(Ep. 19) Mom Real Talk with Laura

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Join mother and author, Laura Mullane, as she unapologetically speaks her truth of “reluctant motherhood,” and she and I talk about all sorts of deep mom topics. I talk about my biggest fear when becoming a mother, and Laura and I explain why motherhood sometimes feels like living with a gun to your head, and also what changes inside us as the toddlers grow into teenagers (it’s actually positive). Laura tells us what it was like to write such a personal and taboo book – and what people’s reactions have been, what she misses most about the younger ages, and how she feels when her daughter says she doesn’t ever want to have kids. I share about when I feel most happy while mothering, what helped me decide if I should have a second baby or not (which still gets me emotional, shocker), and I lay out my theory about how different types of moms have different stages of intense struggle. I’m curious if you’ll agree.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT:

Brandy:                   Hello Adult Conversation Podcast listeners! In this episode, I interview mother and author, Laura Mullane, whose book I read a handful of years ago that says the hard things. Join us as she speaks her truth of reluctant motherhood and she and I talk about all sorts of deep mom topics. I talk about my biggest fear when becoming a mother, and Laura and I explain why motherhood sometimes feels like living with a gun to your head, and also what changes inside us as the toddlers grow into teenagers (psst, it’s positive). Laura tells us what it’s like to write such a personal and taboo book and what people’s reactions have been, also what she misses most about the younger ages, and then how she feels when her daughter says she doesn’t ever want to have kids. I share about when I feel most happy while mothering, what helped me decide if I should have a second baby or not (which still gets me emotional, shocker), and I lay out my theory about how different types of moms have different stages of intense struggle. I’m curious if you’ll agree with me.

Brandy:                   I want to give a quick shout out to my latest Patreon peep, Jaime McNitt – thank you, friend since sixth grade! If you want to join Jaime, head over to patreon.com/adultconversation, and for just a few bucks a month you can support a mom like me – well, actually me – and for less than you’d spend on your kid in the Dollar Spot at Target. Onto the show.

Brandy:                   On the podcast today we have with us Laura Mullane who is an author and a mother, and she wrote a book called Swimming For Shore: Memoirs of a Reluctant Mother. So welcome, Laura.

Laura:                      Thank you for having me.

Brandy:                   Yes. So I’ve been eagerly awaiting this interview, because your book was recommended to me a couple years ago, and somehow even though I had a toddler and had no autonomy and zero time to do anything for myself, I read your book and I fell in love with you. Because-

Laura:                      Aw.

Brandy:                   … you say the hard things and the things that might get you judged harshly, and I so appreciate that about anybody. But the things that you were saying really resonated with me and the story that you told, and honestly the brilliance of your writing. Now that I’m a little bit further in my writing career and I kind of have a sense of, oh, that person, the way that they put sentences together is pleasing to read versus just those are words and I don’t know the difference. You’re a really amazing writer.

Laura:                      Gosh, I didn’t know what I was going to … I’m going to just sit here and soak up all this praise. I was going to joke that when you said, “Oh, I read your book,” I’m like, “Oh, so you were the ONE.” There’s been more than one, but no, it’s very nice to hear.

Brandy:                   Yes, well I was one of the very excited ones. So, like a stalker I emailed you, I think it was a couple years back, and told you how much I loved it and how grateful I was that you said the things, and here we are on a podcast together.

Laura:                      This is one of my favorite things to talk about, because I am so passionate – passionate I guess is the good word for it, maybe a little crazy is the other, but it’s something I feel so strongly about, that women’s voices and mother’s voices aren’t often heard.

Brandy:                   Yes. I want people to kind of know from the get-go, will you give us a taste of what is your memoir about?

Laura:                      Yeah, so it’s basically about my first three years as a mom, which were … It’s funny to say this. Now my children are 15 and 16, so it’s been a long time, but this was really the first three years of motherhood. I don’t think I was really ready to become a mom. I mean, it was planned, but I think my husband was much more certain about being a parent than I was. I felt like everybody had a better handle on this than I did and everybody enjoyed it more than I did, and that was really the impetus. And I remember talking to my friend who was and still is single with no kids, and she was like, “You should write a book. Nobody ever talks about this stuff, you should write a book, you should write a book.” And when I actually first started, I thought it was going to be a funny book. It was going to be one of those, 10 Things No One Ever Told You About Being a Mom, and I imagined each chapter being kind of a funny thing. And then I started writing it, and even though there is humor in it, it’s actually kind of dark, I think, a lot of it is kind of dark.

Brandy:                   Yeah, that’s why I loved it. Thank you for that.

Laura:                      Oh, well good. Yeah, I mean before our call I picked it up and was thumbing through it to refresh my memory on some things and I still get teary-eyed at points remembering what I was going through, remembering what my kids were going through. That’s essentially what the book is, so about leaving behind my pre-child life, which was very full, I had a really full life before I had kids. I was a writer, my career was really coming into its own. I’m a big horse fanatic, and at the time we lived on this idyllic little farm in New Mexico and I had horses on my property and would go riding my horses every day with my dogs, and I really gave that up when I had kids, at least temporarily. Now you’ll be glad to know I’m back living in New Mexico and have horses on my property and ride horses with my dogs now. But there was a real sense of loss and a real mourning, I think, when I had children and had to let go of my previous life. Does that sum it up?

Brandy:                   That sums it up. I have so much I want to talk to you about. But before we go any further, what’s something unique or quirky about you that the listeners might want to know? What is your flavor of weird?

Laura:                      It’s not really weird, but I think a big flavor that colors so much about me is that I really value quiet and alone time, and I think that is something that is, as every mom knows, really counter to everything that being a parent is. And I also really like adult conversations, appropriately enough, given that’s the title of your-

Brandy:                   Oh, funny.

Laura:                      … Really, yeah, yeah. But it is that thing of, I like adult things, I like grown-up things. I like grown-up movies, I don’t like kids’ movies, you know?

Brandy:                   Yes.

Laura:                      And I like conversations that are about politics and I like to go out for hours on my horse by myself or walk my dogs by myself or with another adult and having adult conversation. Again, it’s not really weird, I don’t think, but it does color everything, especially when it comes to parenthood.

Brandy:                   Yes, and I think who we are before we have kids, that doesn’t change after we have kids. So if you love quiet and then you have kids, you’re still going to love quiet. You aren’t going to get any, but you’re still going to like it. So these pieces of ourselves that we have before we have children, they’re still there, we just stifle them or we have to work around them. I always say that who we were before we had kids dictates how much we like motherhood or not. Because you can take somebody who grew up in a big family, loves chaos, loves kid stuff, and you give them a couple kids and they’re like, “This is great!” And then you take somebody else who loves adult conversation, who likes the quiet, who’s an independent person, and you give them kids and they’re like, “This is the opposite of everything I like.”

