it is not a pure meritocracy. And really never has been.

biz

Oh. Oh, no.

melissa

That is still heartbreaking and shocking to some portion of the population and for them I’m very sorry to crush all of your dreams? But it just—it was never pure. And I think the scandal that some people went to such great lengths to get their kids into particular schools did not shock me? The complexity of this particular scandal… and the scheme and the machinations involved and the number of people involved and the length that it went on without being caught? That part did surprise me. Right? There are people cutting corners all over the place in college admissions. That’s nothing new. And that will continue. But having this very well-oiled machine with, y’know, two prongs of kind of illegal operations and office staff and a sham charity and like… it was intense!

biz

It is intense! It was intense! And it was… I think one of the things that I remember—again—not shocked that it happens, but was shocked that never once in that chain—that intricate—[Laughs.] –chain that had been established—was somebody like, “No.” [Laughs.] Y’know? No one was like, “What? You want me to do what?!”

crosstalk

Biz: “Absolutely not!” Melissa: And the people who did—

melissa

The people who did maybe seem a little queasy with the whole thing—they didn’t tell anybody else.

biz

They didn’t tell anybody!

melissa

Or the people kind of on the outside who raised some red flags? It just went nowhere! There were these efforts to bring it down a little bit— [Biz laughs.] —or at least ask some questions and it just petered out.

biz

So… circling back to our first question about college—what is college?—and a system set up so much as this system was set up. The importance. The—anybody would be like, “Yeah, this is a great idea.” Why—did you get any sense of… why it mattered so much? Like… isn’t getting into a “good”—quote-unquote—college—is that antiquated these days? I mean, college is college? Now, I say that as… y’know… a person who was expected to go to college. I say that as a white woman with, y’know, who had a lot of access despite dropping out from three different [through laughter] colleges? [Laughs.]

melissa

You had the opportunity to go to three different colleges!

biz

Yeah! I had the opportunity to go and I had the opportunity to flunk out and I had the opportunity to go again somewhere else! And then flunk out and then somewhere else and then, like, wait tables at Ruby Tuesday’s for years. It was never a question that I couldn’t get back in or out. So I understand I’m asking that question from a very specific place. But also—like you said—what college looks like has changed over the last couple of years. So… so what—what’s the big deal? [Laughs.]

melissa

Right. It depends on what you grew up with, I think. It depends on what your peers are doing. What’s expected in your high school. So y’know, the families involved in the scandal were going to, y’know, $30,000-/$40,000-a-year private schools. Y’know, it’s—[Laughs.]

biz

I know. It’s a lot of money.

melissa

You’re paying college tuition for high school.

biz

Yeah. It’s a lot of money.

melissa

It’s a lot of money. And—

biz

It wasn’t like the PTA president from the local public school bribing their—their way through—

melissa

No, but there was a board member from one of the private schools.

biz

Yes. Fair enough. But you’re right! This is a very specific group of people who were doing this.

melissa

Right. It is. And it’s—y’know, Jennifer, my co-author, at one point was in Brentwood doing some reporting. And she stopped off at a coffee shop to re-caffeinate and noticed that this message board—thumbtacks and stuff and ads for things—there weren’t ads for cat sitters and house painting. It was ads for test prep. Essay coaching. And that is all that there was. And I think that—I mean, when you’re in that environment? Just going to college—just going to a pretty good college or a fairly selective college? No, that’s not enough. And it’s not enough for a lot of the parents.

crosstalk

Melissa: A lot of the kids would be okay. Biz: Well that was my next question!

biz

That is my next question! Who is this really about? Like, who was really leading this? I mean, were—was this about—[Laughs.] As it always is! Parents? And I’m one, so I’m fucked. [Melissa laughs.] Or is it about—or are there kids who were like, “You better do anything!” So… what—is that what it really just was? Was it just…

melissa

It was mostly the parents. So some of the kids did know what was happening. They were brought in on it, whether it was the test cheating or the fake athletic profiles. Some were aware of what was going on to different degrees? But some really did not know what their parents were up to and the parents went to great lengths to keep them in the dark. And I mean, can you just—I can’t even imagine being 17 years old and learning that my parents did this “for me,” in quotes, really “to me,” and just realizing, “Oh my god, they had no faith that I could pull this off myself. And how dare they screw up! They just fucked my life to an amazing degree by trying to do something really to stroke their own egos.”

