The Bestest Worstest Time with Roman Mars

The Mars family in 2007

The Mars family in 2007

When 99% Invisible host Roman Mars first heard two heartbeats on the sonogram, his heart sank. His wife, though, was elated. When the twins arrived, the never ending feedings and diapers and sleeplessness drove both Roman and his wife crazy. So crazy that Roman quit his job and moved the family halfway across the country to the Bay Area.

Roman likes to say that first year of his kids’ life was the worst year of his.

Last month, The Longest Shortest Time hit the road, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Roman live onstage at Awaken Café in Oakland.


Roman and I have been friends for a decade, but mostly we talk about work, so I’ve never really heard much about his twins. And Roman gets interviewed a lot, but never about his family life.


Armed with a microphone, I felt like I could ask him all the questions I’ve wondered but never asked. Plus, I brought along a few from my 5-year-old.


Tune in to hear how Roman once used his babies as a weapon against his boss; how he’s afraid he might’ve offended his single mom; and how the boys are completely different from him in one key way.

How are YOUR kids not like you at all? How are you nothing like your parents?
Good ways, bad ways. Give up the goods. Down in the comments.

Got multiples?
We asked our listeners for their favorite books and websites about parenting multiples, and they overwhelmingly said the best resource is talking to other parents of multiples in local meet-ups or online. There’s a listener-generated subgroup of Longest Shortest Time Mamas that many of our listeners use to get those connections. Join here!

A lot of parents say they like the book When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by writer and researcher Dr. Barbara Luke. Also the blog Girl’s Gone Child by mother of twins Rebecca Woolf.

And the multiples blog How Do You Do It? has a cool visual primer for all of us on the often confusing biology of identical vs. fraternal twins.

Add YOUR faves in the comments!

22 thoughts on “EPISODE #58: The Bestest Worstest Time with Roman Mars

  1. My parents were very cerebral high performing oldest children. I’m a slacker ADHD case who never finished college. I’m also very athletic, my parents never were. I’m now raising a son who is much like my parents. It’s nice because my son is more like my wife but some days sitting around the house all day is a drag. And I was so different than my parents I’m ok with him not being a miniature of me.

  2. On fairness and desserts: as one of two growing up, I think my mother nailed it: one child divided the cookie/dessert in half, the other chose their piece. Problem solved!

  3. I loved it when Hillary asked Roman if he feels like he’s doing a good job of both work and home. Women talk about that, but I don’t think men are usually asked. Over on the Facebook LST Breadwinning Mamas group, we talked about this, including how Roman evaluated his work/life balance on the basis of how well his kids are doing, and how we each evaluate ourselves on each dimension. Roman gave kind of a “well, I guess I’m doing OK because the kids are good” answer, but I think most of us who are primary breadwinners in our families would have gone on for quite a bit longer.

  4. I loved the questions Hillary asked Roman, too. And I am sure he appreciated how his role as a father was not belittled by things like “Oh you took both of your kids to the grocery store? WOW!”

    My big boy is very sensitive and routine-oriented. He doesn’t “roll with it” at all. This makes him much more like my husband. They share a sense of humor, too. We have a lot of fun together and love to go on “adventures,” but I have to remind myself to be patient with his need to turn everything into something familiar as quickly as possible. And we can’t just push his limits and expect him not to be a mess afterwards. It’s been a big learning curve for both me and my husband.

    My younger son is much more like me. We look more alike and he is very laid back. It’s always surprising how different they are. I think it’s easy to chalk it all up to birth order, but I wonder if it is really that simple?

  5. My parents are very religious (my father is a pastor) and I’m an agnostic (or is it “I’m agnostic”? not sure). Needless to say, that creates some additional differences in points of view…

  6. My parents divorced when I was very young and my mom was my primary caregiver, though I certainly saw my dad regularly. I grew up thinking that she was, well, just sort of zany. As an example: we went to pick my cousin up from the airport (this was San Diego, late 80s). I was probably 8, making my cousin 10. We got her and her suitcase and as we were walking back towards the car, my mom threw the suitcase in the back of this (random) huge pick-up and was like, “here we are!” My cousin was surprised (my mom did NOT seem the pick-up type) but sort of went with it while I was frozen. Just rooted to the spot. Would my mom stop at nothing for a laugh? And what if the REAL owner of the truck came out while we were there? The horror! Examples like this peppered my youth.
    And then, one day, not so many years ago, the truth came out. My mom explained that she wasn’t really all that nutty and irreverent. It was simply that she quickly realized what a serious, rule-following kid I was and felt that it was her duty, as a parent, to play a foil to that. To inject some levity and wit in the hopes that I might, one day, appreciate a little humor myself. She still says she can remember the first day I said something legitimately funny in conversation (I was WAY older than I care to admit).
    I gave birth to my first baby, a little girl, almost two years ago. And sometimes the magnitude of what my mom did leaves me just dumbstruck. She CHANGED the kind of parent she was because of the kind of kid she had. She acted in a certain way hoping to cultivate certain (seemingly dormant) traits in me. I had never heard of anyone doing anything like that before and it’s still not something you really hear about much when people talk about parenting but it has left an indelible mark on me. There’s something sort of freeing in knowing that your parenting style can, and maybe should, be dynamic and mutable and kid-specific. So, thanks mom!

    1. This story struck me because my mom did something very similar. I was a quiet introverted only child who was happy to sit with a book. And she would be zany and crazy and more social than was her preference to get me out of my shell and out of my book. Amazing to think about that as a parent myself now.

  7. As a child I cringed whenever I too many eyes ended up on me. And although I was good at it, I hated the performance of meeting my parents adult friends and couldn’t wait to be alone with my imaginary friend Callistra. Come to think of it, I much preferred one on one interactions. It was just less pressure. My 7-year-old, on the other hand, lives for moment she gets to come out and chat up one of our friends or the couple at the table next to us or young college students on the subway. She loves talking to people she doesn’t know. She feels no nerves, she’ll ask them about themselves, she’ll talk about herself and the things she likes to do, she’ll sing to them. She’ll even talk about me while I sit quietly next to her praying for it to be over. I’ve learned to let her be. I only intervene when I notice the couple wants to get back to their dinner, “lets give this couple some time to talk to one another my dear.” Usually, it takes about 2 tellings.

  8. As a mom of twin girls I have a hard time connecting to the statement “the first year is the worst” that many parents (especially of multiples) repeat. No shame or disrespect to others…I just find it interesting that it does not resonate with me or my story. Our journeys all are unique and the hardest part for me about having twins was learning of them at our first OBGYN appointment. I cried for three days afterwards and felt like the most undeserving person of this miracle. Others would tell me how jealous there were of me and the thoughts that would follow in my head are still embarrassing to admit. Truth be told, one of my sisters had twin boys 15 years earlier and the thought of living in her shoes did not just frighten me but mostly left me feeling angry. This was not part of my plan. But looking back it all makes more sense than I could have explained to my former self. Having twins prepared me to let go of control issues and embrace the messy disastrous loud moments as something so special. My husband and I joke that having one child would have been too boring for us. The first year of our life together as a family has the bestest best time. And while many will tell me I’m lucky to have “one and done” I feel a deep sadness that I most likely will not get to experience pregnancy and breastfeeding again. Two events that I realize woman may struggle with and find the hardest. But for me I loved those two things the most and I find it difficult to embrace that joy when surrounded by others who do not agree. It’s unfortunate that our culture focuses more on the negative aspects of parenting. It just makes me feel alienated.

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