Laura:                      Exactly, and I talk about this in my book, feeling like, “Oh, I would’ve been such a good father.”

Brandy:                   Yes. I want to be the dad!

Laura:                      Yeah, it’s like “If only I could have been a dad.” Which is ridiculous, right? It shouldn’t be that way, it should be that you’re a parent, period, and it doesn’t matter what gender parent you are. But the reality is, you can be the sort of distant, quiet, father who enjoys alone time and has an expectation of getting alone time.

Brandy:                   Exactly.

Laura:                      Again, I think that’s changing and that’s not true for everyone, of course, but the I think the traditional American household is yes, that of course the father can sit in the study with his pipe and read a book and it doesn’t have to be bothered with these meddling children kind of thing.

Brandy:                   Exactly, like you said, in some families that’s not how it works. But for the majority of us, the mom is the end of the line. So when the baby’s crying and can’t be soothed and it’s passed through the chain, it stops at us. And so we have to soothe the baby or sit with a crying baby, it’s usually how it goes. And the irony is, I have this journal from when I was trying to get pregnant with my son, and I remember writing in there, “My biggest fear is my future baby is not going to need me, that they’re going to think I’m alright and not that great.” And so then when I have this beautiful baby, he loved me so deeply and needed me so deeply, and I had no idea that that could be a feeling.

Brandy:                   So actually, one of my questions for you, I have a bunch of stuff I want to ask you about your journey as a mother, and then also writing about your journey. Both of those things I find really fascinating. And you and I have a lot of similarities, reading through your book there were so many moments I was like, “Yes, that’s how I felt, that’s a question I asked myself, oh my gosh you capture this moment so perfectly.” But one of the places where we differ is that I really loved that beginning time, the time when I think a lot of people are having postpartum depression and are struggling, and for me, my wear-down and my questioning about it didn’t really come up until it was like, “Okay, so wait, this thing, it doesn’t ever slow down?”

Laura:                      What age for you did … Because I know a lot of my friends, when their kids started being toddlers, reading and having opinions and those things…

Brandy:                   Absolutely. Like I could do that baby thing, that felt so yummy and nurturing, it satisfied everything that I thought it would be. That was amazing. And even the sleep deprivation, in the beginning, I could talk about it without being angry. But there’s a certain point where I think I assumed that the baby stuff happens and then it’s a lot easier, and I didn’t realize that for me it actually got harder. So I think that was probably around, definitely toddler stuff. Toddler stuff for me, the cuteness is off the charts, and then my patience to deal with that is not even there. So I was curious, how did you know to worry about it from the beginning? I was actually rereading some parts of your book this morning and it was funny because I was like, “Oh, that part’s so good, I want to make sure that on the podcast to read that part.” And then I keep going and I go, “This whole part’s so good.” And eventually I was like 10 pages in, and I’m like, “So this is just an audiobook, this is going to be an audiobook of her book on my podcast?” So I mean I can’t urge people enough, for who this stuff resonates, to just read it. But even before you got pregnant and were even thinking about getting pregnant, you already had the raised eyebrow, like what is this all about?

Laura:                      Yeah.

Brandy:                   It sounded like you knew that there was a huge sacrifice and you kind of knew specifically what it was, so for example, you being a horse rider and a horse person, you knew, “I’m not going to be able to do this anymore,” whereas I didn’t know any of that. I didn’t look at what I was doing and go, “Well, all these things I love, I’ll never do again.” I just thought, “Well, you just do them with a baby and it’s fun.” So how did you know to be scared shitless?

Laura:                      That’s a really good question. Because I was thinking, my brother and sister both were parents, so I certainly saw from them. It’s also just, horses, talk about something that is not conducive to having young kids. Even, hiking is my other love, and that at least you can put a kid in a backpack and they can go hiking with you. As we know, once they start walking, it’s like, my husband and I would joke, we’d go hiking with our kids and it’s like .02 miles per hour, you’re lucky to do a quarter mile in a half of a day, but-

Brandy:                   Oh yes, and they want to stop and look at all the stuff which is so beautiful and you’re like, “Oh, this is developmentally wonderful and yet I wanted to go on a fucking hike.”

Laura:                      … Seriously. No, and it’s funny you say that, because not too long ago I was driving and I saw this man pushing a stroller with his toddler walking in front of the stroller, and the toddler was adorable and was stopping at every leaf and rock and picking it up. And I looked at him, and on the one hand I was thinking oh, the wonder of childhood, but really my overarching feeling was thank God that’s not me, that is so fucking boring.

Brandy:                   Exactly.

Laura:                      I mean that was my reaction, that is so boring. But I do think that because horses and little kids are just a tough thing to do simultaneously, I think that’s why I knew. And also, too, the other thing to know, I was one of those annoying horse-crazy kids who always drew pictures of horses and told stories about horses, but I actually didn’t have horses as a kid. And so I came to horses late in life, it wasn’t until my mid-20s when I was actually working and making enough money to be able to afford to do it that I started doing it. So horses were still a new thing to me, it’s like I finally got this thing that I loved so much and now I was going to have to give it up. If not give it up, at least sideline it for a little while. I lamented, I was like, “God, why can’t I have passion for knitting or scrapbooking?” Or something that’s indoors and that I could watch the baby while I did this thing.

Brandy:                   It would be like if I had a passion for firearms, right? Like that’s not really conducive, when I have the baby I probably won’t get to shoot things so often.

Laura:                      Yeah, “I probably won’t be able to shoot at my TV like I used to.”

Brandy:                   Yeah, “I can’t clean my gun on the coffee table, ah, shit.”

Laura:                      No, yeah, that’s tot- so I think that is why I was so hesitant. I was actually just talking to my daughter about this the other day, because she was asking me, well, she’s 14, she’s going to be 15 soon, but she goes, “What’s your big what if question?”

Brandy:                   Oh, and you’re like, “Nothing, no comment, it’s not about you.”

Laura:                      Yeah, and without hesitating, I did say, “What if I didn’t have kids?” I mean they, of course my kids know about the book and we talk a lot about my misgivings about being a mom and all of that. And so I said, “If I didn’t have kids, I don’t know if your dad and I would have stayed married,” because he really wanted kids and it could’ve been the end of our marriage. And in so many ways I feel like my kids have enabled me to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I not had them. Like I think writing, actually, I think I’ve actually become, I don’t know if it’s so much a better writer, I think I’ve become a more disciplined writer because of them, because I now don’t have all the time in the world and so I’m much more focused.

