TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Episode 415: I’ll Have The Generational Sandwich, Please, Hold the Mayo, with Kevin Maher

Welcome to Sandwich Generation, where we serve nothing but kids meals and early bird specials! Comedy writer Kevin Maher joins Biz to talk about the double-duty of raising children and caring for aging parents. Plus, Biz DID IT.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 415

Guests: Kevin Maher

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

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

biz

This week on One Bad Mother—I’ll have the generational sandwich, please! Hold the mayo. We talk to comedy writer Kevin Maher about aging parents. Plus, Biz did it!

crosstalk

Biz and caller: Wooooo! [Biz laughs.]

caller

I got my driver’s license back. And I called a long time ago saying I’d mysteriously misplaced my driver’s license. So I went online and I ordered a new driver’s license and I had to change my address anyway so it was fine. I was like, screw it. That’s fine. I’m just gonna do it over again. I went online and for some reason I was like—got all of the stuff I needed from the DMV except the driver’s license! And I waited six weeks. Or something like that. ‘Cause I was like, of course it’s gonna take six weeks. But so it hadn’t come, and I was like, “Fuck this.” So then I go into the DMV last week to get a new driver’s license and I got one of the paper versions of the driver’s license? [Biz laughs.] And so then today I go to my reputable cannabis dispensary— [Biz laughs.] —and with my paper driver’s license. And they hand me my actual driver’s license. [Biz laughs.] And it has been months. Months! And I feel like such a fucking idiot because of course it was there! That’s the only place—the only place I’ve been to lately. [Biz laughs.] And I just think this is really fucking funny because my new one is actually like already here… and then—but it’s at the new house and it came in the mail and then the dispensary just gave me my old license. Like, two months later. And I’m just stupid and it’s funny and… we’re all doing a great job. Okay, bye! [Biz laughs.]

biz

‘K. I love you. I just—I just love the One Bad Mother community. “I gotta go! Bye!” Like—[Laughs.] You’re cracking me up. I like that, A, obviously the place you left it was the marijuana dispensary. [Laughs.] That’s like—also, obviously, why would anybody think that is where you left it? There’s also a lot of substories going on here that like… what did you get two months ago that you didn’t need to go back for two months? I mean, is it like pandemic stockpiling of toilet paper? Is that how that happened? And you’re not stupid! You are just somebody who’s probably running on next to nothing right now. At this point, leaving our keys in the car, losing our drivers licenses, throwing away our credit cards at the gas station—like, these are just now things that are part of who we are. We’ll just embrace it. Like a warm, forgetful blanket. Like that is—I would wrap myself in that blanket but I have no idea where I fucking put it. So I just want you to know that I think you are doing a great job. That was an excellent check-in. Speaking of things that are excellent, it’s time… to say thank you!

music

Heavy electric guitar and driving percussion overlaid with “Ohh, oh-oh, oh-oh” and “Hey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey” lyrics.

biz

Did you guys all like that thank you music Gabe found? It was the best [sings] boo, boo-boo, boo, boooo! [Regular voice] Delta, delta, delta can I help ya, help ya, help ya? [Through laughter] The motherfucking Delta variant. You ruin school for me, Delta—I am coming for you. And apologies to Delta airlines for sharing the same name. So with that lead-up, you know who I’m thanking first! Thank you, everybody working in the medical profession. Be you doctor. Be you nurse. Be you RN. Be you EMT. Be you the intake clerk. Be you the people who keep it clean and safe so that people can work there, as well as care for others. You are incredible. I’m so sorry we can’t have anything nice in this country and we keep fucking it up and we have to keep coming in and making life really hard for you. Which I think ties in nicely to saying thank you, vaccines. Thank you, science. Thank you the people who created vaccines. Thank you to all the people who are continuing to study the effects of vaccines and thank you to everyone who strives to put out true science-based information on the benefits of a vaccine. I don’t care if I am microchipped as long as my kids can go back to fucking school in the fall. Alright? Get your vaccine! Thank you to everybody who’s already gotten their vaccines. And if you haven’t, you got this! You’re doing it for those who can’t because of medical conditions. We gotta be a community. ‘K? This is—this is how we do things! And work well together. Thank you, teachers. I hope you are having a wonderful summer break. And I really appreciate what you’re gonna be walking into in the fall. And for many of you, in just a couple of weeks! So you are amazing. And I can’t wait to continue to support you this year. Librarians, I love you. Postal service, I love you. You’re fucking amazing. Delivery services, amazing. I just had to fly across country and once again thank you to all the people who are keeping the airports and the airplanes clean between flights. Thank you to those people who work as flight attendants. You are very nice. And you probably have to put up with some real jerks. So thank you. Thank you—the list goes on. Obviously thank you to everybody who continues to work in grocery stores. And thank you if you’re continuing to wear a mask where they ask you to. You’re all doing an amazing job and I really appreciate you.

biz

Like I said, I just flew across country because [singing] I finally got my parents! I got them outtt here! I had to go home and pack the house up! [Laughs.] [Regular voice] That—it has been a hard couple of days, but I gotta tell ya—it was 100% worth it because I’ve been trying to have my parents move out here to Pasadena just to be with us and be with the kids and we’re still trying to figure out permanent living situations. They’re gonna be in an apartment for a year, but yesterday was the first real visit with my kids and not only were the kids amazing—Ellis was amazing. Y’know. That kid feels big. You never know what’s gonna happen. And Raiden was amazing. Story—road so far—Katy Belle now likes to be called Raiden. And they just had the best visit! It was just so awesome! And it just—Stefan and I were just so happy and I was very overwhelmed and that’s all gonna tie in really nicely to what we’re gonna talk about today with my old friend Kevin Maher and being part of the sandwich generation.