biz

What’s worse—not knowing and then finding out after the fact, or having your parents come to you and say, “Cheat on this test right now.” Right? Like—

melissa

There’s something diabolical about it. [Laughs.]

biz

What—I know! I mean, like, which one is worse? I don’t know! I don’t—both are awful. And… ugh. I know. It is so… screwed up. And I—and it makes me think back to just the core of what I have always thought was bullshit, which is that Mommy War that was sort of—I’ve always felt was very generated as a way just to continue to pit women against each other. [Laughs.] Me, personally. I just don’t think there’s a Mommy War. But I think it makes a good soundbite. But they—this notion—we all struggle as parents with, y’know, even the most casual of conversations in which someone says their three-year-old slept through the night or their baby slept through the night. Can make you then feel like, “What have I done? How do I fix this? I am a horrible parent. What are they doing?” Right? And this just feels like people who were unable to break that craziness!

melissa

Right. For some it’s about ego. It’s like, “I’m already at the top of my game and I want that damn bumper sticker.” For others it’s this really deep insecurity. And I have to say, when reporting on the book, it kind of terrified me how I could relate to a lot of that. As a parent, right? I live in New York City. I’ve got a kid in kindergarten. We did not go the private school, “my kid must go to this preschool to go into this kindergarten so that they can end up at Harvard.” Like, that was not our approach but we knew plenty of people who were in that. And it’s so scary. But you can see how—even at that young age—parents do get that “I must be doing something wrong ‘cause my kid’s not reading yet. I must be doing something wrong because—whatever it is. How can I make sure my kid is getting every advantage possible?” And… people obviously take that to different degrees!

biz

Yeah! [Laughs.] “I’m gonna break little Timmy’s leg!” [Laughs.]

melissa

I mean, here in New York people pay hundreds of dollars an hour for gifted-and-talented test tutoring for kindergartener—or for pre-K kids.

biz

No. Way.

melissa

Oh, yeah. For four-year-olds?

biz

That’s not how—I gotta tell you, I have some serious…

melissa

It’s changing now because the gifted-and-talented program is changing for admissions. But, oh yeah! There’s like $300-and-hour tutors.

biz

How do you test—how do you prep… for gifted-and-talented? Because that’s all about, like—there’s so many different areas of what—like—spatial and—

crosstalk

Melissa: I mean, the test itself is bonkers. But. Biz: It ain’t the same test I took as a kid. [Laughs.]

biz

I’ll tell ya that.

melissa

It’s about patterns and shapes and colors and stuff. I dunno. But it’s—

biz

Anyway. That’s nuts. [Melissa laughs.] Alright. Something you got to do in this book that you probably didn’t have as much freedom to do in the articles is really digging further into the lives of these people. They got to become more complex. And earlier you said, y’know, it was hard because you even kind of understood where some of them were coming from. Now when I think about the people in this book, all I think about is every, like, Happy Madison, SNL-style movie where there’s the, like, super rich jerky guy who’s just like, “No, I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!” Right? “You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?” “No!” Like, that’s all I imagine these people to be. ‘Cause I’m a monster. So what were these—what were they really like?

melissa

Yeah. So I think—it’s right. When we’re writing a story for the newspaper, the longest stories I get to write generally are about 2,000 words. 2,200 words, max. IT’s not that much room to show who a person is. And one of the ways that we really got a lot of these parents and others to open up to us, to talk to us for the book, was to explain, “Right now what’s out there about you is not good.” Right? “So you’ve got a few headlines.” [Biz laughs.] “You’ve got the FBI affidavit. You’ve got the stuff the prosecutors put out that show you as just this… conniving, transactional, y’know, questionable-love-for-your-child—this is not a good look on you. But talk to us. Tell us why you did what you did or why you did what you were accused of doing. Why these people might think you were accused of what you did.” Since some people did plead “not guilty.” Give my little disclaimer there. Y’know, “Show us the rest of you.” And generally, the more information that comes out about people, the more human they are. As you said, the more complex. They’re just… whether it’s they’re relatable or their pity-some, tiny little kernel about them; or you admire something about their life history—you just understand them more as humans. The problem is, that wasn’t the case for everybody. [Laughs.] Right? Some people just continued to dig themselves deeper the more and more they shared about themselves. And there was one dad who—even after serving his prison sentence, was still trying to kind of talk his way out of this and explain that he was just “had” by the scheme’s central character of Rick Singer. You pleaded guilty, you went to federal prison, and you’re still saying, “Not my fault.”

