Babes on Babes: Michelle Buteau and Ilana Glazer on the Daily Wins and Woes of Parenting

The comedian moms talk to us about raising kids, finding joy and their new movie that celebrates motherhood in all its messiness.
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By Lauren Barth, Associate Content Director, Lifecycle
Published May 17, 2024
 Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau attend "Babes" Special Screening & Reception at The West Hollywood EDITION on May 09, 2024
Image: Jon Kopaloff | Getty Images

Motherhood is wonderful and transformative and amusing and monotonous and so, so messy. It’s all the things at once. Just ask comedian-actresses Michelle Buteau and Ilana Glazer, stars of Babes. Equal parts hilarious and heartwarming, their new movie will speak to those in the throes of pregnancy, postpartum and early parenthood. The Bump had a candid chat with these two movie-making mamas about everything from creating birth plans to planning the ideal kid-free getaway. Here’s what they had to say.

The Bump: In the movie, you guys have a really close relationship. You’re best friends—practically sisters—who grew up together and are embarking on this journey of parenting together. In real life, who is that person for each of you?

Michelle Buteau: Coming from a Caribbean background—and I don’t want to generalize—but I have a lot of uncles and a lot of cousins. Those cousins now also have kids. So I kind of grew up holding someone’s baby. And I remember one Christmas I asked my mom, “Can I just have a doll and not take care of someone’s baby?” And then something changed when one of my first friends in our group had a baby. It just felt like, “Oh, this is what real sisterhood feels like. It’s chosen family. I am your auntie.” That was just special.

Ilana Glazer: For me, I have several friends from different eras of my life, and Michelle is one of those people. I’ve been doing comedy for 18 years now, and Michelle has been doing it for 23 years. When you first get into comedy you’re like, “Oh my God, all these people are so cool.” And then you’re friends for five years and then 10 years. At this point, I have lifelong friends from comedy—it’s like they become childhood friends. It’s just kind of like your chosen family just grows over time.

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The Bump: As moms, what do you think is the biggest lie we’re told about parenthood? What truth have you learned now that you’re in the thick of it?

MB: How much time do we have, sister? I think balance—people keep talking about balance. That’s just an unrealistic expectation to make you feel bad. You do what you can when you can. You take what you need and you give what you can give. … There are so many unrealistic expectations that we’re supposed to follow. No wonder my mom always looked tired and overwhelmed. She had to do what society was telling her to do, and she didn’t even know what she wanted to do because she was never even given the opportunity to think about it. So it really is nice to dive into whoever the f*** and whatever the f*** we want to be.

IG: I feel like when I was a kid, the idea of becoming a mom and having a family, the mother figure was so desexualized. It was unbelievable how sexuality was removed from [motherhood]. And I feel it was such a lie. I’m here, and I feel so sexy. I feel so hot and cool. And the messiness is actually freeing for me. I’ve stayed contained for so long, and letting go and being messy in those moments feels so hot… I also think it’s seeing how much I can do that makes me feel sexy and powerful.

Image: The Bump

The Bump: But you still face mom guilt, right? When those moments of guilt and that voice in the back of your head creep up on you, what do you do? Do you just shut it down? Do you say a mantra? How do you combat that constant nagging feeling that you should be doing more?

MB: It’s true. It doesn’t go away. Maybe [it will for] the next generation. I try to be gentle [ with myself]. You know what I mean? I’m trying to be patient with it at this point from the outside. I’ve never been a mom before, so how am I supposed to know everything about something I’ve never done before? Give me a minute. But also one of my therapists told me, “Lean into the joy of what you do.” You enjoy your job, you enjoy going out. You have fun. And then you’re home… I can have my fun too. And then we can have fun together. So that really shifted everything for me. “Where you going mama?” “Well, you have playdates and I got a playdate too. Bye.” This margarita ain’t going to drink it itself.

The Bump: The film is so relatable when it comes to highlighting the struggles with finding great childcare. That is the eternal struggle of all parents, especially nowadays. Any personal stories or experiences where childcare just hasn’t worked out—or maybe it’s worked out beautifully?

