(Ep. 12) Motherhood From the Outside Looking In with Amanda

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Join me and my ex-doula partner, Amanda, as she tells me she sees happening in motherhood, from the outside looking in. Amanda has been helping people become mothers for more than a decade, but she isn’t one herself. And I know what you’re gonna say, then WTF does she know about it? Well you’re gonna be surprised, because she knows a lot. Maybe a few things even we mothers don’t know. She breaks down why many millennials are choosing not to have kids, she opens my eyes to why support from our own parents looks different today, and she points out something within my parenting that I couldn’t see. I had to call her out on something to get there, but it was worth it. She also talks about how this up-close view of motherhood is affecting her own choice to have kids, and she answers my question, “What part of motherhood looks hardest to you?” which leads us to some real revelations.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT:

Brandy:                   Happy summer, Adult Conversation listeners. I hope you’re all surviving okay. In this episode, my dear friend and ex-doula partner, Amanda, talks to me about what she sees happening in motherhood, from the outside looking in. Amanda has been helping people become mothers for more than a decade, but she isn’t one herself. I know what you’re going to say: “Then what the fuck does she even know about it?” Well, you’re going to be surprised, because she knows a lot; maybe a few things that even we don’t know. She breaks down why many millennials are choosing not to have kids. She opens my eyes to why support from our own parents looks different today. And she reminds me about a magical part of my own parenting that I couldn’t see. I had to call her out on something to get there, but it was worth it. She also answers my question: what part of motherhood looks hardest to you? It leads us to some real revelations. On to the show.

Brandy:                   Today we have with us my ex-doula partner. We did not split for any … oh, and she’s giving me a sad face. We did not split for any sort of drama or differences. It was just the work at the time was too much for us in different ways. Amanda does everything baby related; which is she’s a birth doula, a postpartum doula, a car seat specialist, a childbirth educator, lactation counselor, and you’re also in midwifery school.

Amanda:                I am.

Brandy:                   I didn’t even … that wasn’t, everything. I left off some things.

Amanda:                It’s really close though.

Brandy:                   So, you know everything about-

Amanda:                I don’t.

Brandy:                   … babies.

Amanda:                Brandy thinks I do.

Brandy:                   Except for the fact that you don’t have children.

Amanda:                I don’t.

Brandy:                   But this is what I love about working with you. We’ve been a good team for a variety of reasons. I represented the side of, like when we would work with clients, I represented the side that had been there, had been a mother, understood it from the inside out. You represented a side that was more educated in-

Amanda:                The logistics and the infographic pieces-

Brandy:                   Yes.

Brandy:                   You know, whereas I’ve been weathered by motherhood, you brought this sort of … I don’t want to say hopeful and excited, because I feel like I brought that too, but I don’t know. There’s something about you. You’re, like, fresh. You brought a freshness to our clients I couldn’t bring.

Amanda:                Especially when we’re working with first time clients. So first time clients you kind of have to have a balance of both, I think.

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                Because they don’t know what’s on the other side of birth. They don’t know what’s waiting for them after they’ve given birth; after the big day that they’ve been working towards for months, or even years, depending on the family. So they’re in this place naturally of hope.

Amanda:                I always felt like, “Oh, okay. I can speak to that.” I can speak to it well enough to say, “And also there will be changes.” But I couldn’t speak to specific changes.

Amanda:                I couldn’t speak to the day-to-day. Even as a postpartum doula working pretty significantly with families, it’s not the same as being able to say, “Yes, I’ve lived this and this is something that you’re going to struggle with. Or this piece of it might be a struggle for you.”

Brandy:                   Also, you have so much experience. One of the things that I enjoyed about you is you’ve worked with a variety of different clients, so you haven’t just worked with privileged white women in south Orange County who can afford a doula.

Amanda:                Sure.

Brandy:                   So tell us a little bit about your work at Casa Teresa.

Amanda:                So, Casa Teresa was just the second of two maternity shelters that I worked at. The way I got into birth work to begin with was I kind of just fell into it; which is usually the case, actually. But it’s usually, “I fell into it after birth. I found that I loved my birth experience and wanted to help people have great birth experiences themselves,” or “I hated my birth experience. I had so much trauma. I want to help save people from that.”

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                My path into birth work wasn’t like that at all. It was, “I want to be a social worker. I’m in school studying; sociology with families is my concentration. I need to do an internship. There happens to be a maternity shelter three miles from my home.” I didn’t know anything about pregnancy. I didn’t know anything about birth. I didn’t know anything. About anything, really. I was really young still, so this is my early 20s.

Brandy:                   I can’t imagine you back then, because now you have stats. You are armed with stats and shit all the time.

Amanda:                Yeah, I admit that.

Brandy:                   I can’t imagine baby Amanda.

Amanda:                No, I was so green. I wanted to be a social worker because I came from a poor background. Pregnancy really provides this amazing, specific time in life where you have the opportunity to shift, to change. This is true for anybody who is pregnant, in my experience; whether it be change of how you run your household, how you communicate, what your boundaries are. Everything shifts. In the shelter environment, I quickly realized that it was a specific time of life for people who had immense challenge to actually be able to process through some of that, take a moment. If they had guidance, if they had support, access to resources, ultimately a lot of change could happen. This is an intense period, but you also have the opportunity to have intense change occur in your life; and many did.

Brandy:                   Well, it’s neat because you’ve gone the spectrum. You know different ends of it. I always felt like in birth I brought something unique, because I’d had a home birth with my son and I had a cesarean with my daughter.

Amanda:                Yeah, absolutely.

Brandy:                   So it was like I understood both worlds really well. For you, with the clients that you’ve worked with, you’ve seen people who have no resources who are making choices out of survival. Then you’ve seen people who have an excess, who can make thoughtful choices that have tons of support.

Amanda:                And are also sometimes making choices out of survival. That’s the reality of it.

Brandy:                   Yeah, yes. Good point. I want to get back to that, but first I want to ask you: what do you think our listeners need to know about you?

Amanda:                I was raised by a single mom. Little bit of a village vibe. My grandmother and my great-grandmothers. A lot of maternal energy; except not really because none of the people who raised me were necessarily maternal in nature, or feminine in nature, or could even access that part of themselves. I think part of that is because they were all single people. They all ended up being single without partners. So in my world view growing up, I always thought I would be a single mom, for instance. That was something that was in the back of my mind that was definitely going to happen. Then I grew up a little, and went to college, and found a partner who is amazing, and none of that holds true for me anymore. Now I have to collaborate in my life with this other human being, and that has been a surprise to me.

Brandy:                   Wow, you just thought that that would be your way as well.

Amanda:                Yep.

Brandy:                   That you’d be kind of doing both roles.

Amanda:                Yeah, absolutely.

Brandy:                   Interesting. I’ve known you for years and we’ve worked so intimately, and yet I feel like I just learned something new about you. That’s interesting.