biz

Well, where’d you go to college? [Melissa laughs.] You know what I mean? I wanna be like, “Where’d you go to college? Did you take any of the classes there about ethics or…” Y’know. “Any of those things? I thought those were mandatory.”

melissa

Yeah. It’s—I mean, sitting in the courtroom for some of those sentencings was really interesting. Just to—y’know, some of them played it—I mean, there are people who help lawyers craft these sentencing memos of how to come across most sympathetic. Most relatable. Y’know, being a super-rich person trying to get leniency from a judge is kind of a hard thing to do.

biz

What?!

melissa

So they have to toe the line, right? There was—one of my favorites is this mom who, in her sentencing memo, included a letter from somebody who was like, “Oh, she always got her hands dirty while she was fixing her private plane.” [Biz laughs.] Or like, “She was known as the most charitable person in Aspen.”

biz

Right. Yeah. [Laughs.] [Melissa laughs.]

melissa

Oh, and “She let me design the interiors of two of her houses.” And these were the people—these are the character references!

biz

This is like a different…

melissa

It’s a different level.

biz

It’s a different level. It is a different way of walking through the world. [Melissa laughs.] That, y’know, it is… I don’t know! I guess I—y’know, if I gotta lead by the example I try and set I gotta say, “Well, good for them.” [Laughs.] Y’know? Not “good for them” like cheating the system and trying to use that power to corrupt, but if you’re generally a really good person and also ridiculously wealthy? Like in a whole ‘nother place like that? Good for you. [Laughs.]

melissa

So—right. So there were some of these that—they would submit 20, 25 letters from friends and family and former employees or employers and some of them really showed that this was a person who had some redeeming qualities. Some of them reinforced what the public probably already thought about these people? And some just kind of left you like, “Oh, that person really didn’t have any intimate friends because they say absolutely nothing interesting about them.” And it was a mix and it was a lot of fun reading. [Biz laughs.] It’s all in the court docket. Those letters. But y’know we also knew that we wanted to go beyond that. We didn’t wanna just regurgitate what’s in the court file. Because you can pay enough money and get access to all those records and there ya go. And frankly, the FBI affidavit—this 200-page thing that dropped like a bomb the first day—that alone could just be a book. It’s fascinating reading. [Biz laughs.] So it is—the bar was pretty high to get something new and insightful and contextual there.

biz

Well was it hard—was it hard to write it? And not, like… “It’s a journalist. No bias. Blah, blah, blah.” [Melissa laughs.] In the book I’m guessing there’s a little more room for—only because when I’m reading it, there’s parts where it’s like—[Laughs.] “Her blonde hair and her tan—” Whenever you say “tan,” I’m like, “Oh, I know what tan means. They live on a boat.” Y’know? And then they’re always in the Caribbean. Which is my own stuff that I am putting on the words “tan” and “blonde.” [Laughs.]

melissa

Right. I mean—right. We describe the houses that some of these families live in and we had a lot of fun doing that. Let’s be honest. Like, hanging out on Zillow to do the bird’s-eye view and read the real estate descriptions ‘cause a lot of them sold their house shortly during this process? ‘Cause, y’know, they had big legal fees?

biz

Wow.

melissa

Y’know, the chateau-style whatever. The 17-bedroom compound. And—[Laughs.]

biz

Oh my god. When writing this, it was fun to do that. But I mean how… what did you feel your responsibility was, though, to navigate between turning it into a, y’know, Danielle Steel novel and—[Laughs.] And reporting on what you wanted to get across?

melissa

I feel like I should say to any listeners, I’m sorry this is not a Danielle Steel novel. [Laughs.]

biz

I know! I don’t know! I don’t know. If you put on the right music with this? [Laughs.]

melissa

Hm. Okay. [Laughs.]

biz

“He was tan. And blonde. At his chateau.” I know. Go ahead.

melissa

“The tight pink dress and the—” yeah. [Biz laughs.] So we did definitely have to toe a line. Right? We are journalists. We continue to be journalists. We continue to cover this story for the Wall Street Journal. I continue to write about very serious topics. I’m not looking to go move over to TMZ or People.

biz

Right. Thank you.