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

biz

This week, I am very excited to welcome a very old and dear friend of mine to talk today with me about the sandwich generation, as the kids call it. Kevin Maher is an Emmy-nominated comedy writer whose work has appeared on HBO, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. His short films have screened everywhere from MOMA to Troma. Ooh, I love it! [Laughs.] He’s also the host of Kevin Geeks Out, a long running, multimedia variety show in New York City. And he’s been featured in The New York Times and Scientific America but I agree with you on this, Kevin—the highest praise came from Tiger Beat, who called him “funny.” Welcome, Kevinnn! [Applauds] Yeah, exclamation point.

kevin maher

Thanks, Biz! Woo!

biz

Before I even get into who lives in your house and such—I just will let people know! Kevin, we’ve known each other for a very, very long time. We met in the sketch comedy scene, as it was, in New York. Y’know, before the YouTube ruined it for everybody. When you actually did live sketch comedy. And we have had your lovely wife, Rebecca, on the show way early on. Early on. She was writing romance novels. And we all agreed that those were very important. [Laughs.] So with all that said, why don’t we find out who lives in your house?

kevin

In my current house, I’m here with my wife, Rebecca, who you mentioned. We’re still together. Going twenty years strong. [Biz cheers.] We’ve got a teenage boy—or two teenage boys now. A sixteen-year-old and a thirteen-year-old. In the basement apartment—the adjoining apartment of our house—separate residence but still all under the same roof—my mother-in-law. Rebecca’s mom is living with us. And that’s kind of like, y’know, the Fonz?

crosstalk

Kevin: Or Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains. Biz: Yeah! Is she like Fonzie?

kevin

Y’know, they have their separate-but-attached thing.

biz

Please tell me she’s just like Fonzie.

kevin

She’s identical to the Fonz in every way. [Biz laughs.]

biz

She just has hot young dudes coming in and out? I mean, Fonzie had the ladies, but maybe she has the ladies. I don’t know your mother-in-law. [Kevin laughs.] She like hits jukeboxes.

kevin

All of that. All of that and more. And she has a pet dog. So that’s—

biz

What is the dog’s name?

kevin

Marzipan, or “Marzi” for short, which is weird ‘cause my last name is Maher. But that was the dog’s name before she got it from another family that had to give it up.

biz

Oh. Very good. That is a full house. That sounds like a— [Kevin laughs.] —sitcom in the making! Well, we are talking today about what I guess they call the sandwich generation. About those of us who have kids and are kids. [Laughs.] We are kids. We have parents. And there comes this weird moment where we transition from being the kids ourselves—I mean, even once we have kids I still felt like I was the kid of my parents. Right?

kevin

And that’s the thing, is when you mentioned our introduction I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve known Biz in the old life! The pre—before! Never mind before YouTube; it was before we had children!” And that just feels like a different Kevin and a different Biz.

biz

They were different. They were different. They were… much more agile. [Kevin laughs.] They were—[Laughs.] There was a lot more smoking involved, at least with this Biz. We were hardcore, Kevin. Way back in the day.

kevin

But just to your point, even having started families of our own—even though we’re the adults, we’re still children in a respect. We still have our own parents and that’s—hence the sandwich!

biz

Yeah. Hence the sandwich. And there is a weird moment where there is a shift and our parents become people that we find ourselves needing to support in a way that is different than how we previously supported them. Which probably wasn’t a lot. [Laughs.] It’s like, “Hey, how’s it going?”

kevin

No, no. ‘Cause all the focus—when you’re in your twenties—or when we were—it was like, “I’m gonna focus on—I’ve got my day job. I’ve got my romantic relationships. I’ve got this burgeoning sketch comedy career that I’m just a heartbeat away from getting my own TV show.” Y’know. That’s where your mind is at and that’s—you just think about yourself and no one else! And it’s—you don’t realize at the time how unique that is. Especially compared to then you become a parent of any form and it’s like, well I’ve got one or more than one little person to take care of. And I have to think about their needs and how the day job or, y’know, whether or not to go do a show when you have to be home. Is your partner also got other things they wanna do? Y’know. I don’t have to explain it to your listeners. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. My audience? No.

kevin

They’re living it!

crosstalk

Kevin: Let me mansplain— Biz: You’re like—yeah. [Laughs.]

biz

“Let me explain parenting to everybody. And identity.” But no. You’re right. There’s the life cycle of us as—and not all people. This is not everybody’s life cycle. Lots of us hang out in pupae states for a really long time. But we’re selfish. Then you have kids and you realize, like, that that’s just gonna get taken from you. [Laughs.] Whether you want it to or not. The selfishness. And then… this other role. This other shift. When your parents start reaching a certain age where they need, y’know, be it emotional help. Physical help. Monetary help. Medical help. Suddenly that’s another identity shift. Because I like—I liked being able to go home and be like, “Somebody wash my hair! Somebody take me out somewhere! Get me something special! Somebody make me a bacon and tomato sandwich!” Right? Like—[Laughs.] And one day that just stops. So to get into our discussion, I wanted us both to kind of have a chance to sort of set up where we are, sandwich-wise. We now have—everybody knows what our—what one slice of the bread is. Right? We got our kids and our families. Then there’s a—

kevin

The flaw in the metaphor is nobody wants to eat this sandwich. [Laughs.]

biz

No one wants to eat this fucking sandwich! This is a gross—

kevin

That is not a sandwich—no matter which way the bread is turned, nobody’s taking a bite out of this thing.