Brandy:                   This might seem kind of counterintuitive to people to have somebody on the podcast talking about motherhood who is not a mother herself. But I want to pick your brain, because you see people when they are pregnant; so in childbirth classes, baby care classes, car seat installation, a lot of different things. You see them during birth for doula work. Then you see them postpartum with doula work, but also with postpartum doula work, which … will you tell people what that is specifically?

Amanda:                Yeah, yeah, of course. So postpartum doula support’s kind of a mixed bag of a lot of different aspects of what we could do to help support families after birth. So I’m trained to be a newborn care specialist where I’m working with a baby, caring for baby like a parent would. But I’m also trained to help provide care and support to the person who has just birthed, which could look like making meals – and it does. It often looks like making meals. Making sure that people are drinking and eating in their homes, they’re showering once in a while. That they have time to sleep.

Brandy:                   So here’s the thing… this is where we are with modern motherhood, is you have to pay somebody to come into your house to make sure you get a shower. That’s just where we’re at. I just want to interject. Yeah.

Amanda:                Yep, absolutely. Yeah. It is the last thing people are thinking about, honestly. I actually literally have to remind people, “Hey, when’s the last time that you took a shower?” It might’ve been days and days. Usually it’s the mom who has just birthed that it’s been days for, not necessarily dad who has to go back to work in the heteronormative family.

Brandy:                   Right, yes. Where I think you have a unique perspective is because you’ve seen the before, the during, and the after of people transitioning into becoming mothers. I mean, this big change that you are talking about, you’ve seen people go through and been there with them. You have sort of this outside, educated look into motherhood that isn’t marred by the actual experience itself.

Amanda:                It’s not informed by me having babies waiting for me at home.

Brandy:                   Exactly. So you … and I mean, we’ve talked about this. But those of us with kids, we laugh at advice from people who don’t have kids, because so much of it is just bullshit. It’s like you can’t know it until you’re in it. But I take anything that you say … I don’t treat like that. I don’t laugh it off or think, “Oh, Amanda doesn’t know,” because I know that you have an ability to be self-aware but also really thoughtful about situations. You know people are trying to do their best, so you don’t have this sort of parenting philosophy that everybody has to be the most thoughtful, and organic, and natural, and all of these things. So I love that about you, which is why when you have a piece of parenting advice or something you notice about motherhood I listen, because I know that you are so well-rounded. So it’s unique that you would get such an inside look at motherhood yourself before becoming a mother, if you should choose. In a way, I feel for you on that because I think had any of us really seen what this was like beforehand, we might’ve taken pause a little bit more.

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   I mean, maybe not. I’m sure there are lots of listeners out there that are like, “Oh, I had sisters or friends or worked places where there were lots of babies and moms, so I knew what I was getting into.” But I think there’s a large group of us that didn’t know exactly what it looked like, so you are getting this unique take. I mean, you are on the front lines of it. You are watching people give birth.

Brandy:                   Okay, so my first question is: how does that affect your future decision to have children or not? Do you find yourself in some moments going, “Oh my god.” You know, in the moments where like when the baby’s born and it’s that amazing moment and it’s so yummy and you’re like, “Oh!” Do the moments like that make you go, “Okay, I want to do this?” And then the moments where you have kids crying and throwing themselves on the ground about snacks or car seats or whatever where you’re like, “Fuck this.” Please paint for me the picture for you.

Amanda:                I do go back and forth all the time, probably multiple times a day, to be honest.

Brandy:                   Funny, me too.

Amanda:                I probably waver more than even most doulas who don’t have kids, because I think a lot of people who go into doula work without kids already know that they do definitely want to have kids. They are working towards supporting people in the hopes that they’re changing things for the better; not just for those people, but also for their future selves. So I think this all comes back to maybe being a single parent. I actually expected that I would adopt. That is something that was in the background of my head forever, for years and years. So I never saw myself growing up as somebody who would be giving birth, and who would be walking through parenthood in the traditional way.

Brandy:                   Okay.

Amanda:                So now as a doula, I’m never really putting myself in that position in my mind when I’m at births or when I’m with somebody in the postpartum period. It’s a funny thing because I feel like I’m actually able to really stay in the moment with the person who is going through that experience, and experiencing it more from an attitude of, “This is your experience, it has nothing to do with me.” Because I don’t know if I’m going to have babies and because I don’t know if I want to give birth myself. I’m okay with not knowing at this point in time. My partner and I, being in this place where we’re like, “I don’t know, maybe.” But I really love what I do. It’s a confusing place to be, to be honest, because there are days when I walk away from birth and I have an immense understanding of it in a deep and impactful way as something that is deep and impacting.

Brandy:                   Right, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amanda:                Does that makes sense? I want to be changed like that. I want to experience something that challenges me to that extent as a human being and come out the other side; even if that’s in pieces. I do crave that experience of being kind of broken down, pieced back together over time, and having to figure that out; especially now that I do have a partner. However, this other part of me is like, “Fuck that. I don’t want to do anything like that. That sounds awful. Why would I choose to be broken down? Why would I choose to walk into this system that is going to break me down in every respect: financially, physically, emotionally. My actual mental health will take a hit.” All of those things are true of becoming a parent, especially if you’re the person who is giving birth.

Amanda:                There are days when I’m like, “Oh god, that birth was so amazing,” and then I’m absolutely relieved to walk away. So in that moment I’m like, “Oh, this must mean that I shouldn’t have kids. I’m not ready or it’s not for me.” Then I’ll go home and I’ll talk about the birth for hours with my partner, and friends, and anyone who will listen really. Then I look back and I’m like, “Oh god, that’s … yeah, that moment was so beautiful.” In retrospect, I’m like, “Yes, yeah! Yeah, I want that.” The reality is that I don’t know that I … I only want that for that moment.

Brandy:                   Right. That’s the thing is those moments of beauty aren’t free.

Amanda:                No, absolutely.

Brandy:                   So it’s almost like, well, in order to be a mother we should have a two-year rotation where you have to attend births and postpartum work, because that would give us an idea. But how many of us would not pull the trigger if we saw it up close?

Amanda:                Totally. So many people wouldn’t.

Brandy:                   Yeah, and I don’t know that that’s the right thing. Like I, in a sense, am grateful that I didn’t know all the details; because had somebody sat me down and said exactly what you said about being broken down in all of these different ways, I might have gone, “I can’t do this.” I mean, how many moments as a mother do I have like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this.”

Amanda:                But it’s great because you’re already stuck.

Brandy:                   Exactly.

Amanda:                You don’t have a choice at that point.

Brandy:                   I don’t have a choice. That’s part of the change I think that you’re talking about is it’s almost as if this experience is like a movie; and at the end of it the hero comes out and has learned something and, you know, was broken down so deeply. But at the end there’s wisdom gained or something gained. I think that that’s true, but-

Amanda:                I feel like for most people that doesn’t happen until like deathbed though.

