Faye Smith worries about the examples she’s setting for her sons – ages 9, 10, and 14. Faye is working on her Master’s degree in Psychology, and hopes to one day open a 24-hour peer support agency in Warren, Pa.
But she also gets irritated, and has a hard time hiding her frustrations from her sons. She worries, she says, that they’re taking in all of her bad habits and not enough of her good ones.
But, as she reveals throughout our conversation, Faye is setting some great examples for her sons as well. Getting clean, resolving arguments with her husband of 16 years, finishing one degree and going on for a second, setting personal goals and not giving up (even if that means digging textbooks out of the trash can she just threw them into with tears in her eyes), and being humble enough to admit when she’s wrong and accept feedback from her kids are just a few of the great examples – in my opinion – Faye is setting.
What I love about Faye is that she’s pretty honest about the fact that she’s struggling. She’s not afraid to admit that, even eight years clean and with an undergraduate degree under her belt, it doesn’t make mommin’ any easier.
“It’s like the Roseanne show. That’s what we live like.”
Faye identifies with one TV mom I also identify with heavily – Roseanne Conner. Money is tight. The house is rarely spotless. People are stressed, and while everyone loves each other, there’s a lot of real issues on everyone’s shoulders.
Trying to make interpersonal relationships work smoothly when you’re concerned about money, time, and energetic bankruptcy can feel impossible. Faye talks about losing her patience, yelling, having blowups, and basically behaving “badly.” Or what most would consider “bad” behavior for moms.
And it’s not great behavior. But it’s understandable, if you’re able to put yourself in Faye’s shoes. So many of these interviews rely on the listener’s ability to empathize with the subject of the interview. My job is to elicit stories, reflection, and (perhaps most importantly) laughter over it all from the people I interview. But your job as the listener is to suspend yourself for an hour or so and accept our invitation to step into the shoes of another person. With all the conflicts, all the humor, and all the struggles.
By doing that we gain, I think, a better understanding of the zeitgeist of motherhood at the beginning of the 2020’s. And that’s what I want to do here. I want to capture the voice – the metaphorical voice – of mothers at the beginning of this new decade, and Faye’s voice is loud and clear: my hypothesis is correct, and mommin’ ain’t easy.
By making an effort to understand others, we’re forced to reflect on ourselves. And, if our minds are open and if we’re willing to lean into the discomfort that comes bundled with the experience of self-reflection, we stand to gain a hell of a lot. Faye’s humor and resilience are qualities we could all use more of.
I hope you enjoy hearing our conversation as much as I did having it. And, if you did enjoy this episode, come back next week for a new one. And, in the meantime, share this episode with a friend you think might like it too.