Abby Roth, better known as Classically Abby, says society today lacks authentic conversations about motherhood.
“Motherhood has been the best journey of my life,” Roth says, but new mothers don’t necessarily know that the “first 10 to 12 weeks is really hard.”
As a new mom, she felt “so overwhelmed initially because it’s such a huge change in your life,” Roth, host of the “Classically Ever After” podcast, says. “But you are built for it. You are meant for this. And you’re not alone.”
Roth joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to discuss the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood. She also explains how texting can kill a dating relationship before it even begins.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: Here on “Problematic Women,” we love talking about what makes us unique as women, all of our gifts, all of our abilities, the beautiful ways that God made women women. So joining us today, we have someone who is quite the expert on this subject: Abby Roth, who you all may know as Classically Abby. She speaks out on so many issues through her YouTube channel, through her podcast, and on social media. And she talks about what it means to be a classic woman and hold traditional values in today’s day and age. So Abby, thank you so much for being here. It is a joy to have you.
Abby Roth: I’m so excited to be here. Let’s chat all things womanhood.
Allen: I want to begin by asking you to share a little bit of your own story and background, because you haven’t always been super-vocal about your political views and opinions. You had a whole other career before you kind of made your way into this space on YouTube and talking about all of these issues that concern women. Talk a little bit about what life was like in the field of opera, which was your former life in a way.
Roth: I was an opera singer. I studied opera for seven years. I was in the most liberal of liberal arts. And it was what actually spurred me to want to speak out about being conservative and talk to young women about how to embrace womanhood and femininity. And all of these things have become more true over time for me as I’ve gotten married, as I’ve become a mother. Everything has become more and more clear on that front.
But initially, I studied opera because I loved opera and realized that if I spoke out about my politics … I’m not somebody who’s a proponent of needing to speak out about politics in a workplace. If no one speaks out about politics, that’s fine. My issue is when you’re in the workspace and everybody there is speaking openly as leftists or as liberals, and if you speak out as a conservative, you’re blacklisted, or you’re fired, or whatever else it is.
And that was my experience. I was in the opera world and people spoke about politics, about abortion, about Trump, about all of these things as if it was obvious that they could, because everyone agrees, everyone’s on the left. And of course that’s the way it is. And anybody who was on the right was completely silenced.
So after graduating with all of my degrees and performing and loving to perform, it became very clear to me that if I wanted to have the lifestyle that I really wanted, which was to be with my children, to be with my husband, opera wasn’t going to be the place for that. You’re traveling for six weeks at a time. You’re constantly on the road. And as I made that realization, it also became clear that womanhood was something I really wanted to focus on when I spoke to people, when I spoke to subscribers and followers, and talk about my experience of being shut down when it comes to talking about conservative values.
Allen: I think that’s so fascinating to have that kind of moment where you’re realizing, “Oh wait, I can’t necessarily hold something so dear as the values of being an active mom and wife, and yet also continue in this world of opera.” Was there a specific moment in time where you realized, OK, this isn’t going to work anymore?
Roth: Yes. So after I met my husband, two weeks later we were already discussing getting married. We just, we kind of knew.
Allen: When you know, you know, right?
Roth: As they say. And right after that I left for 10 weeks to go to the Aspen Music Festival. And the Aspen Music Festival is one of the most prestigious opera festivals in the world. And I was singing a main role. It should have been the absolute ultimate of my career, and peak of my happiness and all of these things. And all I kept thinking was, “I’m separated from the guy I know I’m going to end up with. This is depressing. And this isn’t going to be an anomaly. This will be my life.”
And when I realized that, I thought to myself, this isn’t going to fit with the things that I believe in and the life that I espouse as being important. And I’m so grateful I had that realization when I wasn’t married yet, when I didn’t have children yet, because it’s only become more true as I’ve been married, and now I have a son. And I’m so glad I was right, that that was not going to be that the choice that would’ve brought me fulfillment and meaning and happiness, the way that my life does now. It is amazing how lucky I feel to be where I am.
