(62) The Great Reckoning with Graeme

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Mom coach, Graeme Seabrook, and I discuss what I call “The Great Reckoning” that’s coming for us parents after the pandemic. We talk about what moms have lost most during the pandemic, unexpected side effects of returning to some normalcy, the summer ahead, and what Graeme sees coming up for moms after this wild year of emotional and logistical scrambling. And I also share a maddeningly relatable story about my teen and the violence that is wearing a belt. 

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Brandy:  Hello Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. In today’s episode, I am talking to the wonderful Graeme Seabrook who’s a writer, Mom, coach and past podcast guest. I wanted her take on what I call the “Great Reckoning” that’s coming for us parents (namely moms) after the pandemic, and what that might look like. Graeme and I talk about what moms have lost most during the pandemic, unexpected side effects of returning to some normalcy, and what she sees coming up for moms after this wild year of emotional and logistical scrambling. We also talk about the summer ahead, what support moms need most, how to get it, and personal examples of gender equality in parenting, along with a relatable story I share about my teen and the violence that is wearing a belt, apparently. On to the show.

Brandy:  Today on the podcast, I’m welcoming back Graeme Seabrook, who is many things but namely, she’s a writer, speaker, and community creator for moms, as well as a mom, coach, and founder of The Mom Center, an online community. Last time she was on the podcast, she was so much fun and was also dropping truth bombs everywhere so I was eager to get her back on here to discuss the toll the pandemic is taking on us mothers and what she’s seeing in her clients, and sort of how we get back to life and how we—the “Great Reckoning” that will come. So welcome to the podcast. Welcome back, Graeme.

Graeme:  Thank you so much for having me and I—that’s a lot. {Laughs} That’s a lot. Yeah. 

Brandy:  Yeah, I know. There’s a “great reckoning” coming, which I want to, of course, talk to you about and last time we talked on the podcast, it was in the “before times.” 

Graeme:  Yes. 

Brandy:  So much has changed, and we thought we had it hard then. Haha. Right? I really want to get into what you’re seeing in your mom community and clients and then how you’ve personally experienced parenting during the pandemic. But before we go there, just like what I asked you last time, what is something the listeners need to know about you?

Graeme:  The thing that you absolutely need to know about me right now?

Brandy:  Aside from the fact that you love pink Starburst?

Graeme:  Oh, come on. That’s literally—I was gonna say I have a three pound bag of pink Starburst sitting next to me! {Laughs}

Brandy:  Wait, did I just take it? Were you gonna say that?

Graeme:  That is literally what I was gonna say! There’s a three pound bag. because I have freakin’ amazing mom friends. They are amazing. There’s no other word. Fabulous. Fantabulous. Is that a word? I’m making it a word. They are just ridiculously cool and my birthday was a couple weeks ago and I got this massive bag that is just pink Starburst.

Brandy:  I think of you every time I see the yogurt at the store because I didn’t even know it was a thing. 

Graeme:  Dude it’s the best thing. It’s horrible. It’s absolutely horrible and I also adore it. 

Brandy:  Yes, it’s literally the best.

Graeme:  I pretty much am who I am. It’s always been pink Starburst. It’s always going to be pink Starburst.

Brandy:  {Laughs} Loyal. You are loyal. 

Graeme:  It’s the only thing that I love to that level. You know, that’s not family. Probably Star Trek Discovery. This is the level of dorkiness—me, sitting at home rewatching and rewatching all three seasons of Disco with a massive thing of pink Starburst in front of me. It is, I gotta tell you wild times. 

Brandy:  Yeah, that sounds like a wild night.

Graeme:  It is. {Laughs}

Brandy:  But I mean, those are the things that are keeping us sane right now, our little comforts. You know, my daughter keeps watching the same show over and over. It’s two of them. It’s Liv and Maddie and Hey, Jessie. {Sings} Hey Jessie! You can’t say that without singing the song. So she’s—over and over again. At some point, I was like, “Don’t you want to watch something new?” 

Graeme:  “No. I do not. Not at all interested.”

Brandy:  No! And then I was seeing memes go by where therapists were saying people are clinging to what they know, a show that they know that’s comforting and so now I’m just fully supporting it.

Graeme:  Yeah. Well, you know what’s going to happen. You know how it’s going to make you feel. You even know the parts you’re not going to like. 

Brandy:  Yes! 

Graeme:  Right? You know, all of it. There’s no question. There’s no wonder about like, “Am I wasting my time with this? Is this going to make me more angry, more upset, more sad, more whatever. You know the experience, the emotional experience you’re going to have. And then also, you find tiny little new things. 

Brandy:  Yeah. Yes. As I see things starting to return to some semblance of normal-ish, I wanted to talk to you about how us moms do that. Even the heaviness of processing that. What we’ve lost, where the rough patches have been, and some of the parts of our lives and our kids’ lives that are forever changed. Like I said in the beginning, I’m imagining this reckoning. I imagine that when kids go back to school in the fall, parents will have this emotional reckoning where we realize all we’ve been holding onto along with being around our kids 24/7. I feel like we’ve all been in survival mode and finally having some physical distance and even knowing someone else is handling our kids learning for the day will allow our nervous systems to chill the fuck out for a minute, and then we will all begin to cry. {Laughs} 

Graeme:  It will explode. It will explode. 

Brandy:  Yeah. So talk to me about what you foresee happening.

Graeme:  Well, there’s options. 

Brandy:  {Laughs} Okay. Which sense of reckoning, which flavor of reckoning—?

Graeme:  There’s things that I hope will happen, which is that as we move through these stages of grief, and whatever those happen to be for each particular person, that there comes a point where each mom, each parent will be like, “Wait, that was bullshit. That was unnecessary. It never had to hurt that much.” And that anger will lead them to action. That’s what I hope will happen.

Brandy:  Oh man. But they know—

Graeme:  Knowing our country, what I think is going to happen is just a lot of self numbing, not even self care or self comfort, but a lot of numbing. A lot more drinking, a lot more drug use, a lot of buying things (whether you need them or not). A lot of spending, a lot of travel, a lot of “I’m going to do and have everything that was taken from me.”

Brandy:  Ugh. Right.

Graeme:  And, “Give my children all of the things that were taken from them,” without a reckoning around, “Why?” And what are the systems that underlay all of that? Why was it like this? And who has been left behind? completely unable to do those things, completely unable to say, “I’m going to now have all the experiences that I didn’t get to have last year.”

Brandy:  Right.

Graeme:  So yeah, what I want to have happen or what’s gonna happen—But I was the one—Everybody was saying at the beginning of all this, “There’s gonna be so many babies,” and I was like, “There’s gonna be so many divorces.” 

Brandy:  {Laughs} Yeah.

Graeme:  Those two things are not mutually exclusive. But I was like, “No, moms are smarter than that.”

Brandy:  Yeah. I don’t feel like—aside from people who have one, I think people who had onlies and were on the fence, I could see some of them—because I know some of them have talked about how hard it is to have an only and how much they wish they had a sibling. So I can see where there may be a baby boom there.