Brandy:                   Possibly.

Amanda:                You know what I mean? Because we’re just in it. We’re just surviving.

Brandy:                   Right. I don’t know. I go back and forth about do people need to be more educated about what motherhood brings before they become parents, or is ignorance kind of bliss because otherwise people wouldn’t do it. I kind of feel like I’m somewhere where I think, “Well, if people want to know they should be able to know.” And also, they should know the whole scope of things. So that means not just knowing about how lovely it is.

Amanda:                Well, and our society does that.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Amanda:                More than I think most societies. I think the United States specifically has this mantra around family life, family values, and motherhood specifically as the piece of that that is holding everything together, ultimately. I think that if we didn’t romanticize, then no one would become mothers. Honestly.

Brandy:                   So do you think that’s like a plot almost? The US population will die out if we really tell moms what it’s like?

Amanda:                Well, it kind of is, right? That’s what we’re talking about. There’s more access than ever to images online, articles, classes, all the things. There are more books than ever on childbirth, parenting, all those things. We are constantly moving toward more awareness in this realm, even though it’s still minute compared to awareness around other topics. I think we’re seeing the effects of that with millennials not being able to fucking pull the trigger, right?

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Amanda:                I think that it is … well, part of it is a choice. There are a lot of people who choose not to have children for many reasons. Great. There are a lot of people who are forced into it though, and I think that’s the sector of the population that I’m most interested at this point. We’re in this place in time where we’re seeing all of the risks to having children for the first time very clearly. Back in the day, people had children and they were assets. People had children and those were people who were going to help them live longer term.

Brandy:                   They were working in the mother fucking fields is what was happening!

Amanda:                Yes, absolutely. They could get jobs and could help support that family unit. That’s not the world we live in. Good! For good reason.

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                In many ways. Protection of our children are so important. Yet also it means that children aren’t an asset anymore, automatically. They’re a liability. That’s the reality of it. It’s not just-

Brandy:                   I’m automatically just visualizing people like, “I don’t … this podcast is … I feel like they’re trying … children. I love my children.” I’m feeling in myself this need to be like, “But we love our kids.” But you’re also saying something – that’s really-

Amanda:                I fucking love kids.

Brandy:                   Yeah, I know you do.

Amanda:                I’m going to put that out there. I love being around children.

Brandy:                   I know you do.

Amanda:                I love babies, especially. Put me in a room of babies and I’m happy; even more so than adults. I don’t even like adults that much. I love babies.

Brandy:                   But you just referred to them as liabilities, so let’s go back to that.

Amanda:                Yeah, I did. Yeah.

Brandy:                   I want to hear more.

Amanda:                Because all they do now is suck us dry.

Brandy:                   You’ve been hanging out with me.

Amanda:                No. Well, yes, that’s part of it. I know Brandy very well at this point. But no, so I’m also in this place in my social life where I have half of my peer group are people who have had children, and the other part are people who don’t know if they ever can or will have children. So yes, I’m a person on the other side of that line. I’m in that group. But I’m also straddling this fence all the time, because I don’t know which direction I’m going to land; and I’m kind of finding acceptance in both realms because I have to. But what I see on a regular basis is that liability piece. It’s having to constantly think about not just your own bills, but also the medical costs of having a child. The cost of clothing your child. The cost of … and we’re talking about costs financially at this point.

Amanda:                But then there’s this other piece to it, a giant piece: the emotional and mental weight that is having children. It is somebody that you are responsible for for the foreseeable future. The reality of that is that you don’t even know that when they get to be adults … so you’re even more hopeful than I am, because you’re like, “Well, maybe when they’re grown I have to assume that it’s going to get easier.” But you’re assuming that your child won’t be born with a need for something long-term, in terms of care.

Brandy:                   Or like addicted to meth or something.

Amanda:                Yes. Or financially in this horrible economy where you’re constantly taking care of them for the rest of your lives because they can’t take care of themselves. Yeah. I think you’re much more hopeful about it than I am.

Brandy:                   You know what’s funny though? Is I feel like some of those bigger things … I had this realization messaging you the other day that some of these bigger things like having hard conversations or these more adult things – sign me up for that all damn day.

Amanda:                I know.

Brandy:                   I will talk to my kids about racism, about their bodies, about things that other parents have a hard time articulating. I just don’t want to make you breakfast every morning.

Amanda:                Yeah, because that responsibility is horrifically big.

Brandy:                   So in my mind, and I’m probably totally in denial, I’m thinking, “Well, even when they’re older, even if I’m financially supporting them, or even if they’re addicted to meth, they can still go drive and get their own snacks on meth.” The snack thing for me clearly is, yeah, is a thing.

Amanda:                So funny. It’s such a trigger for you.

Brandy:                   It is. I think once my daughter outgrows … like, a couple more years I’ll chill out on snack rage, but right now-

Amanda:                No, I feel like I’d be the same place. I would slough all that off onto my partner.

Brandy:                   Our mutual friends came over the other day and I was offering them, “You guys want something to eat?” They go, “We’re not going to ask you for snacks. We promise.” I’m like, “Oh shit. I’ve been really vocal about my hatred of getting human beings snacks.”

Amanda:                Yep, yep.

Brandy:                   Anyway-

Amanda:                Caretaking. Because it’s constant. That’s the piece of parenthood, but also specifically motherhood, in our culture I think. That consistency is key. We have people yelling that to us at all angles: consistency, showing up, you gotta be there for your kids.

Brandy:                   I’m going to call you out real fast.

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   Okay. I’m going to call you out because, well, A) I just want to say that for you to even notice the constant care taking nature is amazing. And this is why when you have any thoughts on parenthood I am fucking all ears, because you aren’t somebody who is like, “But, I mean, isn’t it just fun?” Where you just see this myopic view.

Brandy:                   So you and your husband have been over before when it’s been bedtime for my kids, because we’re going to hang out and have adult-

Amanda:                I think I know the story you’re about to tell.

Brandy:                   … adult time afterwards. So I’ve struggled with laying with my kids for bedtime, and it’s something that I love some of the time and other of the time I feel like I’m just a P.O.W. stuck in their room. So I remember I was talking to you about it and I was like, “I don’t know. I kind of lose my mind at the end of the night and I don’t want to end it that way. I don’t know. Is this really helping them laying with them? What is this for?” I totally expected you to be like, “Yeah, dude. Just get off that train-

Amanda:                Run away.

Brandy:                   … like, what are you doing? Save yourself. You’re already going above and beyond.”

Amanda:                You’re always doing all the things, yeah.

Brandy:                   But instead, you said something to the effect of, “The way your son looks at you when he asks if you’ll lay with him is the purest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   Then I was like, “Oh fuck. You’re right.”

