It’s been over 3 months since the pandemic started to deeply impact the United States. How has life changed for Michael, Pele and their three kids? In pretty much every way imaginable. Michael and Pele reflect on their “new normal” including school, their relationship, and family time. Through the conversation, they conclude that this is a time for radically reimagining everything about life. But, don’t forget to still have sex!
[00:32] Pele Bennett: It’s been four months since we have heard of the first case of Covid and since the pandemic has spread and we’ve been on lockdown in our homes and our cities, in our communities, away from our family and friends. And now we’re four months out, it’s July. And now we’re contemplating and thinking about what has changed in our society culturally, and also what hasn’t.
[00:55] Michael Bennett:. I feel like there’s such a disconnect between reality and fantasy. And I think, like, people feel like it’s a conspiracy. Is the virus real or is it fake? And all you know is that you see people dying. You’re like this virus is real. But you see other people who aren’t wearing masks because they think it’s not real. So it’s like it’s a hard thing. And I think that’s the thing that we’re not really paying attention to as American citizens, is how much empathy we have to have for other fellow human beings by wearing a mask and doing all the proper things that you see in other countries. And I think in America, I’m not sure if everyone is taking it as seriously.
[01:35] Pele Bennett: I think in the beginning I even was, you know, not taking it as seriously. I was like, oh, stay healthy, you know, wash your hands and have a positive spirit. But now, after four months, I’m like, no, like, you really have to go out of your way to take proper measurements of, you know, how you’re interacting with people, what you’re doing. But going out your way, like, if you’re seeing someone walking towards you now you’re like dodging the person, like you’re really doing stuff that you normally wouldn’t do everyday. And then you’re also still stocking up on food and stocking up on your toiletries. In the beginning, I was like, you know, have enough for what you need, but because it’s so unknown, the panic on everyone, I think, is still existing.
[02:16] Michael Bennett: It’s so crazy because like, if you rewind in October, if somebody sneezed, you would say bless you. If they cough you like, are you OK? But now it’s like one of those things if a motherfucker cough or sneeze, you look for the red tape and be like, we need to put them in segregation. It’s so crazy because you don’t know am I infected? Am I not infected? So I just feel like in America we just we kind of opened up things — it’s hard for this country, a capitalist society, not to be open. They’re weighing humanity versus the capitalistic mindset. And it’s like these cities and the states are opening knowing that there’s an opportunity and more chances of people actually getting the virus. But the greed and the need to have these material things that need to be first, the need to have those, is actually I feel like setting us backwards as a society and culture. And you add in the riots, you add in the protests, you add in George Floyd, you have a cocktail that’s ready just to explode because there’s so many different variations of people’s pain happening at once. And I think the government needs to do a better job of controlling — or not sense of like controlling — but really giving people a true honest narrative. It’s like if we don’t have that narrative, people don’t know what to trust. And then unfortunately, we’re dealing with a president 45 that people just don’t trust. They just don’t trust him. So people aren’t really like believe in what’s happening. It’s just like there’s disconnect between the powers that be in the governing body and the actual people that the government actually governs.
[03:55] Pele Bennett: Yeah, I would say one thing out of these four months that I’ve really noticed that is really different amongst everyone — and I mean, you know, within humans, within government, within city, states, countries is a value. I feel like that word, value, you know, everybody has their own term on how they value something. And like how you value your food, how do you value each other, you know, humans, your family, how do you value your government? You know, how do you value your mayors? I think that we’ve been learning so many different things because of all of these bumps in our road as we’ve gone through these four months. I feel like the word value keeps coming up and everyone has their own definition and terminology on how do you value something? How do we value this life? Unfortunately, it even has come to that. How are treating each other, how people are, you know, bullying and people are targeting people that had Covid. And then it goes into race, people bullying people who are, you know, from China in the beginning of this year. And I think that we keep putting our own value people, on things, on issues. And that is what is keeping us separated.