biz

Somebody’s put like rye bread on one and then a hard bread on the top. There’s definitely ketchup and pickles involved, but not on a burger. Maybe peanut butter. Maybe some sort of strange meat. [Kevin laughs.] That you’re not sure about if it’s meat? You’re like, “Why is there an olive in that meat slice?” I dunno. Yeah. it’s a disgusting sandwich. And we are the disgusting middle. In that.

kevin

We are. We are. There’s no doubt about it.

biz

We’re the pimento cheese.

kevin

And it’s the sandwich that morphs that the center later will become the top, possibly? Like, we’ll get into that. But we’ll unpack who our extended families are. So I’ve got the two teenage boys. My wife and I live together. Her mom lives downstairs. Her dad—her parents are divorced. Her dad remarried, so they live further away. And then my parents retired and they moved down to Maryland where they’ve lived together independently in a house and earlier this year my dad passed away. Not related to COVID, but still… difficult and challenging nonetheless, really. So.

biz

No one gets bonus points for dying from COVID. It’s not like—[Laughs.] It’s not like a—how old are your parents? Can I ask?

kevin

Yeah. My mother is… 78?

biz

Mm-kay. And so your mom is now… where?

kevin

She’s in Maryland.

biz

Okay. Still.

kevin

And I’m in New York. I have a sister—and I guess that’s part of the whole—

biz

Yeah. That’s part of the whole sandwich. [Kevin laughs.]

kevin

Separate sandwich. Conjoined sandwiches.

biz

Those are the—yeah.

kevin

So my sister is in Brooklyn. I used to live in Brooklyn, and the goal for my mother was I invited her to come live with us. And she said no. She didn’t wanna live in the small town where I live in upstate New York. She thought it was too boring! [Laughs.] Which—again—and y’know, you always—it’s—I think we’re gonna find there’s a lot of parallels with kids and taking care of parents like they’re your kids. You’re like, “Wait, is that the real reason? Are you giving me one answer but it’s really something else? Are you saying one thing and then you want me to push it and be like, ‘I insist you come live with me!’” I don’t know, but she had said repeatedly she does not wanna live in this house because she grew up in a house with grandparents living with her and she says it doesn’t work out for anybody. So that was where she was coming from. So she is living independently trying to figure out her next move. She might move to like the Westchester area so she’s between Brooklyn—between where I live. Maybe live in some kind of assisted living facility. But we don’t know. WE don’t know. There’s so much to do. And the other thing is it all takes so long. I don’t have to tell you, having just cleared out a house for your parents. The process takes forever. [Biz laughs.]

biz

You brought something up and I want us to be able to come back to this after I set everybody up with where I am. And that is… the waiting and the unknown. Like, those long periods of… like, are we supposed to be making a decision? Are we not? There are these moments that are just like… I know what I’d like to do. Here’s my plan. But—

kevin

And every single person in the sandwich—

biz

Has an opinion!

kevin

Maybe even the kids! Have an opinion on who’s gonna die first. And they plan—and they try to plan accordingly. [Biz laughs.] But the plan does not always go according to plan! So it’s this—it’s this horrible dark joke. [Laughs.] We’re all thinking about it.

biz

Thank god my parents are dark. I’m just like—yeah.

kevin

Yeah. You can talk about it with them. That’s good. But like, it was the thing. After my dad died, every single time I’d try to just comfort my mom—put on the TV—every single thing we watched had like a woman whose husband just died. And then I… [Biz laughs.] I found out—I thought this was really interesting. Carroll O’Conner won an Emmy for writing, and he wrote an episode of All In the Family—that’s the old ‘70s sitcom—and he won it for the episode where Edith dies. And I ended up watching some of it on YouTube and I was bawling. [Biz laughs.] And Archie delivers this monologue to Edith’s slippers after she’s dead and he says—and I just feel like this is like an unspoken thing in all relationships. He’s like, “I was supposed to die first!” And he was so confused and frustrated by that. And it’s just terrible that I feel like every family has to go through this imaginary hypothetical thing of like, “Place your bets. Who’s it gonna be?”

biz

Yeah. That’s right. I got five on grandpa and I got—y’know—yeah. So as many of you guys now, I have for the last four years been trying to get my folks to move out here. There have been lots of steps that then wound up not happening. And it’s been—[laughs humorlessly]. A lot of back-and-forth. And most recently, when everything was finally decided, there’s still been some like, “Mm, maybe. I don’t think we will.” Right? And you’re like, “Aaaah! No!” [Laughs.] And so I have just spent the last week being down in Alabama and helping to do the final pack-up. Work with the movers. Help the cleaners get it clean. Finding all sorts of exciting things. In various nooks and crannies. And then flying out with my folks to California. So from Alabama to California, where they will be in hotels for like a week and a half before we can move in to an apartment. Which may or may not be… the best place for my parents. [Laughs.] But that is where everybody decided to be. So.

kevin

Now you—I remember a while ago we talked off mic.

crosstalk

Kevin: ‘Cause we do talk—we do talk outside of—yeah. Biz: We were gonna build a little house. Yeah.

kevin

That you were looking at the zoning stuff of building a house on the property.

biz

And we’re still trying to do that. But everything… COVID put things on hold and then we’re back in the process of looking at that. We’re like literally revisiting the plans ‘cause of course the codes have changed again and like, it’ll probably take a year to build it. Right? So they’re gonna be in an apartment for a year. And so that leads us—[sighs]. I guess that—y’know? Like, I don’t know the best order for this or not. I want to first ask when you realized—when you were gonna get a first taste of that sandwich. When you kind of went home and you saw the folks—

kevin

Alright. I’m living in Brooklyn. I’m living in Brooklyn. My parents came to visit. And—I mean, as long as we’re just being completely candid, I often look at some of this stuff through the lens of alcoholism. And the idea that someone could be in denial or, y’know, have a problem and how do you have the boundaries of telling someone else they have a problem. I’m sure a lot of listeners—I know from the subgroups—this is all things—

biz

Pretty relatable! [Laughs.]