Amanda:                Because I basically was like guilting you into keep doing it.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Amanda:                Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So I’ll speak to this … I know.

Brandy:                   Which is so not you, which is so not you at all.

Amanda:                I know. I think about this a lot though.

Brandy:                   But you know what? I also appreciated that because there are times in parenting where you do need somebody to kind of, from the outside, notice those things. Like, there is some stuff that you and your husband have said to me about the way that you like how my husband and I parent or whatever, that it’s like, “Wow.” To have somebody outside notice that and say those things, like, sometimes I don’t even notice them. So even in that moment it’s like sometimes we do need to be reminded, “Hey, I notice that that’s really special to your son.” So I found it helpful, but I was … it was also it was so unexpected.

Amanda:                Yeah. I’ll speak to that. I think there’s magic there. There’s powerful, intense, magical parenting happening in those moments. I think that if we could do anything to make our day and life as parents – future parents in my case – potentially, better, easier, make more sense, make it more flow, whatever it is, I don’t think getting rid of the magic moments is the answer. It’s getting rid of all the bullshit moments that are the snack-getting moments. It’s the things that you’ve never enjoyed. Because there are nights where you feel like, “Oh my god, why am I in here? It’s 30 minutes. How long is it going to take for him to fall asleep.” All those moments, right?

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                That has to add up, I’m sure. Especially after long days. But there was a reason you started that. There’s a reason that routine happened for your family. There was some important piece that you were either missing as a kid or that came to you as a kid.

Brandy:                   I’m trying … I’m really trying to think how did that start. I think for many of us it starts out of survival because our kids don’t sleep. It’s the path of least resistance is how that starts. Then there’s once you kind of get into that thing, there’s never a night where you’re like, “You know what? I feel like I have patience tonight to hear somebody be really upset for hours, and then maybe tomorrow night again.” You know, it’s like ripping off that Band-Aid never sounds like a fun idea. But then also it’s not all frustration. There is also the aspect of it of the yumminess, like that magic that you’re talking about. So then there is something that some nights lure you in. It’s like I just want to … that’s what came out of that conversation. I just want to have options.

Amanda:                Sure.

Brandy:                   I want to feel like on the nights where I am at the end of my rope, I want to know that I can say, “Hey, I’m going to lay with you for five minutes and do the snuggles and the book and all those things, but I’m not going to lay here and feel like I am powerless.”

Amanda:                Sure.

Brandy:                   Even just knowing about having that choice has been helpful. But man-

Amanda:                That’s awesome.

Brandy:                   But see, this is where you’re right, Amanda. You’re right about this magic shit, because that’s … I think that that’s so spot-on. I think as parents in it, how do we know sometimes where the magic is, right? So you come in, and you see something, and you go, “Oh shit.” I remember you saying, “The way that he looked at you, there’s something there that’s beautiful that needs to be nurtured.”

Amanda:                So it’s nurturing some piece of who he is and who he will be.

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                I don’t know that the snack getting … I’m going to keep going back to this because I think it’s a perfect example. I don’t know that you acquiescing and getting snacks every three minutes makes any sense to her long-term development. It’s just what she needs right now. Yes, you’re meeting her needs, but you meet her needs on a day-to-day basis in a thousand other ways. You show up in a thousand other ways. So whatever you can do, and I think this is true for most parents, I think that if there are things … if you had to write a list of the things you do every day for your children, just 100 percent, all those things on the list-

Brandy:                   Put socks on limp feet. I mean, literally-

Amanda:                Help them to get out the door.

Brandy:                   Literally, feet that are so limp. I’m doing with my hand a flaccid motion. Where you have to ask them, “Can you just stiffen your feet so that these socks can go on your feet?” Putting socks on somebody with flaccid feet is literally-

Amanda:                It’s ridiculous.

Brandy:                   … demoralizing.

Amanda:                Yeah, but you do it.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Amanda:                But is there magic there? Is that a moment that you know your kid is going to look back on and be like, “Wow, that was really special”?

Brandy:                   You know what? I think my daughter – obviously I don’t put socks on my son anymore – but I feel like my daughter is going to look back and be like, “I used to fuck with my mom so hard. She would be putting socks on me and I would just make my feet go limp. I could just tell that she was dying inside, but she was trying to be still loving.” The same thing is … she does this thing. I don’t even know how to describe this. Okay, when I’ll pull off her nightgown or a shirt, something over her head … I can’t even imagine a human being would do this. This is like the most disrespectful thing I can imagine somebody doing. She will curve her hands so that they are like flat so that you can’t get the shirt off. She does it right at the last minute. Like, she puts her hands up like, “No, okay, you can help me take my shirt off.” Then right when I get to the part where I’m pulling it off, she’s like LOCKDOWN. So then I’m tugging. “Why would you do this? Why would you do this to somebody.” So my thing that I always say to her is, “If I’m going to help you with something, you have to be helpful with me. You don’t make this harder for somebody when they’re trying to help you.”

Amanda:                Let’s work together.

Brandy:                   Yeah. So then the next time I’ll tell her, “Well, no, you’re going to take off your shirt, because remember last time you locked me out?” But who does that? Who, at the last minute of somebody being helpful, is like-

Amanda:                Well, I think lots of little kids. I think that’s the answer. And it sucks. It’s just one extra thing in the day to break you down.

Brandy:                   That’s right.

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   See, you know this shit and you don’t even have kids. Okay. What do you think is the thing that you need to push you in either direction?

Amanda:                Primarily, financial stability. I know for sure I’m not having kids during midwifery school, because I’ve seen that play out and it doesn’t go well for almost anyone.

Brandy:                   Yeah, good call.

Amanda:                They either quit or they feel like they’re dying the entire time. I want to be a better midwife than I could be if I had a child.

Amanda:                So that’s one layer, right?

Brandy:                   Yeah, okay. Layers.

Amanda:                I’m thinking of this in a hierarchy of needs situation, right?

Brandy:                   Okay, got it. Yeah.

Amanda:                So a financial layer, of course. But then there’s also this other aspect. So for my partner, for instance, I know for sure that he wants to get to a place where he feels like he doesn’t have to be care taken by any human or any part of our society; that he can be fully independent and autonomous before choosing to have a baby.

Brandy:                   So what does that mean?

Amanda:                Yeah, it’s a great question because I don’t think it exists, personally.

Brandy:                   Right, I’m like, I don’t even know what that is.

Amanda:                Well, he comes from a background of trauma. He comes from a background of neglect. And he comes from a background of not understanding how to care for the self, love the self, or even be aware of his own identity. So he has to figure out who he is in this world; how he relates to other people. He’s doing that in his early 30s instead of his early 20s like most people in college because of his history. So I think that he just needs more time before he ever gets to the point where he’s going to be like, “Yeah, I could absolutely take on another human being’s whole needs,” and then help them and nourish them.

