127: Parenting and Partner Tips with Brandy Ferner of ADULT CONVERSATION
Updated: May 28, 2020
In this Unabridged Podcast interview episode, we had a wonderful time discussing all things parenting and partners with Brandy Ferner. We read her novel Adult Conversation, which just released on May 5th, and we all felt that the depiction of motherhood with all of its dark humor and relentlessness resonated so much with our experiences.
Bookish Check In
Ashley - Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible
Jen - Marie Lu’s Rebel
Sara - Josie Silver’s The Two Lives of Lydia Bird
Brandy - Glennon Doyle’s Untamed
Mentioned in Episode
Judy Brady Syfer’s “I Want a Wife”
Give Me One - Reality TV Recs
Ashley - The Great British Bake Off
Jen - Survivor, Nailed It, So You Think You Can Dance, Next Top Model
Sara - The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, The Challenge, Top Chef, Real World, Road Rules
Brandy - Vanderpump Rules, Cameo website, The Bachelor, The Bachelor in Paradise, Too Hot to Handle
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Hi and welcome to Unabridged. This is Episode 127 and today we are going to be talking all things parenting and partner relationships with Brandy Ferner and her novel, Adult Conversation. So, we have her as a guest today. Before we get started, we just wanted to let you know that we have a lot of extra content on Patreon right now. So we're getting that going. We've gotten it started and really upped things a bit in May. And we're excited to share that with you. So check out that page if you haven't seen it. So ladies, we are going to start today with our buckets check in. Jen, do you want to start us off?
Sure. So I am reading Marie Lu's Rebel. This is the fourth in a YA series that began with the book Legend which I absolutely loved. And it has been a while since the original series was out. Originally, it was a trilogy, and we used this with our class last year. It is a dystopian series that alternates--the original trilogy alternates between June and Day, and has all kinds of great stuff about rebellion and protest and overcoming corrupt governments and all that good stuff. So the new book is, I think it's like 10 years later, and now it's alternating between Day and his younger brother Eden and their perspectives, and they live in Antarctica, and it's bringing up--I am about halfway through. So far, it has brought up A lot about how you deal with systemic problems. And of course, there's a government who has tried to put a lot of things in place. Everyone has a level, they earn points toward a level, and the level floats over their head so you can see everyone's level and like how good they are and how good a citizen they are. And that's how you earn things like health care, and the right to go to college. So it's bringing up I will say some very interesting issues. And Marie Lu is just fabulous. So it's moving really fast.
That is amazing. I I didn't realize until pretty recently that that one was coming out. So that is really exciting for people who read that series. It is remarkable that there's another one coming out.
Yeah, great joy to dive back in.
That's awesome. Brandy, what about you? What are you reading?
So, like so many other people right now I'm reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, which I had mixed feelings about because in some of the writer circles that I'm in, there's this kind of mark on her as like white woman privilege has all the answers kind of a writer and so, but I love her stuff, like, I just can't not love her in a way, so, so I thought you know what I didn't read either of her two first books even though I follow her and love her, so I thought I would give this one a shot and I immediately, I was like five pages in and I messaging on my writer friends, you know who said this and I was like, you guys, I actually really like this, like her writing is so honest. And it's clean and interesting. Like y'all need to give this a rethink. And, and then and then I got to this part where I was like, Oh, I don't know. So I'm what I'm really loving about it is I love anybody who's vulnerable. And she definitely fits that and she's real, but I love that it's nuanced because it's teaching me a lot about being an author, and how it's like, it's not black and white, like an author is not all bad or all good. Like we have these different pockets that we, that we, can fill and so in, so in my writers group I was like we need to book club this because I know there's a bunch of people that have a certain feeling, then there's some of us that have another one and I just want to like, dig in and hear why people think what they think. But, I will say, Glennon's book and her vulnerability, I so appreciate, but it's making me wonder like, do I need to go find a wife? Because the way I don't know if you guys have read it, but the way she writes about meeting her wife, it's like, I need, I need an Abby. So I'm kind of rethinking every choice in my life. I'm like, is my future that I'm actually a lesbian and I never knew it because this Abby person sounds like pretty life changing. So yeah, I'm thoroughly enjoying Untamed right now.
Wow, that sounds fascinating. And what an interesting discussion, I think, like you said about talking about that as writers and also as readers of books just to be able to dig into what is working in a book and what, you know, what the problem spots are, and yeah, I have seen that one all over? For sure. It's like it's been, you know, a very prominent choice right now.
Yeah, I think it's like number one on New York Times bestseller or something. So I'm not very original, but I was like, I gotta give her a chance. And actually, in this book, she talks about a little bit I'm not super far in, but she talks about a little bit of regret about some of her first books, and how she kind of thought she knew at all, and I always appreciate someone who has self reflection, but then that makes me think like, maybe this book is where I fall in love with you. So, and then maybe she becomes my wife. Maybe I need a Glennon and and not an Abby, maybe I pull her away from Abby. That's what this is.
There's an essay I used to teach. It was called I want a wife and it was from the 70s. And it was at the height of the feminist movement, and that's what it was--that you need a wife, because these are the roles the wife takes, and it's--yeah, my students were always a little perplexed because I do feel like you have to have some life experience to truly appreciate everything she's listing that she needs, but it reminds me of that. That there are functions that, yeah, people just need a partner to do these things regardless of who it is.
Sara, what about you? What are you reading?
I am reading a couple things, but the one I'm going to talk about today is Josie Silver's The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. I'm reading that as a buddy read on bookstagram and I really am enjoying it. I was a little worried about reading it because I've heard that it was pretty sad. But I actually have really enjoyed it, and I really like the treatment that the author gives grief and the way that she has the character explore grief. So, I'm enjoying it. It has two, kind of like alternating timelines. It's got-- it has a magical realism in it, which I always enjoy. And I enjoyed the the book that she published previously One Day in December and so I'm really enjoying this one.