Brandy:                   Yeah, the way that I use my time is so different than ever before, and you’re probably similar to me, but doing work when you have small kids and then kids that are growing, I’m fitting things in between pickups and drop offs. You only have the amount of time allotted, and so you know that the kindergarten teacher, if you’re not there at 1:08pm, they’re going to walk them to the office and you’re going to get a phone call. So there’s like no leeway, those are hard stops. Whereas with my husband and his job, he has soft stops. So if his work goes over a little bit, that’s no big deal because I’m the safety net, right?

Laura:                      Right, exactly.

Brandy:                   When you don’t have that, you have to be so regimented. So writing or doing my podcast stuff, I mean I book these things and I know I have to be in a certain time because I’ve got to go pick up kids and then take them to all the places, so I think you’re absolutely right about the discipline factor. And on one hand, I think it’s really great, and on the other hand, I feel like sometimes I’m living with a gun to my head, it’s like somebody has a gun and is like, “You’ve got 40 minutes do to this thing!” Right? And so it’s like this panic, I feel like I’m constantly, like, “I’ve got to do this thing.” I would love to just breathe and really relax into something, but when you have a time limit, for me it’s really hard to-

Laura:                      Yeah, and I wrote this book in the morning. I would get up at 5:00am and I am not a morning person, maybe that’s another quirky thing you need to know about me.

Brandy:                   Oh, I’m with you sister.

Laura:                      … Yeah, but I would wake up and I would write 5:00am to 7:00am every morning, and then the kids would be up at 7:00am. At the time I was a freelance writer, so I would write the book in the morning for two hours and then I would do my paid work when the kids were at school or daycare. And then I wrote a novel a few years ago that I am trying to get published. That novel I wrote almost exclusively when my daughter was at dance. I would go to Starbucks and write, and when my son was at basketball practice I would literally sit on the bleachers with my laptop and write while he was at basketball practice, I mean that’s when I did it. And again, I think before I had kids if you had told me that, “Oh, yeah, well if you’re going to write a book you’ll need to do at Starbucks while your daughter’s at dance and in the bleachers while your son’s playing basketball,” I would’ve been like, “Well shit, I’m not going to do that.” And then you get to that, well, that’s all the time I’ve got, that’s my window of opportunity, so …

Brandy:                   You have to be efficient.

Laura:                      Yeah.

Brandy:                   So something you said I want to go back to. I’m sure people have said, “What if your kids read it, what will they think?” And I would imagine that was going through your head even when you wrote it. So how have you talked to them about it?

Laura:                      Okay, well I’ve been very honest with them. And it’s funny, because yes I thought of it when I was writing the book. And I had a good friend of mine, she really has expressed worry for me on that, of like, “Gosh, when your kids read it, what do you think they’ll think?” And when they were younger, I worried about it. Now? And this is one thing that is so important to my whole story is that my feelings on motherhood have evolved incredibly. Not that I look back on those early days with any wistfulness, because I don’t. In fact, I don’t like to use the word PTSD lightly, because some people really suffer from PTSD, but I really do think that when I think back, or I’ll hear a story from somebody else that’s going through their early years of motherhood, it is like PTSD. Like I’ll feel my insides tighten, my throat constrict, and that feeling of oh my god, it was so terrible, I never want to go back. But certainly by age five, things were better. I think by age-

Brandy:                   Yes!

Laura:                      … 10, things were much, much better. And I’ll say, people who do the, “Oh, when you have a baby,” and all they like to do is tell you the bad news, right?

Brandy:                   Right.

Laura:                      So you’ve got a baby and they’re like, “Oh, I bet you’re not sleeping,” you’re like, “No, I’m not sleeping.” And then they’re like, “Oh, it gets worse. Wait until they’re teenagers.” And you’re like, really? I hate when people say that, because I’m like, first of all, you don’t know what someone’s going through, and when you tell someone who’s in a dark place how, it’s like, “Oh, just you wait, it just gets worse,” that doesn’t help. That is terrifying.

Brandy:                   I have this visual – that’s like somebody’s in a hole and their hands are trying to pull themselves up and you’re picking their fingers off, you’re like “You feel real low right now, but let me help you feel lower.” It’s masochistic.

Laura:                      Exactly, let me just put my boot on your forehead and push you back down. And it’s just the thing of like, it’s not true for everyone. I mean for me, I love the teenage years. They’re hard in a lot of ways, but to me, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I actually … First of all, I love my kids, and that’s something, I never didn’t love my kids. Those to me were two very separate things. I felt like being a mom is a job, and I didn’t like that job. I love my kids. Now I actually feel like … It’s so funny, because I say, “Do I really love being a mom now? Can I say that?” And I think actually I do, I really do love being a mom to teenage kids. I feel like for so much of their lives, being a mom felt very unnatural to me. Again, if you equate it to a job it’s like, I’m a singer and I sing really well and I just got a job doing data entry and I don’t know how to type. That’s how motherhood felt to me, this thing that was so foreign and just not natural. And now actually, being a mom to teenagers feels very natural to me. We have really good conversations, we’re close. Again, I don’t ever remember a time where I sat down and told them, “I wrote this book,” but they kind of know about the book, and I said, “Oh, it was about when you guys were little and I had a really hard time.” And now that they’re the age they are, I’m very frank, and I’d say to them exactly what I just said now, it’s like, those early years were terrible for me but now I feel like I’m at a place where I really enjoy this. And everybody thinks their kids are great, but my kids are really great, they really are. They’re fun to talk to, they’re interesting, and I feel like I’m having adult conversations with them now, you know?

Brandy:                   Yes.

Laura:                      Where we are talking about politics, we’re watching the same movies, we’re reading the same books in a lot of cases and talking about that, and I love it. Even the tough stuff as teenagers, to me, it’s been pretty minor. I feel like the tough stuff is easier to handle. And also, too, I think part of that is, a toddler throwing a tantrum, even though I completely understand the developmental path that’s going on with that tantrum, I understand that they don’t have the tools to express themselves any other way, all that, there’s always part of my mind when they were throwing a tantrum, like, “Are you fucking kidding me, seriously? I just told you you can’t have a candy bar and this is how you’re reacting. Aren’t you being a little ridiculous?” Whereas now when they’re really upset and they’re crying about something that happened at school or with a friend or whatever, I’m like oh yeah, I get that. I totally remember how that felt, I know how that feels and I’m really sorry you’re going through that.

Brandy:                   It’s so true, it’s like the logic. When there’s logic that you can understand, it makes it easier to empathize. With the tantrums, I’m on the same page with you. Like, when there’s a kid crying because they just had an ice cream cone and now they asked you for an ice cream sandwich and you said no and they’re crying. It’s like dude, seriously? That’s what goes through my head as well. And what do those memes say that are online all the time that are like some bullshit that’s true, “They’re not giving you a hard time, they’re having a hard time,” or something like that. And I’m like, yeah, and it’s not fun to be around somebody who’s having a hard time about ice cream every day.