Graeme:  Yeah. Yes. There were plenty of people who were already trying. They were trying to get pregnant before this. There were couples doing IVF and there were people who were  newly married. There were people who had just finally decided, “Okay, this is our time,” right? So I know that for a lot of folks who were already thinking about it. The, “Well, we’re both stuck in the house, might as well make this baby.” That kinda made sense. 

Brandy:  Yeah, totally.

Graeme:  So I understand. I haven’t seen a ton of babies—well, there’s always a ton of babies coming across my timeline, because you know, moms. But I’m seeing a lot more endings than beginnings. 

Brandy:  Same. I’m wondering too—a lot of people, obviously, in this moment are in that “survival mode” place and so that’s what I’m wondering—When we have the chance to breathe and have our own thoughts for a moment, when kids are at school all day and you’re like, “Huh. How do I feel about this?” If there will be even more afterwards when people are picking up the broken pieces and are like, “Okay, no.”

Graeme:  Yeah, no, we’re talking about like 2022, 2023. That’s where I think—I don’t think it’s just going to be relationships, I think it’s going to be people leaving jobs.

Brandy:  Yep.

Graeme:  I’m seeing a lot right now of parents who are being called back to work. Parents who were at home, who are being called back to work and they’re like, “Wait, it’s April, it’s May, what is wrong with you? You couldn’t wait one more month until school’s done? You know my kid’s not back at school. Or you would know that if you stopped to think or to ask.” And it’s not even the kind of thing where, “Oh, okay, we’re opening the office back up, and anyone who wants to come and work in the office—” 

Brandy:  Right. It’s like a “have-to.”

Graeme:  It’s a, “Yeah, we’re opening the offices on Monday, and everyone needs to report to their—” It’s like, “What?! In what world? And how? How is that supposed to work? 

Brandy:  Totally. 

Graeme:  Yeah. I have to admit, there’s this book that I’ve been obsessed with for a minute now. I actually have like four different copies of it. It’s called Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. First of all, I think every person in the world needs to read this book and second of all, I lose it a lot. Hence, my four copies. It’s a series of essays, really, and there’s one where she talks about the necessity of universal childcare. 

Brandy:  Yeah, yes. 

Graeme:  The first time I read it, and honestly, the first like—”Oh, Mikki, don’t hate me! The first four or five times, I was like, “Yeah, we need universal health care more, though. We need other—you know, in my head, there were other things, and that was bullshit. That was 100% because of my situation, being married. Being married to a person who is fully committed to parenting with me, having the money to pay for child care. There were times that we had to give up other things. 

Brandy:  For sure, right. 

Graeme:  There were repairs that didn’t happen on our house or our cars and there were things—it got tricky sometimes. But we were able to pay more than our mortgage for childcare. Now, it was also absolute crap that childcare costs more than a mortgage, but we could swing it, right? We could do it.

Brandy:   Yeah.

Graeme:  So I didn’t fully—it wasn’t a fire inside me the way it is now. Until really this pandemic. Until really, I was like, “Wait a minute. If we had universal childcare, if we knew that these were people who were absolutely, utterly essential to the workings of our economy, and if we treated them that way, meaning that we paid them that way.

Brandy:  Yes, yeah. A living wage.

Graeme:  Meaning that we trained them that way, and meaning that when we had a vaccine that they were prioritized. It’s not that the whole thing could have been avoided, obviously not. But the pain, so much of the pain, and the millions of women that had to leave the job market. And they had to. I hate it when people frame this as a choice. What choice?

Brandy:  Exactly. Right! Especially if the pay gap is what it is, every household looks at, “Okay, which one is more beneficial to keep?” And guess what, 9 times out of 10, it’s the man’s job. 

Graeme:  There you go. Thank you. 

Brandy:  So then it’s like people are put in a position where it’s like, “Well, I guess it makes more sense financially for her to stay home.” That’s not actually a choice.

Graeme:  That’s not a choice then. Yeah, that is surviving within a system. That is not a choice.

Brandy:  I think it’s important too, that you were talking about—when this all goes down and when when kids are (fingers crossed) back at school and all of those things—stages of grief that you’re talking about people will be going through, and that it’s going to be helpful to name those things, and to talk about it in that way so that we aren’t just buying things, overdoing. That was something I hadn’t thought about that you brought up. That was a great point about people overdoing things because of what’s been taken from them, what’s been taken from their kids, and then that doesn’t necessarily feel good, because that’s sort of a band-aid. It’s and it’s not naming what’s really going on, which is grief.

Graeme:  Yeah, and it’s not healing anything. I mean, I can’t say that I won’t be doing it as well, like, really. {Laughs} 

Brandy:  Same.  Right, right, right!

Graeme:  But I think there’s a little bit of an awareness that you need to cultivate about, “What am I actually feeling right now? What is this really called and what’s under the emotion iceberg?” I’ve done a million hours of therapy and my son has also. He’s started on his million hours of therapy. He has anxiety and ADHD and one of the things that his therapist has been working on with him for a while now is naming his emotions. It’s being able to say what it is that he’s feeling and where in his body, he’s feeling it because he also manifests it a lot in his body. And having it be okay if it is a little bit of this, and also a little bit of that. “I’m a little bit sad, but I’m a little bit angry, but I’m a little bit frustrated, but I’m a little bit scared.” 

Brandy:  Yeah. Right.

Graeme:  Instead of having to have it be a “thing.” Right? And also have it be okay that we don’t know how to fix it. All of those lessons, those are resiliency lessons. That’s really what that is, is acceptance, and resiliency. All of those lessons are going to be really important for us, as well. Because I don’t think it’s just going to be the stay at home parents, I think there’s going to be a lot of folks sitting in offices with deep wells of anger, not knowing where they came from, or you get up to go to the bathroom and you find yourself sobbing in a bathroom stall for no reason. Or, you know, I think there’s going to be a lot of things that pop up seemingly months later, where you’re like, “Where’s this coming from? Why is this happening? Why am I so angry today, when there’s nothing going on? When there’s no threat?” When there’s no—” 

Brandy:  Right. Almost like, “Was this a dream? Did this happen?” Sort of a thing. I don’t know if we’re there and I don’t know if the numbers will stay good enough that we do kind of go back to this normal life. But I can just imagine, because it already—like even the other day, I went to the first outside restaurant, that dining experience that we’d had in like a year. It was just this thing where I’m like, “This last year happened, right? It’s like it feels almost surreal, and so I feel like some of those feelings will come up, too. Especially if—which our culture is really good at is just brushing everything under the rug like, “Now everything’s great” and “Look at this new product!” 

Graeme:  Yes.

Brandy:  I’m hoping—I’m thinking like, “How do we have communal therapy for our country?” I mean, really, for our world, not just our country, but for our world. And then I’m laughing because I’m like, “That’s not gonna happen.” But you know, maybe there will be pockets. Maybe there will be nonprofits that come out, maybe there will be things that can provide something like this. But I’m curious, personally, what do you think moms have lost most during this pandemic time?

