The “Stop Telling Me to Workout” Edition

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Jamilah Lemieux: This episode contains explicit language. Welcome to the Mom and Dad are Fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Monday, May 23rd. The SAT telling me to workout edition and Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding Parenting column, and mom to Naima, who is nine. And we live in Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. I write the homeschool and family travel blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to three littles. Henry, who’s ten, Oliver who’s eight, and Teddy who’s five. And we live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Zak Rosen: I’m Zak Rosen. I make a podcast called The Best Advice Show, and I live with my family in Detroit. My oldest, Noah, is four and my son Amy is one.

Jamilah Lemieux: Today on the show, we have a doozy. Our listener is in her second trimester of pregnancy, and her husband has been relentlessly pushing her to work out, despite her saying that she feels tired. She says he has good intentions, but there’s got to be a way to get him to back off. Right. But before we get into that, we’re going to start with our own triumphs and fails. Elizabeth, do you have a triumph or fail to share with us this week?

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Elizabeth Newcamp: So I’m going to share a triumph, which is that Oliver had his birthday and actually this year asked to have a little birthday party. In the past, he has shunned all things birthday and attention. And so he asked if he could take three of his little friends, two from homeschool and one from fencing, to build a bear and hand bill to bear with them. And so we thought, okay, perfect. And then he wanted to have ice cream. So we, we took them. They are all like awkward and cute as can be. And if you have not been to Build-A-Bear, you pick up like a deflated bear with a hole in it, and then they stick it on the stuffing machine and they, they stuff it up.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: So he was so great though, because the one friend whose name is also Oliver like doesn’t know his other friends. And he was doing such a good job of like introducing and staying with everyone. It was just it was a really wonderful thing to see. But he lets all his friends make their bears and he’s super attentive to them, like, oh, you chose such a great bear, all of this. And he finally does his bear. And we have this wonderful man helping us. He’s like filling the bears. And for each kid, he does their own thing, you know, like, okay, before we check in. So them up, like, touches, ears, give them a final hug, all the stuff the kids are just like eating it up.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: And at the very end, we kind of prompt Oliver to say like, thank you to this guy. And he looks at us and then looks at the man and then just bows and walks away. And luckily the guy thought it was like, like very cute, but we were all just like, what happened? So, like, you know, he’s like, chatting. And I guess that is just how he shows his, his appreciation. I’ve taken him to one too many yoga class or something, but it was really great. It was nice to just see him have friends. It was nice to see him have friends, nice to see him have fun with his friends. And we did it just them and then came back to the house and had his brothers join us and everybody else’s whole families and had some ice cream was really great.

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Zak Rosen: Now, I had our first T-ball practice yesterday, and I know I’ve spoken about my excitement about that, but we learned that it’s going to be practice twice a week and then games 1 to 3 times a week. And this is our introduction to, you know, Noah’s four. And so this is like our first time realizing like how much we’ve been off extracurricular wise. And let’s just say one activity.

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Zak Rosen: We also have been trying to get her to do a weekly swim lesson. And we realized last night, like, oh, shit, like T-ball could be five times a week, swimming once a week. Like, what have we gotten ourselves into? And this is happening at the same time as Amy. My son has been having some sleeping issues again, you know, he’s nearly two and was up like three times last night and just this like thought that I had after.

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Zak Rosen: Now I got back from T-ball. What have I gotten myself into? It just kept, like ringing around in my head last night to where it didn’t become just about T-ball, but it was just like when I couldn’t sleep because, you know, Amy was screaming. I just kept thinking, like, what have I gotten myself into? It was just like, generally just like in life, like by having kids. And it was one of these things where like, I don’t want to call it a regret, but like, it was like, if I’m being honest, it’s just like, what have I gotten myself into? What have I gotten myself into? And you know how you get in those spirals when you can’t sleep? That was just a dark one last night. It was just like my shadow side, just like rearing its ugly head. And it was that dark night. What have I gotten myself into? What have I gotten myself into? And, you know, when I saw their faces this morning, it it kind of went away, but just kind of.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: We’ve avoided baseball because of that, because when I see my friends that started it, it’s like they can’t just practice once and have one game. It’s like we’re going to have a full major league schedule in one month. Yeah.