Allen: And our lives are made up of those choices. I think that’s so critical as something that we recognize as anyone, but also as women, to realize we’re so powerful to make those choices. Whether it’s choosing to step into that new career or choosing, “OK, wait, I’m going to step back from career for a moment to raise kids, to be a mom, to be a wife, all those things.” Now Abby, obviously you talk so much about being classic, and what does that mean to be a classic woman? So give us your definition of that.
Roth: Being classic is something that … the way I describe it is that you start with traditional values and being classic is what comes out of that. So if you have traditional values, if you know what’s important, if you’re basing your life [on] faith, family, and community, then what is born of that is a classic woman, a woman who lives out those traditional values by embracing womanhood, by embracing femininity, by understanding the differences between men and women, by enjoying that you have the ability to wear beautiful dresses, and do your makeup and do your hair, and also you’re a very strong person that people can depend on.
I think that one of the most important things about being classic. is understanding reality and accepting reality. And so not fighting with the way that things are built—that the world is structured, that women’s role is going to be different than men’s role in a lot of different ways.
And that it’s important as women that we always take the time to improve ourselves. Instead of saying, “Do you accept yourself for who you are?”, I think the most classic thing you can do is constantly work to be a better version of yourself. And that is something that is even better and more easy to pursue when you’re married. Because I think a lot of the time we have this perception of the Marilyn Monroe quote—which isn’t really Marilyn Monroe, but it’s been said that it is her—where she said: “If you can’t accept me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best,” which is complete and utter nonsense.
The truth is that when you’re married, it’s about encouraging one another to grow and be better. And so a classic woman, before she gets married and through marriage, is only ever improving and becoming her most classic self.
Allen: Now you got married quite young, correct me if I’m wrong on that?
Roth: I’m not sure what’s young anymore.
Roth: We got engaged when I was 23 and married when I was 24.
Allen: I know in our day and age, in our society, to get married in your early 20s, mid 20s, people do consider that somewhat of an anomaly now … where so many individuals are waiting until they’re 30, in their mid-30s, to actually take that step to say, “OK, now I’m ready to get married. I want to get married.” Why do you think that is that we’ve seen that shift in society, where people are waiting longer and longer to make that commitment of marriage?
Roth: There’s a lot of reasons for that, but I will start by talking about the sexual revolution. I mean, once the pill was introduced, once women theoretically could have sex without consequences, although that’s totally untrue in a multitude of ways: Sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy still happens even though you think that it won’t because you’re taking contraception, and of course the emotional fallout from having a multitude of partners who you’re not married to. But because there’s this idea that there’s consequence-free sex, you push off the question of your fertility.
And … a really big thing is that a lot of women don’t think about the fact that fertility isn’t guaranteed. You get married at 35 and you don’t know that you’re going to be able to conceive right away. I’m very open about the fact that when my husband and I first conceived, I had a miscarriage. We didn’t expect that. That was not something that we planned for.
And you can’t really plan for having a child. So I think a lot of people assume that they can have marriage and a baby on their timeline, and you really can’t do that. And that’s what ends up encouraging people to push off marriage is, “Oh, I’ll just do it when I’m ready. When I want to have a baby, it’ll happen.” Well, you can’t guarantee that that’s going to happen. And on top of that, I think there’s a lot of issues with wanting to be in a place of totally being settled by the time you get married, instead of viewing marriage as something that can bolster you as you build your life together.
So a lot of people say, “I want to be out of school before I’m married,” or “I want to be at the pinnacle of my career by the time I’m married.” And really, being married can be something that can help you determine what you want your life to look like in 10 years, as opposed to building a life by yourself that you then have to fit someone else into.
Allen: That’s a unique perspective and I love it, because it flips on its head … what we hear so much in culture today: Get yourself established and then we think about marriage. But I like that idea of OK, you’re working together to build that future and dream about what that could be. … You talked about kids and making your way into that space. And let’s talk a little bit about the issue of motherhood … . What do you think are some of those really important … characteristics or tools that we as women in our 20s [and] 30s need to be putting in our tool belt when we start thinking about “Hey, I want to be a mom one day?“
Roth: Motherhood has been the best journey of my life. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately … and I actually wrote something about this last night while I was nursing my baby to sleep. I was thinking about how there’s a big narrative [to the effect of] we don’t want to be negative about motherhood to a mother who is pregnant and is excited and is getting ready to experience this journey.