[05:04] Michael Bennett: It’s low-key animalistic how people react in these times of survival. It’s like people go into this mode, I must survive, and their survival is more important than the next person. I think there’s a bit of selfishness, a culture of selfishness. When we look at the amount of things that are happening around us, we look at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all these different types of platforms, just like we build up these identities for ourselves to, you know, to be disconnected from society and have our opinions. But knowing that ours is the most important. And it doesn’t matter whether people think. I think that in this situation, we’re suffering from that because we’re suffering from this idea that I just want to live my life. YOLO, YOLO. So it’s like when you think about that, it’s like that’s a terrible mindset to have when you think about the older generation of people who have lived a whole life. But for some reason, we want to be in the pool. We want to be in the club. We want to be at everything that doesn’t really matter when it comes to the idea of clinging to life. And I think when we look at our society now, we’re just suffering from so many hardships because of those ideologies and I think is hard for us to move forward when we talk about the future of America, because there’s such a broken down connection between the haves and have-nots in this world.
[06:21] Pele Bennett: But that does take it back into survival mode. Because you think of America, there’s so many different ways that people struggle. I’m using that term like survival. Some people eat because they’re hungry. Some people eat because they’re just surviving. You know, and I feel like in America, there are so many disparities where we have oppression in different communities, in areas that people are like in survival mode every single day. And then now it’s come where every single person is in survival mode. Some people might, you know, have the means to be separated and still have their food, but they still have to protect themselves regardless, whether they’re having people come, you know, send in their food or they’re having someone pick them up, you know, whatever that looks like. It’s like everyone at this moment is literally in survival mode, pandemic-wise. But then you have the other survival mode. You know, you have Black Lives Matter survival mode. And that is a different conversation. But what I’m saying is like there’s these layers now, but I feel like people are opening their eyes, not maybe understanding, but they’re seeing that when you are in survival mode, you’re helpless.
[07:38] Michael Bennett: How do you navigate this helplessness during this pandemic with your kids? How do you reflect and talk to them about the situation? How do you talk about them about change and what’s happening in their schools and all this kind of stuff? Because as parents, our job is to protect our children. And at this moment, when there’s a virus that’s in the air, we don’t know how to protect our children. How do we protect our children? And we put them in a place to keep them sheltered so much that we protect them, do we put him back slowly? How do we slowly transition them into society in a way is almost like when everybody comes out of this is like they’ve been in this solitary confinement, but it’s like they forgot how to maneuver within society. And now the children who need these develop more skills to be better humans, but now they are stuck in these homes. How do we continuously push our kids towards, you know, being better citizens and figuring out what they can do as individuals?
[08:34] Pele Bennett: Yeah, I think it’s that we’re thinking, oh, when is everything going to get normal? But that is also knowing that it’s not going to be normal. So everything that you’re going to do moving forward with your family and yourself, you have to recreate this idea of what the world looks like for you. It’s almost like, you know, when I stopped eating meat. So everything I started eating, like tofu or soy, I was like, it kind of tastes like it, but, you know, I didn’t like it or it wasn’t close enough. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t that I needed it to be similar. I needed a new mindset of that tasted like that. Not because it tasted similar to sausage, you know, or turkey or meat. The soy is just the soy. And I feel like moving forward with our children is that we have to recreate and literally use your imagination. Also use your life skills that you already have naturally and recreate these new things that they’re going to have to learn. Recreating new fundamentals, new foundations for your family, for your children. And I actually think that, for me personally, I feel that it’s really refreshing because it’s like you get to strip everything off. Like you’re refurbishing it now. You already have the bones and, you know, the concrete. You have all of that. But now you’re going to redo it and you get to do it even better. But obviously that takes like a lot of time and it takes a lot of energy, you know, as a parent. Parents have so many things on their table already, but it does give you a chance to start a new beginning.