melissa

But at the same time, you need some personality here. So there is a little snark. There’s probably a little judgment in there. [Biz laughs.] Of a lot of things. Y’know. But we don’t harp on, “Let’s all make fun of these people” or anything like that. It’s a balance. So part of it was making sure that we weren’t going overboard with judgment but also making sure that we weren’t being spun. Right? So a lot of these parents and others had—they had amazing legal teams. They had hired very high-priced crisis communications people. So they had serious entourages around them who were trying to feed us a particular type of information or a particular sliver of the story. The one that they thought would make their client look best. Even when sometimes that directly contradicted the facts we had. So we had to navigate all that. We often had to go around all of them to actually talk to the parent directly because who knows if the lawyers and the crisis comms people are sending them our messages? So there was taping notes to doors and leaving a letter in a mailbox and… text messaging and… DM-ing on Facebook and all that stuff. And it, y’know, enough of it was fruitful.

biz

I… love it. I love the idea of you going up and taping— [Melissa laughs.] —something to somebody’s door or car window. “Hello. I’m a reporter. And I—” Y’know? Like—

melissa

Well—so it worked! It works enough. So there was—

biz

No. Does it?!

melissa

But it also can freak some people out.

biz

Oh, I know!

melissa

So we got one call from a lawyer saying, “Please stop contacting my client. You’ve gotten your point across that you’re trying to talk to them.” And I’m like, “Okay, that’s great. But you have never acknowledged that you passed along our message, so until you acknowledge that we were gonna go direct.” And yes, that involved getting on an airplane and flying across the country to do. And I remember just spending like three hours getting lost driving around Atherton to just check out the exteriors of the houses that these people lived in. That was an afternoon. [Laughs.]

biz

That was a—[Laughs.]

melissa

And I was on the phone with Jennifer and she was giving me some directions and then when she was down in San Diego I was checking directions for her to get, y’know, to the next house and… it was fun. [Laughs.] It was— [Biz laughs.] And most of my work is usually sitting at a desk talking on the phone. So this was a nice change of pace.

biz

As a result of all this research and work in general, what are your thoughts on college? I mean, because you have your own background just like I do. Y’know. I—I don’t know if I would wind up saying, “No, you have to go!” Right? Like I don’t—[Laughs.]

melissa

Right. It’s—and it’s a different work environment and the costs are so different now. Right? I’m not gonna be able to afford sticker price on a journalist’s salary unless every single person in the world goes out and buys the book. [Laughs.] Even then, it’s questionable.

biz

Even then. [Laughs.] [Melissa laughs.]

melissa

So it’s—y’know, who knows. Yeah. I have a 529 for my kid, but—I don’t know what it’s going to go to.

biz

Yeah. Who knows what that will look like when—yeah, exactly. Between now and then. Well… Melissa, thank you for joining us, obviously, but the book… I did not think—I will admit, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. [Melissa laughs.] I like to read mysteries and cozies and like, “Oooh! Is he gonna kiss her?” I need light reading these days. But this… this was—you did a really nice job of taking me through the [dramatically] scandal. [Regular voice] And—y’know, I put my own music on. I made it Danielle Steel-y in here.

melissa

There ya go.

biz

And I think it fits in so nicely to what we try and talk about on this show, which is just—everybody’s alright. You don’t have to do this. This is a crazy place. We don’t have to go to crazy to have okay. You know what—to have good stuff. So we will link everyone up to where they can get the book. People, you know how to find books. But you know what I mean. We’re gonna make sure we—y’know.

melissa

You can see different price points in different mediums. [Laughs.]

biz

That’s right! Like, look up who’s the cheapest! No, I’m just kidding. [Melissa laughs.] The—

melissa

We all know who sells it the cheapest. Let’s be honest.

biz

That’s right. I know. That’s—that’s why we don’t link to that link. [Melissa laughs.] [Singing] Independent bookstores! Alright.

melissa

Yes. Yes. [Laughs.]

biz

As well as where they can follow you on Twitter and at the Journal and all of those wonderful things. Thank you so much and I’m so glad that investigating this didn’t make you a horrible, bitter person. Or— [Melissa laughs.]

melissa

Maybe I already was and just…

biz

Maybe you were. Maybe it just… softened the edges. I dunno.

melissa

Depends who you ask.

biz

Yeah, exactly! Well I think you’re lovely. [Melissa laughs.] So thank you so much for joining us.

melissa

Thank you. This was a lot of fun.

music

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

music

Cheerful ukulele with whistling plays in background.

