Elizabeth Laime is a comedy writer and host of two weekly podcasts; Totally Married and Totally Mommy. (Her original podcast, Totally Laime, has episodes archived online.) She lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat in Los Angeles.Parents:Elizabeth Laime and Andy RosenKids: daughter Theodora, 11 months
Parent Co: How are you?Elizabeth Laime: My husband was out of town last week so I was just in Mom mode… The last five days I was like, ‘woah.’ Around eight months I felt like ‘okay, I got this,’ but together we have systems in place. So just going it alone I was like, ‘yikes!’
Is it unusual for your husband to be gone or are you alone often?
Actually, the first five months after Teddy was born he took five or six business trips but they were all one or two days and I think I was so in the zone anyway that I was in survival mode.
But now that things have gotten cushy, it was just a little bit of a system shock. It made me think, I mean, single moms are my heroes. It’s hard to wrap my brain around (what they do).
Do you and Andy consider your work and lifestyle to be non-traditional? Are there routines or rituals you have that help you stay connected as a family?
Yes, I would say that for sure applies to us. We both work for ourselves (Andy’s a record producer) and we do have things in place, like one big thing for us is the mornings. Andy gets up with Teddy at 6:30 and that’s his time with her. Then he goes to work at ten and stays at work sometimes until midnight.
I have babysitters and I have help, which is great so that I can get work done. But I was writing a pilot over the holidays and that was Andy’s time to pick up the slack. Now that project is done for me and he has an album due in a month and a half so now it’s my turn to pick up the slack. I don’t know what’s going to happen when both things hit at once, but that hasn’t happened yet.
We’re an amazing partnership and our marriage is incredible but we ended up going to couples counseling trying to navigate the specific issue of how to communicate what we need from each other… mostly about how to communicate if he needs extra time without coming into it with guilt or defensiveness. It’s been really helpful and now we have these tools in place that we use constantly.
I feel like couples counseling can be so extremely helpful for short-term problem solving and I wish more people would use it for that purpose.
I know. I think so many people think of it as a last resort, kind of ‘death rattle’ thing, and for us it’s been tool-building and we actually enjoy it. We look forward to going. It’s nice to go in and know we’re gonna get a set of tools and come out with an understanding.
And back to your original question about rituals: I was gonna say we have our “Totally Married” podcast which is once a week for an hour and it’s not just about marriage, it’s me and Andy hanging out.
There have definitely been weeks when it’s hard to squeeze it in or it just feels like a chore but for the most part I’m so grateful we have it because it’s the one hour a week where we just sit down and connect.
So you had Totally Laime and then Totally Married. What was the evolution of Totally Mommy for you?
I had really terrible morning sickness so the first part of my pregnancy I was just on mommy boards and it felt so isolating because I couldn’t tell anyone yet. The podcast kind of came out of that.
During my pregnancy, and I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but I was already in the vortex of motherhood. It was all I thought about, it was all I wanted to talk about. So having the podcast was kind of a natural progression, just to make it an official hour out of my week where I got to talk to other mothers.
What have you gained, personally, out of doing the podcast?
There are kind of universal themes through motherhood, and one is that everything sort of passes, there’s an ebb and flow to everything. At first it was really hard to wrap my head around because Teddy had really bad colic and allergies and eczema and it just felt so isolating. It was really nice to connect to hear that other people had that experience and they made it through.
Can you think of anything that a lot of moms don’t realize and you wish they did?
After having Teddy by myself this week, I realized that each day is 20 moments of the most earth-shattering joy, and then in between that is just catastrophic boredom.
I think there’s an idea that if you’re not loving every second of it that means that you’re taking it for granted or you’re not a good mother. And then I’ve seen the pendulum swing in the opposite direction where it’s like, “oh this is such a drag, I hate this so much,” but the truth is it’s such a mixed bag and I think it’s good for women to relate to that.
I’ve also discovered that I had all of these ideas about things and there are lot of things that, until you’ve experienced motherhood, you don’t know - so I think I’ve become much more compassionate.
Even breastfeeding. I used to think I would never breastfeed in public without a cover just because I’m so modest, and that has flown out the window faster than a bird getting hit by a rock. I’m whipping ‘em out left and right.
I think that a lot of my perceptions about how things should be have really changed and that makes me compassionate for other mothers.
Well that’s a great message to share with other moms. What other bits of parental wisdom do you like to share with people?
Just be more gentle with yourself.