A New York Times best-selling author, chart-topping podcaster, and television host, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is a triple threat who's made that label very much her own. She is the author of five books including Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay, Naptime Is The New Happy Hour, and Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic: And Other Opinions I Can't Back Up With Facts (out April 7). She hosted Parental Discretion on Nickmom and currently co-hosts the chart-topping parenting podcast For Crying Out Loud.
But before you assume she’s the queen of mommytainment, a parenting expert, or even one of those women who can’t shut up about her kid’s latest bowel movement, you should take the time to get to know more about her.
I recently sat down with Stefanie to discuss her distinctive story and how, unlike so many women in the media, she’s achieved an incredible amount of success as her own brand without exploiting herself, looking like a jackass, or pretending to know everything. She also manages to balance her career and motherhood (she has three girls) without being completely annoying about it (cough, Gwyneth Paltrow, cough)—in part by openly admitting she doesn’t always have all the answers.
But she did have some answers to our questions.
You’ve mentioned on past episodes of For Crying Out Loud that a lot of your fans aren’t parents, myself included. Why do you think that is?
We don’t talk about our kids that much and when we do, we talk about our lives and our kids as a part of our lives. It’s a show about being parents, wives, girlfriends, and consumers of pop culture.
Many women have become media personalities through exploiting themselves and their families, but you’ve taken the high road, developing a career out of being really talented, fun, and interesting. How have you been able to put yourself out there in a brutally honest way, but “keep it classy” at the same time?
I just want to be me and if people relate to me and like me then that’s amazing. And if they don’t, then okay.
How have you been able to build your career and accomplish your goals on your own terms?
I’m trained as a stand-up comedienne. I’ve done stand-up for over 20 years and have that skill of being funny without just being controversial. Also, I never wanted to be an actress. We all like attention, but there’s not a thing at the core of my being. When you feel that need, “I must be famous,” then you’re willing to do things that might get you momentary attention. But, I don’t have that, so what’s at the core is I just want to express myself.
It would be nice if Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic: And Other Opinions I Can't Back Up With Facts is successful. But I don’t have that “please like me . . . please accept me” [voice in my head]. I have a great life, a great husband, great kids, and if I never have a lot more money, that’s fine. I guess if you’re coming from that place, then you can say whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be so calculated, it can just be.
But I still have self-doubt. When my deadline is looming, I can’t believe they paid me to write another book.
Your new book, Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic, comes out on April 7. What is it about?
It’s about all the things that parents freak out over. I tried to touch on the hot button issues, like school, homework, how everyone thinks their kid is gifted, overparenting, and glorifying the 1970s. The '70s weren’t that great. The '70s are why a lot of people are taking anti-depressants now.
How did you start blogging?
I was writing for crappy shows, game shows, and variety shows. I figured after my daughter was four or five months old, I’d try to go back to work. But then when she became that age, I thought it was insane; I couldn’t go back to work. At the same time, I realized I needed to do something. I wanted to write, so someone suggested I blog. I liked the idea that I could put it online and people could read it. I didn’t know how that was going to work or how I was going to get anyone to read it.
How did you begin to gain popularity as a blogger?
I was actively blogging a lot when my twins were young babies. I would talk about my daughter Sadie and how I couldn’t get her to eat. There was a group of posts in particular where I was losing my mind because the girls wouldn’t go to bed. I had just quit drinking and I was in a horrible state. They would not go the fuck to bed. I would blog about it and other parents just ate it up. I think I sort of have a lack of filter [and] that I’m not trying to paint my kids in a better light. We all have things that make us think we’re going to lose our minds. But when we’re honest about it and write about it, that’s what people really appreciate. That’s what gets you fans. You say the things most people don’t say out loud, like “we’re all having a horrible time trying to get our kids to sleep.”
How did you turn blogging into a book deal?
I wrote one blog post and I sent it to a few of my friends. One of those friends was Chelsea Handler. We were really good friends at the time. She was one of the people who threw my baby shower. She wasn’t famous [at that point], but she had a book deal.
She sent my one blog post to her agent. He called me and I thought it was a prank call. He said he was Chelsea’s agent and I thought “uh-huh, alright.” He said he was going to get me a book deal, and asked if I had other stuff. I said I did and he said to send it to him. But I didn’t have anything to send to him!
So I wrote a couple more essays. I never wrote a proposal. He sent it to a few people and I ended up getting a book deal. So it was very random. But I will say, it’s very important when you’re given any opportunity to just say yes.
Even as a non-parent, I really liked Parental Discretion on Nickmom. What is the status of that show?
They aren’t making any more episodes for now, until they run out of things to do with the ones they have. They made too many episodes and they still haven’t gotten people aware of the block of programming.
What’s next for you?
I am in development to do other stuff for the network [Nickmom], including video content and possibly another show I’m working on writing.
You can listen to For Crying Out Loud on iTunes. New episodes come out on Tuesdays and Fridays. You can (and should) pre-order Stefanie’s new book Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic: And Other Opinions I Can't Back Up With Fact. And definitely follow Stefanie on Twitter.