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in part by KiwiCo. Cultivate your child’s natural creativity and curiosity with new, hands-on STEAM projects every month. From sailing the solar system to conducting colorful chemistry and more.

theresa

KiwiCo crates have been such a game-changer— [Biz laughs.] —for our entire family. Truly. They have really changed the way we do activities together. We did this for Easter because we didn’t wanna give our kids like a bunch of candy? Well, obviously they’re getting candy. But— [Biz laughs.] —we wanted to give them less candy. And everybody was really happy with that. One project I really enjoyed working on recently with my nine-year-old, Gracie, is a basketball court catapult. [Biz laughs.] Where Gracie was actually able to build a tiny half-court hoop and a little catapult and practice flinging the basketball into the hoop. And it actually works and it was so much fun to build.

biz

With KiwiCo, there’s something for every kid—or kid-at-heart—every month. Get 30% off your first month, plus free shipping on any crate line, with code “badmother” at KiwiCo.com.

theresa

That’s 30% off your first month at K-I-W-I-C-O.com, promo code “badmother.” [Music fades out.]

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

Welcome back, Theresa! It’s still [shouting] spring breaaaaak! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Week two of [shouting] spring breaaaak! [Sings the intro tune to Jock Jams’ “Are You Ready For This.] Are you ready for this? [Long pause.] Genius me, Theresa. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

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

This is a very spring break-y genius. I was just thinking about the fact that this is—I’m so offended that we’re calling this “spring break.” But I’m just gonna leave that there. That’s nothing new to any of you all. But I did actually do something very spring break-y, which is that I took Gracie, my nine-year-old, to the beach for the first time in like—I’m embarrassed to say ‘cause we live in Southern California, but I’m embarrassed to say I think it’s been more—or had been more than a year? And it may have been like two years. Since I had taken her to the beach. [Biz laughs.] And it was just the two of us and, y’know, we carefully social-distance-y met up with some friends of ours. But I was able to just focus on her. We didn’t have the craziness of bringing all of the Thorn crew along. [Biz laughs.] And we—it was perfect. It was cold, but it was perfect. We got to be outside. We had a really nice time. We quit while we were ahead. We didn’t stay too long and get wiped out. [Biz laughs.] It was lovely. I was very proud of doing that.

biz

That… is an amazing genius. Good job!

theresa

Thank you.

biz

Okay. This is really a—just sort of a… check-in genius. I just want everybody to know that America’s Funniest Home Videos? Still going great. [Theresa laughs.] It’s still really working out for Kat and I. We are really laughing very hard. Very, very hard. At all the different things that happen on America’s Funniest Home Videos. So keep sending those videos in and—

theresa

There’s so many episodes!

biz

There are so many—30 seasons!

crosstalk

Biz: Or 33 seasons. Theresa: You’re never gonna run out.

biz

No! But we’re starting with the most recent, with Alfonso. Who is hosting. From, y’know, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days. And he is doing a really wonderful job.

theresa

Great!

biz

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a hard job, actually. To not be like, “God, everybody’s the worst.” [Theresa laughs.] [Laughs.] And I’m just—just wanted to let everyone know.

theresa

Great job, Biz.

biz

Thank you!

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, Biz and Theresa! This is a genius! I was making a bottle for my nine-month-old baby this evening and I almost went and poured the laundry soap in the bottle instead of the formula because it was there and I was tired. But I didn’t. So clearly I am a genius with extra-sensory powers. You’re all doing a great job and I love you! Bye! [Biz laughs.]

biz

You are doing a great job. And never share that. Never share that at a dinner party!

theresa

Yeah. No one else needs to know. [Biz laughs.] I can just see you standing there, frozen, with one thing in each hand. The detergent and the bottle. And you’re standing there and you’re going, “Wait a minute. No. I shouldn’t do this. Okay. Good.”

biz

That’s the speed.

theresa

“Good talk.”

biz

It’s not a fast discovery when you’re that tired. Like, you have a nine-month-old in your house. Again, your brain is not working. Not even a little. That is major—major super brain. Yeah. But the timing of the really having to consider what’s in your hands—it is long. It’s long! It’s a full conversation. 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

Alright. So… family of five. Home during the pandemic. [Biz laughs.] I don’t need to tell you how many times a day we were running our dishwasher. But it was usually more than one. Sometimes less than three.

biz

Huh.