Laura:                      Right?

Brandy:                   Right, like there’s another part of that.

Laura:                      Exactly. Well, it’s that whole thing of the other phrase that is very true is when a child is their most unloveable is when they need the most love.

Brandy:                   Yeah …

Laura:                      And I would say that’s probably true also of adults, right? And yes, so true, and oh my God, when it is crying over putting on a coat, it’s just a lot harder to swallow.

Brandy:                   Yeah. So when you just said about how you told your kids about your book, “I wrote this book about when you guys were little and I had a hard time,” do either of them, or have either of them said, “Oh, Mom, was I really hard?” Have they at all been like, “Was it me?” Like did they take it personal, or have they just kind of always known, like, “Yeah, you were a weirdo. We’re great.”

Laura:                      First of all, they don’t remember those years, because the first three years, they don’t really have memories of them, thank God. The worst of my parenting, I’m like at least they don’t remember it. I think they almost sort of see it … Because they were different human beings. Like I don’t think they really think, “Oh, I was a great kid and you didn’t love being a mom to me,” as much as like, that person is so far removed from who they are today, I’m not sure if they can even really remember them. Do you know what I mean?

Brandy:                   Got it.

Laura:                      And it is funny, my son has a very good memory. At the end of the book, there’s a thing that if I read now still makes me cry of this horrible fight we had over a coat, over him wearing this coat, where I literally had him pinned to the floor. And it’s so funny, because just earlier today I told him I was doing this podcast and he’s like ,”Oh, are you going to talk about when you RKO’d me to the ground?” And he does not remember that, again, thank goodness.

Brandy:                   I so appreciate you saying about how you are loving the teenagers years and people telling you how awful they are, because everybody warns me about that. I have a 12-year-old and I have a five-year-old, so everybody says about the 12-year-old, “How’s it having an almost-teenager?” My son is my 12-year-old, and he’s like how you’re describing your kids. I love this time, I love that we laugh about similar things, I love that we can watch the Simpsons together and I can tell him what the references really mean, that kind of stuff. And so I’m realizing as they get older, when they’re little, the amount of bending that we do if kid stuff isn’t our favorite thing, the amount of bending we do to engage with them is a lot. I mean it might even be like 90% of our time, and I always feel the most happy in my mothering when we’re all doing something that we all like, or everybody is separately doing something that they like but it’s separate, it’s that whole, everybody’s sort of in their flow of engaging with what they want. And as they get older, they start to cross over more, that you can be doing something with your son or your daughter and you’re both enjoying it. And that, to me, the first time that that happened, I forget what it … Oh, I know what it was. My son and I playing MarioKart together.

Laura:                      Oh, uh-huh (affirmative).

Brandy:                   He was five, and all of a sudden I’m like, “You like this as much as I like this, but I don’t just like this because you like this, I like this because I like this.” Like I’m a real person who’s doing the real thing that I want to do, and even if you weren’t here, I would still want to play this. That moment I just thought, this is why I had children, this is the greatest moment of my life. So, I so appreciate that you are validating for me what I feel, because then I always say, “Yeah, but I think I’m more prime to be a parent of this older age.” Like you said, I think once they’re five you’re kind of out of some of the real hard zone. But then once they get to be eight, 10, 12, like I love this. And granted, maybe a daughter is different, but I think I’m just built, similar to you, I think I’m just built for the older ages. I would rather talk to my son about suicide than try to put pants on somebody who’s bucking their legs.

Laura:                      Right.

Brandy:                   I just would.

Laura:                      No, I know what you mean. And it is, it’s so funny, because I was telling my kids this the other day, the thing I miss … It was part of the same conversation of how much I enjoy them now, it feels much more natural to me. I was like, the thing I miss the most about them being little is how happy they were, right?

Brandy:                   Oh, yes.

Laura:                      In fact, my daughter, she’s a dancer, and their studio had their recital last night. And when the younger kids were dancing, I was watching them and like, oh, they are so happy. They’re dancing and they’re, you can tell they’re happy to be dancing. And then with the older girls, like my daughter’s age, I mean my daughter loves dancing more than anything, and yet you watch them and you also know that they’re more serious about it, they’re more critical of themselves. And that’s part of becoming an adult, we’re not as happy as we were when we were kids, and you can’t be a fully-formed adult without having sadness and having awareness and knowing that there are things like suicide. But yeah, the thing that I get the most nostalgia for is just how happy they were, and I’m sorry that they’re no longer that happy and carefree.

Brandy:                   Exactly. So when you were writing the book, what was going through your mind in terms of, “I’m going to publish this book and it says a lot of really vulnerable things that are pretty unpopular to say about motherhood.” How did you get past that and publish it, and what was the response from people? Were there people who were like, “You’re an awful mother. I can’t believe you would say these things,” or were there people who were like me, “Thank you for saying those things?” What allowed you to put yourself out there even when you didn’t know what the consequences of it might be?

Laura:                      Those first three years of being a mom, I mean again, they were very dark. I felt very alone in how I felt about motherhood. And this was also before … I mean, dark ages, before social media. The internet was there, but the mom sites I remember were like BabyCenter, and it seemed like anything that was out there about being a mom was all about either how-to’s or how great it is. There wasn’t Facebook, there wasn’t an Adult Conversation Facebook page, which I love and I would have loved even more back when I was in those times. Because really, no one was talking about this stuff. I did wonder what people would think, and in fact prior to writing my book I wrote an article that was published in the Washington Post about basically this, about my misgivings about being a mom. I’m trying to remember, so- oh, somebody did send me an email. Because I talked about, in the article, missing being able to fit into my old jeans, and missing riding my horse and that sort of thing. And I had a man, surprise, email me and say how selfish I was, that, “Really? You would not have kids because you want to fit into a pair of jeans?”

Brandy:                   Ugh.

Laura:                      I know, which as I say that now I just feel rage all over again. You know what, I didn’t respond to him. But I did have several people, and this one woman in particular, she’s like, “I’ve really been struggling with the decision of whether or not to have kids, and thank you for writing this, because I realized that I’m not going to have them.” And in some ways I kind of felt like, oh, crap. Like being responsible for someone making this decision not to have children, it felt a little weighty. And I don’t want to discourage people from having kids, that’s not the point, but clearly she was someone wrestling with it. And I even tell my kids now, the reason you have kids is because you can’t imagine not having kids, that there’s a hole inside of you. If I had adhered to that, I probably would not have had kids, because I did not feel that hole. Maybe later in my life I would have, I don’t know.