But the first passage of motherhood, that first 10 to 12 weeks, is really hard. And I was realizing while I was thinking about this, that there’s a difference between saying that being a mother is hard, and then not worth it, or not worthy of your time, or too hard, and saying it’s going to be hard at the beginning and then it’s going to be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life, but you’re not alone when it is hard.
And I think that that really would’ve helped me at the beginning. Because I felt initially, and I’ve talked to so many of my friends who totally agree with me, where it’s like you felt so overwhelmed initially because it’s such a huge change in your life. But you are built for it. You are meant for this. And you’re not alone. And it’s OK for it to be hard and it doesn’t delegitimize how incredible your role is as mom. So that’s kind of a little bit off-topic.
Allen: No, I think that’s important, because … you don’t hear many women say that, like, “Hey, FYI, the first several weeks slash months are going to kind of suck.” No one says that. But that’s helpful. I’m like, I’m filing this away. I’m going to remember. Abby told me it’s going to be hard, but I’m built for it, so it’s OK.
Roth: Exactly. Exactly. It’s hard, but you’re built for it. And there’s an endpoint. And that was the hugest thing for me. I was like,”When does this hard part end?” And you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. And then you realize, OK, there’s the endpoint. For my next kid, OK, it’s going to be 10 weeks. Ten weeks and we’re out [and] we’re into the good stuff. So that’s something I think is important.
But I think one of the most important things about motherhood is, [actually] there’s a couple things. One is flexibility. You’re just having to be flexible at all times because your baby changes from day to day. You think you have a schedule, your baby laughs in your face. It is not going to happen. And so being the kind of person who can roll with the punches and who’s OK with Plan B, I think, is so valuable as a mom. Because I think to myself, I wouldn’t want to be the child of somebody who was freaking out every time something changed.
You want to be the child of a mother who is just there, easy to depend on, ready to go. And so if you can be preparing yourself in your current life with, OK, I can handle Plan B when it happens, then I think that it’ll translate really well into your role as mother. And then the second part is trusting your mother intuition, your female intuition. You know more than you think you do. And you’re going to read 8,000 books that are going to make you think that you know nothing, and then you’re going to read those 8,000 books and think that you know everything, but they’re all different.
And the fact is, at the end of the day, you just have to kind of go with your gut sometimes. And instead of just saying, well, I’m going to follow every book I read to a T, trusting that, it’s innate. Your relationship with your baby is really truly there. And it may take a couple weeks to kick in, but once it does, you know your baby. No one else is meant to be that baby’s mom but you.
Allen: Thank you for sharing that, Abby. I find that really encouraging. I want to rewind for a second and go back to dating. So you have written, spoken out, on this issue quite a lot. And a couple years ago, you wrote a great blog post on the topic of texting and dating, which I found really fascinating because we rely on texting pretty heavily, I would say, in today’s modern dating culture. But you actually discourage people initially, especially when a relationship is starting, saying, “Hey, don’t rely too heavily on the text message, on that messaging back and forth.” And in a day of dating apps and all of that, I feel like that’s what so many of us do. Why do you see that as a problem?
Roth: Texting is one of those things that—I’m realizing it as I’m saying it, honestly, it just popped into my head—it is similar to long-distance relationships. Now I’ve had two long-distance relationships, one which ended up in my marriage and one which was very long and I thought I was going to marry him. And then when we actually spent two weeks together uninterrupted, it became very clear we weren’t right for each other. So the reason I say that these two things are similar is that long-distance relationships and texting can both lull you into a false sense of security that you know the person better than you do.
That’s one reason why texting is a problem. When you are texting, you’ve got time to think of your responses. You’ve got time to think of what you’re going to say. You’re writing something, erasing it, writing something, erasing it. And it’s not how people actually interact.