kevin

All things that we relate to. So my parents came to visit in Brooklyn. And this was years ago. This was probably like 15 years ago. And they have a suitcase and they have, y’know, a change of clothes and presents for the kids or something. And they take everything out of the car in one trip, and then when they’re packing to leave they’re like, “We wanna do it all in one trip.” It’s like, “There’s just too much stuff! We’ll just go to the car twice. We’ll just come back and forth.” There were—I would say—six? Steps of the stoop. And I realized… my dad doesn’t wanna go up and down these stairs more than once if he can avoid it. Because it’s that taxing. And it’s that draining. And it’s like, y’know. I’m going up and down subway stairs living in New York City. Carrying strollers. [Biz laughs.] Y’know, doing all this stuff. And it’s like—

biz

Wait—I have a question! I have a question! When—‘cause the stair thing is a thing. Right? The stair thing—the going up and down the stairs. When was the first time you felt like a jerk because you were like freaking roadrunner in a—

crosstalk

Kevin: Oh yeah! Just taking it for granted. Just totally taking it for granted. Biz: I feel like the biggest jerk! I feel like the—yeah. We were, like—

biz

—going through the airport and stuff. I’m usually like, “Boom!” [Laughs.] Like I’m just getting my steps in and go. And I’m like, [slowly] “Ehhhh… duh, duh, duh.] Like slowly walking. And loading the car. Right? Just by the time they’re looking at the luggage, I’ve got it all loaded in the car and I’m like—I wonder if this is making them feel bad. [Laughs.] I’m like—like, that I’m still—“Look at me! [singing] Still able! To do the things and you can’t do it! Na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo!” Right? Like—

kevin

Well any time I would talk to my mom she’s like, “What are you doing this week?” or “What are you doing today?” I would talk about my day and she’d always—”You must be exhausted.”

biz

“You must be exhausted!” [Laughs.]

kevin

“You must be—that—just hearing about it exhausts me!” And I’m like, “No, this is pretty much what I do every day and y’know it just comes with the territory.” But I think the thing with like… that they’re moving at a slower pace, it reminds me of when somebody without a toddler—without a baby—wants to go out. And they’re like, “Let’s go to the restaurant!” And you’re like, “Well hold on. I have to—I have to pack several bags for other people before I can go.”

biz

“We can just leave five minutes early.” [Laughs.]

kevin

Yeah. Yeah. We’re like, “Oh, let’s head over! We got a reservation at the restaurant; we should probably leave in a few.” And it’s like, “Hold on. I’m gonna be forty-five minutes to put a single mitten on.” [Biz laughs.] [Sighs.]

biz

Does everybody have their socks?

kevin

I think we’re seeing it, y’know, again. It’s that thing of the “being caught in-between many different worlds and realities,” which is there are other people in our lives who can do things rapidly and then we go slow, but then there’s even older people, for different reasons, who have to move at a different pace. And yeah. It’s all about calibrating those speeds. And I think time management—it also figures into so much of it. Like, it’s boundaries. It’s about creating time for stuff that you didn’t know you were gonna need and when your parents—or whoever, y’know, if it’s your in-laws or your step-in-laws—whoever, just like, “Okay. I didn’t know I was gonna have to spend this much time—” And sometimes it’s like, y’know, plumbing problems. That like, oh gosh! Y’know, my mother-in-law, she talks about me like I’m the landlord? Which— [Biz laughs.] —coming from New York City I’m like, “Well then I need to be put to death. Because all landlords are terrible.” [Biz laughs.] And I don’t wanna be the landlord. But I’m responsible for like fixes. So I will hear about problems, but then also I’m just like, “Hey, I’m just dropping this thing off and then I gotta zip out!” And she’s like, “How do you like the new bathmat?” Y’know—

crosstalk

Kevin: And I’m like, “Oh, I need to—” Biz: Yeah. “Would you like to chat?” [Laughs.]

kevin

You’re not getting a lot of visitors. I’m a visitor. It is part of my duty to come in here and we’re gonna chat about the knickknack and things like that.

biz

Yeah, but you know what? That actually makes me think about like before kids, when people say, y’know, “It’s a different kind of sleep deprivation.” It’s—you’re—y’know, like, where people try and warn you. About the—some of what’s gonna happen that first year. And you think, “Hm, sure. Whatever.” And then—

kevin

“My parents will be different!”

biz

“My parents will be different!” Right? Like—

kevin

No, my parents, we’ve got a pretty cool relationship. I don’t think any of that’s gonna happen.

biz

Yeah. We’re cool. We’re cool. Yeah. No. My—[Laughs.] They just want me to take ‘em out in the backyard and shoot ‘em. [Kevin laughs.] No, but my—I have a friend who just went through essentially the last five years taking—like, really being the sole caregiver and having some help for her mom. She had done it for her aunt and then her dad and then her mom. I mean, she’s basically spent five years taking care. Of—and her own kid! Right? Like, I mean, it’s—her whole life has been consumed. I mean, the last—as long as I’ve known her—has been consumed with caregiving. And now they are all dead. And it’s… she said to me—she’s been a really great friend as I’ve talked through moving the folks out here. I think I was saying something like, “Well, I’ve been thinking about shifting—maybe doing a podcast on such-and-such and maybe do an X, Y, and Z—” And she’s like, “You’re gonna be surprised by how much time is about to be gone because it’s going to be being given to the folks.” My parents said the same thing to me. They’re like, “Are you sure you’re ready to basically be a parent to two grown-ups?” And… that is—I’m a little wiser because I’ve had kids to go, “Mm, you’re probably right.” [Laughs.] But I think you’re right. There’s a… it’s the moving. It’s not just the physical—physically being able to move faster and having to slow down. There is the time. What does time mean? Time management mean? With this.