Brandy:                   And that’s a part of it that you talk about in the book, when you referenced the movie Sliding Doors, the way that this character gets to see what her life would be like had she gone either path and really wanting to do that, and that so resonates with me and I love that idea as well. And I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, but on the Dear Sugar column that was by Cheryl Strayed she has this article or this post that I have sent to so many people, and I believe the name of it is The Ghost Ship that Never Carried Us. And it’s exactly about that. Somebody writes in, I think it was a man saying, “I’m not sure if I want to have kids. I feel like if I’m going to the time is now, but I have so many things in my life that I love and so I don’t know what to do about it, because I also don’t want to regret it.” And she just had such a great way of talking about it which was whatever you don’t choose is a life that you grieve. And it’s like this ship of your life, this ghost ship that’s never going to set sail, and so you can’t know what you will be giving up either way.

Laura:                      Right.

Brandy:                   And that’s what’s hard is that sometimes we don’t think about it in terms of there’s a grief for the other thing. She said something about herself becoming a writer, and she said something to the effect of, “When I decided to become a mother, I was worried about the things I wouldn’t get to write because I was a mother.” And she said, “But I never realized the things I might NOT get to write if I didn’t become a mother.”

Laura:                      Exactly, and I think of that too. I mean again, like we were talking about, the discipline is one piece of it, that I think my kids have made me more disciplined which has allowed me to write more than I would have before. But I think there’s also, almost everything I’ve written since they’ve been born is about being a mom. And who knows, maybe if they hadn’t been born I would have been writing amazing books about other things, but there’s no question that they have ignited in me something that wasn’t there before because it couldn’t have been. And I had a good friend of mine who made the decision not to have kids. She has one of these lives I envy, she lives in the mountains in Idaho, her husband and her built their solar-powered home and they’re private pilots who fly to Alaska and spend the summer. They have this life that I’m like, “Oh man, that sounds so awesome.” She’s like, “Yes, and it’s the life I chose,” but part of her grieves that she knows, even though she made the decision not to have kids, that part of her is sad that she made that decision.

Brandy:                   Right, either way you do it, there is regret.

Laura:                      Right.

Brandy:                   I always thought about the old lady version of me, like I think when we were considering having a second baby. Because my husband was like, “Hey, we got this one and he’s great, everybody’s got their life back and my wife’s normal again,” all these things. And then I think part of the question to have the second one, I think I really wracked my brain about, okay, let me picture myself as a little old lady, and let me think about both choices. And I imagined myself thinking about having this second baby, and I imagined myself saying, “It wasn’t easy, but it was just a couple of years that were hard, and I’m so glad I have her.” And then I imagined the old lady thinking about not doing it, and it just made me sad. And it still gets me, like I think what was happening for me is that old lady version of myself that didn’t have the second kid was like, “I can’t believe I made a choice based on a couple of years of hardship for the full payoff.” And I think in that moment I was like, I know what I need to do and I know it’s not going to be easy. But, I actually thought it was going to be easier than it was, so it wasn’t like I thought it was going to be crazy hard. But I was like, you know what, this is an investment in something bigger, and hopefully that old lady version of myself will be proud of me. Which I don’t know is the right way to make a choice.

Laura:                      No, I think it’s a good one. And the tough thing too about having kids is once you have a child, there’s no going back. I mean there was a moment where my son was probably three months old, maybe two months old, and we went to Colorado with Dave’s brothers, which should have been a weekend of hiking and everything, and none of them had kids, and I had this baby.

Brandy:                   Ugh, I already know, like I feel in my body already what that feels like.

Laura:                      Yeah, and I’ll never forget, and I’m going to get choked up as I say this, but I remember sitting in the backseat with him on the drive home with my son in his car seat and thinking, “I wonder if I could give him up for adoption.”

Brandy:                   Aw.

Laura:                      I mean I really thought of that, like when he was two or three months old, I seriously thought about that. And I mean now I think of my son, I can’t fathom that. But at the time that’s how raw it was, it was just like, this is not the life I want. And so even if I had made that decision, which feels ridiculous to even say aloud now, but if I had, I still would have been a mom, right? It’s like I would have made that decision, but again, it’s irreversible. I already brought this child into the world, and so everything has changed. Everything has changed.

Brandy:                   Everything.

Laura:                      I wanted to answer, when you asked about the feedback that I got on my book, I have heard from friends of mine that friends of theirs, a friend of a friend, couldn’t read it, because she found it so upsetting how cavalier I was, or what she saw as cavalier.

Brandy:                   Gosh, it just goes to show there are all different kinds of people and all different needs and people’s tolerance for being able to handle the dark stuff. And I think sometimes I take for granted that like, I’ll go there so quickly because it’s just part of life. I mean actually, I don’t know why I have a curiosity about the darker side of things. I think that I know that there’s a certain amount of freedom and clarity that comes from looking at that dark side.

Laura:                      Exactly.

Brandy:                   So that’s, I think, why I’m drawn there, because I think in that dark, deep soil there is something really rich that I need to find in that space that the other spaces, that the lighter spaces don’t provide me with. But I sometimes forget, not everybody is comfortable going there, so …

Laura:                      Right. Well, and the thing too, I am such a believer, and this is a therapy thing that is so true of, when you say it out loud it takes the power away. When you say a secret aloud, it becomes less scary. I’m such a believer in that, and some people might say to a fault. But I really am, it’s like God, can we just be honest about what we’re all feeling? Can we just admit that this is what’s going on with us? And for me, the book was very therapeutic for that reason of just being able to say this stuff. And again, because I felt so alone in my early years of motherhood I really was like, “Oh, I hope someone reads this and won’t feel so alone.” I have to say, every now and then I get emails from people like you, and others who will say, “Thank you so much for writing this book, this is stuff I’ve always thought and never heard anybody else say or never had the courage to say.” And when I get those, I always get choked up, of course, because apparently I get choked up at everything. And I think today there is more conversation and honesty about it than there was 10, 15 years ago, when my kids were young, and thank God there is, and I think we have social media to thank for that.

Laura:                      That said though, as you know, because again, this is why I love your Facebook page, it’s like, there’s so much bullshit out there still, just so much. And the expectations still of the perfect mother who makes the bento box for their kids for lunch and loves it. And if you do, that’s great, no problem, but I hate the expectation that is pushed on mothers daily of like, if you are not doing these things you are failing your kids.

Brandy:                   Right.

Laura:                      A local book club here where I live read my book and invited me to come to the discussion of it, and it was-

Brandy:                   Aw.