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Zak Rosen: They’re kids. What are you doing? Who wants this? Who wants the schedule?

Elizabeth Newcamp: I feel that all sports are going that way, though. Like, I actually was with a mom this morning talking about that because her daughter really loves gymnastics and is. In like a good she’s good and she’s like on the team, but she doesn’t want to practice seven days a week, you know, see what she wants to like be on a team and go compete. She likes the competing and everyone’s like, Are you hoping to make the Olympics? The girls like, I’m I’m in fourth grade. Like, I like to cartwheel. Yeah. And I enjoy the competition, so I want to be on the team. But like, this is not my life and it feel, you know, they’re adding an extra practice and all that. I just feel like we’ve all lost our minds.

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Jamilah Lemieux: So nameless class made books like they wrote books. They were given a few different prompts and they were able to have them printed and bound and we were given the opportunity to order copies. So I think each kid got one paperback copy of the book for free and then if you wanted to get additional copies. So I chose to order an additional hardback copy for myself and a second paperback copy. But the books got sent home on a day where Naima went to her dad’s house. So she gives him one verse and like, So here’s my fail.

Jamilah Lemieux: So she comes on yesterday and she’s got the books and she’s so excited and she pulls it out from behind her back. And instead of just being proud of her and saying, Well, your book, I said, Well, where’s the hardback one? And she was like, Oh, it’s a daddy’s house. And I was like, But I bought it, you know? And I was just confused because I paid the money to have the nice one and I was frustrated, you know. And so Naima was just so upset and she was just like, you know, I can’t believe that was the first thing you didn’t say, look, your book, I’m so excited about it. You said, Where’s the hardcover one? And I felt so terrible and so bad, especially when I got to the page in the book. That’s about me and I have to read it to you all because it’s the sweetest thing ever.

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Jamilah Lemieux: She wrote a book called Dear Family, and there’s letters to all of her family members, her parents, her stepmother, her brother, her dog and her cat. And so this was the letter to me, and it was the longest one in the book. She drew the cutest pictures of us together at the beach wearing matching bikinis. And she said, Dear Mommy, I love you so much. I’m grateful for everything you do for me. In the words of Minnie Riperton, loving you is easy because you’re beautiful. And every day of my life is filled with loving you. Mommy, you are special to me because you’re nice pretty the lady who’s loved me ever since I popped out to you The lady I learn manners from you make me, me and I love it. Remember when we lived in New York and I was, quote unquote, sick? One day you gave me breakfast in bed and I was using my iPad. Yeah, I felt like a princess. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for telling me. I look beautiful every day I look up to you. Love Naima.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: You got to keep that in your hiding spot. So now when you want to kill her, you’re like, But she wrote me this letter.

Zak Rosen: Most adults will never write a letter that good.

Jamilah Lemieux: She just closes all the letter. And she my mother also got a letter, which I’m like, clearly, you’re the favorite grandparent because you’ve got like a bunch of grandparents and she’s the only one who made the book. But the letters all close with, like, the nicest lines. Like, I look up to you, you inspire me. Like she’s just the sweetest So shame on me for immediately thinking where’s my hardcover book? And not just melting what she presented to me, but when I actually looked at it, I cried and felt terrible.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s so lovely. But seriously, how are you getting your hard copy back?

Jamilah Lemieux: I know I’m going. Well, she’s already so. She was like I asked. I was like, well, bring it back. And she was like, Well, can you erase Sharpie? So I guess she like maybe autographed it to them or something. So they like just got my book. It’s fine. There’s a sticker on.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Happy Father’s Day.

Jamilah Lemieux: Happy Father’s Day, David. But I can order more copies. So I think that’s just what I’m going to do. I’m going to order myself another copy of.

Elizabeth Newcamp: This that needs to be a hard copy to keep forever, which obviously you need, which is why you ought to just have one.

Jamilah Lemieux: Which is why I ordered it to begin with. But that’s okay.

Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s a great triumph and fail. But I the letter is the triumph.