Amanda:                Third layer for is is we would have to be able to home school. This is a big, big thing for us because … so I went through public school system. So did my brother. I happened to be labeled as gifted at some point, my brother was not. He had the opposite experience where he had an IEP, he had to have remedial classes, all that extra support. Our outcomes were absolutely ridiculously different in unfair ways. It’s just the basis by which our public school system has been created, the way it runs, the lack of funding, all of it. So whereas I’m like, “Oh, I had a great experience at public school,” if I had a kid just like me, maybe my kid would be perfectly fine in public school. Then I have to remember that other people didn’t, and that my own brother walked out of public school with half as much education, even though he was equally as capable of learning as anybody else. I think that’s a travesty. So when I think about having kids, the only way that I would be okay doing it is if we had it set up in our lives where we would homeschool; at least primarily.

Amanda:                So then there’s this financial aspect, then our emotional readiness; and then there’s also the logistical, how would we even make this work on a day-to-day basis if we want to raise our children in the way that we want to raise our children? I feel like there’s no point for me to ever have kids if I can’t do it the way that I hope I can, and also … I know you’re about to be like, “But control!” Go for it.

Brandy:                   This is … it just has my wheels turning about have we gone too far? Our parents just had sex and had a baby.

Amanda:                Yeah, but the repercussions.

Brandy:                   Exactly.

Amanda:                And also the state of the economy.

Brandy:                   But yes. So, okay, if they’re on this whole other extreme that was like, “I don’t know. It felt good. Got a baby. What do we do with it?”

Amanda:                “We figure it out as it comes.”

Brandy:                   Then our generation are over thinkers. So I’m in this place where I’m like, “Is that actually helpful to us?” Because I feel like in a lot of ways it really is, because we are slowly undoing some of the really awful things that have been true and alive in our society. Had we not overthought some of those things, they wouldn’t get better. But are we at a point where we’ve swung so far that … I mean, I kind of feel like when you’re talking about millennials not sure if they want to have kids, is part of that because we … it’s like every … perfectionism is what I’m getting at.

Amanda:                I think it absolutely is true for a lot of people. I think you’re totally right.

Brandy:                   So there’s our parent’s generation; which was, maybe we can just generalize, thoughtless. Not to say they were wrong about it. I mean, in a sense, they seem like they were enjoying it way more than maybe we are today. So then we swing this whole other way, which is, “Well, the schools have to be perfect, or I have to be in a situation where I can homeschool, and my finances need to be there, and I need to do my self work before.” I’m just, I’m kind of lost. Maybe there’s a middle ground that we need to find? I don’t know.

Amanda:                I don’t think there is. I think the reason is, because our society, at current time, is not economically or socially set up to support parenthood or life with children in the ways that it has in the past.

Brandy:                   So how do you think it supported parenthood in the past that it’s not doing now?

Amanda:                Yeah, so I’ll give you a great example. So my mom, single mom, right? She knew for sure she wanted to have kids by 24 years old. That was always her plan. She worked one job, had rent paid, and somehow afforded childcare by herself. Do you know how many people can do that now?

Brandy:                   Yeah, I’m like, “What?”

Amanda:                Yeah, exactly. Because rents were not as high, because her job paid her better in terms of the ratio-

Brandy:                   Relatively. Yes.

Amanda:                Yeah. Her car cost was lower. Everything. Food. Food cost was negligible to her. You know, me and my partner, we eat at home a lot and we cook foods, but we also try to make healthier choices. So I add a child and I’m supposed to go backwards in my own health and potentially their health long-term, because now I can’t afford to buy the foods that I want in my home? Does that make sense?

Brandy:                   Yeah, it’s craziness.

Amanda:                My mom never had to make that choice.

Brandy:                   I mean, but let’s be real. Your mom probably wasn’t buying healthy stuff anyway.

Amanda:                No, of course not. It was the fucking 80s and 90s.

Brandy:                   Yeah, Squeeze-Its.

Amanda:                Fruit by the Foot. Are you kidding me? Gushers every day after school.

Brandy:                   Squeeze-Its. Oh my god. Let’s go back.

Amanda:                Lunchables.

Brandy:                   I want to go back.

Amanda:                There is a certain ignorant beauty, bliss thing happening there.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Amanda:                Also, look at the repercussions. I have gastrointestinal issues and probably will for the rest of my life because I was raised on literally soda every day, fast food four times a week, all those things. She didn’t have to make those choices because she didn’t know. I can’t begrudge her for that, but I can begrudge myself for not taking account now.

Brandy:                   When you know better.

Amanda:                Yeah. I think that’s the problem. We all know better now, so we want to make the best possible choice. But our society isn’t letting us do that. It’s not possible. We don’t have the support systems. We don’t have childcare access. We don’t have jobs that are paying us well enough. We don’t have any of those pieces that just fell into place for generations prior.

Brandy:                   So what you’re saying is that the reasons that the newer generations … you literally have to think about all these things, otherwise having kids will destroy your dreams.

Amanda:                Yes.

Brandy:                   I don’t mean that because they ask for snacks all the time. But legitimately, logistically-

Amanda:                Not even destroy dreams, just destroy a household period.

Brandy:                   Right. Yeah, that’s what I mean. You know, you thought, “I’m going to have this apartment. This is going to be how we live. These are the foods that are healthy.” Then when you have a kid in this framework, it’s like all of a sudden no, you’re actually not going to do any of that. You are going to struggle and-

Amanda:                You’re going to pay your childbirth bills for 10 years while also paying your student loans off, while also having a car loan, while also paying rent, while also paying car insurance, while also trying to buy food to put on your table; and also somehow clothing a child, and figuring out childcare needs if you both have to work outside the home or if you’re a single parent. All of the pieces.

Brandy:                   That’s bleak.

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   That’s, I mean, that’s super helpful to realize that the perfectionism isn’t necessarily perfectionism.

Amanda:                I think it’s intense anxiety.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Amanda:                And our path to quelling that anxiety is putting the pieces into place. If we can’t put the pieces into place, then we are choosing not to do it.

Brandy:                   Right. And it’s realizing nobody’s going to have our back, so there’s no safety net that we fall into if we have kids today.

Amanda:                No, no.

Brandy:                   So “I want to do this in a way where I’m going to struggle the least.”

Amanda:                Yes.

Brandy:                   That’s an admirable thing. That’s not just perfectionism.

Amanda:                Yeah. And also, I’ll add, I know those perfectionists. I’ve worked with them. I know that that exists. Do I think it’s happening on the larger scale of humanity at this point? No. I think that it’s happening specifically in southern California with white privileged women. Absolutely. Because I’ve seen it time and time again. I’ve seen the people who need to eat only organic, need to buy all of the organic cotton clothing, and have only wood toys. I have no judgment around that, because those people are probably coming from the same place that I’m coming from: anxiety around not fucking up their children that they’ve chosen to have. Yet, I’ve seen that turn into actual mood disorders.

