What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood

a podcast with Margaret Ables and Amy Wilson

Episode 19: Does Messy Matter?

Does messy matter? In our kids’ rooms, in our front halls, in our kitchens? We’re not talking about hoarder-level mess; we’re talking about the tendency toward entropy and chaos in any house with multiple children who play two travel sports and/or bring home backpacks brimming with loose slips of paper every afternoon. Margaret’s house is pretty…
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Episode 18: When To Let Kids Quit

Out of all the things we stress about as parents, whether to let our seven-year-olds quit the violin seems like it shouldn’t matter that much. If they wouldn’t have made first chair in the Vienna Symphony anyhow, what difference does it make? But letting our kids quit— or making them tough it out— gets at…
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Episode 17: Yelling Less

When it comes to mom-yelling we hold these truths to be self-evident: never yelling is not possible; less yelling is desirable. Let’s be real: there are times when every parent’s got to yell. Here’s how Lisa Belkin put it in The New York Times: When all else fails, a few claps of oral thunder certainly…
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Episode 16: Sibling Rivalry

    Sibling rivalry: harmless rite of passage? Or everything that made you the neurotic adult you are today? The inevitable part of it seems clear. Dr. Ron Taffel says siblings are like lion cubs, born with an intense and innate need to tussle. But if that fighting it’s normal, it isn’t always benign. So when…
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Episode 15: Mom Worsts

  What’s the WORST part of being a mom? We put out the call on our Facebook page and received an avalanche of responses, each deserving in its own very horrible way. In this episode, Amy and Margaret advocate for their own lists of Mom Worsts, and discuss: —whether that most classic of Mom Worst…
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Episode 14: Summer Plans

  Here’s what all parents can agree upon: Summer need not be another Christmas, one lasting for three full months. It’s okay- actually, it’s imperative– for our kids to be a little bit bored. The trick is to find the right balance between your kids having too much to do and nothing at all to do. Back in…
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Episode 13: Birth Order- Parenting Each Child Best (More or Less)

      The study of birth order— how one’s placement amongst siblings can shape one’s personality— began in 1874, when Charles Darwin’s cousin noticed that eldest sons were overrepresented as members of the Royal Society.  In other words, sibling rivalry is survival of the fittest, playing out in real time right at your dinner…
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Episode 12: Helping Kids Deal with Disappointment

    Not to toot our own horns or anything, but when it comes to disappointment, we’ve got vast experience. Amy claims an acting career is a surefire express route to let-down expertise; Margaret claims a screenwriting career might be even more useful.  And while we’ve still turned out quite nicely, thank you, that doesn’t make…
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Episode 11: Do Manners Still Matter?

Manners have been around since at least 2300 BC, when Ptah-Hotep wrote on papyrus that one should refrain from “speaking evilly” and from staring at people. And as parents, we say manners still matter— to quote Margaret’s mother, no one likes a bratty kid. But which manners still matter? We think author Tamar Adler put it…
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Episode 10: What To Say When You Don’t Have a Clue

  We average about one conversation a week, with one or other of our children, during which we are suddenly at a total loss as to what to say. Perhaps you too have had a few Tough Questions like these: Is Santa real? What is racism? If I go to heaven, will my toys come too?…
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Episode 9: Dividing the Workload

In any home, there’s the workload everyone can see: the dirty dishes, the broken crayons under the dining room table, the laundry to be folded. And in most of our homes, that workload is divided more equitably than it was in the homes where we grew up. But then there’s the workload that lives in…
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