Well, 2019 is shaping up to be as full of new experiences as 2018 was. I’ve figured out how Instagram algorithms work (more on that in a later post), have partially worked out how to make them work for me, I devised a foolproof and lucrative plan for getting my kids to turn their bedroom lights off (also more in a later post) and I participated in my very first podcast. I know, “Ooooooooooohh, a podcast.”
The parent blogger category is vast and I’ve been slowly making inroads with some really witty people, mainly via Instagram. Amongst the throngs of eye-rolling, sarcastic parents who are using laughter to get through the grind of raising toddlers and teens, I encountered a defiantly positive blogger named Karen of the blog Finding Your Momtra. Her goal? To draw on the experiences of a variety of moms, learn what their “Momtras”—their Mom mantras—are and use those to shape her parenting style.
She invited me to be a guest on the Momtra podcast to talk about what it was like to move our family from New Jersey to the UK and raise them overseas. She emailed me some questions prompts so I could organize my thoughts for our scheduled interview a few days later. Getting to her studio to record would have meant flying from London to Philly where she lives so our talk would take place via video call. I use FaceTime regularly and have no problem talking for hours so I didn’t have any concerns about our upcoming interview.
At least I didn’t until about half an hour before we were scheduled to begin.
I sat at my kitchen table considering her questions and started to feel nervous. Really nervous. Clammy hand, tunnel vision nervous. My 11-year-old son walked in and saw me hunched over my laptop, deep in concentration.
“Mom, are you excited about the podcast?” he asked, his eyes wide.
“Yes, but also a little nervous,” I admitted.
“Can I get you a glass of wine, Mom? That might help,” he offered sweetly. And worryingly.
I declined but thanked him and as I took my laptop up to my bedroom, the only quiet place in my house at 6 PM on a Thursday night, he shouted “You got this, Mom! You’ll be great!”.
Everyone should have a such a cheerleader.
I sat on my bed and logged into the call, shocked at how fast my heart was racing, how dry my mouth suddenly felt. Why the hell didn’t I watch a YouTube tutorial on how podcasting works??? As I chastised myself for not being the person who researches these sorts of things, Karen’s smiling face appeared on my screen and I liked her immediately. Chatting with a friend is nothing to be nervous about, I reasoned with myself, but that didn’t do much to help regulate my shallow breathing.
After a few pleasantries, Karen said that she was going to start recording. I was sure I could see my heart beating through my sweater.
Karen: So, Gila, tell me a little bit about your family
Me: Well, I live in London with my husband and 4 kids ages 11……uh………15, no wait I skipped one, can we start over?
I’d blown it by question #1.
Karen kindly reassured me that this happened to many of her guests and we started over.
We spoke for close to an hour without a break. There was no editing, no pausing, nothing scripted. The story of how I moved my family and our stuff to another country immediately after having endured 3 surgeries and 8 rounds of chemotherapy was baked into my memory and required no script. Still, it was the first time that I’d been asked to really examine what that experience felt like and the vividness of the memories that bubbled to the surface yanked me back to that scorching August day when we waved goodbye to our family and friends. I can’t be sure if the dry mouth and light sweating I felt throughout our conversation were triggered by being recorded or by having to relive such a profound experience, but I think I did alright. Not that I could remember a single thing I’d said afterward.
I used to be so judgey when listening to people being interviewed, catching pronunciation mistakes and misused words. I’d smirk at all of the “ums” and “you knows”, the lack of polish. I’ll never do that again.
I encourage you to listen to episode #37 on FYM (by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post) and play a drinking game with your friends where every time the guest, Gila Pfeffer, says “um” or “you know” you do a shot. Hell, you can even do half a shot and you’ll still be passed out under the table by minute 13. I take solace in the fact that today, while listening to a podcast called The Daily (from the New York Times) the guest was none other than the Editor in Chief of the NYT himself and even he dropped a couple of space-filling “you know” bombs. Not that I’m judging.
I guess there’s something universally nerve wracking about being recorded, by any means. Especially when there are no do-overs.
Before we wrapped up, Karen asked me what my Momtra was and I admitted to her that until I had to consider her list of questions, I didn’t have one. But I did now.
Earlier that day I’d asked my 13-year-old son what he thought my Mom mantra was and without hesitating he said:
“Knowledge is power. That’s your mantra, Mom.”
Damn straight, that was my mantra. (Also are you checking out how my kids are the heroes in this story as opposed to the usual villains?)
Karen and I said our goodbyes, promising to meet for a coffee when I visit New York this summer, and I intend to keep that promise. Maybe we’ll even drink that coffee while recording another podcast.
For your listening pleasure, here’s the link to episode #37 on Finding Your Momtra. https://findingyourmomtra.com/episode-37