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                Postpartum anxiety is a real thing. The perfectionism that I see is a reaction to not being able to cope with a lot of the anxiety, I think, around parenthood. There’s just a general lack of trust. I think it’s founded lack of trust between people that are having kids now and people who had kids in the past. That’s the reason I have a job as a postpartum doula, let’s be real.

Brandy:                   That’s right.

Amanda:                Because even when people do have support that’s local … one of the clients I’m working with right now has family that’s less than an hour away, they come every other weekend to visit, they’re there. Are they people that she wants to be there to actually guide her through the process of becoming a parent? Absolutely not.

Brandy:                   Oh, Amanda. That’s such a great point, which is every generation learns from the one before it. So I wonder, a hundred years ago, was the difference between a generation … were there new moms who were like, “Mother is so antiquated in her ways.” You know?

Amanda:                I’m sure there were some.

Brandy:                   There had to be something like that, but I feel like maybe there’s a real stark gap between my parent’s generation, your mom’s generation, and us.

Amanda:                And just the amount of technology that has shaped our lives that didn’t shape theirs. But I also think that it’s important to realize that the amount of time between generations has only expanded.

Brandy:                   Yeah, that’s such a great point.

Amanda:                If I have a child, it’s going to be in my mid to late 30s. My mom already had a teenager at that point. That’s a huge difference in generational gap. If you’re not taking that into account when you’re thinking about your parents becoming grandparents, or you’re thinking about how much support you’re going to have, what your parents will even be able to do physically to support you, it’s going to look a lot different than what they had.

Brandy:                   Yeah, and the people who naturally should be the people to guide you are working off of a whole different world.

Amanda:                Yep, whole different framework.

Brandy:                   That’s where all of a sudden you’re paying for people to come in and help you. You’re looking to your friends. How are they doing it? You’re even looking to the internet.

Amanda:                Absolutely.

Brandy:                   You’re looking for Facebook articles. What are people posting?

Amanda:                YouTube videos. Yeah.

Brandy:                   All that kind of stuff. That’s a really big deal that I hadn’t really thought about. I want to pick your brain about what you see. What part of being a mother, from the outside when you’re looking at clients, looks the hardest?

Amanda:                That the load is ultimately on you. I want to make a note here from my own perspective. So I am non-binary in my gender. So one of the things that I always have to remind myself is when I’m speaking to these issues, most of the time I’m speaking to the heteronormative version of this and to the cisgender version of this; and not the experience that I hope to have myself or the experience other non-binary people I know are having.

Brandy:                   Okay.

Amanda:                So I want to put that out there. So what I see, ultimately, is that most women, at the end of the day, are the person for everything. They are the person who is making the appointments, and the person who is calling insurance companies, and the person who is breastfeeding, and the person who is struggling to breastfeed sometimes. They are the person who is buying the clothing for the baby on Amazon to have overnighted. They are the person who is thinking about what preschool the child is going to go to. They are the person, ultimately, all the time. I see that in 96 percent of the client’s households that I work in. It surprises me when that’s not the case. Just the other day I went to a postpartum visit with a birth client. So I was at this client’s birth. Her partner has already gone back to work and it’s only been two weeks postpartum. That’s pretty typical in America.

Brandy:                   Yep.

Amanda:                However, this partner has gone to all of the appointments with the mom; all of the pediatrician appointments, her OB appointment to check in. This partner actually took the time at the hospital before they were leaving to call the insurance company to put the baby on the insurance. I feel like that never happens. I’ve never heard a dad do this.

Brandy:                   Wow.

Amanda:                It’s always the mom who is making that happen.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Amanda:                Which I think is indicative of our overall picture of who the responsibility really lies with. You had the baby physically, and now you have the baby, emotionally, mentally, socially. It’s your baby. I think, ultimately, that’s the thing; because not only are people who just birthed having to navigate their own body’s healing, they are also sustaining a human life. I don’t just mean if they are breastfeeding. They are literally the person who is keeping that baby alive. They’re expected to learn all of the things quickly. So, you know, in this same household where that dad had specifically taken that extra step, and I’m calling it extra. It’s not extra. It’s a step that had to be taken and he should be taking it. He has the capacity to do it, great. But I’m calling it extra because it seems like it’s extra in our culture. But even in that household during that visit, he wasn’t holding the baby. Baby is being bottle fed. Was he the one doing it? No, the mom was doing it. By the way, this is a lovely, wonderful person who I’m talking about.

Brandy:                   Yeah, sure. Sure.

Amanda:                This is somebody I have an immense amount of respect for, who I saw support somebody in birth so beautifully despite his own inability to stay conscious through part of it because of-

Brandy:                   Intensity.

Amanda:                Exactly. Even still, even with this person being amazing, he was still not the default. She was.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Amanda:                For most people … so biologically, if we’re thinking about this. Well okay, sure, because he’s supposed to be hardwired to go out and hunt the next day. Fine. But that’s not how our society is actually set up; and, more than that, we’re also expecting that she will then be ready very soon to go do the hunting, so to speak. They both work because they both have lives outside of being parents. That’s not to say that I think everyone who has a baby should stay at home with baby. That’s not my plan. That’s not what I want to do. I just don’t think people think about it. I don’t think people expect that there is going to be such a division. I don’t think moms during pregnancy realize that it’s all going to be on them.

Brandy:                   What do-

Amanda:                You looking for a solution?

Brandy:                   Well, I’m just like … a lot of us find ourselves in that situation where we realize that it’s all on our shoulders, and our husbands aren’t saying that it is. So it’s not like they’re adding to the problem, but yet-

Amanda:                Sure, but they’re also not automatically stepping in to alleviate the problem.

Brandy:                   Exactly, and I think that’s where it’s tricky; because you can have your husband that you love so much, who has just beautifully supported you, and is such a great dad, and you really have no complaints. Also, this thing still exists. So, as the mom, what? You’re going to say, “Oh, well, you need to do more”? It’s like, I don’t even-

Amanda:                Well, I don’t think we raise women to be able to say that, to begin with.

Brandy:                   Well, I agree with that. We, as women, we don’t even know to say that. But then you take us in this new position as Mom, and we don’t know what it’s like yet. So some of us don’t even know, “Well, I think this IS my job.” And then you add on this other layer of, “Well, I don’t make money. I don’t bring home money, so I’m the one that has to take the hit because his work is more important that mine.” There’s argument there to be made, which is maybe in a sense if he didn’t work you wouldn’t have food on the table. But also, if moms didn’t mom there would be dead babies.

Amanda:                Yeah. Also, let’s be real, really unhealthy people going to work every day who wouldn’t feed themselves.