[09:55] Michael Bennett: I kind of want to reflect on how we first talked to the kids about the pandemic, which is kind of interesting, too, because it’s like they know something has happened, especially our 13-year-old, she’s got CNN alerts and knows what’s going on. So it’s like you really can’t beat around the bush and really talk to her on a level of like, you know, lots of us as parents, we don’t think our kids understand at high levels. In this case, she really does know what’s happening. Trying to explain to her and not have her freak out because she has a worrier bug. She is spraying everything and wiping stuff down. But the smallest one, she has no care in the world but trying to walk through a place and telling her not to touch something, it’s her way of really experiencing the world. She wants to touch, she wants to engage. So having the conversation with her was — I feel like it was harder.
[10:58] Pele Bennett: Yeah, because kids use all of their senses to communicate, to experience, but now we’re just verbally talking. And then if we’re out, adding a mask on there. You know, that is a whole new thing that the kids are learning, but we’re all learning. And so I think that just continuing to support it. And it’s like parents have broken records already. So now we have all these new things we have to add to our album is, you know, keep on the mask. Wash your hands, which, you know, like doubling up everything. But definitely I would go back to Peyton because she is 13 and she does read a lot. She’s a bookworm. And she read so many things where I’m like, where did you read this? How did you know about this? But the great thing is that she’s also open to having a conversation. I feel like she’s 13, so she’s not at the point where I feel like maybe I was, where you read something, you make your mind up and that’s your opinion and you’re like, no, this is what I believe and that’s it! But she’s still open to conversation. So not saying that I want to sway her, but I really want to see, like, why do you think that? And then I feel like it’s also mind-blowing to see her empathy, she’s becoming her own person, she’s having her own voice, which is beautiful. Some stuff she does say I’m like, what in the world? But most of the time, I am really excited to have these conversations with her.
[12:25] Michael Bennett: Yeah. I also think, like, having these conversations makes you closer, because as parents sometimes we have walls up, we don’t really want our kids to really grow up. We want to keep them this way. Keep them in this little box, like little dolls. And now they start to get older, they start to break out of our boxes that we want to keep them in. And like you said, they’re slowly getting intelligent, but slowly having a sense of understanding. And these conversations are very, very hard. So as parents, I would say, you know, you got to have these conversations even though the realities of the world are so harsh, and this is a dark moment. But if we’re not having these conversations with our kids, they’re going to get the information. And how do you take that information on how they react to, it if don’t have a conversation with you, it’s going to be on you because you were scared to have those conversations. So you let YouTube answer those questions for you. You let CNN answer those questions for you. And God, please don’t let Instagram answer those questions, or TikTok. If you do that, you’re not gonna be the one who’s going to shape their minds to really have a sense of understanding.
[13:39] Pele Bennett: That’s it, right there. Because obviously, even adults, we all get influenced daily by news, by media, by the TV, by friends, by neighbors, we get influenced. It’s really up to us what we do with that information and how we take it. And for Peyton, I think that it’s OK for her to see these things. But now we’re also teaching her how to process those, you know, not only just having a conversation, also teaching them how to process the information. Because you think of kids that, you know, read something or hear something that’s a negative and then what do they do with it? You know, even that little in-between of getting the information and then coming up with your idea or your opinion. I feel like there’s a hole in between on how that person is processing that. And I think that is important also, even for the nine year old and our six year old is like, how do you process? Once you get it, what do you do now? You know, like do you react? Do you like there’s so many different things which actually is making my mind blown. There’s so many different layers to them receiving knowledge.
[15:15] I feel like there’s a lot of evolution happening within families, and transition and transformations. Personally, I think we kind of started to really feel like what is it that we want to do as a family? What do we want to do individually? And it’s a slow process. But at the same time, it’s a process that is needed, because sometimes we’re moving so much. This process of being able to be still and have these conversations and I think, life together has changed. I feel like we’re doing way more stuff together than we usually do. And that’s saying a lot because we usually do a lot of stuff together. And you put that on top of doing more. It’s been very interesting because even things like riding bikes or just constantly moving and doing things together, I think it allows your family to have a sense of growth. And I think even in relationships, we have to have those moments. Me and Pele, we’re taking walks.