theresa

And… we don’t have a built-in dishwasher? We have one of those portable ones? And they just aren’t as good. Like, they’re just not as good. They’re just not as good. [Biz laughs.] And… so we’d had this one since we had moved into this house, which was before Oscar was born. And basically a few months ago it just was done. Like, we had to unclog it a bunch of times. It was just slowing down. We were unclogging it every time. It was a whole thing. And ultimately we were just like—we looked at the shelf-life of this thing and we were like, “We just need to get a new dishwasher.” So I did the research and Jesse was very grateful to me for doing the research. That’s usually his job? He’s like the Wirecutter research person in our house? But I found a really well-reviewed one and he’s like, “Well if that’s the one to get, go get it.” We bought it. Got delivered in December. And now it’s March and it’s broken.

biz

Oh, god.

theresa

It’s broken.

crosstalk

Biz: Broken? Is it broken? It’s broken. Theresa: Broken. Broken. Broken. Not working.

theresa

Not washing our dishes.

crosstalk

Theresa: Hasn’t been able to wash— Biz: But is it washing the dishes? Are the dishes coming out clean?

theresa

They’re not coming out clean. They’re not.

biz

They are not.

theresa

It’s not doing the dishes. [Biz laughs.] For me. Instead, I… and my family… are doing all the dishes. It’s not what I had in mind. And I am very mad. [Laughs.] Honestly.

biz

Yeah. I would be pissed.

theresa

I’m so mad. And y’know it’s still under warranty. Y’know, whatever. They’ll pay—they’ll fix it. But because it’s under warranty you have to go through the right people and you have to wait for them to do—and it’s—ahhh. Mm. I’m used to having a dishwasher!

biz

Yeah. I know. Well, you’re doing a horrible job.

theresa

Yeah. I know.

biz

Being, I guess, domestic. Is that—is that it? [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah. I guess.

biz

I’m so sorry.

theresa

Thank you.

biz

Okay. My fail—it’s more of a prediction fail, based on previous fails. Of back in school learning. In just a few days, the kids will be going back to school for three days—three full days—a week. And two days remote. But those days there’s only two of those days in which they are both there at the same time, and one of those two days they’re like in two different—one’s at the farm ‘cause the school’s got a little farm and one’s at the school. Those aren’t connected. [Laughs.] So. It’s a lot of scheduling. Make sure everybody’s left the house at the right time. With lunches! Lunches are back! Because we had to start packing lunches again! And I failed so many times with the two days a week, two hours a day… like, at the farm? I still will just be sitting in the car texting Stefan saying, “Do I pick up at 11, or 11:30?” It hasn’t changed, but I cannot get it in my head. And I know… I know I’m gonna mess this up. I know I’m gonna mess it up, and I know I’m gonna be resentful that I’m gonna feel like I’m president of it. Y’know? Like I know that’s coming. And I’m gonna try to avoid it, but like… I—it’s coming.

theresa

Can I share? I just—I also—what I’m feeling as I’m listening to you, ‘cause I relate, what I’m feeling is this expectation of failure. As you said. But also this expectation that like… it will be repeated failure. Like, “I’ll get the time wrong, but then just ‘cause I got it wrong and figured out, ‘Oops! I did that wrong today!’ That doesn’t mean that now I get it. That now I can do it. Like, I’m worried I just will just not be able to do—like, get it.”

biz

I’ll continue to not be able—like, we have to fill out this online health form every morning before 8? And—yeah.

crosstalk

Theresa: I’m already—we already have it. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hm. Yeah. Biz: We—we have failed at that multiple times. Multiple times. Yeah.

biz

And so it’s—it’s that—I think last week we talked about uncertainty that comes from change? Like change doesn’t always mean “Yay!” And that is where I am sitting at the end of [yelling] spring breaaaak! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

theresa

Well, you suck, I guess.

biz

Yeah. I just—we all know that the suck is coming. [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah. [Laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi! This is a fail. So I took my daughter to the park today. She’s only been to the park a handful of times before because… because of the pandemic. And she’s only 21 months and has only been walking for like two of those months. So she’s new to the whole park thing. We went on the merry-go-round for the first time today because her older cousins were on it. When she wanted off I took her off. Set her down. And… forgot about the whole dizzy thing. So she promptly fell down on the ground while other people saw. And laughed. So… [Biz laughs.] Y’know. Thank goodness for a soft-ground playground. And… y’all are doing a great job.

biz

Yeah. Those things that go ‘round at the park? I think I remember them. They make you very dizzy. And… yeah! Why would—but why would you… think—think about it? And I mean that in all honesty? [Theresa laughs.] I mean it, like, in all honesty! Right?

theresa

I know. But it is just one of those things where you feel responsible somehow. Like, especially with a—[Laughs.]

biz

A little—

theresa

—kid that age. [Biz laughs.]

biz

God. Oooh. I know. Well, you’re doing a horrible job using playgrounds. [Theresa laughs.] I guess. So. An FYI—everybody was watching. Everybody!

