Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hey Moms! Want to listen in and talk about the best--and worst-sides of mothering? Writers Edan Lepucki and Amelia Morris have started a rad pod cast, called MOM RAGE! And they talk about it here.


Amelia Morris is the mother of two boys born almost exactly two years apart: Teddy, age four, and Isaac, age two. She is the author of the blog, Bon Appétempt, named one of the twenty-five best blogs of the year by TIME magazine, as well as the book by the same name: Bon Appétempt: A Coming-of-Age Story With Recipes!. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, McSweeney’s, The Millions, and USA Today. She used to host a cooking show called In the Kitchen with Amelia & Teddy, where cooking on camera with her kids looked fun. Mom Rage is here to clear the record.  

Edan Lepucki has two kids: her son, Dixon Bean, age six, and her daughter, Ginger, age two. She is the bestselling author of the novels California and Woman No. 17, as well as the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire Magazine, The New York Times, and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, among others, and she is a contributing editor to The Millions.  Edan created the Instagram @mothersbefore and is the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles.

I absolutely love the idea of a podcast that is this funny, this brave, this honest about pain and dark feelings and “mom rage." It's a genius idea that everyone should support—and it’s important to remember that being a mom doesn’t end when your kids leave home and their own families. And also the rage we sometimes feel against our OWN moms. Do you think that part of this is because so much in our culture is changing and it is not longer such a crime to want time for yourself and that you also have to take time for your adult life, your relationship life, your sex life, your sitting around and doing nothing life. You are sort of inventing yourself all over again for a new person.

Thank you, Edan and Amelia!

 You can listen and support the podcast here

Thank you so much!  It does seem like, lately, we’re talking a lot more about how unsustainable this go-go-go, eat-an-energy-bar-and-call-it-lunch American life is. And, I think, in the post-Trump world, many women are like: “Fuck this. I’m calling my congress members, and I’m doing this clay mask, and I’m going to have an orgasm because this is my country, too!”  Ha. But, seriously, we’re seeing that we need to take care of ourselves in order to survive the everyday—and maybe, especially, because no one else has our best interests in mind.

Couple that with there being so much great work by mothers out there right now, telling it like it is, representing the experience. For instance, Ali Wong’s new comedy special on Netflix, “Hard Knock Wife” lays it all out there, and in the midst of a hilarious set about the post-birth body, emphasizes just how criminal it is that our country doesn’t have federally mandated maternity leave.  I’m excited by how many books, television shows, movies, and so on are out there, and I only hope that we see more and more stories from all kinds of mothers.

I want to talk a bit more about mom rage. A lot of it seems to be about how much help you have, and what kind of husband and baby you have—and what kind of friends, too, right? If your partner isn’t doing 50%, it’s easy to be so resentful that steam comes out of your eyes.  If you have a baby with problems or colic. If you had a baby too young, before you had done all these wild things. Also, I remember actually raging against other mothers, rather than at my baby, because they’d tell  how I HAD to breast feed this way, I HAD to have no meds, I HAD to, etc. etc.  and I was really resentful. Can you each talk about this please?
Edan: I think we all have different “rage” capabilities, based on our upbringing, our personal temperaments, and the various factors you mention. A crying baby, for instance, who will not stop, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, can make you truly lose it, as can those judgmental comments from other parents. Ugh!

Amelia and I have a lot in common: we are both heterosexual white women with husbands who do a lot of the household duties. And yet, we’ve still got a lot of rage! A lot of it is toward the culture and all that’s expected of mothers, and the lack of institutional support for women and families.  Our long-term goal for the show is to talk to a lot of mothers, to hear their stories.  We quote Adrienne Rich from Of Woman Born on our website: "I believe increasingly that only the willingness to share private and sometimes painful experience can enable women to create a collective description of the world which will be truly ours."  We agree.