[16:25] Pele Bennett: Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we still have our arguments and our disagreements. I think, like, obviously, everyone is not peachy keen in their homes. You know, you’re going to have your ups and downs. But I think that when you do have your downs, it is actually more empowering when you can get over them, because in this point, you know, you run away, like I’m going to go to the store. I need to walk this off. You legit can’t leave. It’s like you just got married. You moved out into your first house together and then get into a big fight. And then you’re like staring like, well, where are you going to go? Like, you can’t go anywhere. You have to, like, just face it. But I think, like having disagreements is growth. Everything is going to be positive all the time. So if you can not have an argument and then come out on top, you know, whether you agree to disagree, but at least you also use your voice. You said your opinion. And then sometimes you keep moving forward. Now, I will say sometimes it is really hard for me to move forward. Sometimes I will really be in a mood.
[17:33] Michael Bennett: I used to try, but now I’m like, if she’s mad, just let her be mad.
[17:40] Pele Bennett: But you know, that’s another thing to progress in, when you get into these modes and then you’re just like, how do you move forward with it? You know, do you be mad all day? Because you’re in the house with that person, you’re in the house with the children. If they’re driving you crazy, you’re in the house. So I just have to applaud everyone because I know there’s so many people out there that are doing everything they can for their families, you know, for people that they probably had to last minute help, you know, family members or friends, who knows someone struggling, someone’s situation right now. But everyone is doing the best that they can.
[18:15] Michael Bennett: Everybody’s out there doing the best they can? You got your headphones on right now. You listening? Don’t take the sex away, though, people.
[18:21] Pele Bennett: I thought you were going to say something nice.
[18:23] Michael Bennett: This is nice. Don’t take the sex away.
[18:25] Pele Bennett: I thought you were going to say, like, keep going.
[18:28] Michael Bennett: Keep going. Yeah. Actually, keep doing it. Have as much, you know, sex as you please. In these moments, you know, it’s time I feel like there’s going to be a baby boom.
[18:39] Pele Bennett: Do you know how many people we know that got pregnant during these four months?
[18:46] Michael Bennett: But actually, do you regret anything that we’ve done to the pandemic? I actually don’t regret much. I think the circumstances that were laid on us, we reacted pretty good.
[18:58] Pele Bennett: I can’t really say what I would regret because I don’t know what I could have even predicted. So I don’t know what I would have regretted. But I will say what I missed, due to lockdown, is just socializing with family. Because we have a busy lifestyle where we’re constantly moving. But we do still see our family, you know, whether they come to us or we visit them or, you know, we meet someplace else. We do have like a special bond with, like, different family members on both sides of our family.
[19:48] Michael Bennett: I have to say, like Pele’s family and my family, we didn’t do as many Zoom calls as Pele’s did. Pele’s family were having weekly Zoom calls with family all around the world. I think that’s a good thing.
[20:00] Pele Bennett: That was new for us. Like literally my family all over the world. So we’re talking about Australia, New Zealand, U.S., we’re all in different countries. And this was the first time that was really bringing us together. But also Zoom is so nice, because you do get to see people’s faces. You see their reactions when you’re talking to someone. So it does feel more personable. Just having that connection with people that have stories of your family growing up and, you know, reconnecting and learning about your grandparents or an uncle or like something they did. But also in person, not having that connection with all the kids. Like all of our little nieces and nephews that are growing up. You know, there’s so many different changes in them because kids grow so fast. That’s just one thing I miss.
[20:55] Michael Bennett: When you start to see your family getting gray hair and stuff like that, you start to realize just how quick and fragile life is. You know, we’ve had a family members who lost family members in this pandemic. You realize how fragile life really, really, really is. And it makes you appreciate the family members that you have and the relationships that you have with your family. But I wouldn’t really change you think too much about the pandemic.