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 keyboard music plays in the background.

theresa

One Bad Mother is supported in part by Rothy’s. Rothy’s comfortable, washable, and sustainable shoes and bags make getting dressed easy.

biz

Guys? I have been coveting Rothy’s shoes for a long time. And finally got some. And I gotta tell you—they are comfortable! They really are. I do not like—I like wearing tennis shoes and flip-flops. And these little ballet flat-style Rothy’s shoes that they have that are so cute are so comfortable! And—this is my favorite part—they’re machine washable! You can throw them in the wash. The washing machine, guys! [Laughs.] And it’s fine! And they are made out of plastic bottles! Somebody put those plastic bottles on your feet! For good! I’m so excited about this!

theresa

Check out all the amazing shoes, bags, and masks available right now at Rothys.com/mother.

biz

That’s Rothys.com—R-O-T-H-Y-S.com/mother. [Music ends.]

promo

Music: Peaceful, angelic music. Benjamin Partridge: The Beef and Dairy Network is a multi-award-winning comedy podcast, here on the 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? [Several beeps of a busy signal.] 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. 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 4: Disgusting. [Music fades out.]

promo

Music: Upbeat, cheerful music plays in the background. Allie Goertz: Hi, I’m Allie Goertz! Julia Prescott: And I’m Julia Prescott. And we host— Both: —Round Springfield! Allie: Round Springfield is a Simpsons-adjacent podcast where we talk to your favorite Simpsons writers, voice actors, and everyone who’s worked on the show to talk about shows that aren’t The Simpsons! So we’re gonna be talking to people like David X. Cohen, Yeardley Smith, Tim Long, about other projects they’ve worked on. Sometimes projects that didn’t go well? Julia: Mmm! Allie: Some failures. Julia: Yeah? Allie: Some rejections. Julia: Some failed pilots. Some failed life events. [Laughs.] Allie: Yeah! We just talk to all the failure of The Simpsons. Julia: Yeah! Allie: So if you really love your Simpsons trivia and want to get to know the people who worked on The Simpsons a little bit better? Come by Round Springfield! Julia: Every-other week on MaximumFun.org, or wherever you get your podcasts! [Music fades out.]

biz

Okay. Theresa? Let’s do something that we do every week. Let’s listen to a mom have a breakdown.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, Biz and Theresa. This is a… Daylight Savings rant. I’m pretty sure I’ve called you probably for the past five years saying, “Fuck Daylight Savings,” because as a mother of children you know that “Fuck Daylight Savings.” But this year I had a new revelation of why I hate Daylight Savings! Because I’m so goddamn tired. I am so tired. I am spent and I wanna go to bed and like… [Biz laughs.] Two nights ago? If I went to bed it was dark out! And now I feel like I have to stay the fuck awake! It’s daytime! [Laughs.] So that’s a whole new “Fuck Daylight Savings.” Anyway, y’all are doing a great job and fuck Daylight Savings. Bye!

biz

Well, I look forward to hearing you in another six months. [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah. Seriously?

crosstalk

Biz: I’m sorry. Theresa’s face—the moment you said “Daylight Savings—" Theresa: I got so mad. Yeah. Yeah.

biz

It was as if she was in church. Like, she was—her eyes were closed and she was nodding and there was this face of like, “I’m being touched.” Like in a good way. Like, by the Spirit.

theresa

Yes. I am being moved. Yes! Because I… I don’t… I just—I’m so right there with you. I think it’s hard on our kids but it’s hard on us ‘cause we’re tired. And then it’s like a vicious cycle. And it’s so stupid! It’s for nothing. So you feel like your kids are being punished and you’re being punished for no reason. And you’re trying to—like, it took probably more than two weeks for my kids to stop saying, “But… it’s—it’s not—but it’s daytime!” Or “But why is it—” Like, just being still really confused. And having to explain, “You’re just not used to the Daylight Savings. It’s just the Daylight Savings.” And that’s just too many days. Like, just for no reason. We have enough going on. Just—

biz

We just barrel through it in this house? I make zero big deal about it. In fact, I just shut it down. We just change the clocks and then if somebody says, “What? What’s happening?” I just say, “Nothing. Get up.” Or—

theresa

Wow.