Awesome. I didn't realize that was the same author. Yeah, that's really cool. Yeah, so I am like Jen and Sara, we are all three going to be doing a buddy read with @readwithtoni on Instagram this month for The Poisonwood Bible. So, I'm rereading that one right now. And Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible is just, it was really a foundational text for me. I read it when I was quite young. And it made a really profound impact on me. And so it's been really great to come back to it. And I have used it with students in a couple of different settings, to talk about the impact of colonization and the way, the way that post colonial times we're still dealing with all of those repercussions and how cultural interactions work out and how they don't work out. And I think that Kingsolver just does such a great job of showing that what you bring to the table really impacts the way that those interactions take place. And so I just love it. A lot of the book is told from the perspective of the children--of the four girls--the four daughters. And early on, they're in a totally unfiltered setting of them just seeing what they think about this totally. You know, they're experiencing culture shock. And they're dealing with a lot of complex family dynamics. And I just think that because of that, I love the rawness of the voices and the way that you can see through their eyes, how, how much baggage, they are bringing--cultural baggage that they are bringing when they arrive in the Congo and how that impacts those interactions with the people they meet there. And I just think all of that is so rich. So yeah, I mean, I'm thoroughly enjoying the reread. I have read it more than once previously, but it's been a long time. I probably haven't read it in eight or ten years. And so I've stepped away for a long time. It's really interesting to revisit, especially a text like this that I think is such a rich text, and to be able to, you know, see it in a new light. So yeah, so that's been really fun.
I love that book. You make me feel inspired to go back and read it again, because that was a formative text that I read to like, well, you could write each chapter as a different character speaking. I want to do that someday, but then I will, I will never do that because it will never be as good as The Poisonwood Bible. It was like a dream and then a dash to me.
I mean, it is what she does so well, because each voice is so distinct. And I think that is the part that rereading resonates with me so much. And makes me realize that when I read it, I hadn't read nearly as many books that had multiple perspectives as I have now. But I think what I can see again, is that it's not just that it's all these different perspectives, but also how unique each one is that she does so well. And those characters are just amazing. Yeah. So yeah, great book. So we are talking today about Brandy Ferner's Adult Conversation, and we so appreciate you coming to join us to discuss this one. Jen and Sara and I are all moms and really felt some connection to April, the main character, in her struggle, so we didn't know if you just wanted to talk a bit about what the book is about and then we'd love to share some of our feelings about what resonated for us.
Main Discussion: Adult Conversation
Yeah, thank you guys so much for having me. So the book it's a darkly comedic novel about the relentlessness of modern motherhood, where the main character is seeking an answer to the question, Is motherhood broken? Or am I? So, after a series of mom wins and failures, she and her therapist end up on a Thelma and Louise style road trip to Vegas, where they are tempted and tested while finding lost pieces of themselves that motherhood swallowed up. And also Snoop Dogg is one of their neighbors. So it's definitely as you guys know, it's quirky. I just found out yesterday, I won a silver prize in the IPPY-- the Independent Publisher Awards in the humor category. So, I'm apparently not the only one that thought it was funny or made me laugh so, so yeah, it's got I mean, as you guys may be hopefully experienced, is it's darkly humorous, but it also has heart, so it's like a mix of both things.
Yeah, I will say I was the first one, like I won the ARC first. And I was reading it, you know, there's always some trepidation when you're starting a new book and I did not even get to the end of the first page and I took a picture and send it to Ashley and Sara and it was like, Oh my gosh, this book is perfect. We and it was when April is sitting on the toilet and her two year old has a meltdown because there's a door between them and I was like, what mom has not been there. Ashley is there currently. Mine are older so they can, they can withstand the door between us at 10 and 13. Thanks goodness.
Well and I learned this in hindsight. I didn't even think about this, but if you want to really weed out the weak readers you put the word anus on the first page. I'm looking at the first page I'm like, wow, this is if you're just like on the fence about like, I don't know how I like you know, raw inappropriate truthful stuff. Like it just, it really weeds people out. So I'm, you are my people if you kept reading after the word anus.
Well, let me tell you that I not only shared it with my husband right away, but I sent it to my brother-in-law, because, because first of all poop comes up a lot in our family. And so this is a discussion that we have far more frequently than I should probably admit. And additionally, it just is so relatable. I mean, I just think that exact experience. I mean, the other day, I was physically pushed off of the toilet by my three year old so that she could go to the bathroom and I want you to know we have another toilet in our house. It was that, you know, that exact moment where I just was like, here I am, and my toddler tyrant is going to remove me from the toilet so that she can go to the bathroom because she has to go right now, right here. You know, I mean, it is that, it is that exact scenario. I mean, I just think that that was one of the things I loved was just the vivid depictions of these tiny moments that happen over and over and over again and snowball and that feeling of, like you said, I love the word relentlessness of motherhood because that is it. I mean, it's just that you're in the thick of that all the time. And that's what each thing is okay. It's when they all accumulate that it's just really hard to persevere and to not feel overwhelmed.
And you're expected to be okay with it because it's your kids. So like, what happened to you in the bathroom where you were pushed off the toilet? In literally no other context would that have been okay, other than it's your kid and so, A., not only can you like to not really get mad at it, B., you're supposed to be like, oh, I'll miss this someday. So in my mind, which is what I wanted to get across in the book, is like this is how messed up this is, is that we aren't even allowed to be like you just pushed me off the toilet. If somebody did that to our husband's at work, there would be a lawsuit, like we should daily be filing lawsuits against people that we love, that we dearly love.
I have to say too, that her marriage also resonated, because I also have a husband who is very helpful and does all the things and, and is great and yet, there is some part of our relationship, like the guilt thing, like I feel guilty about so many things and he just doesn't and he's a great dad and he's a great husband but there's something in, I don't know, that he just is able to move through our world, our life, without guilt and I am plagued by guilt, like every minute of every day that I should be doing something better for someone. I just can't bring myself to do it. And so yeah, I thought, you know, my kids are a little older not that we don't still have our problems. But that was another part that I was just like, oh my gosh, this is so real. This is so, so my life, so every, I mean, I think most moms lives, most wives lives.