kevin

And I feel like the other part of it is—it is a glimpse into the future. [Laughs.] Because if you’re taking care of biological parents, these are the people whose genes you have inherited and you’re like, “That’s what I’m gonna look like.” And again, it’s like, “Well that’s not gonna happen to me!” But it’s just that terrible thing of seeing the things happening, whether it’s—it could be anything from, y’know, I’m taking on my father’s physique or if you have family with memory loss or whatever their issues are. Like, that might be… me. I think that’s one of the things that just kinda stops you dead in your tracks. And why sometimes it can be really frustrating and aggravating. I mean, in addition to 49 other things.

biz

Reasons. That it’s—[Laughs.] Well, communication, I think, is—that is actually really important. And I was very lucky that my mom started having conversations with the—about this with me when she was like, 50. When she was 60. “It’s gonna be horrible. You’re gonna hate it.” [Laughs.] Y’know. “This is—we’re gonna go ahead and start doing X, Y, and Z now, paperwork-wise. And you’ve gotta make sure I’m doing this and that.” To which I now am like, “I’m trying to make you do this and that and you’re like, ‘Fuck you.’” But like my sister and I have been very clear with communications and Stefan and I have had a number of conversations. And it’s those same… sort of critical conversations that you have when you have kids. But again, I think what I’ve learned from having kids are all the conversations you just assume that you’re gonna be on the same page about. Or you assume you’ve sort of had. [Laughs.] Like, in your mind with your partner or your family? But then you haven’t actually? Well with this, it’s been lots of trying to get ahead of stuff. Like, alright. My sister and I are a united front. Any time something happens, we’re gonna get—we’re gonna speak to each other. There are no secrets if like a parent calls and says, “Don’t tell your sister—” I’m gonna immediately tell you. Right? Like, that sort of thing. And Stefan and I—y’know, this is gonna be a change for Stefan. It’s a change for the kids. And so communication-wise, what was the communication like for you guys? ‘Cause you’ve got your in-laws as well who are hitting that same… stride. My in-laws are, like, flying to Sweden. [Laughs.]

kevin

I would just say that it’s the sort of thing where it’s like preparing for a hurricane or for flooding. Like, you don’t wanna have the conversation when the water is coming up to your waist. [Biz laughs.] You gotta have a plan in advance. And there’s never a good time and you’re never gonna wanna talk about it. But my wife is very pragmatic. Very realistic. And takes these things head-on. And I hit the snooze button on the conversation as long as I can until we actually have to have that conversation. But she’s been absolutely amazing. And when—y’know, last year my mom was in a coma briefly and that was impossible. When my dad died, my wife was absolutely amazing. Just an incredible partner who showed up emotionally and provided strength. While maintaining a house. Where I was just like, “Well, I gotta go! Gotta go travel down to Maryland! Maybe I’ll be back in a week? Maybe two weeks? I don’t know. See ya soon. Maybe.” And my wife ran a household. Took over—y’know, took care of her mother. Worked a full-time job. Was in graduate school during a pandemic. [Biz laughs.] Like, was absolutely amazing and incredible. So.

biz

Well, Rebecca’s kind of a badass.

kevin

She really is. She absolutely is.

biz

You married very well.

kevin

Yeah. And I don’t even think she’s gonna hear this!

biz

Probably not! She’s too fucking busy!

kevin

I’m just saying it ‘cause it’s the truth! [Biz laughs.] Here’s the thing, Biz—when I came on, I was like, “I’m not an expert. I don’t have a book to sell.”

biz

I’m not an expert on anything!

kevin

But here’s the thing—I can speak the truth ‘cause I’m not trying to move units, okay?

biz

Well but for real, that’s… y’know, I’m not looking to have an expert on to talk about stuff like this. This is… this is another end of things that affect us as parents that we have to have conversations about. And when you say “talk about it in advance,” I think that… that that’s actually… it’s not just a difficult conversation with your partners. It’s the difficult conversation with your parents! And you can approach it a lot of different ways. We use a lot of humor in my family, but I think there’s a lot of like… “Well, enjoy your car. ‘Cause I’m gonna take it from you in the next year. So… have fun.” Right? Like, and—one of the things that I have not struggled with, but I carry around with me and I try to process and keep in my mind as I’m doing this, is how scary and how frustrating it must be to realize that you’re losing power. That you’re losing—

kevin

Losing so much power.

biz

—your ability—your freedoms—I mean, it’s a lot of… you start to have to rely on others for almost everything. And that’s gotta suck.

kevin

It sucks, but the one silver lining of this is that society values the elderly. [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: Okay. That’s fucking hilarious. [Laughs.] Kevin: [Through laughter] I’m kidding. Yeah.

biz

Our society really values old people. And children! And families. [Kevin laughs.] Let’s see. The two biggest impacted communities in—during this pandemic? Kids? Sorry. Sorry, people with kids. You’re fucked.

kevin

There were conversations on television like, “We need to reopen the economy and some old people are gonna have to die.” Like, that was—that was just like—the thing that you would never say out loud, people were on TV talking about. Having dialogues. Agreeing with each other.

