My Name is NOT Mom is Coming to Canada
Meredith Masony, Tiffany Jenkins and Dena Blizzard were like a lot of moms during the pandemic — stressed, worried and wondering how to hold it all together. Between quarantine and homeschooling, the trio found a way to deal with it all — through humour. Through one of the toughest phases of life, a new business and comedic act was born and, today, My Name is Not Mom is selling out venues across the U.S — and now Canada — as audiences flock to share stories, tears and laughter about mothering.
We had a chance to sit down with two of the moms to talk about how it all began and what Canadians can expect from the show.
By Rachel Naud
I want to talk a little bit about your group “My Name is NOT Mom”. So how did this all come together?
Meredith: I’m sorry, I feel like I’m in a 1970s porn. I can’t stop looking at the background of this hotel room and this lighting.
So it started over during the pandemic. I was friends with Dena and Tiffany separately and during the pandemic. I spent a lot of time reaching out to them for just some sort of comfort or like “How are you doing this?”, “How are you surviving this?” And of course, individually, we were all with our communities because there was literally no place to go. We were all locked inside. It dawned on me one day that each of us had kids, we were all in different stages of motherhood.
So Tiffany has the littles; I’m in the middle; and Dena has the grown kids, coming out of high school and into college. I was like, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to have three female comics talk about these different stages of motherhood?” and when the world opens up, we could go back out and just give some comforts and some laughs to these moms. So we worked on creating it during the pandemic and then our first show was in July in Jacksonville in a very interesting comedy club.
Dena: That’s a nice way of saying that.
Meredith: I was being politically correct.
You’re going to be in Canada soon. What can audiences expect from your show, “My Name is NOT Mom”?
Dena: I hope that their face hurts and they pee their pants a little. That is my hope, but like Mer said, each of us would kind of do a set, Rachel. So you’ll hear Tiffany’s take on raising little ones and Meredith’s take and my take, and they’re all different—but they’re all crazy. I think it doesn’t matter where you are in that whole spectrum of motherhood, nobody feels normal, and nobody looks normal. Then there’s the part where we talk to the audience which we love—to just kind of get to know the people in the different areas we’ve visited and there are some video elements as well. So yeah, hopefully, they leave and they have a great time and parts of their body hurt from laughing so much.
I know you touched upon that you’re all in different stages of parenthood and motherhood, but how would you say your experiences are similar even though you were all in different stages?
Meredith: I think the great thing about motherhood is it’s kind of like this equalizer, right? You can be going through something and have never anticipated it but knowing that somebody else has gone through it makes you feel less alone in that moment. So it could be experiencing going through your first daughter’s period or something like that. At that moment I wanted to comfort myself because I was like “I’m clearly not old enough to have a daughter who’s got her period.” So I was only thinking about myself, but reaching out and talking to Dena and realizing “Oh my gosh, you went through this, what did you do?”
There is just something about it that kind of puts you on equal footing and it’s amazing because you genuinely feel less alone and you feel like, “Okay, everybody else has been doing this. No, it isn’t easy, but we can have a lot of laughs about it, we can feel less alone about it, we can de-stigmatize it, we can literally just pave our own way.” There’s just something really special about this show because never have I seen motherhood talked about in this manner and covering such a vast spectrum of it, from Tiffany talking about the toddler stage a bit all the way up through arguing with a 22-year-old college student.
Dena: It’s time for you to leave.
How would you say the pandemic affected the way you parent?
Dena: That’s a new question, Rachel. I think there was a lot more avoidance. Like being present was the minimum, right? You’re just like “I got to be present.” But I think everybody found it to be just so overwhelming. I think that’s why we have had such a great response to the tours. Everybody was locked in. I think everybody lowered their standards. I feel I was like, “You’re alive. It looks like you’ve been eating. Great.”
I remember one day my daughter, we have three dogs. We started fostering dogs during the pandemic and then just kept adopting them but it wasn’t a good match, so now we have three dogs. One day she said, “I’m gonna wash the dogs.” and I was like “Not all of them, we have like entire weeks to fill. Just wash one dog. Why would you wash all three? What will we do tomorrow?” My standards got so low. We were just like “Alright, let’s just spend as little time as possible.” But I also think that because women were looking for things outside of their own home, I think that that changed all of our channels in a way that was really interesting.
We all kind of lived in some way on the internet, on Facebook. But I feel like women really looked for the companionship that Meredith was talking about. Just that universality of feeling like I love you, but I want to kill you and I need you to get away from me. So when we did launch the tour, it was time for women to get out. I think that what we lost during the pandemic was that sense of community like what Meredith was talking about. We’re all going through the same thing. It just didn’t feel like it because we were all in separate places.
So yes, there’s something in common with motherhood, but there was something really in common for so many people during the pandemic and I think that laughter is the best thing we could’ve done coming out of it. It all kind of lined up. Now we’re coming to Canada to do it all over again.
Meredith, you have tweens is that correct?
Meredith: Yeah, this coming year it’ll be middle school, high school.
InBetween is geared to parents of tweens, teens, and young adults. Getting to that point of raising a tween/teen, what is your advice for getting through that stage?
Meredith: Oh my gosh. It’s a lot about biting your tongue very early on in conversations. Because you can have like the craziest conversations you can ever have with these kids and you want to just strangle them for saying ‘like’ one more time and you shouldn’t.
I think it’s about having patience and wading through these ridiculous stories to actually find the questions that they’re asking you and realizing that they’re supposed to make stupid mistakes because we all make stupid mistakes even as a 41-year-old adult. I make some really dumb mistakes at times. That’s how we learn, so don’t try to stop them from making mistakes because they’re supposed to, that’s how they’re supposed to find their path. But I’m all for some guidance. I don’t know why I’d do that, I have to think about that one. But when they do it, it’s like “Okay, what did we learn here? What’s the lesson?”