Graeme:  I think it really depends on the mom, on where they were before this, because we’re all so different. But the one thing that I do see that is pretty much across the board, is, I guess innocence is the only way that I can explain it. There was a belief before this, that there was something that we could do that we could change that if we were just better if I was more organized. If I was better at self care. If I got the right ADHD meds, if I could just figure out a bedtime routine. There was always some, “If I could do X, Y, or Z that things would fall into place and all of this would make sense. This whole motherhood thing, this whole life thing, this whole how to raise a human being thing.” And nope! No, because when everything fell apart, it was on a systemic level. It was on a global level. Me being better at organization does not touch that, doesn’t come near to touching that, is not a way that I can keep my family safe from that. Yeah, so “innocence” is the only way that I can—is the only word that I can come up with. There’s probably a better one. But that’s the only word that I can come up with, that we’ve lost those rose colored glasses, that we had control, that we could keep them safe, that it was within our control, there was something that we could do on an individual level.

Brandy:  Right.

Graeme:  I think the thing that we’ve gained is this knowledge that it has to be community based. It has to be! We will not make it through this without each other. We absolutely will not. And not just other moms but other people in our communities.

Brandy:  Well Exactly. Because I’m thinking about some moms who maybe have a setup at home, that it was hard, but it was doable. And then those moms are thinking, “Well, it’s doable,” whereas there’s other moms for whom it hasn’t been or families for whom it hasn’t been. So it’s that idea of like, “Well, it wasn’t a problem for me, so it’s not a problem,” which is, hopefully one of the things, like you’re saying, that we have gained is that we’ve really heard about and are listening to the communities that have struggled, who need our help. We all need each other’s help but then there’s also people who are underserved who actually need more help and that’s okay for us to give that to them.

Graeme:  Yes. Yeah. I think that is something—I’ve seen an explosion in mutual aid. Most of it has been online, because that’s where I pay attention. There’s this joke that it’s the same $25 that just keeps going around in a circle and that’s true. It is, but that’s how communities—that’s how underserved communities have always gotten by. That same $25 that just keeps getting passed around. I think people are starting to realize, with this experience with the vaccine that, okay, you just walk into a vaccination center or Walgreens or CVS or whatever and you get the vaccine. 

Brandy:  Yeah.

Graeme:  You don’t pay for it. You don’t have to figure out—you just get the vaccine. People are starting to see what universal health care could look like. Hey, there’s this thing that you need to be healthy, you just go and get the thing that you need to be healthy, because we are all safer when everybody is healthy. Our health as a nation is important. Our health as a world is important. All of the fights about opening schools and stuff really opened people’s eyes to the fact that parents cannot work without some type of childcare. Should schools be childcare? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that. But it made it glaringly obvious that it is not possible and it is not safe. There’s been a ton of Wake Up Calls. I think especially for Gen X. So many of us were latchkey kids, I was.

Brandy:  Yep. {Laughs}

Graeme:  And just the absolute refusal to do that to our own children. We just won’t! We will figure some shit out. Even if we have to bend all kinds of rules and make all kinds of—we’re gonna figure it out. We’re not gonna—No. We’re not doing that, because we know the dumb shit we did. {Laughs} We know all of the times that we very nearly died.

Brandy:  Right, and the unsafe situations that we were sometimes put in that our parents had no idea. No idea.

Graeme:  They had no clue. My mom literally came home from work one day and there was an ambulance in our driveway. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Oh my gosh. {Laughs} 

Graeme:  There were no cell phones. There was no—I was fine. I mean, I’m here. I’m talking to you now, but I still have the scar. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Oh my god. Okay, what happened? Real quick, what happened and how old were you?

Graeme:  This is such a me story. I was second grade. Second grade is eight? Wait, my kid’s in second grade. Seven. I was seven or eight. I was like, “Oh, how do I not know that?” I was sick. I had stayed home because I had a fever and a cough. It was not like chickenpox or something, you know where she needed to be home. And I know my dad was out of town for work (that part I remember) and my mom had to go to work. That was it. She had to go to work. So she had made soup and there was juice—she had left all of this stuff out and prepared for me, and I decided that I wanted a steak. 

Brandy:  You have got to be kidding me.

Graeme:  {Laughs} I’m so serious. I decided I wanted a steak. At the time one of my cousin’s had been going to Johnson and Wales, the culinary university. It’s a cooking—it’s a school for chefs, a college for chefs. She had just moved out, she had just moved out on her own. But I had seen her cooking all of these really amazing, cool chef things and if she could do it—I mean, granted, she was like literally in college for it and I was in second grade, 

Brandy:  Like, she’s an adult? Yeah, Uh-huh.

Graeme:  But whatever. In my head  if she could do it, then I could do it. So I tried to broil a steak and actually the steak came out really good. I need you to know that the steak tasted really good. That’s an important part of the story. The problem was when I went to pull the pan out from under the broiler and I even had the gloves and stuff on but I bobbled it. Now I have a stripe on my arm. I have this stripe on my arm. I called 911 because I had a question and I did not realize that that’s not what they did. 

Brandy:  Was your question about cooking the steak or your arm? Were you like, “Um, is medium-well when it’s a bit pink?” {Laughs}

Graeme:  {Laughs} I said, I was like, “I have a burn on my arm and I don’t know if I should put a—and I said, I was like, “I have ice in a paper towel and I’m holding it on the burn in a wet paper towel, and I’m holding it on the burn and I don’t know if I should put neosporin on or not. Because I had the first aid kit, because we had a first aid kit. What I did not have was a smartphone or Google or any way to know—Right? 

Brandy:  Yeah.

Graeme: So the woman on the line is like, “Um, how old are you?” 

Brandy:  {Laughs} Yeah. “And where is your parent?”

Graeme:  Right? I told her. She didn’t even ask if my parents were there. Because probably, this was not the first time that something like this had happened. You know? It is what it is. I just needed to know—I was like, “I’m okay. It kind of hurts, but it’s alright. I don’t need anybody to come out. I just need an answer.” And she was like, “Since you told me—”

Brandy:  They’re like, “We’re gonna send an ambulance right now.” {Laughs}

Graeme:  She didn’t say any of that. She kept me on the phone. She kept me talking. She had me run my arm—Why am I trying to show my computer this? She had me run my arm under the water and the next thing I knew they were knocking on the door.

Brandy:  Oh my gosh. And was your mom, after that like, “You weren’t sick. If you can cook a steak—”

Graeme:  Oh, she was so—right? Even though I still had a fever. I had a fever when the—because I remember the EMT being like, “You feel really warm.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah, I’m sick, that’s why I’m home.” {Laughs} 

Brandy:  Oh my god, who are you? that is amazing. You’re like, “But I need steak.” I love how refined you were. 

Graeme:  {Laughs} Oh my gosh, yeah. 

