Editor’s note: Today’s newsletter intro is by Katherine Goldstein, creator and host of the popular reported narrative podcast The Double Shift. The Double Shift’s second season just launched this week.
“We don’t think there’s enough that’s interesting or compelling about being a working mother to make a whole show about it.”
This was the reason a big money podcast executive gave me for why they were declining to develop The Double Shift, my podcast idea I’d piloted with them, into a full show.
I was completely demoralized. I’d spent most of my career climbing the ladder in New York media and felt that if I didn’t have the backing of a prestigious media company, maybe my idea for a reported show about a new generation of working mothers—that wouldn’t be about parenting or kids—wasn’t as great as I’d thought. But I did some soul searching, and realized I didn’t want to give up on the idea so easily. ( I ended up making this particularly tough time in my life into an episode for the first season.)
At the time, there certainly was a lot of “mom content” out there, but most of it focused on tips and tricks and service journalism, or personal essays from relatively privileged, usually white women who live in big cities. I knew there were way more stories to tell that could help challenge how society sees mothers and how we see ourselves, which I believe is an important step in the long-term fight to create more gender equity throughout society. No major media company I spoke to was interested in partnering with me on the show, so I got grants to fund the production costs of the first season.
That stinging, sexist critique became a mantra for me to be sure I was finding amazing, unexpected stories to tell. Some of my favorite episodes from Season 1, which launched back in February, include the story of a 24-hour childcare center in Las Vegas, used mostly by single moms who go to school during the day and work overnight. I loved following around the campaign of Ashton Clemmons, the mom of three little kids who ran for the North Carolina state legislature in 2018, highlighting what the largely new phenomenon of women with young kids running for office really looks like. (She won.) We visited brothels, and boardrooms and talked to a Muslim sex educator about postpartum bodies and reclaiming sexual power.
My biggest fear when launching the show was that people wouldn’t get what was different about The Double Shift, and it wouldn’t find its audience—basically, that no one would care. I’m happy to say that that fear was unfounded. Despite the fact that we didn’t have a big network and a huge marketing budget behind us, the first season got some great press attention and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. And now we’re back for Season 2.
This season, we have a theme, and it’s “The Revolution Begins at Home.” After focusing a lot on workplaces, I wanted to turn the tables and highlight an idea that I think is really important: Working moms aren’t going to get ahead in work and in society if our personal lives are stuck in the past. And I want to think about it in a big-picture way—not just telling moms they need to get up at 5am to make it all work. This season we’re gonna explore the notion that families don’t have to be conventional to be successful with a visit to two delightful outside-the-box families in Canada along with talking to a transgender parent who’s raising his family in a co-housing community. We’ll tackle the mental load with the fabulous author Angela Garbes, and showcase how important communities are in getting us to where we, as working mothers, hope to go.
I am also grappling with ideas around how to rethink how my own family life and professional ambitions intersect—I am six months pregnant with twins (in addition to having a four-year-old.) I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about this life development and what it means for my own double shift and The Double Shift later in the season.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Most unbiased news sources?
- How to deal with Teen apathy and lack of drive
- I feel like women are told that “society judges you if you’re a woman without kids or who doesn’t want kids.” Has anyone experienced the opposite?