Jamilah Lemieux: I think I will always take credit for Naima. All right. Let’s take a quick break. And when we come back, we’ll get into today’s listener question. If you’re new to our show, welcome. Whether you’re a parent, educator or just interested in this wild journey, we’re so glad to have you here. Our mom and dad are fighting. We share our parenting triumphs and fails, offer some advice and share recommendations. The things we love. We’re here twice a week on Monday and Thursday, so subscribe to Never Miss an episode.

Jamilah Lemieux: All right. Shall we hear this listener question? Yes, we should. It’s being read, as always, by the fabulous Sasha Leonhard.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Dear mom and dad, I am in the second trimester of my first pregnancy and it’s been really hard. I started my pregnancy fat but have always lived an active lifestyle. Hiking, riding, bikes, etc. When I got pregnant, my husband, who is also very active, agreed we should try to stay in shape during my pregnancy in order to help us be active parents. Mom and Dad. I had no idea how sick this pregnancy would make me. I experienced morning sickness to the point of vomiting several times a day and lost £10 in my first trimester. My regular exercise regime of using a stationary bike was impossible because the movement made me throw up. My exercise routine was reduced down to my mile walk to and from work. I walk to work about five days a week, although I might drive if it’s raining, but my husband keeps bothering me about.

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Jamilah Lemieux: Working out more.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I’ve told him I’m just too tired now that I’m in my second trimester. My nausea is basically gone, but I’m still tired and I feel like I’m in a brain fog. I’m also having pretty bad round ligament pain.

Jamilah Lemieux: My husband says working out will help make me feel better.

Elizabeth Newcamp: I still haven’t gained back any weight from before the first trimester. I’m just so tired and I want him to leave me alone. I’ve tried explaining it, but he read a first time dad book that says it’s important for the mother to keep exercising through the pregnancy. And he’s taking it so literally. He’s also made other suggestions, like, I should stop drinking oat milk and switch back to dairy so I can get more calcium. He’s obsessed with keeping me healthy, but he’s just making me crazy. Mom and Dad, I know he sounds like a total ass right now, but I swear he’s so loving and caring. He’s just stuck on this one thing, and I don’t know what to do. Please help. Tired brain, foggy. Oatmeal.

Jamilah Lemieux: Clever. Well, this fucking sucks.

Elizabeth Newcamp: This man needs control of something. It makes grabbing for the wrong thing. So I think he needs all the baby related products. There are so many things here he can do that has nothing to do with your body and the way you are feeling. So, first of all, dear, loving dad, just stop. Her body hurts. She does not want to get out of bed. You are making her feel bad. If she wanted to get out of bed and walk. And she may later. She will. If she wants to drink. Whatever you let her drink, whatever. Because literally her organs are moving all over to grow, baby.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: So I think he should go to baby CPR. I think he should do the preschool research. I think he should maybe make all the meals. He’s really into healthy eating. He should take over the meal prep. I think he could organize figuring out the clothing situation and the closet situation all under your direction, of course. But I feel like this man is grasping for control and wants to participate in this pregnancy and has grabbed the wrong thing. It’s the most helpful I could be because I’m like, Shut up, dude.

Jamilah Lemieux: That you go last because you’re a man and now you’re upset with men. I agree. I think that’s a great idea. Elizabeth. He clearly needs something to do because he is bored and he can put all that energy into doing productive things that are helpful to getting you all ready for this child. You all need to have a serious conversation about the difference between his intention and how it’s making you feel. You’re not feeling well physically. You’re doing the best that you can. It doesn’t matter if he wants to be helpful. He’s making you feel like shit by nagging you, you know about not working out while you’re pregnant. And that’s just completely unacceptable. And I think you should let him know that you appreciate that he wants what’s best for you and the baby.

Jamilah Lemieux: But what he must understand as the person who is not capable of housing a developing human life and someone who’s not currently doing it at the moment, that you are doing the absolute best that you can, that you care about working out and you care about eating healthy and all that good stuff, theoretically.

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Jamilah Lemieux: But what you have to do right now is survive this pregnancy as best you can. And if you decide that you want to talk to your doctor because you have an interest in continuing your exercise routine or and I would suggest I would not recommend this to you because I’m not in the business of telling pregnant women what to do with their bodies. But there’s nothing wrong with talking to your doctor about.

