"It's definitely a Mean Girls reference," laughs Elise Peterson of the name she and cohost Lizzie Okpo chose for their podcast, Cool Moms. Suddenly, as a Juicy Couture-clad Amy Poehler dances across my mind, the joke of that title becomes clear: While the blogiverse and social media alike have told us many times over what the perfect, Cool-with-a-capital-C mom looks like, Peterson and Okpo have made it their mission to shatter that veneer. This is a podcast that features moms who are doing cool things in the world, for sure. But they also talk about the real stuff you don't see on Instagram—the crusty food stains, the challenges of raising a child in a long-distance partnership, a Gen-Zer negotiating life as a single mom.
This is what motherhood looks like in 2019, and no one knows that better than Peterson. "I've lived a lot of life in a short amount of time," she says—a nod to her very eclectic career path, which culminated in an opportunity to illustrate two different children's books. The first features a sex worker parent; the second, two brothers with a single mom. "I thought it was really important to share honest narratives around parenting and motherhood," she says.
As fate would have it, Peterson learned she was pregnant while working on the first book. And as one of the first of her friends to get pregnant, she found that she had a lot of questions. She and Okpo launched Cool Moms to find some answers—because who knows better than other women who have gone through the same thing?
Below, Peterson talks breaking down stigmas, redefining self-care, and the power of community.