Laura:                      Yeah, I know, it was really sweet. One of the women in that group, she approached me and she said, “I read your book. I didn’t identify with it at all.” For her, being a mom was everything she ever wanted and it was so fulfilling for her. And she’s like, “But I really appreciated your honesty.” I hear her say that, of like, “Oh, for me, motherhood was everything, it meant everything and was so fulfilling.” And I had that, like wow, really? How can that be?

Brandy:                   Yeah, yes.

Laura:                      How can you possibly feel that way? And of course her, to me, the same thing of gosh, how could it not be everything? It’s just so bizarre to me, how we can all have these experiences and have completely different feelings about them. I feel like people like you and I are in the minority. I don’t know. And I do sometimes still feel weird, I feel like the weird one because I didn’t love it, didn’t love those early years so much. And I know Facebook isn’t a reflection of reality, but still, when I see Facebook posts from friends with younger kids who are just like, “Oh, I just want to freeze this time, tomorrow they turn five and I don’t even want to wake up because I still want them to be four.” And I’m like really? I just, again, maybe it’s just that people like you and me are quieter about it, but I-

Brandy:                   That’s interesting, I haven’t really thought about if we’re in the minority or not. In my mind, and maybe this shows a fault in me, I think probably 90% of moms feel somewhat of what we feel, you know?

Laura:                      Yeah.

Brandy:                   And there’s definitely moms who, like you’re talking about, who seem to be that it’s just, this is what they’re all about. But I don’t … I mean I see some of those moms at my daughter’s school, but overall, and again, I guess I’m just going off of my page and Facebook too, the amount of people who contact me or who comment on my stuff who say “Yes” to some of that stuff. Like I had a recent thing go viral about bringing moms back to the table, it was a blurry photo of that-

Laura:                      Yes, yes.

Brandy:                   … Did you see that go by?

Laura:                      Yes, I did, and I loved that.

Brandy:                   For people that didn’t see the viral post, it was just a blurry picture of a mom at a birthday party, or so I’m assuming, at a restaurant, and I was at the restaurant having lunch with my friend and I saw this whole scene play out where there’s this mom on the side holding a baby for the entire party, which was probably the time that my friend and I were there, like two hours. And she was holding this baby and it was batting at a balloon, and you know, she was doing all the things that moms do to keep a baby entertained, showing it the art on the wall, balancing it, and this table was having a great time. They were having cocktails and chatting and laughing and this mom was just completely removed. And I just noticed this moment and thought oh my God, I have so been there. I think so many of us have been there, and why wasn’t anybody at the table doing anything to bring this mom back? Why wasn’t anybody offering to hold the baby?

Brandy:                   And Good Morning America called me, and there were other outlets that did stories on it. And so of course there’s the thing that maybe the mom works all week and liked that time with her baby, maybe the baby can’t go to anybody else. But the separation and the isolation I visually saw, that was the first time I’d really picked up on what it looked like. I’ve been there and I’ve felt it. So anyway, that was the post, and I think I had a hashtag on there #BringUsBackToTheTable or #BringMomsBackToTheTable.

Brandy:                   But the amount of people who liked that, the amount of media coverage that that got shows me that even if you’re enjoying so much of it and you don’t want your kids to grow up and turn four or five or whatever, there are still these hardships within it that you are feeling, and I feel like every mom feels that except for maybe like a five or 10%. But I have this theory, and I don’t know if it’s right or not, but I have a theory that those people that really love everything about motherhood and identify as a mother first and it’s their whole identity, it’s the thing they’ve been waiting for and they love it and they really don’t have any other outside interests except for motherhood, I think that they, on the front end of motherhood, it’s easier for them than it is for somebody like you or me.

Brandy:                   And then, what I think happens is I think a shift happens, and I think when our kids are older and around less and then eventually when they leave, and whether they go off to college or move out or whatever – not to say that that won’t be hard, because I already know and I can already get myself really emotional thinking about that, about how much I’ll miss my kids – but the struggle with like, who am I now that my kids aren’t everything to me? I won’t have that. I will literally have … I mean I can’t say I won’t have any of it, but I won’t have very much of it because I have such a huge sense of who I am outside of a mother. But I think those moms who that was their everything, I think that’s when they are crying in a dark room whereas we were crying in a dark room in the beginning.

Laura:                      Yes, that’s a very good point and I think that’s absolutely true. I think about that a lot too, because now my kids, my son’s going to be a junior next year-

Brandy:                   Wow.

Laura:                      … and my daughter’s a sophomore, I mean they’re so close to leaving and I think about that a lot. And it’s interesting, my husband and I talk about it. I think it’ll be harder on my husband than it will be on me. Same thing, I will miss them terribly, but again, I have a really rich life outside of my kids, and I’m glad I do. I’m glad that I have that, I’m glad that I won’t have to kind of find myself again, and I don’t doubt that it’ll be difficult and I don’t doubt it’ll be an adjustment. But there is, and this goes back to when you were talking about feeling like there’s always a gun to your head on the time you have to do your work or whatever, and it’s so funny because there have been a few moments in recent years where I’ve had, there was one day where I was, I think I was at a horse show and I was finishing up getting the horse cleaned up and everything, and about to load him on the trailer and drive home, and I had that sense of okay, I’ve got to hurry, I’ve got to hurry, got to hurry. And I was doing all that stuff. And then I remembered, oh no, Dave and the kids, I think they were out of town that night or something. And it was that moment of like, wow, I don’t have to hurry. I think I’ve probably had that feeling of oh, I don’t have to hurry – I’m not exaggerating, I bet in the last 16 years I’ve had that feeling maybe three times. Because there’s always that sense in the back of your mind of I’ve got to get back to something.

Laura:                      And then there was a Christmas, I guess this was not this past Christmas but before, where I went back to work after the holiday and my husband, he took a few more days off, he took like three days off or something. And I think it was the first time in our marriage as parents where that had happened, where he was home and I was at work. And I didn’t think anything of it until those three days when I realized, I was like wait a minute, I don’t have to rush home. I don’t have to worry about dinner. I-

Brandy:                   You were the dad, you got to be the dad!

Laura:                      I was the dad, I was. And it was incredible. It was just as amazing as I thought it would be. But seriously, it was, it was just that, oh, so this is what it’s like to be a man, you know?

Brandy:                   Ah. (affirmative) So from your book, is there a favorite passage that you have? Is there something that still chokes you up or something that’s really meaningful or really funny to you?

Laura:                      Actually, yes. It’s funny, because I was, like I said, looking at the book again, and this dovetails nicely with what we were just talking about. Because there was a time when my son and daughter were both, this is when my daughter was three months maybe, and my son, he was just walking and just kind of talking. They both had a terrible stomach bug, fevers, vomiting.

Brandy:                   Of course they did. Will you read us your passage?