Brandy:  You know what I was seeing on some of the Facebook pages that was going around during the pandemic (and I still see it) is some some people saying things like, “Oh, parents just want their—are sick of taking care of their kids and just want kids to go back to school, so that they don’t have to take care of them.” I don’t get involved because I’ve learned to not get in online fights, really. But also those people can go fuck themselves.

Graeme:  They really can. 

Brandy:  Because most of us are riddled with anxiety and guilt, and uncomfortability about what our kids have had to give up and it’s not about like, “Uh, I just want a babysitter.” It’s like, “I’m hoping my kid isn’t suicidal.” You know what I mean? This is not normal.

Graeme:  Literally. No, I’m not kidding. My son has massive anxiety and I was terrified (and ADHD) and I was terrified that online learning was going to be horrible for him. I was terrified. Turns out, it ended up being really great because I can be in the room with him and prompt him on stuff and be like, “Dude, window.” Window means stop looking out the window and look at the teacher.

Brandy:  Oh, okay.

Graeme:  Like, “Dude, toys. Unh uh.” So I can sit on his bed with my laptop and do my work and every once in a while I look up and I’m like, “No, not so much with that.”  I can also see, “Oh, he’s starting to get hungry. That’s why he’s not paying attention. Oh, he’s starting to get bored.” Right? I feel like it’s brought me much deeper into what his school experience is and what he needs, and I’m better able to advocate for him. Plus, also, I am terrified of what’s going to happen when he goes back to school. 

Brandy:  Yeah.

Graeme:  He’s not used to this anymore and he’s so young. But going back to the assholes. So here’s the thing. Yeah, I literally am sick of being with my kids 24/7. Yes, I am. I’m allowed to feel like that. I am a human being. That has absolutely nothing to do with me also saying, “My children need socialization. My children need their peers. I can’t teach my kid art. I can’t teach my kid the STEM coding stuff. I can’t teach my kid to read. I can’t—I am not a teacher.” And there are really valid reasons for that. Amazingly good reasons for that. I suck at it.

Brandy:  Right. Totally. And for teens too (even some elementary school aged kids, but even for teens) if I tell my son to shower, he’s not going to do it. But if someone at school is like, “Dude, you stink, you need to shower,” he will do it. So there are also certain social and emotional things that happen at school that if you have your parent constantly telling you these things, it doesn’t—you know, it’s just like, “Oh, my mom’s on my case,” or whatever, but we gotta get them to school to have the appropriate shaming from their peers. 

Graeme:  {Laughs} Literally. But it’s real. 

Brandy:  It is real. Yeah. I just fought my son about taking a shower this morning. I was like, “I don’t understand why you hate showers.” Does glass come out of the shower head? I don’t understand.

Graeme:  I literally just got a text from one of my friends (I’m not even kidding) that says, “Why does my whole life smell like sweaty boy?” {Laughs} That is the text I just got. Yeah, she’s got a teenager too.

Brandy:  {Laughs} Yes. It’s so—a shower is a pleasantry. It’s such a nice thing. Then the other thing that feels like such a hurdle that we just jumped over is, he consented to wearing a belt. Which seems like, why does somebody consent? Why was there resistance in the first place? 

Graeme:  {Laughs} I love this so much.

Brandy:  So I just have to share this because other parents of teens will understand. We went shopping for clothes, and only shorts, because he won’t wear pants. I’ve already given up pants. We live in Southern California—just given it up. So anyway, he tries on these shorts, which by the way, he calls pants, but every time I’m like, “They’re shorts. Remember, you won’t wear pants?” Anyway. So he goes to put some pants (sorry, shorts) on, because he’s gonna go back to school and they’re all too big. I’m like, “Didn’t you try these things on?” So anyway, we have this big thing. He ends up wearing old shorts. So then he says, “Why don’t these have the elastic things in the inside?” I’m like, “Because people wearing your size are adults and they wear belts, because belts have been time—they’ve stood the test of time, and they actually really haven’t even been updated. Because they didn’t work so well. 

Graeme:  {Laughs}

Brandy:  Okay, but this is the best part of the story. He’s somewhere—he watched some cartoon somewhere—he made an agreement that a belt means a giant gold Western belt buckle. So he’s like, “Okay, mom, fine. I guess I’ll wear a belt but I don’t want it to be that big. I don’t want the big buckle to be that big. And I’m like, “Dude, what do you—”

Graeme:  What world are you—? You have the internet. Google “belt.” 

Brandy:  I know. I’m like, “Who hurt you?” Is this a Yosemite Sam—? What did he see? What happened? So then we get to the store and we’re at this cool skater/surfer place and we go up to the belt rack, and they’re just chill, right? They’re just like, “Belt” and he’s like, “Oh my god, I’m so relieved.” Anyway, he consented to a belt. This is why this is so exhausting. 

Graeme:  Why are children? Why are children?

Brandy:  Why? Because there should be no resistance—something that has stood the test of time. It’s like oxygen. “Son, you should try to breathe oxygen.” It just is.

Graeme:  {Laughs} Have you considered oxygen? 

Brandy:  Oh my god. Yeah, I’m exhausted by it. I will say added to that, I still think parenting toddlers is harder. Anyway, I may change my mind on that someday. Even as I pull my hair out I’m like, “But he’s not all over me and he’s not spilling water every two seconds and I have space.

Graeme:  I think it really depends on your personal—on your style, like your personality style. If you are a tactile person and that’s how you communicate, then the toddler phase is not as bad for you and the teen phase is going to make you literally pull your hair out because you’re gonna be like, “Why won’t you let me touch you? What is wrong?” Where, if you’re more like me where you’re like, “Why are there people near me?”

Brandy:  Yeah, same.

Graeme:  I am the horrible mom who, when my son stomps upstairs and slams his door and “I’m going to my room!” I’m like, “Cool. That sounds awesome.” Do that more. 

Brandy:  Thank you. Yeah, this is not a punishment for me.

Graeme:  I’m really okay. Then I’m like, “Okay, set the timer for five minutes. You got to go up there. You have to be a good parent, Graeme.” But yeah, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. My mom, on the other hand, if I had done that to her at six or seven, she would have been a puddle of tears on the floor. 

Brandy:  Oh, no.

Graeme:  That would have destroyed her. But me, I’m just like, “Cool. That gives me a break. I can calm down. I’m gonna get some water. I’m going to breathe and play this solitaire game on my phone, get some points, and then I will go up and we will have a conversation about feelings.”

Brandy:  Exactly. Yeah. With a teen it’s like, now that he’s in school a couple days a week, I dropped him off and it wasn’t like, “Well, now all day I have to also fight you for a nap and also fight you to eat lunch.” But I do have to fight for braces, hygiene. Like all of the teen things and kids wearing masks even at school, it means that you can have nasty breath and not really brush your teeth and nobody knows.

Graeme:  How do they not smell it themselves. What is wrong—? Please explain how—?

Brandy:  I don’t know. I don’t know. Masks are great and then also there’s this whole thing that’s happening where mouths are disgusting because they can be covered. 

