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Austin mom hopes to share the secrets of motherhood with 'Inside the Moms Club' podcast

The idea for "Inside the Moms Club" podcast came from Monica Samuels' life as a mom and the friends she formed through her sons' activities.

The Austin attorney co-wrote the book "Comeback Moms" with fellow mom J.C. Conklin in 2006. The book about getting back into the workforce after taking a break to raise children had Samuels and Conklin interviewing moms across the country for their insights. 

Austin mom Monica Samuels has started a podcast called "Inside the Moms Club," which gathers moms around the country and a special guest each episode.

They planned to collaborate again, but this time on a podcast about motherhood and mom entrepreneurs. As Conklin's work on another book stretched her time, Samuels, 59, adapted the idea of doing a mom podcast into her own beginning last summer.

She started recording podcasts with her own moms club, women whose kids all graduated from St. Andrew's Episcopal School, with her sons, who are now 19 and 24.

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"Inside the Moms Club" has released three episodes and recorded three more. Currently, one is being released every other week, but Samuels would like to get to a weekly release schedule as she records more.

The podcast is available wherever you find your podcasts.

Each week Samuels has a different mom guest co-host; sometimes it's Conklin. She invites other moms to join by Zoom to talk about the topic of that week's show or ask questions of that week's guest.

So far they have interviewed Sirius XM Hits 1 Morning Mash Up host Nicole Ryan, who gets interrupted by her own family, as she talks about how she's trying to record radio shows and podcasts from her children's playroom during a pandemic. They've talked to kids who have done philanthropic things like helping people experiencing homelessness or encouraging whole communities to donate to food banks. And they've talked to Houston-based Meredith Jurica, who started Makeup Junkie Bags with a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old at home.

Samuels is trying to expand the scope of the moms participating beyond her moms club, beyond Austin and beyond moms with kids of a certain age.

She doesn't negate the experience that she and her moms group bring to the show. There is wisdom in being beyond the toddler years that women like Ryan are experiencing. "We can offer them some perspective," Samuels says. 

Expanding the show's reach beyond Austin means expanding topics. Future shows will explore topics including difficulties getting pregnant and whether parents should provide alcohol to their underage teens.

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One thing that she learned from her own life and from moms she talked to for "Comeback Moms" is that moms often think that they should stay home while their children are little and go back to work once the last kid is in kindergarten. When she had middle schoolers, she realized they needed her even more and she needed to be even more engaged.

Samuels had a busy career as an environmental and immigration attorney when her children were born. She and her husband had the means to hire a nanny to make the long working hours doable. She experienced what she called several wake-up calls that had her rethinking what she wanted her parenting life to be.

One of those happened when her sister said this about Samuels' relationship with her son: "Wow, you are like his cool aunt." Samuels threw really cool birthday parties and made sure her son had things he wanted, but it was the nanny who was in the day-to-day slog.

Working the hours she was and parenting didn't really fit.

"I needed to step back," she says.

Monica Samuels with her sons Chase and Jared at a time when we could travel to places like London.

She wasn't the only one. When she caught up with all the women she knew from the University of Texas Law Review, all but one had quit working. "Practicing law, it was too stressful," she says. "There needs to be a book about this." 

That's how "Comeback Moms" came to be.

Even once the kids were settled into school, how do you manage a career and the kids at the same time? It's an even more important question now as parents, especially moms, are also managing kids in school at home.

"Inside the Moms Club" takes on the current story of motherhood.

"We talk a lot about what's happening right now that's a concern to mom," Samuels says. That means it's a lot about the pandemic and having kids in and out of school, trying to do Zoom learning and the disruption that families have experienced. 

She thinks about when her kids were in elementary school and how they would have handled online learning. "They would not have learned a thing," she says. "How do women address this?"

Jennifer Marsh, left,  Julie Orchid, Monica Samuels, Leslie Harrell and Angela McComb are part of Samuels' personal moms club, made up of women she knows through St. Andrew's Episcopal School or through her sons' baseball teams. They also serve as guest hosts for Samuels' podcast.

Samuels wants to bring to the podcast her experiences as the mother who tried to make everything work, the mom who ran the baseball team and the mom who relied on her own mom friends.

"We hope to build an audience of women who come to it to have fun, that it makes them laugh, reflect, feel inspired, learn and they can share some of it with their friends," she says.

She likens it to having sisters or sorority sisters. 

In her personal moms club, "the five of us, for sure, we go through our ups and downs," she says. "We text each other every day."

In her mom's generation, moms club was called bridge club, but they hardly played bridge, Samuels says.  "It was a strong bond of women, that's what it was," Samuels says. 

That's what she hopes for "Inside the Moms Club."

Nicole Villalpando writes about parenting for the American-Statesman. She can be reached at nvillalpando@statesman.com.