biz

Or if Ellis is like, “It’s still light outside.” “It is. It is. Come on. Time for bed. Still seven o’clock. Time for bed.” [Theresa laughs.] And I’m just like—I’m like, “No. We will not—[Laughs.] We will not dwell on that in this house!” I know. I know! It doesn’t—by the way, that doesn’t fix anything? But that is how I walk through it. [Laughs.]

theresa

Out of anger you’re still just in the denial phase.

biz

I just pretend like it’s just not at all a thing. Yeah. I’m like, “Yeah, the clocks change. That’s what happens right now. It’s time for breakfast. Go. Go.” [Theresa laughs.] “Just go. Go, go, go! [Clapping in time] Go, go, go, go, go, go, go!” Well? I just want you to know that you are seen. You are heard. And… you are doing a really good job not being able to control time or space. And accepting that. I mean, with anger. You’re accepting it with anger. But that’s okay. That’s okay. That’s—sometimes that’s how we have to accept things. You are amazing. Theresa? [Theresa laughs.] Speaking of being touched—[Laughs.] You’re also amazing. And I am touched every day that you are my friend. [Theresa laughs.] And I just… I look forward to seeing you again! Soon!

theresa

Thanks, Biz. I really appreciate you. I appreciate being here and seeing you. And I look forward to seeing you next week.

biz

Yeah! Yeah! Let’s do it again next week.

theresa

Okay.

biz

Bye. [Laughs.]

theresa

Bye.

biz

What did we learn today, everyone? Well, you know what? I think—[Laughs.] I feel like we have come full circle to where this show started. Like, eight or more years ago. And that is, thinking about the pressures put on parents from ourselves or from others or from what we read or… what we see that makes us think that everything is supposed to be perfect. And we’re supposed to be doing what everybody else is doing. And how just crushing and destructive that pressure is. Like, y’know. [Snidely] Working versus stay-at-home. [Laughs.] Right? Like, “Both actually are really difficult!” [Laughs.] “And both deserve all of our fucking respect! Sleep training! Do it or don’t! Let’s judge each other about it! Regardless, no one’s getting sleep tonight!” Right? Like—[Laughs.] Just, “Breastfeed! Don’t breastfeed! I don’t know! Feel like shit for whatever your choice is!” I’m terrified that this is going to follow me all the way to college. Like, that makes me terrified that—and in all honesty? What I have learned over these years is whatever I thought I would feel or—I haven’t always felt that way when I get there. Y’know? [Smugly] “I’m never gonna have my children have iPads.” [Laughs.] like, “Boom! Here’s an iPad.” Right? Like, “I’m gonna make all organic—” “Boom! Here’s a can of beans.” Y’know? Like—[Laughs.] And I’d like to say that when my kids get to college age, I’m gonna be rational? And I’m gonna be thoughtful? And I’m going to… be cool with what they choose to do? Or even pretend they have a choice? Like—[Laughs.] I’d like to think that that’s how I will be. But I don’t know, guys. That’s what’s so messed up about kids being in your house! You think it’s gonna be one way. You think you’re going—you think you’ve got it and you know how you’re going to be. And you aren’t. Like, even if it’s… even if you’re halfway there. Even if ya say it like, “Okay. I know I’m supposed to be really supportive and I’m gonna support you and I hear you and… okay.” Let’s pretend we’re talking about college. “It’s okay. You don’t have to go to college this year. Look what a great parent I am.” And then I’m gonna go into the bedroom and for a month cry and question myself and be upset and be sad that you’re not having these experiences or that it’s going to ruin your life or whatever. Even though I didn’t have a normal college experience! So—I guess this is all to say that what I’ve learned today is this continues to be hard. And nobody’s perfect at it. And… I’m just gonna trust that everybody else is in the same place I am. [Laughs.] That’s always more helpful. Everybody? You’re doing a great job. I want to, again, give you a heads-up that the MaxFun Drive is coming up in about a month. And this year we are looking for people to call in or email in why they are supporters of One Bad Mother. The link to where to send those—it’s not the Hotline. But the link to where to send those will be in the show notes. And I’m just gonna go ahead in advance and say thank you for calling that in. It means a great deal. Everyone? You’re doing a remarkable job. You really are. 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 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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How to listen

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

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