The part where they are watching, watching The Bachelor, and she's like, just don't touch me. Like, I mean, it's just like, you know, you're touched all day long and like, someone needs something from me all day long. And then the moment that, that you have to sit, then someone else needs something, and it's just like, I just don't want to be needed. I just want to sit, nobody touch me.
Exactly. And it's this unconscious stuff like what you're saying, Jen about how, you know, it's not like we all have helpful husbands. You know, Aaron is like every man. He's the part of all of our husbands that's every man and I think what you're speaking to Jen is what I refer to as dad privilege, which is this ability to not be worn down. And heavy by responsibilities because they happen without them even knowing and without them being expected to do it. So, I think that that is a part that exists for everybody. And then the other piece of it too is I think that oh shoot my mom brain cuz my daughter just walked in here actually my mom brain just got derailed. There was something that you were saying about--oh, shoot, it'll come back to me.
So, we were talking about the touching. Yeah, like the touching. And I just think that it was very comforting to me. That that came up several times in the book, because that is a huge issue that I think people--it's another area that is very taboo to discuss and that it feels that there is this expectation. That both it is you're alone in that feeling, which I know in my mind, that is not true. But emotionally it feels that way. That you are alone in this feeling and everyone else is able to just roll with it and have these healthy relationships and also that it is something that, yeah, I just was comforted that it came up several times. And April was very clearly working through that and trying to find some actionable solutions to what can be a very poisonous problem.
Yes. And again, this is that thing where we're like supposed to not only not complain, but we're supposed to appreciate it. So as the mom, that's the thing is your kid wants to be on you for the millionth time, and you are over it. And there's a voice in your head like, well, what about the people who lost their kids? What about people who couldn't have kids? What about you in 10 years when you don't get this and so I realize not at the moment I was writing it but later one of the main themes of the book is this inner and outer mask, like I think I say in the book sometime is what April wants to say and what she does say are two different things. So I don't know about you guys, but it's that feeling of like my initial reaction, and then putting the spin on it so that I don't mess my kids up and it's exhausting. And it goes back to what I was going to say before that I remembered is this thing about marriages and husbands is they this every man idea is that they don't know that they're unconsciously undoing us by their actions or their cluelessness sometimes. So it's not like it's this mean, obvious thing that they're doing. It's just part of that privilege means that they do those little micro aggressions, that we feel daily, like that snowball effect. So that's why that scene where they were watching The Bachelor and the touching and all of that it was like, I wanted to show the entire day, and how the day starts out and it's maybe even kind of hopeful, but just like immediately the snowball begins, and then wake up and do it again the next day, which is real. I mean, I think many of us live it, you know.
Yeah. And also the part in the book when April's getting ready to go to Vegas and she sneaks out and when she lets him know that she's left and he's like, but I'm taking Tom surfing tomorrow morning for his birthday and it's like, but he assumed that she would be the one that was taking care of the kids. I mean, to me, I was like, you go, April. A lot of times that is like, the mom is the default person who's taking care of all the things. And then you have to ask for the babysitting...which we both created the children. And you know...I just felt like throughout the whole book--and I did the same thing--I was reading aloud to my husband and I was also texting my sister and I was like, I have this book. You have to read it. Because her kids are closer to Ashley's kids age. So she's going through all that stuff right now. And I just, I mean, I just felt it's just like, I when I read that book, I felt seen as a mom, and a wife, and a woman. And I think that that is the power in the whole book. I just love that.
I'm so happy. That was my whole goal. You know, it was partially this idea that wouldn't let me sleep. You know, I had a two year old at the time I was like, like, how does somebody write a book, A. B, we didn't even have a babysitter like, this was something I did not feel like I could do. But after a week of being up at night, writing little things, little stories and quirks and things I had absorbed about motherhood for years, I was like, well, the only way I'm going to sleep again, is if I write this so I wrote it because I wanted to explore and say these things. But I knew that by being honest and saying things that most moms didn't want to say that hopefully somebody like you would read it and go, Oh, my God, I'm not alone. And I'm not broken. It's like, this whole system is somewhat broken. So I'm really happy that that translated for you. And that moment, where she leaves for Vegas, like I still get chills when I think about it. When she says your babysitter canceled, like, that's the moment we all want, right? We all want to say that and just because it's been said to us over and over again. And we didn't have anything to do about it. So that felt gratifying to me.
Yeah. And I mean, I loved how she worked through things. I mean, I think, like I said earlier about the actionable items. I mean, I appreciate it. Like I loved her friend, the doula, Martha. I loved her friend and how she had--I mean, again, I think that's what we hope for in our lives is to have kind of an older female friend who can impart some wisdom to us as we're in in the trenches here. Yeah. And so I just really appreciated what she said about, you know, how do you make the relationship manageable for you? And I mean, I could have used that even earlier. I think, you know, right when you have a child--that when we had our second child, I just felt like I had so much animosity toward this need to be a partner in addition to taking care of my toddle, taking care of my child--my kids are only two years apart. So you know, they were still young. I mean, that's all like, that's all typical, I think of a lot of moms, but for sure, that meant that it was a very intense circumstance. And so I just loved what Martha had to say and how she was like, you got to find a way without sacrificing yourself to maintain partner relationships because, you know, you do have to keep that going also, and I felt like she gave some good advice about that without being like, without not validating April's feelings. I mean, I think that's what I really appreciate about that in her dialogue, was just that like she saw her she heard her but she also was like, okay, this is your reality. And so like, what are some things that we can do to try to help you through that difficult time?
