Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley are two moms with a message: It’s OK to be imperfect — as long as you have wine.
The stars of the #IMomSoHard web series joke about everything from Spanx and hot “Game of Thrones” characters to postpartum depression in their videos — some of which have millions of views — all while enjoying a variety of fruity, boozy beverages.
Their goal is to break down some of the societal expectations of motherhood one quip at a time. “The point of this whole thing is that we’re not awesome moms,” Hensley explains in the very first #IMomSoHard video. “We’re good moms, but she just forgot her kid’s name,” she continues, pointing at a mortified Smedley, who started off the episode by fumbling over her then-7-month-old daughter’s name (it’s Delilah).
Their videos live mostly on their Facebook page, which has over 1 million likes, but Hensley and Smedley also host episodes on their YouTube account and their website.
Roughly one year after starting the web series, the duo, who are from Nebraska and now live in Los Angeles, have been taking their comedy act across the country on their “Mom’s Night Out” tour. Ahead of their live show at Baltimore’s Modell Lyric on Saturday, they discussed the origin of #IMomSoHard, the pitfalls and rewards of motherhood, and what audiences can expect. This interview has been edited and condensed.
What was your motivation for starting the web series?
Kristin Hensley: There’s this voice missing out there for moms that’s like, “Hey, we don’t expect perfect. I don’t know why the internet is expecting perfect.” We’re fine with you showing up with dirty hair and a stain on your shirt. As long as you get out of the house and come over and have a glass of wine, we’re good with that. I think we just felt like everything on the internet made you feel bad. In fact, Yoplait [which is sponsoring the “Mom’s Night Out” tour] did a study that social media makes moms feel terrible about themselves, and they feel judged and they actually alter the way they’re parenting because of social media. That’s a big drag. Jen and I really felt like there was too much inspiration and sadness and tutorials and we just wanted to laugh a little bit.
Your videos have tackled everything about being a woman and a mother today, and I’m sure you’ve gotten feedback. How has doing the videos given you more insight into yourselves and how other moms are coping with daily life?
Jen Smedley: I think the thing we’re constantly astounded by is how everyone is dealing with the same stuff just sort of in varying degrees. We got a message on Facebook the other day from someone who had been at the live show and she summed it up very nicely by saying that “the thunderous laughter when you guys say things is our way of saying ‘me too.’” It’s amazing that we’ve all been dealing with this probably from the cavemen times and nobody’s told the mom story. Kristin says it’s because moms are too busy.
KH: They don’t have time to put it down on paper. I think a great example of what we’re talking about is when we did “swimsuits” [a video about impractical swimsuits]. When we got to the page, there was a woman who posted a picture of herself and she posted that she was [size] XXL. She took a selfie of herself and was like, “I haven’t been to the beach in four years and I haven’t been happy with myself.” There were 50 comments underneath and I thought “Oh my god, please don’t let one of those be mean,” but every single one was positive and uplifting and supportive and cool. I think that speaks volumes for women who are oftentimes villainized as being petty and vindictive.
How has being on the stage been different than being in front of the video camera?
KH: I think they’re two such different animals, but I think we stay pretty true to who we are. One of our biggest compliments is “you’re exactly like the videos.” We are who we are and I think the fun thing about the live stage, sort of selfishly, is that we get to put faces to all the clicks and the likes and the shares.
JS: We think of the camera as our third friend and that we’re just talking to our third friend. The videos get cut down to three to five minutes, so what you don’t see is our laughing and talking about other things and that sort of back and forth. That’s sort of what the live show is only the audience is our third friend. We engage them, we answer some questions that they have. The live show is sort of just a blown out longer version of the videos with more topics — and a little bit saucier topics.
KH: We call it the adult version of our conversation.
What can the Baltimore audience expect from your show?
JS: I’m really expecting for [Ravens quarterback] Joe Flacco to show up. I’m really hoping he’ll be one of the five dudes in the audience. We like to call it a monster truck rally for moms. Get your girls, wear what you want, go have an appetizer, a few drinks, leave the kids with the husband and have a good time. It’s a girl’s night.
KH: One of my very good friends lives in Baltimore now. She’s a nurse at Johns Hopkins. It’s her due date, the show, so what im hoping for is that we induce labor. I’m hoping she’s sitting there super pregnant and she laughs so hard, she goes into labor.
JS: Yeah, we’ve made women pee [from laughing] — why can’t we make women go into labor?
If you go
#IMomSoHard perform Saturday at the Modell Lyric,140 W. Mount Royal Ave. Baltimore. Show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35-$46. Call 410-900-1150 or go to modell-lyric.com.