I was so interested in the way both of you talked about your births and what you expected and what actually happened. I planned a birth with my husband in the room, which was beautiful and perfect and wonderful, and two days later, I became critically ill, comatose, with a mysterious blood disease that I was dying from. Three months later, I was allowed to see my baby.  So when I finally was well enough to come home.  Because I was so ridiculously happy to have this healthy baby, to be alive and to have help (my husband works at home), I didn’t feel rage to my son—so do you think your experiences before the baby is even conceived shape the way you handle what goes on?

Caroline, that sounds like a traumatic birth! I’m glad, ultimately, it didn’t shape your early experiences with your son.  It can be difficult, if you end up having a birth that’s different than the one you planned for or imagined for yourself—some women never really recover from that, and for others, it’s not a big deal. In episode 3 we talk to a midwife, Kathleen Potthoff, about these very issues, and it’s so complicated, because every mother is different. She talks about getting to know her clients and learning about what they’re bringing to the pregnancy.  I don’t think I really have an answer here except: maybe? Or: Sometimes?   We bring all our history—the good and the bad—into our lives as mothers. And there are even those studies that say we carry ancestral pain and suffering in our DNA!  At the same time, it doesn’t always feel that DEEP, you know?

Do you think you each have the same parenting styles? Where do you find inspiration for raising your kids? I find that motherhooding, like kids, grow and change. No one would think of raising kids like they did 100 years ago with all that not sparing the rod stuff, but when I had my son, I was determined to do exactly the opposite of how I was raised—and I’m still not sure I did the right thing because he is now 21 and when I ask him if I was a good mom, he rolls his eyes!  Is it possible to ever know? Or is the answer to find advice/respect/a shoulder from other moms?
I’d say that neither Amelia nor I adhere to a specific parenting “style” and in that way, we’re similar. I guess other, little, stuff aligns: We both breastfed our kids, we both potty trained at two, and we moved our kids out of cribs around that time as well. While all that is important, it also can feel superficial. Believe it or not, we don’t spend that much time talking about naps and feeding and all that jazz—we’ve spent more time talking about motherhood as a concept, and our writing…and our feelings!

I depend on my mom for almost all my parenting advice. She has 5 kids, 6 grandkids, and knows everything about children and what to do with them. Amelia has a more conflicted relationship with her mom so she asks her friends for advice; in the podcast she refers to her “Earth Mother Friend” Kara a lot!  Finding a mom friend can be so helpful—it’s a special relationship.

We have an episode with author Meaghan O’Connell coming up, and, with her, we talk about how some mothers reject their own mother’s advice. I get that—and I agree, the “rules” and “wisdom” of parenting is not a historical, it’s always shifting. However, it makes me sad to think people would rather Google something than ask their own human mother—or any human mother that they know personally. Why do people have more faith in technology, and in crowdsourcing, than in receiving knowledge from a woman with lived experience? Crowdsourcing parenting questions is my pet peeve since parenting is so about your individual family and circumstances! But I digress…

I love that one of you aspires to be the villain in terms of getting discussion going—especially because moms are not supposed to be bitches. Please talk about this!
This is just our little joke, but, yes, I am the self-appointed villain of the show because I tell it like it is, and I imagine Amelia as having a far softer, sweeter personality. But we do dig into this somewhat…like, why do I have this idea that I’m some kind of monster? I don’t think I’m unique in this feeling; when we don’t act in the ways we think a “good” mother should act, it’s easy to believe certain accepted behavior is natural and that your reaction is abnormal and something to be ashamed of.

I also really love the music that opens each podcast! How did you decide that? Will you change the music?
Thanks! Amelia’s husband Matt Bookman wrote our theme song with their two sons, Teddy and Isaac. I love it and we will use it for every episode!

What’s obsessing you now and why?
Amelia’s always obsessed with her self-help books, like Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller. And competitive gymnastics; when UCLA won not long ago, she was so excited!

I’m into the aforementioned comedy special, Hard Knock Wife, by Ali Wong. I am just finishing The Changeling by Victor LaValle—what a weird beautiful marvel of a novel! Oh, and learning Italian--that’s my jam right now.

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