My Guest Appearance on the NEXTfem Podcast
I’m so honored to be chosen as the only guest for the NextFem podcast! I recently did a deeply personal interview with Host Tara Padua (link below). I talk about the challenges of modern day motherhood, why I hate the term “blended families”, my kids, my husband, grief, divorce, Santa Claus, my bumpy road to success, my self-care hack, favorite book recommendations, When You Lived in My Belly…you name it.
Motherhood is a tough job, and it’s becoming more overwhelming by the day. Our culture expects moms to be everything for everybody, raise happy and healthy kids, and juggle a full – time job and possibly a side hustle. Add into the mix the sensitive dynamics of raising step kids, and you have a recipe for potential disaster!
Jodi Darter is an accomplished blogger, author, and 80’s music aficionado. Inspired by her young son’s question about what it was like when she was pregnant with him, Jodi authored the book, When You Lived in My Belly. It’s a delightful story of pregnancy from the perspective of both the baby and the mother. The book turns otherwise challenging material into a fun story and heartwarming experience. However, “Mommy blogger” and children’s book author don’t fully capture the magic that is Jodi. Before motherhood, she worked as an award-winning television anchor and reporter, and she’s been a contributor to the Huffington Post and has written for The Stir, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. In this episode, Jodi shares her unlikely journey to becoming an author of a children’s book, why modern-day motherhood is unwinnable, how grief and love are deeply intertwined in all of her writing, and the hilarious way she met her husband as a result of her viral blog post called “The Top Ten Rules for Dating a Single or Divorced Mom.”
Taking life as it comes
Jodi has endured many tragic events in recent years. She’s learned to have an awareness of the process of life events as they unfold. As a writer, she’s learned to be highly observant as she watches, processes, and synthesizes life as it unfolds. When it comes to overcoming life’s challenges, Jodi has learned to do what she needs to do to get by. She explains that sometimes that means taking life day by day and minute by minute.
Giving birth to a book
After blogging for a time, Jodi built a name for herself as a freelance writer. When her mother went through a long battle with ovarian cancer, Jodi became her primary caregiver. During their late-night conversations, her mother revealed to Jodi that her lifelong dream was to write a children’s book. Jodi took up that dream after her mother’s death, but it was a hard pivot from her straightforward and sarcastic writing style to a softer tone, and it didn’t come naturally. Jodi began the painful process of figuring out what to write, and her son helped her solve the dilemma.
Jodi says that modern motherhood has to be done with finesse, even though the expectations of mothers are unfair and excruciatingly exhausting. As a mom, you’re expected to be at every event and see every milestone while juggling your full – time job and maybe even a side hustle. You’re expected to be a perfect partner who bakes cookies and doesn’t forget to wear lingerie and stilettos. Modern motherhood means being overscheduled and enduring the constant feeling that you’ve failed someone in your life every single day. It’s impossible to do it all.
The cultural shift in parenting
It’s an unfortunate development that there used to be a greater sense of community among moms. There was a tribe of other moms around you to help. Today there is a greater disconnect for moms. For moms who are working, life is a “hot mess express.” Most moms don’t have family close by and are limited in the time they have to connect with other moms.
Families and smoothies are different
Jodi shares why she doesn’t like the term “blended family.” Smoothies can be blended, but people cannot. It’s a completely unrealistic expectation that families can be blended. People who come from different backgrounds and different life experiences cannot be blended. There are layers of complexity to each person, and you can’t put them together in a home and expect shiny, happy faces. People who give the impression that it’s working are simply not telling the truth. Instead of a “blended family,” Jodi calls her family a “perfectly imperfect parfait.”
As a bonus mom or stepmom, paving out realistic expectations is critically important. Each child comes into the family with their own expectations, and you can’t shake things up to the point that they don’t recognize their biological parent anymore. You are asking those kids to completely shift their lives, all because their parents fell in love with someone new. You have to be thoughtful and considerate while forming the new family unit.
Politics and motherhood
Politics and motherhood don’t mix. It drives Jodi crazy that any post she makes regarding her book turns into an abortion debate. She has had to delete multiple comments about abortion. People assume that she is pro-life just because she wrote this book about the beauty of pregnancy and motherhood. She finds it offensive to be painted as something she is not.
Motherhood and daughterhood
Jodi’s book has a dedication to her mother and her son. Her mother completely shaped her life and was her one unrelenting source of “pure, unfiltered light and unconditional love.” It devastated Jodi when she lost her mother, but she overcame so many challenges in her long battle with ovarian cancer, beating the odds again and again. Jodi was left flailing through life at her loss, so she decided her best recourse was to write about it.
Grief and loss
Everyone will experience grief, and no one escapes this life unscathed by it. We can connect with each other through our shared experiences with loss. We should talk about it more and try to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds grief. We need to know that grief is overwhelming and can be paralyzing, but it’s the precious price we pay for loving someone dearly. Jodi’s advice about handling grief is to keep going through it and talk about your feelings, especially with a child who has experienced loss. Let them know that even though their world is shaken, they will feel safe again.
Highlights of this episode:
- 5:57 – How Jodi worked through difficult life events
- 7:20 – How Jodi’s mom inspired her book
- 12:36 – What modern motherhood is about
- 18:20 – The culture shift in parenting today
- 24:50 – Why Jodi doesn’t like the term “blended family”
- 29:05 – Realistic expectations
- 32:02 – Politics and motherhood don’t mix
- 36:45 – Motherhood and daughterhood
- 40:28 – The paralyzing effects of grief
- 44:07 – Fem Five
The Fem Five:
1. Favorite book to recommend for women?
- Anything written by Maya Angelou
2. Favorite self – care hack?
- Listening to 80’s music, all day, every day.
3. Best piece of advice and who gave it to you?
- My mom told me to keep going. A coworker told me if I want to be a writer, to write.
4. Female CEO or thought leader you’re into right now?
5. One piece of advice you’d give your five years younger self?
- It’s going to get better. It’s going to change.
This podcast and article originally appeared on NEXTfem, which is curated and hosted by Tara Padua. Tara has appeared on news outlets such as Forbes, Jezebel, and the Los Angeles Times. Please visit her site to learn more about NEXTfem and their mission to provide practical resources for the modern woman leader.