Laura:                      I will, because while all this was happening and my kids had literally just barfed on me three times and we had just cleaned it up and they had barfed on me again, and my husband is in New Mexico for work, which New Mexico is where I had lived and wanted to live again and was sad that I didn’t live there, and he is there while I’m getting barfed on.

Brandy:                   Ah, of course.

Laura:                      “So I’d just been barfed on again and the phone rings. The caller ID told me it was Dave calling from New Mexico where he was attending meetings during the day and spending the night in a hotel with room service. I ignored the call, I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk to him without a flinty resentment resonating across the line. “Enjoying your vacation?” Would likely have been my first words to him. I knew it wasn’t fair. He wasn’t on vacation, he was working. He was likely putting in 14 hour days, but it didn’t seem to matter. He was in New Mexico, the place that I love more than anywhere in the world. He got to go to meetings where people talked about important things and turned to him to ask his opinion. At night he would go to dinner at nice restaurants. Granted, they were working dinners, but still, someone else cooked for him and served him. No one cried and clung to his leg and vomited on his shirt. At night, before he went to bed, all he had to do was turn off a light. He didn’t have to pick up toys and wash bottles and throw in a load of laundry. He wasn’t woken up in the middle of the night for a feeding. He didn’t have to sleep sitting up in a chair with a baby on his chest because she was too contested to sleep lying down. He got to wake up in the morning and spend time shaving and showering and putting on a suit without having to rush to sate the demanding cries of children wanting to be fed and held. And besides, he loved his job. Sadly, I would have felt more sympathy for him if he had a job he hated. But he had the good fortune of, more often than not, enjoying his work. The audacity.

Laura:                      I had to remind myself that I too had work that I enjoyed, and I had the luxury of working part-time at home and being my own boss, and that long before I had kids I had decided I didn’t want a full-time career that required me to attend never ending streams of meetings and substantial travel. These were my choices, what did I have to complain about? But this was the reality that was hitting me square in the face. My other job, being a mom, which occupied the other 18 hours of the day, I didn’t enjoy. I just didn’t. If I ever saw the job description for mom listed in the newspaper, I would never apply. I love my kids, but the actual work of being a mom I found tedious on the best of days. On the worst I found it soul-crushing.”

Laura:                      How’s that? What a way to end, huh?

Brandy:                   Yeah, oh gosh.

Laura:                      My mom was up this weekend for my daughter’s recital, and she was a mom in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s and was a stay-at-home mom, and most everyone in our world was a stay-at-home mom at the time, and she was talking about that, how she was resentful too that my dad got to go off and do all these great, important things, and that her job was just to tend to us. And she said she was resentful of it too, but the difference is that she didn’t really have … Like back then, she didn’t have a right to be resentful, if you know what I mean. Back then it was just, like she said, she never questioned whether she could do something else.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Laura:                      That was what women did, you know?

Brandy:                   We were at a party a couple weekends ago and we had met some new people and they were this young couple who were deciding whether they wanted to have kids or not, and I don’t know why they asked me and my husband, they were like, “Oh, so you guys have kids. So we’re not sure if it’s something that we want to do, and we’ve heard a lot of things, so what’s your guys’ take on it?”

Laura:                      Oh, get comfortable.

Brandy:                   Yeah, I said, “Really, this is a five day summit that you’re asking me” … But I mean, we were honest, and it was so funny to hear my husband talk about it too, because he was really honest about, “You’re going to have a wife that resents you, but you’re going to learn a lot of things about yourself.” But the guy that we were talking to, he said, “I’m really worried that once we have a kid I’m not going to be able to move forward in my career and move up.” And both my husband and I were like, “No dude, you’re fine. You’re going to be able to move up and forward in everything you do.” And then we looked at his wife and we were like, “She’s the one, she’s not going to be able to do anything.” Which is a little extreme, but it was like, she’s the one that’s not going to be able to move forward and up the way you are, but man, you got dad privilege on your side. And we were all laughing, but it was true, and so I turned to the girl and I said, “Do you have a career that you really love? Do you have passions that you’re really into?” And she said, “Yeah.” It turns out that she was a Broadway actress who is in some really big shows. It’s like-

Laura:                      Wow, and talk about a career that’s tough to have with little kids coming.

Brandy:                   Yeah, and she knew it, so that’s why she was like, “I don’t know, I just got booked for this really big show,” and it was interesting to hear my husband admit it too. We were both saying it to these people, laughing, but it’s like, this is so messed up, but yeah, you’re going to be fine, Sir, but you Ma’am, this is going to be harder on you.

Laura:                      Right, right. When my son says that he wants kids and I’m like, “Oh yeah, sure,” and my daughter says she doesn’t want kids, which of course, either could change, right, from either circumstance or desire. But when my daughter says she doesn’t want kids, I sadly feel relief. Because I know then her dreams will not be truncated. It’s so sad, and I hope I’m wrong. I mean I think the world is changing, but it’s sad that that’s my reaction that I have. “Oh sure, yes, son, go have kids, it’s not going to impact you in the least.” It’s like, “Oh, but daughter, if you want kids, yeah you better be ready to put a lot of stuff on hold and know that you’re not going to fully realize your potential.” And that, I mean, I say those words aloud and I’m kind of horrified that I say them aloud, but it’s the reality. And so when my daughter says she doesn’t want kids, I say, “Oh good.” And I’ve talked to other friends and they’ve said the same thing, that they have the same reaction.

Brandy:                   I had this exact same conversation with, I can’t remember if it was somebody I interviewed last week or somebody I just talked to in life, because I’m basically talking about this much of my time. But we had the exact same conversation, in which she said the same thing, “My daughter doesn’t want kids and my son does, and I’m relieved. Am I awful?” It’s like, no, I think we just know the reality too closely and what we give up versus what men aren’t giving up. And not to say that they aren’t giving up anything at all, I just think it’s different.

Laura:                      Yeah. And, well, statistically, the studies bear this out. The studies show that when women have kids, their salaries drop, their career trajectory drops, and men who have children, it’s the opposite. Men who have children, especially, if I remember, right, the man has a stay-at-home spouse that they earn significantly more money. And even having a spouse who has a career, it’s like, because again, she’s more than likely the one who’s taking the burden. And so his career continues to climb, his income continues to rise, and hers doesn’t. Again, it’s funny, when I said how when I say those words aloud, how on the one hand I’m horrified. But really it’s nothing about us, it’s about the world we live in and it’s an indictment of the structure of parenthood in this country, you know?

Brandy:                   Exactly. It’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s systemic.

Laura:                      Exactly. And until things change, and I think that’s the whole other discussion, I think there needs to be policy changes and other things that change before there really will be equality in households. And again, I also recognize that we’re talking about heterosexual, male-female households and that’s not the only household that exists, but with the majority of people, that’s the reality.