Graeme:  Yeah. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Anyway, back on topic. How did we moms not go on strike? Like how do you—?

Graeme:   It’s not possible.

Brandy:  I was gonna say I have an answer for this but I want to know your answer. 

Graeme:  It’s not possible. It is not actually possible. Well, it’s illegal to stop caring for your child. 

Brandy:  True, there’s that. 

Graeme:  The vast majority of us, I mean, obviously there are horrible parents everywhere, but the vast majority of us don’t want to stop caring for our children. 

Brandy:  Right.

Graeme:  That’s not what we want, we just need support. There is no safety net. I look at some other countries where they have mass strikes all the time and what you see is either there is a social safety net, where people are still going to be able to eat, people are not going to lose their homes, or conditions are so dire that you’re going to lose your home, whether you are in the streets or not. 

Brandy:  Yeah, right. 

Graeme:  Those are generally the two conditions under which people will take to the streets, right, it has to be so bad, that going or not going isn’t going to change anything, you’re going to die either way, you might as well die screaming, right? Or you know that you can go out and make your voice heard and your children are not going to die. We are in this weird middle place where it is excruciatingly painful and you are always one false step away from disaster and so you can’t ever take your eye off of that ball long enough to focus on the reasons that it’s excruciatingly painful, and who is keeping everything so unstable, that all of your steps seem false? 

Brandy:  Yes. 

Graeme:  Yeah, that’s a really hard one to parse. But that’s why that’s why there hasn’t been a general strike about anything. The closest that we’ve gotten are last summer with the Black Lives Matter protests, and that really was a moment of, “I’m gonna die either way.” And then so many other people think, “Wait, holy shit, what do you mean, you’re gonna die either way? Oh, no, I’m coming too.” Right? But it started with an “I’m gonna die either way. I’m not gonna die quietly.” Yeah. It hasn’t gotten that bad for enough moms. It’s this weird, middle, horrible place.

Brandy:  I think too, I do feel like it has gotten pretty horrible for people, but at the end of the day we are wired to protect our kids. And we know that if we left or we’re like, “I’m not doing this anymore,” the ones who would pay for it would be our children. So we aren’t going to do that to them because it’s really not fair to them that you have the system that doesn’t help, but then your mom also leaves. So you’re just like, “And so then we were in care of the patriarchy, like completely.” {Laughs} That’s not good.

Graeme:  Yeah, this is one of those ones that’s just really, really hard. I don’t think that for this, I don’t think something like strikes and protests are going to get it done. I think that it’s going to be a combination of individual choices in our households, and I’m talking about little tiny things, like who does the dishes, and who calls the pediatrician, and who takes time off of work when the kid is sick, and who you know, all those little things combined with with voting patterns, and pushing (loudly pushing) our representatives for—I mean, we still don’t have paid maternal leave! We need paid parental leave, we need leave for any type of parent. We need leave for fathers, we need leave for mothers, we need leave for non-binary parents we need parental leave. If you have a child that is coming into your household in any way, whether that’s through adoption or through birth or through your—I don’t care. If you have a child coming into your household in some way you need time to handle that. You also need to know that if that child is sick, or if that child has a problem, or if that child needs you, that you’re not going to have to make a decision between keeping a roof over their head, keeping food in their belly, and tending to their health. 

Brandy:  Absolutely. 

Graeme:  So it’s gonna have to be like these little changes, and also the big changes at the same time and you’re talking about that to a group of people who are stressed to the point where I think so many of us can’t even feel it anymore. It feels regular and normal. 

Brandy:  Yes. I was thinking that same thing this morning. I was thinking when these kids are back to school full time, and there’s some normalcy, I think I’m going to be like, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe that it felt normal to me to be around them 24/7.” 

Graeme:  People are going to break. 

Brandy:  Yeah, and what do you think people (I guess moms, mostly) are going to need support-wise as they come out of this pandemic? I know, we talked about it a little bit.

Graeme:  Honestly, I’m a little worried about the summer. I’m not a little worried. I’m pretty massively worried about the summer. Before we even get to the fall, we have to get through the summer. 

Brandy:  Totally. But don’t you feel like—I know for me, the summer feels like at least I’m not having to do distance learning. So it’s like this weird, tricky thing where I feel like, “Oh, that’s one less thing I’ll have to do.” But of course, then there’ll still be the meals and the snacks and the laundry and the entertaining and all of that. And screen management. 

Graeme:  There’s no structure over the summer at all. I have no—Okay, so personally— 

Brandy:  Dammit, you’re right. 

Graeme:  We got really lucky. Our school district is amazing and they have not let us down. They are running a series of camps for elementary school aged kids at whatever your home elementary school is. And it’s specifically geared towards helping them reintegrate with the community and be ready for school to start. 

Brandy:  Oh, that’s amazing! That’s strangely thoughtful. {Laughs}

Graeme:  Right? They are affordable, it’s full-day, and it’s at the school. We’re stupendously lucky. But there are single moms who were taking their kids to school because they didn’t have a choice. Who now are looking at three months of, “What the fuck do I do?” 

Brandy:  Exactly. Right. 

Graeme:  There are so many moms who, that distance learning time was the only time they got any work done.

Brandy:  Yes.

Graeme:  And now their jobs want them to come back to work or their jobs are like, “Yeah, but it’s summer, you should be fine now, they’re not in school.” Because they don’t understand, “Well, okay, now that means that I somehow have to keep an eight year old entertained all day. I have to provide some type of structure for this child during the day and now it’s literally all on me.

Brandy:  Exactly, and fed—

Graeme:  You’re taking a group of people, like we just said, who are massively stressed, and now you’re taking away the tiny bit of structure that they had and it’s all on them. I said it on Instagram the other day, I was like, “Is it gonna be a summer break or summer breakdown?” Because I don’t know how the hell they’re supposed to do this. By the time we get into school next year, there’s gonna be a lot of anxiety around the beginning of the school year. 

Brandy:  Yeah, I agree. 

Graeme:  There’s gonna be a lot of separation anxiety on all parts. We assume that it’s going to be the kids. But we’re also used to knowing where they are 24/7, and used to knowing that they’re safe, and being able to put hands on them and now we’re sending them out into extremely unsafe conditions, because the school shooting numbers are—Yeah.

Brandy:  I know. Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about as much as I’d rather not be around my kids 24/7, and let them have their own lives at school, there is something about knowing that they’re here. Like you said, I’ve got hands on them, and whatever. I’m thinking about not having that there’s part of me that’s like, “Oh my gosh, I’m just gonna be able to be still inside.” That’s gonna be amazing and also, there are some things about this that have felt very connected (mainly too connected). But there’s some real—doing some of the school stuff with my daughter, like math, especially. We do math together every single day but I’m conscious of trying to wean her off of some of that, and I’m going back and forth on like, “Do I just keep doing this with her for the last month, because she’s lucky to have one on one help with it?” She’s just excelling but it’s because I know how her brain works and so I know what to show her and it’s only second grade so I still get it. But I’m wondering is that like a disservice to her because she’s going to have to go back and do all this stuff for herself without mommy next to her. So there’s just a lot. There’s a lot mentally going on about what to give them and not.