Yeah, and the Martha character, A, is off of somebody real in my life named Kathy who's been on my podcast and she's just as Martha lovely in person. She's so amazing. But what I wanted to show in that moment was, A, that like exactly what you're saying, having this older person who's been through it, who can see you which is something, we need, but also that complicated moment when Martha makes--says the thing about, you know, you really can lose the spark. And it's like April, all April wants to really hear is you don't have to do anything. You can put, you know, you can not be a wife for a couple years, and then once the kids are older, you can come back to it. And so when Martha says that, it's like that thing that I think we all feel, which is like we know she's right. And yet we're angry that we still have to add that on our list because our husbands aren't having conversations with Mark, you know, with older mentor Mark whose saying, keep the spark alive. Because again, it's on us. So it's like that moment where you know, it's true. And you also hate that it's true. And so you're mad. And you also are like, well, I have to tend to this, which feels like much of motherhood in a way. Yeah.
I also thought when she said, when Martha says, everybody messes up their kids in some way. I think that's a game. Not a game. That is something that happens, right? There's always this competition about what's the best way to raise your kids and what's the best way to be and should you be a working mom or a stay at home mom and it's like, no matter which path you take something thing is going to damage your kids. And I think it's just that recognizing no one is perfect. And we all just grow from life. And so everyone's life is different. But the level of expectation, I think, is higher now than it used to be. Or maybe we didn't think that but it feels like it is.
I think it for sure is because we have an internet that tells us it every day, whereas they didn't even know to research anything,. I can't remember if I wrote it in the book, but my friend Kathy slash Martha, you know, said to me, we're talking about this sometime and she was just cackling. And am I allowed to swear on here? Or do you guys go on for the non explicit, I'll just I'll just use the F so you can get have I already ruined it. Have I already ruined it?
Then I will not. But I was laughing and she goes, you know you're gonna f your kids up anyway. And the thing is you don't even-- it's not even the thing you thought it was and I can't remember if I put that whole part in there.
You basically said. This was the quote: You focus so hard on not messing up one thing you can completely miss another. We all do. She goes on to say, but you get through it. And hopefully there are some sweet spots along the way forever.
And I just felt that I mean, I wrote it down. Like I felt that that was just a wonderful quote, because again, I think that we do get so fixated on trying to do things the right way that of course, you're missing other things. And instead of that being debilitating, I think that can be an empowering thing to realize, to just think, okay, there's no reason to continue to spin my wheels on this thing. Because all these things are happening that I need to just take a breath and try to let go of that spinning wheel of, you know, either feeling guilt or regret or you know, any of those feelings that can be so all consuming. Yeah, I did really like that.
Yeah, that's when Kathy said that, to me it just led me off of a hook that I almost didn't even know I was on because I was like, I cannot do this because I will always not be focusing on the thing that's actually happening. So I was like, well then maybe I don't have to worry about it so much. And she's like, bingo. That's it. So it's like, Ah, so like one of her examples, which in one of my podcast episodes she talks about is she had all of her kids go to Catholic school, she had seven kids. So she had, I think five of them went and she thought it was like the right thing for them because she was religious back then. But since then really isn't as much. And so one of her kids came to her one day when the last two were going to start and they were like, Mom, it's awful here. Please do not put the rest of them in this. And she's like, that's the thing I thought I was doing. That was like saving all of them and was going to be great. So I just thought it was amazing that her kids stuck up for the other kids that to me. It was like, Whoa, what's that? That sounded amazing.
Yeah. And I think a lot of kids would be like, if we had to survive it, they should.
But I think that speaks to the kind of relationships we are hoping to cultivate with our kids. It's just that you know, that we're empowering them to speak up for themselves and also that we have this open dialogue. But that was another thing that resonated for me in the book was about the foundations. And like just talking about where she's thinking, like--I think that Martha talked with her about that too--where she's talking about, you already have a good foundation. And so you have to trust that that foundation is going to endure, you know, these changes or you working or you having a babysitter or whatever, you like, you have to trust that and I think that it is a lot of that, again, of just like giving yourself permission to say, okay, these are the things that we are actively doing to help our family have a good foundation, and we have to trust that that's going to play out.
Yes, exactly. Yeah.
I also really liked the explicit discussion of understanding your partner's love language and just what little things can you deposit for them that can make a difference and about articulating clearly what that can be for you as well. And my husband will always say, he's like, I can't read your mind. You need to tell me . And we've been together for a long time, but of course he can't read my mind. And of course, like I'll be sitting there stewing about something and I just need to say it. Yeah, both of those things were really powerful for me. Just recognizing that just because you're together doesn't mean that everything feeds both of you in the same way.
Yes. And then it gets tough because what if the love language of your partner is something that isn't your love language so then that's where they say marriages is work, I think that's the part of it. That's the work part is if your husband's love language is touch and you don't want to be touched at the end of the day, what the hell do you do with that? Like? And the answer is, is like I don't really know. I don't have a tidy little tip for that. I just think that that is the work-- is seeing what each other needs and respecting it and not trying to change the person and also trying to show up where you can and do your best and is your best good enough and that's going to be different for every couple.
Yeah, yeah. And I think where we see for April how impossible it is for her to function because we are looking from the outside seeing all the things that are happening to her and watching them, each one assault her. I think it just shows how when you're in that situation, it's really hard. I mean, I sometimes feel like I don't have a love language. And I think that that is because, like you had that, I think, is it in your bio? You said your love language is sleep?
And I think that where she said, like, you know, sleeping in as my sex. I mean, I just felt like all of that. I felt seen by that because I was like, you get to a point where I know, cognitively, that the actions that I'm taking each day show love, but sometimes when I have to pinpoint what things I'm doing as a love language is not so apparent as it is for other people. But I think it's because I feel stretched so thin that then as you the thinner your stretched, the harder it is to actively demonstrate that love language.
