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Erin Erickson Garner and Marti Erickson

From left to right: Erin Erickson Garner, Clara Garner, and Marti Erickson

Good enough moms

U mother and daughter combine expertise for new radio show

By Patty Mattern

May 12, 2006

On the day University of Minnesota mother and daughter hosts Marti Erickson and Erin Erickson Garner gave birth to their new talk radio, Garner nearly delivered her second child. The young mother's contractions were seven minutes apart, but Garner didn't miss a beat as she and her mother bantered back and forth. Erickson, a developmental psychologist and nationally known parenting expert, and Garner, a School of Public Health graduate student specializing in maternal and child health, hit the airwaves May 6 for their first show on FM107. They call their show Good Enough Moms (GEMs). The show that airs from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays explores the many facets of motherhood in today's world, like confronting the daily joys and struggles of helping children grow up well and balancing work and family. On May 6, GEMs nearly turned into a motherhood reality show. "I have a 21-month-old daughter. I'm due to have my second child any minute here, but hopefully not when we're on the air. That is a possibility though," Garner told listeners. Despite anxious feelings about putting on the show and Garner experiencing contractions, listeners never sensed a thing as the mother/daughter duo shared stories of mothering and grandmothering. "We went in cold, not even knowing the studio equipment, and my daughter was having contractions, and I was trying to take listener calls and flip the right switches. Wow," said Erickson, following the show. For years Erickson has given parenting advice through a weekly newspaper column and frequently done interviews on TV and radio focused on parenting, but she never imagined a radio show of her own until FM107 approached her. "I wasn't really looking to add more work to my life. I had been trying to cut back, but I love talking about motherhood and the producer and I had the idea of Erin cohosting with me and I love working with Erin, so I was sold on it," said Erickson in an interview at her home as she and Garner practiced for their first show. "I was a little nervous about this, but I've always been a big talker," Garner said laughing. Garner hopes other mothers can learn from some of her experiences. "She's living so many of these motherhood issues right now, of course others will learn from her," Erickson said. The radio show includes moments that mothers can laugh about, but it also delves into serious issues mothers face--identity, self-image, and how becoming a mother changes a woman's relationship with her partner. The GEMs talk show goes where few others have gone. Erickson and Garner address mothering issues frankly and straightforwardly, even the ones that past generations only discussed in hushed tones. For example, Erickson explained to listeners how Garner, as a teenager, was very shy about her body, but how becoming a mother changed that. "You were always modest about your body, but I remember coming to your house one day when your daughter was very young. I was just stunned when I went to your door and knocked. Rather than coming to the door you shouted 'Come on in!' and as I walked in, there you were sitting in a chair in a living room and your breasts were totally exposed," Erickson told listeners. "I'm never going to live that down," Garner interjected. "I think you were airing them out after nursing, because that can be kind of painful thing when you're first getting used to breast feeding and you said, 'I'm a cow. I'm just nothing but a cow,'" Erickson said. "I remember that same feeling myself when you're having to feed this baby constantly and you really feel you're reduced to just that." Since the mother/daughter duo almost feel like they're having a private talk on the air, they've agreed to check in with each other to make sure they are not disclosing too many private details. But sometimes they just slip into the conversation. At one point, when discussing how mothers maintain romantic relationships with their partners, Erickson disclosed how she and her husband would drop Garner and her brother off at Sunday school and, instead of staying for church themselves, would go back home for some romantic alone time. "TMI, TMI (too much information), Mom," Garner said. After taking calls from listeners and reflecting on motherhood and one's identity, Garner and Erickson ended their first show. Erickson was relieved that they made it through their first show and that she didn't have to deliver a grandson in the studio. As it turned out, Garner's baby son, McKinley Ryan Garner, decided to arrive three days later about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. His entry into the world will no doubt be a subject on the show this week. "Listeners will probably hear baby and nursing sounds in the background, but that's what our show is about," Erickson said.