Graeme:  Yes, and there aren’t any answers because we’ve never really done this before. 

Brandy:  Exactly. 

Graeme:  Yes, we have had—there was the flu in 1918 but we didn’t do it. {Laughs} We haven’t done this. And the world has changed so much, that that’s not super helpful. We’re also seeing a lot of people who are—they thought, or what I’m seeing—in especially in the Mom Center are a lot of moms who thought, “Okay, he’s gonna be home now. I’m home, he’s gonna see it.” That that invisible labor stuff is going to now be visible because he’s right there, how could he not see it?  That didn’t happen.

Brandy:  But when he’s in a room working all day, how does he see it? Right? 

Graeme:  We all saw—Well, I’m assuming most people saw that article in The New York Times where they followed the four different moms around and then that one picture went viral.

Brandy:  The mom in the bathroom wiping the kid on a call?

Graeme:  Yes and he’s in the office. 

Brandy:  In an office, not on a call. 

Graeme:  Yep. It wasn’t the picture that made me—I mean, my whole body got hot, I could feel it. It wasn’t the picture. It was when they talked about how he would come out of his office and make popcorn, and lay on the couch, that I wanted to punch him in his face. I had like, violent urges for this dude that I have never met before in my life and I don’t know anything about and, you know—

Brandy:  Maybe he’s a lovely man. {Laughs}

Graeme:  He might be. Okay, I’m not gonna say anything else. I still kind of want to punch that dude in the face. But I know that he’s not at all special. I know that there’s so many—and the thing that I haven’t seen—ever since that article, and that went viral, there’s been a million more of them. Because that’s kind of how publishing and all that stuff works, right? “That’s what everybody wants to talk about, so that’s what we’re going to talk about.” But they’re just doing these slice of life things. Or they’re talking about the numbers of moms that have left the workforce, or they’re talking about how more dads have returned to the workforce than moms. They’re doing all these numbers things and they’re like, “This is terrible!” And that’s it. That’s it!

Brandy:  Right. And it’s like, “If only there was something we could do about it.” Okay.

Graeme:  Okay, but I want the articles that are diving into what can we do? What are the changes that we can make in our households and on a systemic level and in our communities? Where are the—because you know that there have been, throughout this—communities that have fallen apart and then there have been communities that have come together. 

Brandy:  Yes. 

Graeme:  I want to hear about the ones that have come together. I want to hear about the relationships that have changed. I want to hear about the businesses that have decided—Okay, Adam works for a company called Blackbaud. They make software for nonprofits. Right before we moved from South Carolina to Colorado, literally, the two days after he got approval to work from home once we moved, they announced company wide, no more working from home. No more remote working. 

Brandy:  No way.

Graeme:  That was like 2016? 2017? Well, obviously everybody had to go remote during the pandemic and about halfway through they said, “Yeah, we were wrong.”

Brandy:  Oh, good for them. 

Graeme:  “This is working great. We haven’t really had any problems.” In fact, they came back and said, “Alright, yeah, anybody who wants to work remote can just work remote. We’re gonna stay out of it on a company level. That’s literally up to you and your manager and your team and whatever projects you’re working on.” They went even further than that, and they gave managers prerogative for when people would have to use PTO and when they wouldn’t. He hasn’t worked on a Friday in over a year and he works like an hour and a half extra Monday through Thursday. It doesn’t make up for the full eight hours, it’s just his boss was like, “Look, as long as everything’s getting done.” 

Brandy:  Exactly. Yep. 

Graeme:  But that’s the only way I’ve been able to keep doing my work. It’s the only reason that I still have a business. It’s the only reason I’ve been able to teach classes and grow the Mom Center and do all of this stuff is because Fridays—I knew I could work on Friday, even if it was the only day of the week where anything got done. I knew I had that time.

Brandy:  What a humane setup. I think what you’re talking about too, and what you were saying earlier, it goes back to these mini revolutions that are happening at home, and how important those are. Because we really, like we’ve talked about, is if we go on some massive strike,  A) that can’t happen for numerous reasons, one of which being, our kids get the short end of that stick, and we are wired as mothers to not give them that—to not traumatize them in knowingful ways. Right? 

Graeme:  Yes. Yeah.

Brandy:  We will traumatize them in ways that we don’t know. 

Graeme:  Oh we’ll “Oops” into trauma all the time, but we don’t do it on purpose, 

Brandy:  Right. We’re not going to do that. That’s why the only thing it feels like, in some ways, aside from what you’re talking about, which is voting and changing things on a bigger level, is your own ecosystem is the place to do the most good and also because you have eyeballs of children who are watching. What does this look like? That’s why it’s so important. I talk about this with moms all the time about us taking what we need. And I don’t mean—I feel silly to even say this. I’m not talking about lavish vacations away alone that are a month long, I’m just gonna go do this thing. Although if you wanted to do that, that’s fine, too. 

Graeme:  Take me with you. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Yeah, so I’m not saying no to that. But you know, I feel like when people hear that, like, “I’m going to take what I need,” it’s like, “Oh, she’s gonna overtake.” We are wired and conditioned—we’re not wired. We are conditioned to undertake as women. So when I say “take,” it’s still not enough. So those are the things that’s important. 

Graeme:  Oh, I said that to Adam, flat out. I was like, “Look, we are going to know that we have hit some type of an equilibrium when I constantly feel guilty, and you constantly feel like you’re doing too much. Because you have been conditioned to do nothing. And I have been conditioned to do everything. It’s never going to feel right. Maybe, 10, 15 years, right? It’s not gonna feel—and I do still constantly, constantly feel guilty. Like I’m not doing enough, 24/7 and he still does not feel like he’s doing too much so I maybe should, you know, take more naps. {Laughs}

Brandy:  That sounds great. In fact, after this, I’m like, “Oh,” and then I’m like, “Aw, shit, but then we have gymnastics.” 

Graeme:  Legit, take a nap.

Brandy:  But yeah, I think that this is the question everybody always has is, “Well, what do we do about this?” And it’s like, “Oh, that’s, that’s a big question to answer.” Also, I think, most impactful for each of us, but then on a collective level too, is at home. That’s why Beth Berry, who—I don’t know if you’re familiar with her stuff, but the name of hers is Revolution From Home, I have always been drawn to that title because that’s sometimes what these things feel like and I don’t think as moms, we don’t totally understand (like I was saying before) that when we stick up for ourselves, when we set a boundary, when we take what we need, that is like a revolution that’s happening. It’s a big deal. It’s not just like, “Mom’s getting her yoga time.” No, this is a bigger deal than just, “I’m filling my need for this moment.” This is like rewriting, trying to correct course.

Graeme:  My five year old daughter does not want to marry a girl because if you marry a girl, you have to do the laundry. I pointed out to her that she is also a girl and she’s like, “No Mommy, if you mawwy a girl, then you has to wash all the cwothes and I don’t wants to. So I mawwy a boy and then he wash all the cwothes.” 

