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If you don’t already follow Jenna Fischer on Instagram, please do yourself a favor and go follow her right now.
Go ahead — I’ll wait.
The Splitting Up Together star recently started creating Instagram stories at the behest of her co-star, Oliver Hudson, and trust me, the Internet is a whole lot better for it.
Because while Fischer may be a successful actress by day — who gets treated to hair and makeup on set and sometimes attends fancy awards shows — she is, at the end of the day, just like the rest of us. She’s still got dishes to wash and rooms to vacuum and kids to drive to school drop-off.
And, just like the rest of us, she’s not always sure if she’s getting this Instagram Story thing right.
“I sometimes get such anxiety about them, because I feel this pressure to make them good and I feel like they’re boring,” Fischer admitted to Babble, at a recent press event hosted by Blue Bunny ice cream in New York City.
Same, Jenna. SAME. (Except, to be fair, I don’t have 1.2 million followers watching mine, so if my stories tend to bore my four friends and my aunt who lives three states away, oh well.)
For the record, Fischer’s stories are the total opposite of boring. But that honest and open realness is precisely what keeps bringing her followers back for more. It’s also what keeps viewers coming back to her endearing divorce comedy (because yes, that’s now a thing), which airs Tuesdays on ABC at 9:30/8:30 central.
The half-hour sitcom follows the story of Lena and Martin, a couple with two kids who have decided to amicably part ways after more than a decade of marriage. But instead of selling their house and shuffling the kids back and forth between them, they decide to give this whole “bird-nesting” thing a try — the practice of keeping the kids in one house, while the parents either cohabitate in the same space or rotate between staying at home with the children.
In doing so, Splitting Up Together aims to show the other side of divorce — a positive one we don’t often see.
Because while divorce can be sad, and painful, and at times uncomfortable, it’s also an experience that millions of Americans go through each year; and it doesn’t always have to be defined by the end of something. Sometimes, it can be the beginning of something pretty great.
“I’ve had these amazing conversations with people who have opened up to me since they’ve been watching the show,” Fischer tells Babble. “I had a young woman who came up to me and said, ‘I just want to thank you for your show, because I come from a divorced family and I feel like I’m finally seeing myself on TV … my parents are really great parents, they just weren’t a great married couple, [but] they’ve created a warm, loving family and it’s just not something we see a lot.'”
While it wasn’t too long ago that the concept of bird-nesting was met with some serious side-eye, it’s becoming more and more common. And according to Fischer, it’s really all about choosing to set aside your differences and raise your kids in “the healthiest, most thoughtful way,” which at the end of the day, is all any parent — divorcing or not — would want for their kids.
When she’s not busy filming her show, Fischer is busy running after her two kids, 6-year-old Weston and 3-year-old Harper, and she admits that being a TV mom is definitely a lot more glamorous than everyday mom life. (The biggest difference, she notes, is that “when you’re a TV mom, you get to work and someone serves you breakfast and does your hair and makeup — when you’re a real mom you serve the breakfast and you do no hair and makeup.”)
Just like a lot of busy parents, Fischer says, “so much of my brain is focused in on the kids, that my own self-care definitely comes second.”
Still, Fischer’s on-screen counterpart, Lena, isn’t too far a cry from who she is at home.
“She’s just an amplified version of me,” says Fischer. “Pam was me 15 years ago, and Lena is me now. I love lists, I love being a parent … she’s this expression of this highly-organized part of me.”
Of course, it took some time to find her footing, and now that she’s six years and two kids deep into this parenthood thing, it seems like she’s finally there. But as a new mom starting out, she still faced a lot of the struggles and worries we all do — things she wishes she wouldn’t have stressed so much about, now that she looks back.
“I think anything I would tell my younger self, my younger self wouldn’t listen to anyway,” says Fischer. “But [I would probably say] the same thing my mother told me when I became a new mom, which was, ‘Everything’s gonna be okay. You’ve got this. You don’t have to stress or worry, you don’t have to take anything too seriously.'”
Of course, Fischer knows that’s way easier said than done. Especially when you’re in those early days of newbornhood, sleep-deprived and hormonal.
“It’s such an overwhelming life change,” she says. “It’s why [we] joke about why the new parent brings two suitcases of stuff to the park and the parent that has [three or four] kids brings nothing. Because they know it’s all gonna be okay, it’s all gonna work itself out.”
Ultimately though, Fischer says it doesn’t matter what advice you give any new mother, because “everyone has to take the journey themselves.” And that journey — for all its twists and turns, and ups and downs — sure is a pretty incredible one.