Yes, it's so true and what you just said like I don't even know what my love language is. I think that speaks to the eraser that happens to us in motherhood. And there's a moment similar to that in my life. I remember we went went to Disneyland with the kids. And, you know, we live near it because we're in Southern California so my family has passes. I don't have passes, because it's not my favorite thing, but my husband loves it. But I remember being there once with them, and somebody was like, what's your favorite ride to me? And I'm like, my favorite ride is the one nobody's screaming about not being on. My ride is the one where people can wait in line and not moan. And so I realized, like, I don't even have a favorite ride because all of my favorites are tied to other people not assaulting me. Like, that doesn't feel healthy.
Yes! But you're right. That erasure--you don't even think about what your preferences are. That's what my daughter the other day it was like, she was like, mommy on your birthday, we will let you listen to whatever you want. And she said that because she has this podcast she loves. She loves the Wow in the World podcast. I don't know if you've heard it. It's great.
I have heard it. Yes.
Yeah, it's great. It's not always great for eight hours a day like any other thing. It is great. It's brilliant and she loves it. So, she listens to that a lot. And then my husband is always putting on music and stuff. And so they're always like, navigating this dynamic of who's listening to what. And so when she said that I was like, honey, I don't even know what I'd put on. I mean, it was this feeling of just like, I can't even imagine what I would do if I chose what to play. And I mean, it's exactly like in the book. I'm not bitter about that. I mean, it's not that I sit there feeling actively frustrated, but it is in that moment that you realize that you don't even think about those choices anymore.I don't think about any of that.
Actually, I think that's an interesting point. Because it's also like on your birthday, you get that choice, but everybody else gets their choice every other day. I mean, like, that's kind of how my birthday was recently. I mean, my kids and my husband did all this really wonderful stuff. And I love it, but it's like, it has to be a day for the mom, but what's the choice every other day of the year so I, I mean, I think that also speaks to like what you said about Dad privilege and like the erasure of our own, like us being people individually apart from our kids and our spouse or partner.
Exactly. Yeah. And it's pretty messed up when you look at it because you think kind of how I think in the first scene of the book, I say something about how I wish this relationship wasn't so abusive. And again, in any other context, you look at being treated like this, and it's abuse borderline abusive to abusive, but when it's your kids and your family, it's just the best thing in the world, isn't it? You know, so it's got this. That's what's so sinister about the whole thing and why I felt like I needed to write about it is because people are not talking about this part of it. Every book out there like this that I've read--or most of them have been--they like scratched the surface, but then I feel like the author wants to make sure that everybody knows that she's a good mom and grateful and all those things, but I wrote this book already knowing that all of my readers love their kids and would take a bullet for them. And I wrote it assuming that the reader would think that about me because I'm a thoughtful mom. So I wasn't like I didn't want to spend a lot of time trying to make sure you know, all these things. You know, it's like let's just get to the real talk because this is what will set us free not the other thing. We all know the other thing. That things being talked about all the time. Let's talk about the thing nobody's saying.
I think when I look at April too, I thought she was a great mom and I mean, I like you said your readers are going to know that she is an awesome mom because she's doing all the things in spite of what she is feeling. I do think you gave a lot of your readers permission to feel those feelings along with April. And I really love that.
Awesome. I'm so glad that translated. I cannot tell you guys, I started writing this almost five years ago. And to finally have it in the world and to have the people I wrote it for while I sat in that fuzzy green glider in my daughter's room and wrote this thing with a $10, an hour babysitter that we could barely afford, like to know and in the time I felt it inside me, I felt like there are people who are going to read this and it's just going to awaken the side of them that needed to be seen. And so to have that happen is like the most gratifying thing ever. So thank you, thank you so much for like mirroring that back to me, because it makes me feel like all those years and all that rejection and all of that insanity I put myself through. Like, why on earth does somebody write a book about the thing they need a break from in their time off to have a break from it. So, I feel like maybe it was worth it. So, thank you for being a part of that.
That's what I loved. When she went to--I think it was in therapy--when she says I'm going to look for the quote, it was the 24 hour, seven day a week thing. And she's like, I guess I signed up for a job that I really knew nothing about. And I assumed that I would love it so much that I could take the 24 hour, seven days a week shift, but maybe I just wasn't a good candidate for the job. And I think it is that vulnerability of her articulating the thing that lots of moms worry about that we see that, just like Sara said, of course, she is a great mom and we see how she's a great mom, but she's still feeling that way. And it is because of the, I mean, it's very difficult not to burn out, or to feel that you are not enough. I think that because so many of those feelings are covered, people feel that they're alone. April feels that she's not good for the job because she's assuming that she is alone and this feeling of desperation. Whereas, I think a lot of moms and I mean we all work, so I think you know, certainly I am in the thick of it right now. We are many weeks into not leaving home. But typically like I do get to go to work. And I do have my kids taken care of by someone else. And still, it feels totally overwhelming. And there are times where, you know, by 7:05 on Saturday morning, I'm like, oh, my gosh, what are we doing? And I mean, it's, you know, the morning starts at like 5:30. And, and some of that has gotten better, you know, but I think that's the reality for a lot of moms is you wake up and you think I have waited all week for the weekend and the weekend is here, and I can hardly breathe. And it's 7:05.
Yeah, the weekend means nothing and the weekend is actually worse than the weekdays. I think when you have small kids sometimes because then it's like this. There's no like rails on the whole thing. I don't know. I mean, there's upsides to each of them. But I think we've had so many years with before we had kids that weekends were like a break. But then when you have kids, you're like oh, weekends--uh, no.. It doesn't feel the same. Same way.