Brandy:  Oh my gosh, funny. 

Graeme:  It’s like, “Cool. You do you, kid.” But that’s because in our house, I don’t do laundry so she thinks that moms don’t do laundry. She’s like, “Girls don’t do laundry.” And because our seven year old is now getting tall enough that he can reach the top of the—our washer’s a top loader, so he’s now tall enough that he can actually help with laundry so Adam has been taking him down, our stuff is in the basement, so they have been doing laundry together. Now she’s 100% convinced that this is a dude thing. And when she gets tall—it’ll probably be next year because she’s growing like a weed. So when he says to her, “Hey, come help me with the laundry.” She’s in for a rude awakening. {Laughs}

Brandy:  She’s like, “But wait, I don’t do this. This wasn’t in my—”

Graeme:  She’s gonna be like, “But I a girl.” On the flip side of that, our son thinks it’s totally normal for him to be doing laundry. It’s these tiny, little things. It’s the tiny, little things of who does the dishes? Who does the laundry? I posted a thing yesterday, Adam had gotten an email from where our five year old is going to school. They needed a health form. He got the email that said, “Hey, they need the health form,” and so he called the pediatrician and got the health form and he attached it to the email and he sent it back and he copied me on it when he sent it back. I was like, “Cool.” And then I rolled over and went back to sleep. Then I sat up and I was like, “Wait, people should see this.” So I covered up her name, and identifying stuff and I posted it to Twitter and I was like, “So hey, dude’s. This is what parenting looks like.” He worked all day and he made dinner, and then after the kids were in bed, and after the end of the day (because you can see the time stamp on it was at like eight o’clock at night. Then he sat down and he sent this email to the school, because he’s a parent. 

Brandy:  Exactly. Yeah.

Graeme:  That’s not something that only moms can do. It’s not like—my uterus doesn’t give me any organizational powers. That’s not how it works. It would be kind of nice, maybe if it did. But that’s not actually how it works.

Brandy:  Right. {Laughs} I know the uterus wants to be organized by the moon, it doesn’t like dates and emails. If anything, it doesn’t like organization. {Laughs} At all. 

Graeme:  {Laughs} At all. I’m gonna run on my own time. You know, it was just this really basic—when I say that he parents our kids, this is the kind of stuff that I’m talking about that “invisible” in quotes—because it’s only invisible if you’re not looking for it—all of that invisible labor is split pretty evenly by who’s good at what. He is way better at logistics and organization and all of that stuff than I am, and so I just don’t do it.

Brandy:  Smart. That’s good for you. See? you have your “Viva la revolucion!”

Graeme:  Literally. Also, it started with—my dad raised four daughters to never marry or even date anyone remotely like him.

Brandy:  Oh, that’s funny. He’s like, “I’m not going to change myself. But don’t marry me.” 

Graeme:  Look, I mean, he’s 92. He’s very much not going to change himself. 

Brandy:  Oh, my God. Same as my dad! We both have older dads.

Graeme:  He’s so the most annoying person on the planet and I love him so much.  Oh, my God. {Laughs} I was just home. I realized while I was there that him and my daughter are basically the same person and I said to him, “I don’t know how you can get reincarnated before you have died, but you pulled it off, dude.” Yeah. Also the whole time I was there he was utterly shocked that I was there, that I was there for that long, that when I did talk to Adam, we talked about Star Trek and we talked about—I was gone over Easter and he was like, “I think I’m gonna put some jelly beans in the bottom of the thing.” I’m like, “They don’t like jelly beans.” And he’s like, “I know, so it’s genius. Then they get jelly beans.” These were the kinds of conversations that we were having, and my dad was like, “But don’t you have to tell him how to do stuff?” Why would I? What? Huh? I was honestly confused by his confusion. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Right. Yeah. That speaks to his level of how things were run in your house, yeah.

Graeme:  Yeah. My parents both worked. My parents both loved their jobs and their careers. My parents both loved me. My dad was an educator, for crap sakes. It’s not like he didn’t know how to talk to kids or handle kids or whatever.

Brandy:  Right. Right. 

Graeme:  He had been in the military, so he was pretty good about cleaning stuff but then it had to be military clean, which was annoying. 

Brandy:  Yeah, that’s a whole other thing, yeah. 

Graeme:  But when it came to who was going to manage my life as a child, that was never a question. One of the conversations with Adam that I had in front of my dad was—and we were on speakerphone most of the time because dad never puts his hearing aid in anyway, so you know whatever.

Brandy:  Same. Same. 

Graeme:  We have the same father. {Laughs} Adam was telling me that our son—his therapist was leaving the practice and so there were two new therapists that we had been offered that both had time slots so Adam had sent each of them a couple of questions and he got the questions back and he really liked one over the other and he was like, “This is why I like this one and not the other one.” I was like, “Cool. Sounds good.” And he was like, “Alright, cool. I just wanted to make sure that you were in the loop and you knew what was going on and I think our first appointment is going to be before you get back so just definitely wanted to make sure—I didn’t want to take him to someone that you had no clue what was going on.” I’m like, “Cool. Thanks.” And my dad was sitting there with his jaw just hanging open.

Brandy:  I bet. See, he isn’t too old to learn something.

Graeme:  He just would never. He would never. He was like, “I don’t know how you found him.” “I found him by not dating the guys you have told me not to date. I found him by doing all the things that you taught me to do, this is what you end up with.” Or you just don’t get married. A couple of my sisters just didn’t get married. They’re just like, “Nah, screw it.” And they still had kids. They were just like, “I’m not—I’d rather do this on my own than do this with you.”

Brandy:  Right. I like this part, but not this part. {Laughs} That’s funny. Graeme, where can people find you online? Since I know you don’t do social media very much. Boo, and also yay. I know you’re on there, but you’re not on all the things.

Graeme:  I am. I’m doing more. I’m doing more Instagram stuff. I’m trying, I’m trying. I’m trying really hard.

Brandy:  So for people to know, what are you on Instagram?

Graeme:  Just my name, it’s Graeme Seabrook. I made it super easy everywhere. I’m on Twitter as Graeme Seabrook, but that’s mostly Star Trek discovery stuff. Gotta be honest.

Brandy:  Okay, and it’s G-R-A-E-M-E-S-E-A-B-R-O-O-K, correct?

Graeme:  Yep, and that is all of my social handles. That is the website, it’s just GraemeSeabrook.com.

Brandy:  So what kinds of offerings do you have for weary moms? I feel like there was something that you were just about to launch. Is that right?

Graeme:  Yes. Motherload Liberation is happening and actually, you can get on the waitlist, like now but we are launching in July. It is probably my favorite thing that I’ve ever done. 

Brandy:  What is it? How long is the course?