[21:22] Pele Bennett: One thing I learned a lot was homeschooling.
[21:40] Michael Bennett: Home school was hard. I can’t even lie. Like, I think a lot of parents are super stressed out, trying to pull out their hair. Me and Pele, we were trying to handle our own businesses that we got going on, and then trying to manage our kids.
[22:33] Pele Bennett: Home school is difficult because you are used to having a teacher. So when you’re now going on Zoom, going online with the teachers, the teachers need us just as much as you need them, like attention-wise. They’re like, can you please sit next to them to make sure they’re paying attention, or grab the book, or they need this material and sometimes you’re like, damn, I feel like I’m doing so much like do I need you? Because you end up doing so much and it does take time from what you need to do. So I think that has been a big learning curve, how to get everything you need to do done, but as well, you know, assist the kid and the teacher.
[23:06] Michael Bennett: That was a great explanation of why the teachers in America should be getting paid more, as we talk about changing America. Being home, I realize how much teachers go through. Everybody’s like, “my kid’s not that bad,” then you’re at home with them and you’re like “goddamn, my kid is bad as hell.”
[23:36] Pele Bennett: We did tell the teacher, “I’m sorry I didn’t know.” There was a lot of, you know, little yelling, little tantrums going on here and there. And I mean from myself as well. I’m like, this is so hard. But once you get the system, it definitely mellows out. And but you still have bumps in the road, and I think that’s going to continue for the rest of the year with so many kids, you know, going to summer school. And then like, what are you doing in fall? Is school starting back up?
[24:55] Michael Bennett: I’m just kind of worried about if our kids are put back into the school system, what are the chances of them getting this virus, and how serious would it be? Is it gonna be like it is something where as a parent, we’re gonna be fearful every day? And if our kids get it, do we get it? It’s just a whole crazy, crazy thing. I think right now we’re just in this moment of just like panic and not knowing.
[25:36] Pele Bennett: But we’re also living virtually. It’s like a movie, it’s like Black Mirror. You know, everyone stays in their house and we communicate and live virtually. And we’re legit doing that right now. Is that kind of a good thing at the moment that we’re able to do that?
[25:57] Michael Bennett: I think the virtual thing is good, couple-wise. You also see the amount of work that your partner does. During the pandemic. I felt even more appreciation for my wife, the amount of stuff that she’s doing and what she handles. It’s something to be happy about, to be able to look at your partner and be like, I’m so happy that this is the person that I chose to spend my life with. I think a lot of times when we move so much, especially being an NFL player, I feel like a lot of times I feel like that’s why divorce happens so much in this league is because a lot of times people are with people, but because we’re moving so much, we’d never really still. And we realize, dang, I like the way she looked, but I don’t really like the way she does things. Or vice-versa. The job allowed you to get the best of that person and then they were gone some of the time. And now we’re in a situation where you at home and now you’re in this cocoon.
[28:14] Pele Bennett: You’re right. I think that football life is crazy. But I think it is important that everyone is doing something because I’d rather be doing something than just be, you know, doing nothing, laying on the couch, watching TV. Like for me personally, like, that’s just not productive. Nothing’s getting done. But it’s also setting an example in a family and setting a tone, you know, for our work ethic within the family is that we all have to put in, you know, not just work literally, but we all have to put in in general. We have to put us into this family individually, because that is what makes us and that’s what keeps us thriving and going and moving. And we all add value to the family as well.
