For many women, the decision to become a mom is all too often unjustly at odds with their decision to pursue a career. Not so for Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, the duo behind the acclaimed comedy series, #IMOMSOHARD. With a combined 40+ years of experience performing, teaching, and writing comedy, motherhood didn’t put a damper on their career — it added the rocket fuel.
Fresh out of shooting their television pilot with CBS, Hensley and Smedley took some time to chat with HER Magazine about motherhood, career advice, and everything in between.
“Professionally, being mothers has made us dial in to our priorities,” Smedley explains. “Family comes first no matter what. We don’t take meetings at certain times because we want to see our kids off to school, and we don’t travel for long periods of time. And here’s the secret: you don’t need to have kids to value your time and learn to say no to things.”
Learning to say ‘no’ is difficult for any woman these days, when so much seems to be expected of us — especially of moms. “The desire and need to be a perfect mom doesn’t go away even if you make jokes about it,” Hensley explains of their own struggles. “Our need for perfection comes from a place of showing just how much we love these little humans. And with anything, you have to get to a place where you let yourself off the hook — which, we as women, seldom do. So what if you eat frozen pizza three times in one week? You probably helped your kid rock an awesome school project instead. And the next week they will eat lots of vegetables and you will forget their permission slips. It’s always going to be like that.”
Adds Smedley, “We just have to help each other out, as women, as mothers — and give a high-five to the lady next to you. She needs it, and you will too.”
What makes #IMOMSOHARD so refreshing is that particular perspective: that joyous combination of sage advice wrapped in sharp, irreverent humor which reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. Because motherhood might be one of the most important jobs in the world, yes, but it’s also a hurricane of humor and to-do lists that we might need to lighten up on. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get caught in the minutia and miss the point.
“[Motherhood] is not about stuff, it’s about time,” says Smedley. “Your kids will not remember hours of playing with a fancy toy — they will remember late night dance parties and wearing their pajamas to breakfast at Denny’s. They will remember you loved and laughed. At least, that’s what we hope.”
“The other big one,” says Hensley of some typical ‘mom struggles,’ “is body image. We gotta be nicer to ourselves. We can’t let our daughters hear us talk badly about ourselves. We have to practice using positive words like ‘I look strong today’ or ‘I feel good in this vest. I look like a superhero.’ We are too unforgiving of ourselves and it impacts our kids, especially our girls. We gotta change it.”
When I ask about the initial launch of the series, they inform me that it was nothing so formal as that.
“Launch sounds so fancy. And active. Neither of which sound like us,” says Smedley.
“We decided to shoot a video after a wine-filled night of crying and laughing over the terrible and hard job that is motherhood,” says Hensley, “but had only shown in perfect Instagrams or horribly scary stories.”
“We just wanted to be a voice that reminded moms that if your kids are fed, safe, and happy-ish you are doing great,” adds Smedley. “The rest is gravy. Our whole goal or intention was just going to be ‘be honest and laugh.’”
“And drink wine,” says Hensley. “We added that part because it felt like the best way to multitask our time together.”
With a book coming out, a sitcom just wrapping up, and a national stand-up tour well under way, these ladies know a thing or two about multitasking. With a career so intertwined with their friendship, I’m curious how they manage such major decisions together.
“My Dad once told me to HALT before you made a big decision,” says Smedley. “Don’t do it if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. That really cuts down on conference calls.”
“We just try to be mindful,” agrees Hensley. “It’s important to always look out for the other and make sure everyone is doing okay. We use kind words, and if we get frazzled, we just take a breath and pour a glass. That usually helps everything.”
Now that’s a work style I can get behind: Take a breath, and pour a glass. And, the two comediennes are quick to add, don’t forget support your mom friends; we all need backup from time to time. Or, you know, all the time.
“All moms work,” says Smedley. “We have different job strata, but we are all working. Be kind to each other.”
“And if you know a mom who works in an office,” says Hensley, “make an extra casserole and take it over to her house. If you work in an office, then call your friend that works at home and ask her to have a glass of wine. She’ll be happy to get out of the house. Or the office. Whichever.”
Smedley and Hensley are incredible proof of what can happen when women build each other up — after all, it’s their friendship, not just their experience as mothers, that really brings #IMOMSOHARD to life.