Like Dena was saying, I think the pandemic really taught me, gratefully enough, is some patience. I did find some patience because I realized, that everybody during the pandemic, missed something or something was taken away.
Whether it was school or sports, or activities, or friends or whatever, it was taken from you. So I realized as I’m looking at these kids after the first three months, six months, nine months, they were suffering some really big blows. And yeah they were being nasty and snarly, but it’s like I think you’re mad because you’ve had zero friends. How can we remedy that, while still being safe? That was tough, that was a big one for me, that was an eye-opener because they weren’t just being teens to be teens, they were being teens for probably one of the most mentally challenging times we ever experienced as adults on this planet that we know of, right?
With these separations, because they’re social creatures. That’s the other thing about us, why we crave communities so much. We’re social creatures. We want to be out with these other moms who know the things we know, who feel the things that we feel. That was a tough one as a parent to see. To watch them kind of fall apart a bit and then not really have many answers. Because I don’t know when it’s going to change when it’s going to be better.
Dena, how old are your children? They’re older, right?
Dena: So they’re coming up on birthdays, Rachel. I have a son who’s 22 and my daughter will turn 20 on Sunday, and my other daughter will turn 18 in a month. So I went through those tween years. I think that the best advice in tween years, don’t make direct eye contact. It’s not in your favour, Rachel, ever. Don’t do it. Just say things and walk away. I remember saying this to my husband and he was like “My daughter was hysterically crying about Peanut Butter.” and he just kept getting in her face trying to engage and I was like “Stop and walk away!” I’m out and took off and I said “You’re on your own. You’re poking the beast, get out of there.”
Meredith: I stopped doing that at the toddler stage!
Dena: Well that’s the thing, it took my husband like 14 years to figure it out. I was like “Read the room. Get out while it’s still good. I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” but now they’re older.
I think my greatest asset now is just shut up. Don’t say anything. Wait until somebody asks you a question and like the police are there and that’s it. That’s the only time you can have an opinion. I was just saying this morning on my morning show, I’ve been gone a lot. I go home for two to three days and then I’m gone again.
Yesterday my middle daughter wasn’t feeling great and so my son got in his car drove to her college and spent the day with her. When he came home he was like “Oh, I checked on her.” and to me, it was like the greatest thing. It was like my senior project. I have worked on this for 20 years and I left and I’m like “Are you guys going to look after each other?”
I think it’s one thing to raise your kids, but it’s another thing to raise kids that earnestly care about each other—even in your absence, right? That was like “I have graduated,” and now they don’t do the dishes. But that’s a separate issue so it’s more like an A- that I got on my senior project but I think that it’s really awesome that they’re loving each other even when I’m not there so it was good.
I guess to see them grow into young adults, right?
Dena: It is! It’s nice. It’s weird you know my youngest will graduate high school this year and that’ll be weird. The whole thing’s weird, hate the whole thing. But in other ways, I’m like “Alright, what’s up now? I made another show My Name is Not Mom.”
It’s really about that whole cycle. I feel like you do lose a lot of yourself through the parts where Tiffany is, and the parts where Meredith is. But then there’s this time that you have to kind of get parts of yourself back and I think that that’s something that whether we were working on the internet or I was travelling doing stand-up, there was always something that was just for me. Something that brought me joy. Something that filled my soul back up, so I can go home and be a better mom and I think that that’s what this show is about.
Whether you’re listening to the stand-up and the stories we’re telling, or you’re just watching three women who are like completely overwhelmed by motherhood but are still doing our best to come together to bring these stories to women to say “You’re good. You’re going to be fine. Crazy is normal, and hopefully, you get a night off to laugh about it and when things go sideways again tomorrow, you’ll find it funny.”
Why is it so important to retain your sense of humour throughout parenting from day one until all grown up?
Meredith: I mean it’s always better to laugh than cry, right? I mean you got to find those moments; obviously, if you ask three comedians, how do we cope? I would assume we would all say humour, right? Because that’s what we do. We find ways to cope and manage because there are a lot of big feelings in parenting. I mean in life in general, but finding the funny has helped maintain some semblance of sanity for me personally as I waded through this.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons raising children and then raising children in a pandemic and now trying to go back to normal and do all of those things. It’s just an amazing feeling to get to laugh alongside them. It’s one thing to live with a group of people and tell a funny story and think “Well I think that was a funny story.” It’s a whole other feeling when you’re in the room together and you can just feel the laughter and the vibe—like, they got it. I got it, this worked. That’s what this show is, it works. It’s a whole lot of fun.
There’s one segment that we do where we have the moms send their parenting pictures from their phones and that’s a lot of fun because you get to see some crazy shit that these moms will send in and they’ll allow us to put up on a big screen for the whole theatre, and that’s a lot of fun. Like I said, it’s an equalizer. Their children are naked as well. Good job, ma’am. Good job.
So you’re coming to Canada soon, how can Canadians get tickets to “My Name is NOT Mom”?
Dena: You can go to My Name is NOT Mom. It has a list of all our shows and dates. If you want, you can also do a meet and greet before the shows. Where you can come in and maybe you have a favourite of the three of us… well, you’re going to meet and greet all of us. It doesn’t matter, you’re going to get a ticket and you’re going to meet all of us and it’s going to be great. We’re excited.
This is the first time that when we go from venue to venue, we have to fly. We drive a lot, so we were like “There’s no driving in Canada. Get on a plane and you’re heading out.” So it’ll be great. I’ve been to Canada once. We went to Niagara Falls, the requisite American trip to Niagara Falls. It’ll be great to see the country and find out about all the things that we find to be funny and different. I’m excited.