biz

Agreeing with each other that we should—right. Just kill all the old people and y’know, fuck people who have kids. Because they’re just gonna have to stay home. “Why can’t you figure it out? Why can’t you figure out what to do with your kids?” [Laughs.] Anyway. Thanks, society.

kevin

Well here’s the thing. I—

biz

Uh-huh. Tell me the thing.

kevin

I am so lucky that my kids at this age—they’re still honest with me. And they still tell me the truth. And my wife has created a really great environment where they can do that. I don’t have that luxury with any of the, y’know, older people in this sandwich I’m in. And I don’t blame them that they’re not gonna—‘cause you’re talking about losing power. Giving up power. And when I’m 75 years old? If I like… poop my pants? I’m not gonna tell my children about it. I’m not gonna tell my children.

biz

I mean, trust me. They’re gonna know.

kevin

They’re gonna know. And I’m gonna lie. “This has never happened before.” I don’t know.

biz

This is why you have a dog. This is why you have dogs. You can be like—

kevin

And that there’s so many things where I feel like it’s critical from like… y’know, a medical proxy position that you get all of the most truest information. And I feel like for years it was always like, “Well, mom, what did the doctor say?” It’s like, “Oh, well the doctor said this.” And it’s like, “I’m getting like 20% of what the doctor said.” And that’s the really hard part ‘cause you don’t have the upper hand. You’re not the parent. I think even if they’re living with you or whatever the situation is in your home, you don’t always have the ability to pry the truth from them.

biz

Well—I think that’s actually a good segue into another thing I wanted to talk about. Or that I am discovering as I go through this. Is… because I feel like I’m not getting all the information—and that I’m only seeing them suddenly now—like, right now, y’know, they’ve basically been isolated in their house. I mean, Mama for sure, throughout the pandemic. And now they are shuffling and they look like they’re gonna fall a lot and… I now feel—what’s happening? Where are you going?

kevin

Oh, just the posture change. For—

biz

Oh yeah! Sorry! I’m like, “What happened to Kevin?” Yes.

kevin

For those listening, I just did a little—I just brought my shoulders up to demonstrate the—

biz

The stooping.

kevin

Every time I would go home or I would go to my parents’ house at Christmas, I’d open the door and I’d have to like, “Nothing to see here! No reason to look concerned! This is just someone getting smaller!” [Biz laughs.] “Every year!”

biz

Well, I know. But that’s—this is the story you’re giving me, parents. The story you’re giving me is that you’ve decided to be… one foot in the grave. And as a result, I am not sure how I’m supposed to navigate that. Like, if you’re gonna walk around as if you’re gonna fall all the time, I feel the need to behave as if I’m trying to keep you safe. I go back to that “watch your step. Do you need help. Would you like to get—y’know, such-and-such.” I’ve found on the trip there was a lot of like, “Have you eaten anything?” Y’know, like, “Do these people even drink fucking water?” Like— [Kevin laughs.] I was like, “Where is the water? Do you go to the bathroom ever?” Right? Like, these are all the things that like my mother used to chase me around about all the time. I can remember calling me when Oprah announced that you should be peeing clear, like, y’know, twenty, thirty years ago. And I’m like, “Where is that advice?” I haven’t seen anything! So I’m following ‘em around. “Have you had anything? Do you want some water? Can I get you some water? Would you like me to get you some water.” “No.” And that—it’s that same sort of like, “What did the doctors say?” Right? Where I’m like, “How much do I push and how much do I… stay in the place of… they are still, y’know, mentally capable.” Y’know. “Let them—y’know, they’re adults. I mean, they’re still—they’re my parents. I still need to give them that space.” I feel—right now I feel like I’m overdoing and it’s probably pissing them off somehow. Or it’s encouraging the feeling that they are feeble and incapable of doing anything.

kevin

Nobody wants to feel like someone else thinks they’re an invalid. And if you want to maintain a relationship with someone where you have trust and you see them regularly, you don’t want to—out of the gate you don’t want to destroy the relationship by being like, “You can’t make your own decisions. I’m gonna make all of the decisions for you—"

crosstalk

Biz: Goddammit! I’m getting that wrong, Kevin, then! Kevin: “—‘cause you’re incapable.”

biz

I’m fucking it up! [Kevin laughs.] Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. Y’know—

kevin

Nobody likes to hear that.

biz

No, I don’t—no, no, no. I need to coddle them. And strap them in with like different—I need to tag ‘em so I can be monitoring them all the time. I think the whole thing is just frustrating and in order to make sure they’ve got independence, it’s trying to then spend the time finding the resources that can be available to them. And then having conversations in which they would actually use them. It goes all the way back to how much time this takes. And I’m gonna stop and end on one last question, because I mean, this is—like parenting, I think there is a never-ending supply of… things to talk about as we watch our own parents age, get sick, and pass away. But I really have been thinking about this one. This question to end on. I’ll ask you—one, have they started to see ghosts? And two, do you think they’ll come back and haunt you in some way? And then do your children then say, “Are you gonna come back and haunt me?” And I always say, “Yes.”

kevin

Okay. So there’s several questions here. They have not seen ghosts that I am aware of. They haven’t told me they’ve seen ghosts. I have had dreams where my father visits me. And sometimes in the dream, I need to break it to him and tell him that he died. Which is a terrible dream. It’s so upsetting. And I don’t—I’ve found that now in the dreams I don’t tell him. I use the advantage, like, “I get to spend time with my dad! I’m gonna sit and talk with him! It’s really nice! It’s wonderful!”

biz

That’s awesome. Yeah.

kevin

I said, “Don’t tell him!” [Laughs.] Just like in life—just like when he was alive, deny the biggest problem. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] In-between us. And hope that things work out. Um—

biz

That’s right. Kevin, thank you so much for joining me to talk about this. We’ll link everybody up to where they can find out more about what you’re doing. And more about Tiger Beat. And say hello to Rebecca from all of us.

kevin

I will.

biz

And you’re doing a remarkable job.

kevin

Thanks, Biz.

biz

Byeeee!

kevin

Byeeee!

music

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

music

Cheerful ukulele music with whistling plays in background.