I think it is that. It's the lack of break that I think is just what was so stunning to us for sure. Like we've been married a long time before we had kids. And so it was like there's no off time. You know, you don't have it. Yeah, I think both of us experienced that part. But yeah, that is definitely a challenge. And sometimes it is great. I mean, some weekends are awesome, and everything is great. But there are other ones where I'm thinking, you know, it is very early in the morning, and we have a very long way to go before bedtime. And I'm already done. And that's why for stay at home moms, that is there every single day. And so the weekend, you know, I remember my husband being like, oh, I'm so glad it's Friday and I get it because his work stress that he doesn't have to deal with but for me, it was like, I don't have a Friday. I don't have an end. And what's so fascinating about that right now is I think this pandemic, even though the timing on like debuting your first book during a pandemic seems awful, I also think it primes readers and mom readers who maybe couldn't relate as much to this situation, who were working moms to understand, oh, this is what it's like. I had one reader say to me, I just was in such the right frame of mind for this book because I'm a working mom. And I realized that without my nanny and my preschool, I am not the mom that I thought I was. And that was so powerful for me to hear. And I think that this time right now is we're all feeling like--What day is it? We're flailing. And you know, there's a part of me that's like, I've been doing this for the last 13 years in a certain way. Even though I've worked from home but it's like, it really is highlighting the hardship of living like that and not having you know, the rails on things.
There was a quotation where April says she delivers the first no of the day, it's like right after...
When her daughter asked for jelly beans.
And I was having this moment last night. I wasn't even connecting it to the book. But last evening, my boys are obsessed with screen and obsessed with video games and obsessed with movies, and I feel like all I am doing all day is saying no, or placing limits on things. And I was like, they probably hate me because all I do all day is limit them and keep them from doing what they want to do. And then it was like, yes, that whole battle of trying to do the right thing that is the polar opposite of what your children want to do and are striving for every minute. Yeah. Oh my gosh. And the other moment.--I took a picture of this one too--was the Fortnite when her son is talking about Fortnite endlessly. I think it was Fortnite. It might have been something else.
Five Nights at Freddy's.
Yeah, that's what it was. But my boys are Fortnite right now. So it's like, I don't know who these people are. My son now is making montages and he always wants to show me the montages and so I sit and watch them and have absolutely no idea what is going on.
Yeah, exactly. What is this?
Yeah, that first no of the day. It is so hard to just know that some days it has to be your role with your kids is to be the person who delivers the nos.
Yeah. And the resistance, you know, the resistance to everything, like putting on pants. I still felt that scene when I think I say something, you know, the only other profession that is like this is either mental health worker or zookeeper and both of those places have tranquilizers. I mean truly, like, I'm always trying to be like, what job is like this? You know. So, am I not getting something and then when I realize that I'm always like, we have no tools, you know, and all I have is an essential oil that can calm, but also you might be in the select few that it actually makes worse, like I don't even know. It feels like a joke sometimes. The whole thing.
Where you are talking about bedtime--so I think the touching on the morning time and then on the bedtime just those bedtime routines where you said, it's the moment where--and of course I'm talking about their bedtime and not mine--and you know, it is the moment where they have the most well to live and I have the least and I just was like that sums it up. I mean, there are nights where I'm like it is all I can do to just get through that last little bit. I mean, the other night, I was like sitting on the patio fantasizing about not having to go through like the next two hours of us getting that. And again, I mean, my partner is very involved in that part. But it is just like, it's because of all the things that happen prior. And that you just are like, I just need this thing to happen. I just need it. I just, I just need this. I need this to be done. And it just feels like it's never going to be done.
And you're working with the most creative people to undo everything.
The listing. The listing of all the things that the kids need, and I appreciate how you know, Elliott at eight is doing all this stuff too. Because I think that's it. It's like you go, you know, as my kids have gotten older there's some things have gotten easier, but of course, as we all know, as moms, it's just new things. There are new problems. So the problems change, but there are still a lot of problems. Yeah.
When do you ever feel--like with the Elliot character--when do you ever feel like you can make a change that then you're going to have to pay for for two months to try to see if it works out. So you just keep doing that same thing. I mean, my son now is 13. And I feel like it was maybe six months to a year ago that I finally was like, I am no longer doing the bedtime circus. So, like you're at this age, like I'll lay with you and snuggle you for a bit, but I'm going to walk away and you're going fall asleep without me. And I just sort of said it and was like serious about it. And then my husband, this is kind of funny, my husband who's kind of the softy about it, and is like, but it's such a nice thing. I'm like, I know, it is a nice thing, but I've been doing this for so many years and I nursed kids to sleep for years and he wasn't doing that. So, I said I need this for my sanity and I love them and I give that to them all day, but I can't also do this. So my husband was a little bit reluctant, but then like night, two, he was like, you know, because we switch off kids usually. And so then he decided, okay, I'm going to try it. And he comes to me, says after 13 years of having kids, and he goes, why didn't we do that sooner? Oh my gosh, this is so nice to have the rest of the night. And I'm like, Mother-f'er. I've been begging for this. Like, I've honestly been begging for us to do this. And for years, and here's what's so messed up about it is. I wanted to try to change bedtime a little bit to take some time back. I've been wanting it for years. And my husband was always like, well, I'm going to stay with him because I still really love it. And I felt like I could never not do it because this is messed up, and this is the April inside me. But I kept worrying that when my kids would grow up, they'd be like, you know, my dad would always lay with me every night. He was so sweet and giving, but my mom she just didn't want to lay with us and I didn't know if she really loved us. So I felt like if you're going to keep doing this, I am not going to have that be the story and so I'm going to have to sit here and do it. So, then for him to be like we should have done this years ago. I'm like I'm gonna drop kick you. This is so unfair. I've known this for years, friend.