Graeme:   It’s a 10 week course. Two of those weeks are break weeks, because I’ve taken a ton of courses and taught a ton of courses, and you always get tired, or life happens, so you need time. So there’s eight actual weeks of us working together, but then there’s also along with the course a one year membership to my group, The Mom Center. So you get the app and the website and you get a year’s worth of support afterwards. Because this isn’t the kind of thing that you can just fix with a snap of your fingers. What we’re doing is kind of diving into how patriarchy and capitalism have both shaped the way we view modern motherhood and the way we view the ideals of modern motherhood. Then the same thing with how we view fathers and fatherhood and what we expect from them, then into how we view relationships, and what we expect from them. Then, once we have it all clear, like this is where it came from, then we’re making decisions about, “Okay, what is working for you? What isn’t working for you?”

Brandy:  Ah, Perfect.

Graeme:  “How do you want to change that? What kind of conversations do you need to have? Or what boundaries do you need to set? Or, do you need a therapist? Do you need a couple’s counselor? Do you need to walk away?” I don’t know. I think I even say on the information page for the course. I have no clue what is going to happen in your life after you take this course. I do not know. What I do know, for damn sure is that you are going to be much more rooted in who you are as a person, what you actually believe as a person, and you are going to be really clear about what your needs are, what your boundaries are, what you will and will not accept. What you choose to do with that knowledge afterwards and how that knowledge is received by those around you, that I do not know, but you’ll have a whole year of support with me afterwards and I can hold your hand through the whole thing. Whatever comes next.

Brandy:  Oh, that’s lovely. Yeah, and it seems like it’s a great way for people to see what their unconscious beliefs and conditioning is, so that they can decide if they want to consent or not to those things.

Graeme:  Yes, so that’s the thing. We also have a—there’s one week where we just—it’s called Family Values. A litte tongue-in-cheek, because we’re talking about like, “What have you learned from your family? Your great grandparents, your grandparents, the family stories? Who has been ostracized in your family, and for what? Is there the aunt that never got married but nobody talks about? Is there? What are the rules? For your family and for your partner’s family?”

Brandy:  Yeah. What are the rules of your family?

Graeme:  What are the rules that you grew up with? Because whether you consciously choose those or not, they have a lot to do with how you’re parenting. You’re either constantly fighting against them, or they’re influencing you in ways that you don’t even know. Those aren’t usually conversations that we have with our partners before we have kids. You don’t talk about, “Why does nobody mention Uncle Bob?” You don’t have that conversation before you get pregnant. You might not find that out for 10 years. 

Brandy:  I’ve referred to it as like the “Suitcase of Agreements” and it’s as if when you’re growing up, you have people keep adding in your suitcase, their agreements about things. When you’re a kid, you just sort of accept them because you’re just excited that you have these things and you don’t know any better. Then at some point (and it sounds like your course is a great time to do this) hopefully we open that suitcase, and we go, “Okay, actually, this was my grandma’s agreement. This is not mine. So this does not stay in my suitcase.” 

Graeme:  “It has nothing to do with my life, the way that I’m living it right now and I for damn sure don’t want that to be something that I pass on to my kids.” 

Brandy:  Exactly. Yeah.

Graeme:  Right? Because there’s all kinds of things that we can swallow for ourselves but when you think about what do you—if your children decide to have children? Mine better because being a grandparent looks awesome.

Brandy:  Oh, yeah. Like all the fun with zero responsibility?

Graeme:  Look, I don’t care if they adopt, if they give birth, I do not care, but I better get some babies. {Laughs} Really, like come on! But when I think about what I want their experience of parenting to be, for both of them, I actually don’t want them to have to deal with all the mental illness stuff that I’ve dealt with, but I think what Adam and I have, I’m really happy about that. I’m like, “Oh, I’m glad that this is what they’re seeing.”

Brandy:  Yeah, same.

Graeme:  I like this. I would be totally comfortable for either of them to be in a relationship like ours. But I know that I’m in the minority there. I also know that I don’t have to be because we did this consciously. We do this consciously every single day. We make decisions about our relationship every single day, so other people can as well.

Brandy:  Right. So it’s not—I mean, a little bit of it—I don’t want to say it’s luck, but a little bit of it is the choice in partner, but the other part of it is course correcting and trying to stick up for what you need in those little mini-revolutions. Then if you find out at some point, you have somebody who will not, you know, who’s non-workable with those, then that’s another conversation. But you can’t know until you try all these things.

Graeme:  Yeah, you really can’t. You can’t know until you try. I’ve had—this is the third time, no fourth. This will be the fourth time running the course and there have been folks who have come through it with their marriages totally changed and strengthened, and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, this is amazing.” There are folks who have come through it and a year later, they’re divorced. I don’t know, I can’t know that. 

Brandy:  Yeah, right. 

Graeme:  That’s why I added the year’s worth of support inside The Mom Center because I was like, “Yeah, this is big, deep work.” It’s really important, really necessary, and also I can’t go around saying that none of us can do this on our own, and then work with you for 10 weeks, and then leave you on your own.

Graeme:  That doesn’t make any sense.

Brandy:  Yeah, no, that’s perfect. To have somewhere safe to land afterwards. That’s brilliant. 

Graeme:  We’re gonna hold hands.

Brandy:  Aw, that sounds lovely. Well, Graeme, thank you so much for coming back on the podcast and you always make me laugh and you always make me think and I value your realness and your insights so, so much so thank you, my friend.

Graeme:  Oh my gosh, thank you for having me. I think I said in one of my emails, “I just want to talk to you. I miss you. Let’s just hang out.” So, yeah. Also, pink Starburst.

Brandy:  Yes!

Brandy:  I just wanted to make a quick mention about latchkey kids and the privilege it is to raise your kids with having you there when they come home from school. Even though today the tendency toward raising kids to be latchkey kids is less, since we overthink things and also appropriately think about them too, there are of course, families whose children have to come home to an empty house. If we had universal childcare, perhaps this wouldn’t be a thing, but I just want to make sure that parents whose survival relies on their kids coming home and tending to themselves don’t feel shamed or less than. As a former latchkey kid myself, there were a lot of life skills that having to figure out things on my own gave me, and also lots of delicious freezer food, like the french fries and the crisping box. Muah! Chef’s kiss. 

Brandy:  A quick plug for my book, which as an indie author I gotta do. If you’re enjoying this podcast, you will likely enjoy my book Adult Conversation: A Novel. It’s a darkly comedic story about a frazzled modern mother and her therapist who go on a Thelma and Louise style road trip to Vegas, looking for pieces of themselves that motherhood and marriage swallowed up while they are also tested and tempted to make life altering choices. Yes, there are strippers, there’s weed. It’s Vegas. One Amazon reviewer said,  “Absolutely phenomenal! One of those books that you ignore everything going on in life to finish it. It leaves you wanting more. Never has there been a book that has such a clear portrayal of the real struggles of being a mom. We all lose a part of ourselves, sometimes a huge chunk, once that little baby is put in your arms, but we cannot lose all of ourselves.” And this reviewer was not even friend or family (that I know of). 

Brandy:  As always, thanks for listening. 

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.