The Brood: Meltdowns, Magic Mushrooms, and Stuff Going On

So last Tuesday I straight-up burst into tears during my improv class. 

Yes, Brooders, in the event that improv wasn’t awkward enough, your girl made it weird. 

The scene that triggered my meltdown was quite specific. I initiated the scene by collapsing, exhausted, in the middle of the stage, telling my scene partners, “I can’t do it, boys. I can’t hike another step.”

Which is, can I just tell you? A MASTERFUL initiation. In ten words, I have established a location, an emotion, a problem to solve, a relationship. So many places a scene can go from there. Patting myself on the back. 

Then I sat there in performative despair, waiting for my scene partners to “yes, and…”

Which they did… by chasing each other around the stage like playful little boys. Like I wasn’t even there. 

From the audience, the scene played out naturally and…dare I say…hilariously. A mom collapses in the midst of a Boy Scout hike. Tween boys don’t notice and continue frolicking. Mom begins tripping on the mushrooms she ate earlier. Tween boys continue frolicking. Mom delivers a high-key Shakespearean death soliloquy about how she wishes to return to the nurturing mother earth. Boys argue amongst themselves about the terms of the game they are playing, failing to observe that their parent is keening, eating wood chips, and attempting to bury herself in fallen leaves so she can be reabsorbed into the earth like the twin placentae she buried years before.

Afterward, the teacher asked me how I felt about the scene.

I said…deep breath…that I felt like I started the scene by establishing myself as a person who needed help, and that the scene continued with that need being ignored. The more my character needed, the less she received. It was a good scene, I acknowledged, except to the extent that that it resembled…and here is where I started crying…my entire. fucking. life

At that point, I can’t remember exactly how I went on. I would like to think that I delivered a lucid and succinct lecture on the mental and emotional labor expected of women in the twenty-first century, and how those demands are not meaningfully supported either personally or systemically. Indeed, the support needs of wives, mothers, and women in the workplace are regularly overlooked, particularly when complicated by the fact that women (like myself) who are post-childbearing are rendered functionally invisible in a society that venerates youth, and furthermore…

I said…deep breath…that I felt like I started the scene by establishing myself as a person who needed help, and that the scene continued with that need being ignored. The more my character needed, the less she received. It was a good scene, I acknowledged, except to the extent that that it resembled…and here is where I started crying…my entire. fucking. life

Yeah, something tells me that I failed to get that across. Instead, I was gently led away by two women: a very smart, very compassionate, very pierced queer femme, and our teacher, a millennial who might not identify with every nuance of my plight but, as a female in comedy, definitely understands how it feels to be playfully steamrolled by well-meaning white men. Meanwhile, my homegirl Natalie, the only other Gen X ladyperson in the group, stayed back among the dudes and delivered the message I needed to share in ten perfect words, like the fantastic improviser she is:

“Theresa has stuff going on you guys don’t know about.” 


Granted, you (and they) know a lot of the stuff I have going on. You know about the four kids: the two neurodivergent teens, the anxious middle child starting puberty, the first-grader who has taken it upon herself to balance the family humors though a deliberate campaign of baby talk and fart jokes. You know about the med changes, the sleep problems, the aging. You have heard some vague rumblings of money worries and career worries and faith worries.

Rumblings, come to think of it, is the right word. A few months ago I published a Brood called “I Feel the Earth Move” that was high-key about how awesome Carole King is and low-key how much I hate change.

“Do you ever think about the fact that the earth is spinning at sixty-six thousand miles per hour? And how, if you could somehow bounce yourself out of gravity’s grasp for a minute or two, you would land miles away from where you left the ground? Is it possible that it can happen while you aren’t paying attention? Because it feels like I bounced sometime in 2018 and I got put down somewhere strange. 

You see, things are changing in spite of me. Some of the dependable constants of my adult life are proving more unsteady than expected. The horizon upon which I’ve always focused my gaze seems to be only one of several possible options—did you know the horizon goes all the way around? The sky isn’t tum-bl-ing down, but it definitely looks closer than it once did. Very suspicious, this sky. 

Looking at it one way, this all beckons to a sense of adventure I thought I had left behind long ago. It’s a new world! I feel my heart start to trem-bl-ing! 

On the flip side, I hate it so much.”

So, what’s changing? 

Well, first of all, my husband—the teacher—-will no longer be. 

(Be a teacher, I mean! He will still be my husband. For these small mercies, Lord, we are thankful.) 

Why is this such a big deal, crazy lady? People change jobs all the time! Thing is, though, Ron is a choir teacher. He was a choir teacher when I met him twenty-five years ago. On our first date, we went to the music building in my college and he played for me while I sang. He decided he wanted to be a choir teacher when he was 17 years old, and it’s what he has been for thirty brilliant years. 

Ron and I shared a classroom for ten years. We directed a dozen musicals together. We distinguished ourselves as teachers in our respective fields, building reputations at state and national conferences. 

Then, in 2019, I left teaching to pursue writing and care for my highest-need kid. 

And after, in 2020, everything else changed. 

I don’t need to tell you that the COVID pandemic was devastating for all teachers, but for many vocal music and band programs? It was a death blow. Ron did everything he could. He learned to teach music over zoom. He learned to edit audio and video recordings into virtual choirs. He held masked, 10-feet-apart rehearsals for two years. It wasn’t enough. The momentum of 25 years of success disappeared, and he was faced with a decision: Do I start over as a teacher? Or do I try something new?

Something new, he decided. 

See, my clever dude picked up another skill while the world fell apart. As a musician with four kids to support, he’s always had his weekday teaching job and his weekend church music job. Loath to lose that second income when the churches shut down, Ron taught himself how to live-stream. He streamed church services, simply at first, then developing his set-up into a professional quality, multi-camera production. He offered videography and streaming services to the weddings, once they started again. He expanded his digital offerings to include event streaming, videography, digital transfer, and archiving. We started getting offered more work than he could take on while still working a full-time teaching job.

Meanwhile, I got hired to help someone write a book. It’s a semi-famous someone with an established following, writing on a trendy topic for a top-tier publisher. We’ve been working together for a year, and will be done with final edits by the end of the month. And I’m thinking….maybe this is a thing I could keep doing. 

So, last month, right before I traveled to San Diego to meet my author for a final writing push, Ron decided he would announce his retirement from teaching, and he and I would strike out on our own as Weiler Creative Media and Truer Words Consulting. 


We’re excited! I’m terrified! We’re making plans! My bowels are a wreck! We’re going to make this work! We’re going to be reduced to begging to pay for our kids’ ADHD prescriptions! 


Except, bless y’all, now you do. 

Theresa Weiler is a writer/singer/speaker/seeker, and the co-founder of Weiler Creative Media.  She lives in metro Detroit with her husband Ron and four children. If you value this relatable content, throw a tip in her Venmo tip jar @realtheresaweiler. Follow Theresa on Twitter @Real_Theresa and on Instagram @realtheresaweiler

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