Kristin Hensley and Jennifer Smedley are so tired. They have no idea which city they are in, when we talk to them on Tuesday morning. They think, perhaps, Atlanta. They do know it’s really hot there.
“We don’t even know what day it is,” Hensley says.
The women behind the Facebook page and video podcast #IMomSoHard are on a summer road trip with their families. Unlike your road trip, theirs involves a bus, four kids and two husbands, some sight-seeing, but mostly hanging out in hotel swimming pools or on the bus. At night the moms go on stage presenting the live version of their podcast. They arrive in Austin on Saturday for a show at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater.
Their Facebook page now has more than 1 million likes. One of their recent videos, “I Swimsuit So Hard,” about why it’s so difficult to find a swimsuit has more than 18 million views.
They wanted to connect with their audience in ways only a live show could. Hensley says it wouldn’t make sense to have this following and not want to connect. “We wanted to see our moms,” she says. “We wanted to meet them. The moms have been incredible. We’re having such a good time.”
The live show is a little more late night than the video podcast. They talk about crushes and sex after marriage and their bodies.”It’s like sitting around the bar with your friends,” Hensley says. “We get a little loose.”
The two women are both from Nebraska and both moved to Los Angeles in their 20s. They were in the same comedy scene and actually lived a block apart for two years before they met. They were hanging out in a theater parking lot after a show, probably drinking a beer. They’ve been best friends after that.
The idea or #IMomSoHard came one night after Smedley came over to Hensley’s house. They had both had a particularly bad day. Smedley was “in the throws of nursing and my son was dropping F-bombs at preschool,” Hensley says. They had a minute to talk to an adult and were soon laughing so hard they were crying. They wondered why doesn’t anyone show what it really is to be a mother, not the fake stuff of poetic pictures on Instagram.
“We have such a fun chemistry,” Hensley says. “Our comic sensibility is really different. Whenever we perform, we make each other laugh.”
Now they film regular videos in Smedley’s playroom or kitchen. They write the episodes, but alot of what appears online is improvised.
“When we make the video, our goal is that the camera is our third friend,” Smedley says.
She edits the video (She learned how to watching YouTube) and then shows it to Hensley. Behind the scenes is a baby sitter who is feeding their children ages 6 to 2 pizza, and Smedley’s husband who direct them. Hensley’s husband organized the tour. Smedley also dresses them because Hensley would rather not go shopping.
By the time they filmed their third video, which was about hemorrhoids, they knew they were onto something. They saw a giant increase in Facebook likes as well as started getting phone calls from fans. Fans also send them things. Recently, a fan sent Hensley a certain yellow bowl that she had failed for years to return to Smedley until Smedley’s husband eventually took it back.
Fans have mostly been positive. They want to be their friends. Even when one says something unkind, other fans will call them out.
One thing they think cuts down on the cattiness toward thems is that they purposefully don’t give advice about parenting. “We’re putting ourselves out there,” Hensley says. “I am flawed. I mess up. I feel vulnerable. I feel weak. Most come in there and say, ‘You’re doing great!'”
“Every mom has felt the same,” Smedley says. They hear from moms, grandmoms and great-grandmoms.
“It’s the universal language of being a mom,” Hensley says. “We’ve all had those great days. ‘Man I’m crushing it today.'”
“I don’t have a lot of crushing it days,” Smedley says.
They wanted to be the alternative to the advice that is out there for moms, especially for moms in their first year, when they can’t ask anyone at 4 a.m. what to do, so they go online to ask the internet, because it’s the only one up at that hour. And the internet is all about being a perfect mom with perfect children.
“We’re like, ‘Let’s do the other side of the coin,'” Hensley says.
They really don’t have a line to cross when it comes to what they will talk about, but they don’t talk a lot about their kids.
“Moms don’t want to talk about their kids,” Hensley says. “They think about their kids 24-7.”
“If you get three minutes at the end of the day … it’s nice not to talk about it,” Smedley says. Instead, it’s nice to watch some fellow moms talking about their body issues or how they lie to their husbands or what crazy beauty regimen they are trying.
They have a television show in development. “The thing that makes it exciting is it’s a way to hit more of our moms,” Hensley says. “We’re going to continue to do the web series,” she assures us, and they plan on returning to the tour next summer. They also want to work on a philanthropy project.
“Give us several years,” Smedley reminds Hensley, knowing that they are first and foremost moms first.
#IMomSoHard Mom’s Night Out Summer Break Tour
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, 310 W. Second St.