Jamilah Lemieux: Hey, I used to work out on the stationary bike, but I. I’m getting this nausea now. Is there something else I can do? Because I don’t want to have to start my fitness routine all over again after I’ve had the baby. If you feel that way, you should go for it. But you should not have any pressure from somebody who’s completely outside of his realm of understanding and expertise to do those things.

Jamilah Lemieux: And I think you need to be very to the point when you let him know that this line of helpfulness is not help and will not work for you going forward. And you know that you need for him to respect your feelings because they are volatile right now. So, like, you’re not just insulting me, you’re insulting and frustrating me at a point where I might not be in control of my emotions. This letter could have been very different in two weeks, you know, it could have been I threw a bowl of oatmeal at him because he came up with this shit while I was trying to eat my oatmilk oatmeal that I love.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Which, by the way, is the only thing that tastes good to me right now. You know, like, I can’t stand the smell of dairy. I don’t care about its protein. I don’t like it. I think you bring up a valid point, too, that like her mental health is at stake, like and that is as important as, if not more important than physical health. That doesn’t like her. Physical health is not even it’s fine, you know, like some perceived risk to her physical health, the mental strain you are putting on this woman. It’s too much.

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Jamilah Lemieux: And she lost weight in first trimester. This she hasn’t gained back. So it’s not like, oh, I’ve put on £25 in my first trimester and there, you know, my doctor’s concerned about gestational diabetes. And so my husband is trying to encourage me to monitor my weight. Like there’s no reason for him to, you know, other than this book that said, it’s good for women to work out when they’re pregnant. He’s standing on nothing here. What do you have to say for yourself, Zach? Why? Why are men, Zach?

Elizabeth Newcamp: Now speak to this husband.

Zak Rosen: Husband, Mr. Oatmilk. First of all, listen to what Jamila and Elizabeth just said and do this thing that takes some restraint. Next time you’re about to, you know, quote unquote, offer help in this way. Do this thing called weight. It’s an acronym. Why am I talking? I’m going to take your partner’s word for it that you’re trying to help.

Zak Rosen: But just notice that, first of all, she doesn’t want help in this way and just stop short. Like if you’re impulsively, compulsively, I’m guilty of sheer. Has a really hard time drinking water. And sometimes I’m like, paternalistic and, like, overbearing about, like, come on, drink water and stuff. And she’s like, Yeah, because I want her to be healthy and I want her to help. But I know that the way in which I do it sometimes is not helpful. And so you just need to pause and then go take care of some other things, like Elizabeth said, that are actually helpful, you know, build the crib, make dinners, clean the house. Like, do all that. Redirect your energy that way and wait. Why am I talking? Wait.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: If you want to help, ask her. This is like the problem is that people assume that it’s like particularly when you’re pregnant or when you have a newborn, people like assume the help that you need. It’s like, just ask her what? Instead of worrying about what kind of milk she’s drinking, you know? Hey, can I do something for you right now? Can I bring you something? Stop trying to offer what you think is right.

Jamilah Lemieux: What are you doing? How much have you earned? Any extra money during my pregnancy? What have you done with your useless as build a crib?

Elizabeth Newcamp: She’s literally making a person inside of her body. Like while you’re doing the weight. Remember that? She’s building a person that’s, like, a lot of work. A lot of work. She doesn’t need to also walk.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Also, I want to say, when you’re the tired that comes when you are pregnant, anyone who’s been pregnant will know. This is like a tired that I cannot explain to people that have not been pregnant. And maybe there are a million other conditions in which you probably feel a different type of tired, but it is tired that no sleep will fix. You are just tired and a walk will not make you not tired.

Jamilah Lemieux: No, you’re being consumed. There is an alien life force inside of you eating off of your soul for ten months.

Elizabeth Newcamp: And when that baby comes out, the option to sit down is gone. So let her sit down now, because the baby is going to be like, get up and then you feel bad and you stand up and you balance the baby. Let’s sit down. Just go build the crib, learn a new skill, diaper changing practice, waking up in the middle of the night, set alarms and just wake up at random hours and be amazing.

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Zak Rosen: The CPR is also a very good idea that I still haven’t done and I should have.