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                Right? We’re not just talking about somebody who is just parenting. I think this is part of the thing that … with stay-at-home care providers, I think that most people just think, “Oh, you’re taking care of the kids.” But that’s not the reality. You’re also taking care of the household, you’re also taking care of yourself, you’re taking care of the person who then goes out and works.

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                If you look at it from that perspective, you’re really talking about three or four different jobs, right?

Brandy:                   Well, yeah.

Amanda:                We’re not talking about, “Oh, you’re the homemaker for your child.” No, you’re doing a shit ton of other things. I mean, this is actually … it’s a funny thing, because I learned this truth just having a partner who is the stay-at-home partner without having kids. People look at us like, “What are you talking about? What does he do all day?” What do you mean what does he do? He does all the things that make our lives work. He makes me eat regularly. He makes healthy choices for both of us. He’s making the phone calls that I don’t have to make. All those pieces that add up, he’s the person that takes all that off my plate. If he wasn’t doing that, I would not only be running a business and going to school, I would also be running my life. So I understand that because I have a partner, and we don’t have kids, and he’s still doing so much. I can only imagine the amount of extra work on top because we had children.

Brandy:                   Yes. Many people in motherhood don’t even realize what this is. I mean, there’s a book out there called “How to Not Hate Your Husband After You Have Children.” I think that’s a hilarious title, but also it speaks to this being a thing. It’s not inherent. I always come up against this. It’s not inherent. It’s not like there is something personal, necessarily, happening towards our husbands, but there’s something systemically happening in which moms are taking on too much of the work. It’s this silent, unspoken thing that the husband then doesn’t know to notice. Then the wife doesn’t feel like she can say anything, because she doesn’t want to seem ungrateful or like she isn’t good at her job.

Amanda:                Sure.

Brandy:                   And there’s all these reasons. There seems to be, to me, an overwhelming amount of work to be done that even two people can’t handle.

Amanda:                Yes, correct. I agree with you 100 percent. This is one of those pieces of our … the way we live, the way our society is set up at this point, that is more challenging.

Brandy:                   So then for the wife to say to the husband, “Hey, I have all these things. I’m feeling overwhelmed and I need you to do all of this.” I don’t think we do that sometimes because we know that then that’s going to be overwhelming for him. Then he’s going to feel like there’s too much. There is this certain amount of things that are in the middle, that it’s going to be overwhelming for either of us. So women tend to be the ones who go, “Well, I’ll just do it.”

Amanda:                Yeah, because we’re taught to be nurturing and caretaking in total. We’re taught to take care of the whole fucking world.

Brandy:                   Right, so then how do we get out of that? Especially if we don’t … Amanda, you have to have all the answers.

Amanda:                So, I don’t.

Brandy:                   But especially if we don’t have money. I mean, so the outsourcing of these things is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Amanda:                Sure. Well, I don’t think there is getting out of it. I think it’s working through it.

Brandy:                   Okay.

Amanda:                So my perspective on this, and this is actually something I do in the postpartum period with some people, I actually talk about planning out whose role is going to be what. I think this is an important piece of marriage, partnership, family life that most people don’t do to begin with. I don’t think people have the capacity. This is where … so your question earlier about whether people should have to take classes, right? Should people be more aware and educated before they venture into parenthood?

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                There needs to be more education, but not around the everyday pieces necessarily. It’s about the setup that you want, that you’re going to be comfortable with, and the capacity that you have to fulfill those expectations. If you have never sat down with the person you’re living with and talked about who does what in your household and your work life, where your roles land, how are you ever supposed to be expected to maintain homeostasis in your life? So that would be my first step towards working on a possible solution.

Brandy:                   Yeah, but I think the thing is is that before you become a parent, you don’t know all of these things that you’re going to need to juggle.

Amanda:                Yeah, and I’m not even saying you have to have them set in place.

Brandy:                   Right. But then what happens is then after you have a baby and you’re already overwhelmed, THEN they start to come up. That’s when you don’t have the time to have the conversation. You don’t have the patience you normally have. Your brain is not functioning in the same way. All of a sudden you’re in this pressure cooker and you’re having to have these conversations; and you’re having to think, “Well, if I ask him to do it, then he’s going to be overwhelmed. So I’ll just do it.” I think what you’re talking about is wonderful. Being real about, “Here’s what I’m capable of, but then this is where that ends,” for both people. So both people can say, “This is what I can do, and this is what I can’t do.” Then you find that middle and you go, “Well, what do we do about those so we’re not pissed at each other?”

Amanda:                And what do we have to cut out to make our life work?

Brandy:                   Exactly.

Amanda:                Because that’s also part of this.

Brandy:                   Right. So either we’re not going to do some of these things, or maybe we have some resources in which we can hire somebody to do this thing. But I just have such compassion for, because I have been one of these people, for the people who all of a sudden go down from two incomes to one income when they have kids. So all of a sudden outsourcing anything is like, “We can’t afford anything.” I think about people with money who could just go, “Well, I’m going to hire a cleaner, and I’ll hire a babysitter, and we’ll just use Instacart,” and, you know, all of these sorts of things. Then there’s so many people who are more strapped with money than they ever have been after having kids, and yet that’s when they need the money the most.

Amanda:                Absolutely.

Brandy:                   This is the stuff about modern parenthood that lights a fire under me, because I can’t help but think it shouldn’t be this hard. Also, it is. There are so many layers happening right now. Just even think about all of that last stuff about figuring out with your husband what you’re going to do, and then throw money in there-

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   … and then laugh at the whole thing.

Amanda:                Yeah. It’s really complicated.

Brandy:                   Actually, lack of money.

Amanda:                Really complicated.

Brandy:                   This is why people today are being so thoughtful about their choices.

Amanda:                And it’s why people who couldn’t be thoughtful to begin with, or didn’t know to think to begin with, are struggling so immensely.

Brandy:                   As my kids have gotten older I feel like I figured some things out, but that’s who I speak for. That’s why I do the things that I do and I’m passionate about talking about the things that I’m passionate about, is because there are so many people who are stuck in that spot ,who aren’t in the place where they’re like, “Oh my gosh, light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’ve learned some things.” Instead, they are just flailing.

Amanda:                Yeah.

Brandy:                   That’s an awful feeling. It’s just helplessness.

Amanda:                To have no solutions.

Brandy:                   Yeah, exactly. That place of feeling like you have no solutions is a commonplace in motherhood. You kind of wake up every day like, “This is my life? Okay, I’m going to keep going,” but-

Amanda:                So earlier I think you asked me what’s one of the things that pulls you towards the yes side, right? It’s the potential of finding magic that didn’t exist prior in my life. It’s funny, because I actually think I have a lot of magic. I think I have a lot of yumminess in my life, based on my work, and based on my friendships, and my partnership. Also, there is intensity in how much I struggle despite all that magic. Because I can see that, and know in advance there’s going to be even more intensity, even more struggle, and even more magic. I just have to be able to say, “Okay, well I’m walking towards this.” If I’m saying yes, that means that I have to feel ready to take on all those pieces and not just hope for magic only.