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in part by KiwiCo. It’s summerrrr! And some of life’s greatest childhood adventures happens during the summer. Along with discovering—sometimes—we really need activities to do during summer. And with a KiwiCo subscription, kids can take their imaginations to new heights. With super-cool STEAM projects delivered every month! I think it goes without saying that Theresa and I love KiwiCo. Listen, I have spoken often about all the cool crates for kids, but I have been stealing my oldest’s Maker Crates. Because they’re basically craft boxes that come to me and I don’t have to do any of the planning! I have made macrame plant holders! I am living out my 1970s housewife dream. Now I am hanging a plant in a pot with macrame. And it is awesome. So listen! With KiwiCo, there’s something for every kid—or kid-at-heart—[clears throat] me—every month. Get your first month free on select crates at KiwiCo.com/badmother. That’s K-I-W-I-C-O.com/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

Genius fail time. Where have we hidden Theresa’s body? [Laughs.] Is it in the floorboards? Is it in the trunk? Is it in the backyard? Theresa is still taking the time that Theresa needs to support Theresa and her family. And I love you, Theresa. And I miss you. And you’re doing an amazing fucking job. Which makes you a genius. But for now, it’s genius time. So… genius me, 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.]

biz

Alright. The genius is just that I just flew to Alabama and helped my parents and they’re here. They’re here. Really the genius is my parents are here. [Singing] My parents are here. My parents are here. I love my parents. Whether they believe it or not! [Laughs.] But I love them and I am very excited that they live in Pasadena now! And that I get to like [regular voice] have them over for Christmas! And if I’m making food that i—y’know, constantly I’ll be in the kitchen making stuff thinking, “I wish I could just take half of this over to my folks.” And now I can! And that makes me really, really happy? And so it was hard, but it was awesome. And I did it. And I did a really good job. Thank you, thumbs-up Gabe.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hello, Biz and Theresa! This is a genius. So I just spent the last—mm, I dunno how long—outside with my kids. Making sure that if they needed a snack they had a snack. If they—y’know. Doing that general “sit with them so they don’t wanna come inside right away” thing. [Biz laughs.] But now I need to come inside and make dinner, so I told them that that’s what I was doing. But really I wanted to come in so I could eat a leftover cupcake from the birthday party and— [Biz laughs.] —I knew that I had to do that first. Because otherwise they would come in, see me eating a cupcake, and want one themselves. But I don’t wanna share! [Biz laughs.] So now I’m gonna make dinner with a cupcake in my belly. And my kids—as of right now—are still outside playing. So I’m doing a good job being selfish. And they’re doing a good job getting some more fresh air. And you’re all doing a good job, too. Have a good day! Bye.

biz

[Laughs.] I love this so much! This is like… the second genius that we’ve shared on the show in recent months in which a parent has just decided to eat the cupcake out of sight. Eat the ice cream out of sight. Definitely right before dinner. Definitely at a time when you wouldn’t want your kids to see it. You do have to get rid of that cupcake. That cupcake could cause problems in the house if the children see that it’s still available. So you have done an amazing job protecting your family from cupcakes by eating the cupcake. You are doing an amazing job! You are a genius. 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, me! Well that’s easy. [Laughs.] Given the preoccupation with getting my folks out here— y’know, as well as the kids and pandemics and summer—I have a very long list of appointments that I really, really need to set up. Both kids have some big dental orthodontic work that needs to get done? I need to go see the dermatologist! Like, I really need to just make that fucking appointment. I need to make other appointments. Raiden’s physical is coming up. Raiden will be turning twelve, so they get their yearly physical and [singing] they get their COVID vaccine! Boop-boop, boop boop-boo! [Regular voice] So everybody gotta get more shots. And yeah! So… basically I—[Laughs.] I have a checklist that I have really not attended to. So, y’know. Oh well. Oh, boo, says Gabe!

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, Biz and Theresa! This is a fail. So today my kid comes up to me and says, “Hey, mommy! Will you open the fucking door?” [Biz laughs.] And I laughed so hard I cried. So I’m pretty sure he’s gonna keep saying that word over and over again. I suck. You guys are doing a great job. Thanks for the show. [Biz laughs.]

biz

I really like that the way this fail is presented. It’s not that the kid knows it. The word. It’s that you positively reinforced the use of it by laughing so hard. I—[Laughs.] I also think about being a broken human as a parent that now—like—[Laughs.] If you were to say that to me on the street, “My kid said ‘Will you close the fucking door,’” I would have also laughed? And maybe like a high-five. That’s it! You’re doing a horrible—[Laughs.] A horrible job that I fully support. [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

Mellow synth music plays in background.