We are working through that with my 10 year old right now. So my 13 year old did it himself because he realized he wanted to stay up a little later. And I just said that is fine. But if you choose to do that, I am not going to be there with you. And he's like, Mom, we need to have a talk because I'm older now. And I feel like I should be able to stay up a little later. Okay, great. But what we've come to now is I was like, to my younger son, we're not going to be in the room with you. We'll still be close by, so I am like lying on the floor outside his room with my Kindle Paperwhite reading for 45 minutes. Periodically, Mom, Mom, are you still there? Yes. I mean, and we just started, so we'll see, ya know, knowing but
That's like that's like the baby whisperer. Right? It wasn't there like a baby shuffle where you're supposed to, like stand at the crib. None of this was ever successful for me, by the way, I just know about it, because I hate it because it didn't work for me. And I also felt conflicted about even trying it. But there was like where you shuffle away a little bit every night. So, I love that you're doing that at 10, which is so real. That's the thing this is just like babies, but then you have a 10 year old that you're doing it with, and you're like, no one talks about this part.
Yes. I mean, I think that we were able to, like leave them when they were in the crib. But then they get out of the crib. And once they get out of the crib, it was like that was all undone. So then I feel like we did try to have this period where we were doing the shuffling away. I mean, it was just like--so you know, you think you've gotten through something. And then six months later, you're back at it and you're in the thick of it again. And I feel like that just kind of sums it up then
Yeah. Always there is something. Miraculously my children the other night wanted to listen to a bedtime story. So we were like, that's fine, but we're not going to be in the room. And so they went to bed and I was like, Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, my whole life is changing. Of course, it isn't. It was like one night.
You feel so hopeful. And then you do the thing where you go, let's recreate every single choice we made for that day, because that was the food they ate and the time they went to bed and how much outdoor time they got. That's how we replicate the good sleep, and then it doesn't work. So good luck. Good luck.
Oh, my goodness. I know one thing I did want to talk about that we didn't touch was the cover. I don't know how involved you were in that cover art, but I love it. And I also felt that I posted a couple of times on Instagram about the book and people have had a lot to say about that cover and I just think that it is so powerful. It's such a such a powerful visual about their erasure of motherhood. I mean, I just think about all the craziness and insanity, and then also the ways that the mom herself is not being seen. And so I didn't know. Yeah, if you had any thoughts about that, or how that process comes about, but my kids saw the cover, and they said, Mom, where are her eyes.
You're like, I don't know.
I have some thoughts about why we do not see her full face.
While my publisher is the one behind that, I wish I could take more of the credit. But I mean, this was the idea of the book, which is this erasure, which is here's this woman that you know, she's faceless, because she's all of us is really the real part, right? And then all these things in her hair. So, originally my publisher had them and they were sort of some of the more generic things about motherhood. And I don't know if you notice, let me look at my book, but I went in and I was like, sorry to be this person, but can you have the mixtape and the tequila shots, and the recycle bag and the ground and the sewing machine, you know, all of these specific things. So, I wanted each thing on here, if possible, to actually tie into the book, so that it wasn't more general and it was specific to her experience. This whole process you have an idea in your mind as an author, what you think the the cover should look like. And I feel like it never quite looks like what you thought it would. But then you fall in love with it. So, this image I have totally fallen in love with and I feel like speaks to how we feel like all of these things in our hair. No eyes. Like we are this. So I feel like moms look at this and they go, yeah, that's about how I feel.
Yeah. Yeah, it's like that feeling of it's both totally insane. And also am I am I here? Am I quite here?
I'm not sure if you know, like, all of this is happening and also yeah, where am I in it?
Yeah. Who am I?
Give Me One
All right, so we always end our episodes with a Give Me One, and one of the things that we noticed about April and all appreciated was her passion for reality TV. So, we wanted to end today with a Give Me One and do a Give Me One Reality TV Show that You Love.
Gosh, where to begin? If I just have to give you one.
Sometimes we cheat and do two or three to be honest.
Okay, so the one I'm going to give you has been a longtime favorite, which is Vanderpump Rules. That show is one of my husband and my favorite which is mentioned in the book. Although if I do a deep dive on it, though, a couple latest seasons have not been as quality as as the first. Have you . . . are you guys, anybody interested in Vanderpump Rules at all?
I haven't watched it.
But you would have to start at the beginning. So that's one of my favorite things, and I don't know . . . Do you guys know about Cameo? Do you know?
Yes, I do. Yes.
So okay so Cameo, just for people who don't know, is a website where some A list and a lot of B list actors and singers and reality stars are on this website, and you can browse it like a catalog. And they have a price, and so for $35, you can pay Corey Feldman to then . . . you have a message, like maybe your friend's a huge fan and so you're like Cory, will you wish Happy Birthday to my friend, and then you know, say this or whatever, and you pay your $35 and Corey Feldman does a video.
That is so cool.
But so yesterday, my husband goes, "I'm sorry this is late"--because my book came out on Tuesday--he goes, "I'm sorry this is late," but he had one of the Vanderpump Rules cast people do it like a book congratulations for me, which just like made my day. So Vanderpump Rules and Cameo, those are both great. I'm also hot and cold, but I've been a Bachelor diehard. Really, I'm more of a Bachelor in Paradise, I'm more of the garbage TV kind of dweller. And on my podcast in the next little while, I have a past Bachelor contestant coming, and I'm going to ask her all sorts of things like how awful . . . just how awful is it to be on your period and flirt with, you know, some cringy guy that you really don't even like. So I'm a Bachelor fan as well.
That sounds great. We'll have to listen for that episode.
Yeah. And then and then one more--because I'm just going to go too far here--is there's a show that's called Too Hot to Handle on Netflix, and it's for those who are so hard up for garbage TV. Just it won't disappoint. So Sara's nodding at me as if she is one of the bottom dwellers.
It's well documented on the podcast my my love for all things reality TV and also the trashier, the better.
Perfect. Yeah, and that's if you haven't gotten there already, which I feel like you probably have, you need to get there.
I have not watched that one yet. I've seen it on Netflix. And, you know, the picture that advertises it is pretty, you know . . .