Elizabeth Newcamp: Well, I think someone in the house should always take CPR. I mean, I think a lot of moms do it. But I think if he really wants to do something that’s like, how can I enrich the life of this baby? Go get certified in CPR. So if anything ever happens, you know what to do.

Jamilah Lemieux: Well, tired brain, foggy oat, milk lover. We hope that this helps husband get your shit together.

Jamilah Lemieux: Everyone else, you got somebody you want to select? Send us an email at Mom and Dad at Slate.com or send us the voice memo. We love those. Sometimes we even play them on the show. Before we get out of here, it’s time for some recommendations. Zach, what do you have for us?

Zak Rosen: I am going to recommend the work of Stephen Root, the actor Stephen Root. You might know him from Office Space and Newsradio, but right now he’s in Barrie. Have you watched Barry on HBO? No. It’s the Bill Hader show. I think it’s a masterful show. But Stephen Root, who has a kind of a smaller role in this show as this guy Fuchs, who basically is a guy who organises contract killers. His performance on this show and just in general is anytime I see him, he’s just like he just like stands out for this kind of subtle artistry as an actor. I appreciate actors and filmmaking, but something about Steven in particular, I’m always just so dazzled by him. And it just reminds me, like, man, people can just, like, transcend a moment in art sometimes. And I’ve just been thinking a lot about the great character actor Stephen Root Barry random recommendation today, but like, I can’t take my mind off his performance. And Barry.

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Elizabeth Newcamp: I’m doing my yearly summer reminder that fourth graders are free in national parks and you can go to every kid outdoors dot gov and get your free pass. So if you had a fourth grader this year and didn’t do that, you can do that for the summer. If you have a child that is becoming a fourth grader, go and do that. You just fill out a little form and print out something and you and your entire family can go to all of the national parks and pretty much anything run by federal lands for free. It is a wonderful way to get out or if you’re looking for something to do.

Elizabeth Newcamp: There are national park properties pretty much everywhere. They of course, have Junior Ranger badges that are can be done by any kid, but usually the badges themselves are geared at kind of the fourth grade. So you’re in this sweet spot and it’s just a nice if you’re looking for something free to do the summer and want to go visit these places, you can go get your pass and give that. They have all kinds of they have, you know, military gets a deal. Seniors get to do all kinds of stuff. But every fourth grader in the country and their families can go to national parks for free to go check it out. Every kid outdoors dot gov.

Jamilah Lemieux: All right, well, I am recommending the show hacks on HBO. I am behind I think it’s now on its second season and I’m halfway through bingeing the first. And it’s really funny. It stars Jean Smart, who I’m sure you recognize. I know her best friend, Designing Women, and she plays a somewhat pioneering comedian who ends up making a fortune for herself, selling products on QVC and becomes a somewhat watered down version of the humorist that she once was. But she performs. She has a Vegas residency. And so, you know, she’s in the later years of her career and trying to figure out what’s next.

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Jamilah Lemieux: And she ends up getting hooked up with a for lack of a better description, I say a Lena Dunham, ESQ, young writer who has gotten herself canceled after an inappropriate Twitter joke. And she needs a break. And so they’re an unlikely duo, but they get on very well and start working together. And it’s just a really fun show, something you can kind of turn your brain off and enjoy. It doesn’t make you think too hard. There’s laughs and great performances. So Hacks on HBO starring Jean Smart. I know it got nominated for a bunch of awards and all that stuff.

Zak Rosen: I agree.

Jamilah Lemieux: I watch that you like it.

Zak Rosen: Those are my two shows, Barry and Hacks right now. Hacks is great.

Jamilah Lemieux: Okay, it’s so good. All right.

Jamilah Lemieux: Well, that is it for our show. But don’t you worry. We’ll be back in your feeds on Thursday. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it. Also, if you rely on this show for parenting advice, consider signing up for Slate. Plus, it’s the best way to support us. Members will never hear another ad on any Slate podcast and to sign up now, go to Slate.com, slash mom and dad. Plus again that Slate.com slash mom and dad. Plus this episode of Mom and Dad Fighting is produced by Jasmine Ellis and Rosemary Belson for Elizabeth Newcamp and Zak Rosen and Jamilah Lemieux. Thank you for listening.