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in pat by Ruby Coffee. Ruby Coffee Roasters is a small coffee-roasting company based in central Wisconsin—specifically Nelsonville, Wisconsin—population 191! With the goal of making amazing, quality coffee approachable to all. Listen. We have started a Ruby’s Coffee subscription and one of the greatest things that they make is a steeped option with different coffee blends. So you get these little single-serve, individually-packed coffee filter bags—like a tea bag?—and all you need to do is add hot water and let it steep for five minutes. This has been our saving grace during the pandemic around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Ruby’s Coffee lineup is designed around complex, dynamic coffees while making sure that their roasting profiles make these coffees easy to brew, which is very important, and enjoy. A Ruby Coffee subscription sends freshly-roasted beans directly to you, or you can order bags whenever you like without a subscription. Go to RubyCoffeeRoasters.com and use code “badmother” to get 20% off your first shipment of any subscription or 15% off a one-time coffee purchase. [Music fades out.]

promo

[A thundering explosion sound, followed by the ongoing roar of an excited crowd.] Hal Lublin: [In a dramatic, guttural Randy Savage impersonation.] Prepare yourself for the greatest pro wrestling podcast spectacular known as [echoing] Tights and Fights! A backdropping audio showcase that helps you understand the world of pro wrestling, with a lot of love and no toxic masculinityyyyy! Featuring hosts: Danielle Radford. Danielle Radford: Time to kick butt and chew gum! And I’m all out of butts! Hal: Lindsey Kelk. Lindsey Kelk: I’m a brutal brit and my fists were made to punch and HIT! Hal: And Hal Lublin! [Switching to his normal voice.] I was doing the voiceover this whole time! Danielle: Hear us talk about pro wrestling’s great triumphs and failures. Lindsey: And make fun of its weekly absurdities! [Electric guitar music fades in.] Hal: On the perfect wrestling podcast: [gutturally] Tights and Fights! Every Saturday, Saturday, SATURDAY, on Maximum Fun. [Music fades out.]

promo

Announcer: Dead Pilots Society brings you exclusive readings of comedy pilots that were never made, featuring actors like Patton Oswalt— Patton Oswalt: So the vampire from the future sleeps in the dude’s studio during the day, and they hunt monsters at night. It’s Blade meets The Odd Couple! [Audience laughs] Announcer: —Adam Scott and Jane Levy— Jane Levy: Come on, Cory. She’s too serious, too business-y. She doesn’t know the hokey-pokey. Adam Scott: Well, she’ll learn what it’s all about. [Audience laughs.] Announcer: —Busy Philipps and Dave Koechner. Dave Koechner: Maybe this is family. Busy Philipps: My Uncle Tal, who showed his weiner to Cinderella at Disneyland, is family. Do you want him staying with us? [Light audience laughter.] Dave: He did stay with us, for three months. Busy: And he was a delight! [Audience laughs harder.] Announcer: A new pilot every month, only on Dead Pilots Society from Maximum Fun.

biz

Alright, everybody. Let’s settle down. It’s time for a mom to have a breakdown.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] This is a rant. Baby girl is like five, six days old—I don’t even know anymore. [Biz laughs.] Finally got her fed all day. Like, so many times. With the Boppy pillow. And I had pillows before and now I tried just the Boppy and in it she seems fine, but then she’s fussing all the time. And it turns out you have to put the fucking pillows under the Boppy and then it’s cool. So… that’s that. And it would be great if they told you this before. Thank you. Bye. I’m gonna sleep. Bye. [Biz laughs.]

biz

[Through laughter] I love you so much! You are amazing. You’re doing such a good job. Oh, there’s so much here that I love. The baby girl’s five or six days old; who knows anymore. Who does know anymore? That’s okay! That’s okay. I don’t think age days really matter until drivers licenses are involved. Or maybe school. You’ll figure out how long that kid’s been around when it’s really important. Second of all, I just feel like—[Laughs.] That’s the name of like a book. Right? Like, “It would’ve been really great if somebody had told me.” Right? Like, the Boppy pillow—you think, “Oh, I’ve just spent an ungodly amount of money on a pillow that’s gonna help me feed this baby. That should be all I need. Wait—it’s not? Because all bodies are different? So I actually need to prop it up with other pillows?” And also you’re not—your brain—your brain just like made a baby. And so your brain is definitely not ready for internet research on how to best prop up—I can remember they’re like, “One way to breastfeed is to hold the baby like you’re holding a football and sideways like coming in at a weird angle.” I was like… “What?!” [Laughs.] “What?! I can’t—I can’t do that! How is that even humanly possible?!” And it’s like, “I just had a baby. I just had a baby. I’ve had no sleep. I don’t have time to figure out the metrics of how to best use this fucking pillow to feed this child. Because I haven’t been a parent before.” [Laughs.] “I don’t know!” And even if you have been a parent before—as we’ve all learned painfully—some of those key lessons we learned we really forgot about between kids. Here’s the deal—you’re doing a remarkable job. I see you. And we all see you. We all are with you on the journey of discovering all the things that it would’ve been really helpful if it was included in the instructions. And you are amazing. Congratulations on that new baby in that house! Congratulations, everybody! For having kids in your house. And staying. [Laughs.] Not going out for milk. You’re amazing. And I enjoyed talking with Kevin today because I think that isolation that we can feel when we first get kids in our house—and really throughout the whole journey, sometimes—it can also feel that way when it comes to… finding ourselves in a situation in which we become the caretakers of our parents. And just like the mistakes I made early on—and I still make, with my own kids—I’m also still making mistakes with how to interact and best help my folks. And so… I think it’s just a reminder that we’re all walking around with layers that can’t be seen by others. And it can be very easy to feel like we are the only one and this isn’t happening to anybody else and the fact is, is that’s not true. You are not alone. It is incredibly hard. We’re gonna fuck up a lot. And that that’s actually perfectly acceptable. [Laughs.] Perfectly acceptable! And normal. And you are doing a really remarkable job. And I will talk to you next week. Bye!

music

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

biz

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

theresa

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

music

A cheerful ukulele chord.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

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

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

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

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