I remember when I think back about how my husband used to text when we first started dating, and we really did not text very much because we didn’t want to get into this as an issue, but he used little cute emojis and stuff. My husband is not cute. That is a different personality than the guy that I knew. And because we had spent time together in person, I could say, OK, that’s his weird texting thing, but it’s not him.
If you don’t spend time together with someone in person, that is the initial impression that you are going to get of someone, that this texting person is who they actually are. And it’s not accurate. So that’s number one. Number two is texting is so stressful, and the anger you can hold at someone for not getting back to you within a timely manner is insane.
You would never have a conversation with someone or a date … Let’s imagine. Let’s imagine you’re on a date and you say something, and the guy wanders off for two hours and comes back and responds. You would never think that that was OK or normal. But with texting, we’re constantly put in that situation where I’ll send a text, we’re in the middle of a conversation, I’ll send a text, and then maybe he has to run off and do something, maybe he has to go do an errand, maybe he gets caught up in work and he doesn’t respond for two hours.
And you’re like, what? You’re on the edge of your seat, stressed. And then you wait for him to respond, and then you want to, maybe you’re having a negative response and so you want to make him wait. And you’re building up a whole negative conversation structure in two seconds.
It doesn’t allow for the natural progression of relationships. Things can get so personal, so fast on texting and you’re not even looking each other in the eye. And you can build up frustrations and anger based off the texting etiquette that you expect, when it may have nothing to do with their etiquette as a person. It’s confusing. It’s frustrating.
And really, when I talk to my friends, when I set them up on dates, I say to them: “I’m actually not going to give you their number until you are through the first date, because I don’t want you texting before you go out. I don’t want you having a false impression of the person I’m setting you up with.”
Allen: When you were in the dating process, what was the best piece of advice that you received?
Roth: That’s a good question. I’d have to sort through it. I think one of the things that I was told was that—and so I’ll say it’s half useful and half not—was that when you meet the right person, the list goes out the window. And I will say that’s true in all of the stupid, minuscule things you think are important. The big list, the traditional values, the shared values, the shared vision of the future, the faith, that stuff, obviously that’s important and that’s not going to go out the window.
But how tall he is, what he does for a living, what his sense of humor is going to be like, where you guys are going to live, where he lives, all that stuff, when you meet the right person, that stuff really does go out the window. And it’s so hard, I think, because when you go on a date with the expectation of it being a date, it can put you in the mindset of checking off that list.
And so you may not actually allow yourself to see past it, which is why I think we get so many relationships that develop from friendships, or that develop from a friend who’s smart and sets you up and doesn’t tell you that he’s setting you up, so you met at a party or something and you’re like, “Oh, we’re hitting it off. Oh, we have chemistry.” And then you find out that you have compatibility too. Because it doesn’t allow you to get in your own head before the conversation is even started by checking those boxes and saying, “Oh, well, he’s not those three things that I think are important.”
Allen: That’s so critical. I love that. Thanks, Abby. All right. Last question before we let you go. We love to ask all of our guests this question on the show. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes or no? Why or why not?
Roth: So this question has changed a little bit over the course of my channel. It’s a good question. I used to be, I would say, a Christina Sommers feminist, which is to say an equity feminist. So I believe that women should have equal rights in the workplace and that we have equal rights in America. I’m not somebody who believes that the sexual revolution was good for women. I don’t believe that sexual liberation is good for women, and that’s part of the feminist credo these days.
So I would say I’m still there. I believe women should have equal rights and should be able to do what men do, which we have in the West, thank God. But I hate the word feminist in today’s day and age. So I generally, just maybe to push the boundary a little bit, I sometimes say I’m an anti-feminist. Because I’m an anti-feminist in the sense that I disown everything that ardent feminists will say that you must believe if you put yourself under the umbrella of feminist.
Allen: Absolutely. Abby, thank you so much for your time today. I encourage all of our listeners to go to your website, classicallyabby.com. Of course, follow you on YouTube, across social media platforms, read your blog, all of those things. Abby, I just really appreciate you joining us and sharing some of your own story, and your insight and your wisdom.
Roth: Thank you so much for having me.
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