Brandy:                   Right.

Laura:                      Well, and I know you and I emailed about this once, but it’s one of the things that always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end a little, when people talk about postpartum depression in the way of just saying, “Oh, well she has postpartum depression, so she needs medication.” Which of course, yes, that could be the reality, but I’m also like, why does she have postpartum depression? It’s become this thing that we talk about in a way of like, that it’s this hormonal thing, right?

Brandy:                   Yes.

Laura:                      That oh, your hormones are … God knows hormones play a huge role, but it’s also like, maybe it’s because she’s exhausted because she slept two hours a week. Especially, and for people who are struggling financially, that burden is beyond anything we’ve really talked about right now. But I am so angry at this idea that it’s something that oh, it’s this hormonal thing and oh, poor her, well let’s just give her some medicine and she’ll be better. And it’s like no, how about restructuring the whole fucking system so mothers have support and are taken care of? And whenever I hear about cases where babies are abandoned or awful things, horrible abuse, and it’s horrible, and then there’s always that part of me that’s like, wow, I wonder if that mom had more support if that wouldn’t have happened?

Brandy:                   Totally.

Laura:                      I think that so many moms feel completely overwhelmed and alone.

Brandy:                   Maybe that mom feels those ways, maybe she feels overwhelmed or maybe she even does feel depressed because she read a book that said that she should never put her baby down, that the baby needs to be with her all the time, and also she read a book that said that she should be eating the most nutritious foods and maybe she’s struggling to keep her milk supply up so she’s eating a specific way or all of these things, and she doesn’t have the support. She’s trying to do everything in the household, and maybe it’s because the person that she married never learned how to cook food, so she’s also the one cooking the meals. I mean there’s so much that goes into it, but wouldn’t it be smart to look at what is the framework that women become mothers in, and what things within that can we juggle around, can we add more support for before we just start giving everybody a diagnosis? Like maybe we should think hey, maybe we’re doing something wrong. What is that thing?

Laura:                      Right, right.

Brandy:                   That just seems common sense to me, but …

Laura:                      Mothers everywhere, I think, in America, are just bombarded constantly with all of the ways we’re failing. And the reality is very few of us are failing. Most of us are doing a pretty damn good job, and can we just recognize that? But I do think that moms letting other moms off the hook and not judging them for how they are feeding their kids or how they’re sleep training their kids or whether they’re doing attachment parenting or not, all of that stuff … And it’s hard, because I think too, even if we’re not judging each other, it’s easy to feel like when someone does something differently than us, that it’s an indictment of what we’re doing.

Brandy:                   Exactly. We can all coexist, we all have different thresholds for different everything, for all the different things we all have different thresholds. So what’s going to work for one person is not going to work for another. What somebody else can put up with, somebody else can’t. We’re all not the same so we all can’t parent the same.

Laura:                      Right.

Brandy:                   Something you alluded to earlier, that was one of my questions for you is, is there anything that you wrote in your book that you feel differently about now? I know you said your beliefs and your feelings about motherhood have evolved and you even sort of admitted, like, “Wow, am I enjoying motherhood now? I think I really am.” So I’m curious, what do you feel differently about? Is there anything that you look back on your book that you go I don’t think that that’s true anymore, or anything that you wished you had left out? Or is there anything that has just organically sort of morphed and changed into something different?

Laura:                      How I accounted for the experience, I feel is still accurate, I mean as far as how I felt about it. I think that what’s changed is more just, you know, it’s like anything, it’s like oh, if I had to do it over again, right? And I think that’s really the biggest thing, if I could go back in time and tell my younger self it’s going to be okay, your kids are going to be okay. It’s so hard, I feel like 90% of being a mom is worrying, right? Just that letting go of, they’re going to be hurt, they’re going to make bad decisions, they’re going to make mistakes, all of that stuff. And it’s like, it’s probably going to be okay.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Laura:                      And I always say that, I say, “If I could just have a guarantee that my kids would survive and not be physically harmed,” if somebody could tell me that, if somebody could say right now, “Hey Laura, they’re going to live and they’re not going to physically hurt in some irreparable way, they’re going to be okay,” then I mean God, I would relax so much more, you know?

Brandy:                   Yeah, right.

Laura:                      And even if it’s not a true statement, God forbid, even if there is something horrible in the future for them, worrying about it certainly isn’t going to change it, right?

Brandy:                   Yeah, right. But it’s hard when you’re the person in the moment, the mom in the moment thinking about al the possibilities and all that life has to offer them, the good and the bad, because we’ve been through it and we all have things where we go, “I really shouldn’t be alive,” because I did all of these things.

Laura:                      Right, right. No kidding.

Brandy:                   Or choices that you make that you go, “That could’ve gone so differently,” and you think, “Our kids haven’t made those choices yet, so those pitfalls are waiting for them.” So I think my overall wish for my kids is I don’t wish that they – how would I say it – like I don’t wish that everything goes right for them, I just hope that the major things go right for them so that they have an overall happiness, sense of enjoying their life. But some of those pitfalls make people who they are, but I don’t want one of those pitfalls to be so deep that they get stuck in it.

Laura:                      Right, exactly. I do think having kids has given me such a greater appreciation for, there’s no way to say this that doesn’t sound cheesy, but for the journey that is life. But it really does, like just realizing, being human is hard. Everyone goes through things that are really hard and sometimes really awful. And what’s amazing is how resilient we are, and I think that’s something that having kids has made me really realize, just wow, we are a resilient species. My daughter showed me a meme, but it said something like, “Congratulations, you’ve survived every one of your worst days.” It’s like yeah, you have, and there are going to be other worse days too.

Brandy:                   I kind of have the mentality, when it’s not happening to me of course, of the more tidy and easy it is, the less it’s being lived, in a certain way. Some of those things that feel like you’re holding on by a thread, even the stuff that we’re talking about, and some of the darkness in those early days, that built our character. I mean look at both of us, we both wrote things about this experience and continue to have this be on a forefront of conversations and things, so who would we be without that, if it was just easy?

Laura:                      Yeah, I agree absolutely.

Brandy:                   If you want to learn more about Laura or buy her book, Swimming for Shore: Memoirs of a Reluctant Mother, visit www.lauramullane.com. You can also go to Amazon and search for her books. She also has another one about the Rwandan genocide. And she told me she has a Swimming for Shore Facebook group, so check that out if you’re interested.

Brandy:                   Did you know that I have an Adult Conversation Podcast discussion group on Facebook? Well I do. If you want to continue this conversation there, or just process all that we cover on the podcast, join us. If I let you in, that is. Basically just don’t have uzis for your profile pic. 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.