And my son was looking on Netflix the other day. And he's like, because I've watched like other reality shows, The Circle and the one about not seeing each other before you get engaged and all that. So they all come up in my like, "you might like this," and my son is like, "Ooh, What?" He's 11. He's like, "What is that show?" And I said,
Yeah, I don't know, I would never watch that secretly and at night. Just the one liner of that show is basically a bunch of really hot people come on a show that they think they're just doing a bunch of hookups. And that's the game, but the game is really you can't do any hookups, and they see who can last the longest, and there's money at stake. So it's so gratifying to see these people roll in all just like yeah, I'm rad and then to have it like completely like, Oh, no, we have to get to know people. That's pretty great.
That sounds great.
I'm gonna watch one episode when I get off of here.
It's not a family show, but yes.
Sara, what's yours? What do you want to recommend? Sara is our resident expert on all things reality.
I'm going to take notes then.
So I do love The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I watched those pretty religiously. And I'm kind of sad because The Bachelorette's not coming you know, won't be back on normal schedule because of all of this. The other one that I like is . . . so I am a huge . . . I was a huge way back Real World and Road Rules fan. So my very favorite that I watch, and I'm always like dying to watch it when it comes out is The Challenge on MTV. It like kind of combined, because I love like, I love physical competition. So it kind of combines that within the drama of other things. So it's like the perfect match because they do the physical competitions, and that kind of goes to my competitive nature. But then also, it has the drama that like a Bachelor or Bachelorette would have and the hookups and all that stuff. So I love that, and it's current . . . it's it's in season right now.
Both worlds. What's your quick what's your take on CT? How do you feel about CT?
He's my favorite.
I know he's my favorite too, even though he's kind of an awful person. I don't know.
So are you watching this season?
No, I haven't been in it for a couple years. But CT is a long timer.
Yes, he's a very long timer. So I watched his season of the Real World. And even even though he's grown a lot, I would say but he's, I mean, I'm really glad that he's back on The Challenge, and he's always been my favorite even when he was pretty temperamental.
Me too. He was like the bad boy that I was always like, Ooh, he's awful, yet. There's something about him.
Yes, yes, yes. That's so true.
What about you, Jen? What's your recommendation?
So reality TV has become what we watch as a family, which I realize may sound quite disturbing, but I had . . . my husband is a long-time Survivor fan, and I had just . . . yet so I had watched it with him, and then I stopped, and then my boys are now into it, and man, they are all up in the strategy and analyzing everybody's motivation and who has the best chance. So we watch that as a family, and we also watch Nailed It a lot as a family. Yes. I mean, if you have not watched Nailed It, is really funny to watch other people fail really badly. It's great. And yeah, I mean, we watch . . . like I love So You Think You Can Dance. Sara asked me before we started, didn't you watch Next Top Model and I used to binge that, but it's been a while, so I don't know that I can fairly say that, but old episodes of Next Top Model, I love.
I was gonna say I do like the reality shows that that we can watch as a family like The Voice and American Idol, so things that are appropriate for my kids because it's . . . that seems to be like the TV that everybody in the family can agree upon is those types of competition reality shows, so.
Ashley, what's yours?
So Sara and Jen are well aware, as are many of our listeners, that I am the one out on all things pop culture and particularly reality TV I have a tremendous problem with secondhand embarrassment and feeling discomfort when people are mean to each other, or especially when they are . . . like The Office is a great example of a show that I want to like, but I'm so uncomfortable, t's hard for me to like it. Because I think they do a really good job of hitting on that feeling of an awkward situation, and I feel really embarrassed. And that happens on reality TV a lot.
And so it's funny because in real life, I am for sure, like the most quick to run my mouth. I am really fiery, but I don't want to watch people do that. I'm sure there's probably some deep things that need to be worked out there. But . . .
Here's what I here's what I would say to that. There had to have been a moment in your past where you acted like that, and somebody called you on it or you have some sort of like memory, and that every time you see that you're like, "No, not again . . ."
It could be. I feel, I don't know. I mean, it really is a pretty substantial feeling that I have real discomfort, and I just don't enjoy it. And I mean, that's true of a lot of dramas as well, like there are TV shows that I can see, as I'm watching them, like I know that it's a really interesting story, but I just don't want anything heavy. I want it to be really short and really funny. And I don't want any emotional investment at all. And I think for some people reality TV is that. They don't feel any emotional investment or the emotional investment that they have is comfortable, right? For me. It's like it's I yeah, I just don't enjoy it that much. But anyway, we do love The Great British Bake Off.
And we will watch that. We watch it as a family. And we also watch it like at night, so that's one I really do love it. And I think why I like it, how it's different to me is just that the people are really supportive of each other. And even though it is competitive, and people do get, they are trying to win, they do get kicked off. It's still like everyone's in it. Like they really cheer for each other. And that is the thing that I find really off putting in some of the other shows is just that they . . . Of course you want to win, but that they're like so openly willing to be really crappy to other people in order to get it. Like I can see how that's fun for people to watch. But I personally don't enjoy that. So
I hear you on that.
I do think that I have been thinking I should read more thrillers recently. And I'm like, maybe I need to try more reality TV. I mean, I think I need to maybe open up some of those outlets a little bit.
Come to our side. Come to the dark side.
We just wanted to thank you so much, Brandy Ferner, for coming to talk with us today. We are so honored to have gotten to speak with you about Adult Conversation. We all really enjoyed our reading experiences, I'm sure you could tell by listening to us, it really and talking with us, that it really spoke to each of us as moms. And we are so thankful that the book is out there. So yeah, thank you.
Yeah, thank you so much. And I have a podcast, and the only reason I bring it up is because the last episode I did was where I interviewed myself . . . Well, I had a bot interview me about kind of the writing process and some of the mom stuff. So if anybody wants more sort of about that angle, my podcast is the same name, Adult Conversation, so there's more information there too. But thank you guys so much for having me and for your shared enthusiasm about my book baby.
We will link to that in our show notes, listeners, so be sure to check out her podcast as well. And of course check out the book. We all love it and endorse it. So . . .
Thank you, Brandy!
Yeah, thank you.
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