MB: It is not even that you get what you pay for. It’s just really a chemistry thing. It really is like an arranged marriage. Ali Wong once told me that if you have really good childcare, they’re going to have opinions. But one [sitter] just blew up my toilet and left it. And I was like, “If you’re not honest about taking a dump and ruining my plumbing, then [what’s next]?”

IG: We’re so lucky. Our childcare provider was our night nurse first. You’re working with someone and the relationship is changing because the child is growing. So things that worked two weeks ago are different now. We’re always working through the next thing, but we also bust each other’s balls and we just bust each other’s chops and laugh a lot because we’re coming from different places.

The Bump: In the movie, Eden decided she wanted to have a whole prom-themed birth plan. Ilana, did you have anything unique that you did to personalize your labor and delivery experience? And Michelle, how did you personalize your surrogacy experience?

IG: I think that the joke for me with Eden’s prom birth is the idea that we set a birth plan at all… Just know what could happen and prepare. My birth experience was very vibey and I really actually enjoyed it because I had taken off whatever expectation I had. So I didn’t have a plan. I found my way to letting it be whatever it was.

MB: That sounds beautiful. And it sounds like you, which I love because that’s how you want to welcome your child into the world. Mine was the entire opposite because we had a surrogate and twins are high risk. It was like election night the whole time—we were on the edge of our seats.

Our twins were born in Pennsylvania because gestational surrogacy was illegal in New York—that has since been overturned. I had to technically adopt my children in Pennsylvania after they were born. My surrogate—who is an amazing walking angel on earth—we wanted to make her feel as comfortable as possible. So she got to decide who was in the room with her. It could have been me or my husband or her husband. And I was so lucky that she chose me, but then I felt bad for my husband… On the way home, we played a lot of Prince music—and now Prince is my son’s favorite artist. But, man, it was one of those things where I really am so happy I chose the right partner in life because those things come at you fast and furious with no Vin Diesel.

The Bump: I’d love to know what you consider your parenting superpower. When are you in a situation where you’re like, “okay, this is me, I got this.” What’s your parenting moment of pride, your so-called superpower?

MB: Well, I’m the only child, and so when [the twins] fight, that’s when I really get down to their level. “All we have is each other. And you love her, and you love him… We will always have each other’s back” It always comes back to love.

A cousin of mine who’s very old-school once said something like, “Oh, I feel bad because someone’s kid is gay and their life will be harder.” And I’m like, “What the f*** are you even talking about?” It does not matter. As long as you are loved at home, you can be anything in the world, period. And so I feel like I want to say my superpower is multitasking because that kind of is my jam, but it is really sharing our love. It’s coming from a place of love. That’s where it will always begin.

IG: The moments where I’m like a ninja, and it’s like my body’s acting before my brain. If I sense my daughter’s space being invaded, I jump the f*** in. I don’t give a f***. You will not penetrate this orb of freedom.

The Bump: In Babes, you guys take a babymoon together. For your character, Michelle, it’s more of like a mom getaway. So tell me what’s your ideal dream night away? What does that look like for each of you?

IG: I don’t know, maybe a group of good friends. Perhaps it’s like a mushroom situation—like a safe mushroom situation. We rent a house and have a yard we can sort of wander into. And if my husband’s home with my daughter, then I feel secure in doing that, in letting go and saying, “see you.” Maybe it’s just literally upstate New York, if we’re talking about a night. If I can fly somewhere, probably a private beach vacation. And then I’d honestly rather have my family with me, but have my daughter be taken care of by family. They can be close by, but separate.

MB: A spa day—a whole-ass spa day. Sauna, hot plunge, full plunge, muscles relaxed, massage, mani, pedi. Get them cuticles, girl. A nice artisanal dinner. Give me a smoky-ass cocktail where it feels like I’m just licking a leather belt. I don’t want to get drunk, but I want to get tipsy and be like, “Oh my God, look at our lives! We’re amazing.”

**Babes is in theaters on May 17th. Get tickets and more information here.

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