Brandy:                   That’s right. If you’re saying yes to the magic, you’re saying yes to the cost of the magic as well.

Amanda:                Absolutely.

Brandy:                   Just even that word magic, and when you were talking about it before; it’s such a good reminder. You know, I was thinking about yesterday – I had a massage client at work. You know, I always ask people, “What’s specifically bothering you? Is there anywhere that you want me to make sure that I spend time on?” This woman said, “Oh, I’m a new mom, so I’m nursing.” Immediately I know all the spots. Obviously, your wrists and your arms. There was some energy that she had that I remembered myself having, which was when you have your first … and also subsequent kids too, but specifically your first because everything is so new. It’s like everything feels like magic. I remember finding out I was pregnant and being like, “I get to do Christmas for somebody, and I get to make a birthday cake.” For me, so much of that magic happens in the beginning when you first meet your baby. I know a lot of people struggle with the postpartum period, but the first three months has always been the yummiest thing. So I was seeing her, and as I was working on her body I could feel the Relaxin still there in her body. I think her baby, she said, was only eight weeks old.

Amanda:                Oh, yeah.

Brandy:                   I mean, her muscles were moving like none of my other clients move. I was just remembering like, oh man, back when … back before you’re hardened a little bit and you’re still supple and soft and accommodating for a baby. I’m just thinking to myself, you know, “I wonder what she’s thinking about, in terms of all the fun things with her baby.” The first time they do everything, even going outside with them into the world grocery shopping, is fun. I don’t know. I was just having this totally romantic sort of of escapade in my own head about it. But what you’re talking about is that magic piece. That’s why I think so many of us are drawn to it. I don’t think we realize that with the magic comes a cost of that. I know I certainly didn’t realize. I mean, I don’t think anybody is ever fully prepared for the amount. So it’s not that-

Amanda:                No, I agree. Or in the ways.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Amanda:                The ways in which you are seasoned through that process.

Brandy:                   Right. So I don’t think it’s something that people can walk into it really fully knowing, but those pieces of magic really do keep us going. But what I think was interesting is, so here I am last night doing this massage, having this sort of internal dialogue as I’m doing it about all the yumminess of motherhood. I was really connecting with that side of it. So then afterwards when it was all done, you know, I meet her on the other side of the door with a glass of water. I said, “How is your body feeling?” She said, “Oh my god, that was so great. I feel so great.” I said, “I just really want to commend you on the fact that you are here and that you’re taking care of yourself, you know? You have an eight week old, and yet something inside you knows that it’s important that you get care taken also.” She goes, “Well, I’m a total nervous wreck, and so I know that that affects my baby. So I thought I should probably try to relax a little bit.”

Amanda:                So it’s not about her.

Brandy:                   I was like, “Well, and that’s … and there we have it.”

Amanda:                Yep. That is the essence of motherhood.

Brandy:                   I was in this place where I was like, “She’s probably loving it, and she’s probably this mom who’s like, ‘You know what? I want a massage. I’m going to stand up for myself.'” No, it comes down to the fact that she’s fucking struggling with anxiety because modern motherhood and anxiety are almost-

Amanda:                Synonymous.

Brandy:                   … the same thing. Yeah. So it was just like, “Ah, man, you know? What’s happening here?” So I was taken out of my beautiful visions of all the wonderful parts of motherhood, and really brought back to yeah, and she’s thinking about her baby’s well-being. She’s having anxiety about it. It can’t just be she’s getting the massage because she wants it.

Amanda:                Yeah, and somebody at some point probably said, “Oh, stress is so bad for babies.”

Brandy:                   Right.

Amanda:                Or, you know, “Breast milk changes to meet the needs of baby, but it only changes if you’re being healthy.” You know? Just little seeds that have been planted like that.

Brandy:                   Yeah. I know some of the moms at the park I was talking to when we were talking about a postpartum doula, or even, which is different, a night nanny. So many of them were like, “Oh, I should have done that.” I feel like in hindsight that almost every mom is like, “Oh, that would have been great to have.” But in the moment, you’re trying to do it all. You’re trying to prove you can do it all.

Amanda:                Sure. Well, I’ll say my clients aren’t those people, right? Because they have hired help.

Brandy:                   Exactly. I say huge kudos to people… to ALL the peoples. Huge kudos to all the peoples.

Amanda:                Anyone who’s parenting right now.

Brandy:                   Pretty much. Huge kudos to you. I’m kind of in awe of people who can speak up for what they need, especially people who are first time parents … and maybe these generations are learning to do that a little bit better.

Amanda:                I can see that, for sure. The younger the client is, the more likely that they are to actually express what they’re thinking, feeling, how overwhelmed they are, all those things. Yeah.

Brandy:                   So maybe there’s hope.

Amanda:                Maybe. I think so.

Brandy:                   Maybe there’s hope. Thank you so much for spending your time here, for giving us your wisdom, for letting me call you out.

Amanda:                You’re welcome.

Brandy:                   So a few things: on today’s episode we talked a lot about the things that aren’t working with motherhood. I know some of you might be sitting in a parking lot raging, and I know this because I’ve gotten messages from you mid-rage wondering what to do. So hopefully the validation in itself was helpful, but if you want something to do, about it why not take inventory of the duties required to run your family’s life? Why not find a time to have a conversation with your partner about what you can and can’t do, what they can and can’t do, and what to do about the overage? Even allowing there to be overage that you both find solutions for could be life changing.

Brandy:                   On that note, Amanda’s witnessing of the magic between my son and I when putting him to be was a beautiful thing, but it didn’t mean that I had to continue doing it if it wasn’t working for me. So since it’s summer and I’m with my kids the entire day most days, by the time bedtime comes I just do not have it in me to lay with them for an hour while they fall asleep. I told my husband this and he offered to put both kids to bed for the summer so I could have some alone time. I said, “Yes, please.” The kids are excited because they get extra time with their dad, and I’m excited because I’m not as spent by 8:00pm, which makes me a happier mom and wife. I actually look forward to this time of the night, because I know I get to take the mom hat off and bask in the stillness, or play Spider Solitaire while laying in my bed alone. Ahhhhh.

Brandy:                   So this idea of doing the magical things can always be reassessed and updated to fit everyone’s needs or ideas of magic.

Brandy:                   As always, thank you for listening. If you’re enjoying the podcast, please remember to subscribe, rate and review it – or better yet, why not head over to Patreon. That’s www.patreon.com/adultconversation, and help me get closer to my goal of putting out weekly episodes.

** 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.