[29:28] Michael Bennett: I think we as individuals and we as a family had to reconstruct our values. I was listening to Toni Morrison and she was saying we have to stop saying “reinvent ourselves.” We have to start to say “reimagine ourselves.” We could see how we can even make our lives even better, not tearing it down, but just make it even better, being more consistent in certain areas allows you to really fulfill your needs of your family. And I think a lot of times reconciling with ourselves. And really looking at our faults and being able to really come and say, OK, I could do this better. Everybody hates being pointed out to something that they do that’s a flaw because it’s like you acknowledge in a flaw, you acknowledging that there’s something wrong with you and nobody ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever want to be able to be like, I’m flawed. But I think that is important because there’s two types of flawed people. There’s the flawed person who walks with flaws and says, I’m flawed. I’m going to double down on my flaws and it doesn’t matter what happens with my flaws. You just got to accept me with my flaws. And I think there’s the person who acknowledges their flaws and says, I want to reimagine myself.
[31:36] Pele Bennett: Flaws are to each his own as well, you know, and like how the dynamic of your relationship or your family works. So you see someone else’s flaw, that’s not a flaw for you, you know. Like, if there’s something that you keep doing that I’m like, ugh, Michael won’t fix this, that’s not his flaw necessarily. That’s a flaw I see for him that is not working for us. And I think that’s a way that we have to communicate, you don’t have a lot of flaws, but how we’re going to live, you know, and cooperate here, that flaw is affecting us, not you necessarily. But I think that’s how we’re doing with the children, how we’re doing with each other. When you start looking at these flaws, you know, they’re not bad things. They just don’t work for us or in this moment on what we’re trying to do. And I think if we communicate it that way, then not to put a Band-Aid over something or to make it sound pretty. But that is the truth, how I see it.
[33:22] Michael Bennett: I think some pro tips for this episode would be to really reimagine yourself. Don’t try to reinvent yourself, because that is constantly putting on another facade to fulfill that moment. But reimagining yourself or reimagining some things around you, it allows you to grow a lot more and to go a lot farther. Because accepting ourselves and loving ourselves is hard to do. Loving ourselves is important. And I think in these moments in the pandemic, I think that is one thing that we really figured out is like it’s OK for Pele have a moment by herself. It’s OK for us to love ourselves and love our families, too. Reimagining what that love feels like, because it allows you to dig deep into the psyche of yourself and the psyche of your past and the traumas to really change. And I think we look at America as a whole, reimagining the ideas and reformation and reform as a lot of the conversations that are are happening around us. And I think not only in a structural way, but also in a personal way and also in a spiritual way.
[34:55] Pele Bennett: Yeah, I like the reimagining because you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You’re going to reimagine what’s new and what’s to come. But with that being said is that I feel that we live for the future. So we’re constantly doing what we can now so that it’ll affect our future and our changes for what we want later. And I think during this pandemic is that to reimagine like today, don’t wait for tomorrow or for your month, you know, and love what you have now, because we keep striving and looking and searching and hunting for something better, for something greater, for something more. But that’s never now. Well, maybe in six months I’ll have this degree. Maybe in a year I’ll have this house. Maybe then. But it’s like, but why can’t you just love and be in a moment of what you have right now? And I think you could take the time and appreciate everything that you have at this moment, the roof over your head, a person in your life, you know, your job at the moment. Everything might not be exactly what you want. And maybe you do want to get to the next level, the next step. But don’t forget where you have come, because right now is still great. Right now is still special.
[36:15] Michael Bennett: What she said. That’s my wife, people. Not yours.
[36:17] Pele Bennett: So this is our second to last episode of this season. Next week on our finale episode of season one, we’re doing a best-of show, playing clips and talking about our favorite moments in the past season.
[36:31] Michael Bennett: Please subscribe to us or like us on anything that you’re listening to. Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you’re listening to get away from your family, whoever you don’t want to be around. And make sure you rate us or give us a comment. Even though we don’t give a fuck about your comments, give us a comment. Mouthpeace is a production of Lemonada Media, which you can find online on all social platforms @LemonadaMedia. You can follow me on social media, @MosesBread72. I love bread, and biblically, I always thought I was Moses.
[37:01] Pele Bennett: And you can follow me on Instagram at @pelepels. Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennet is executive produced by us, the Bennets. Mouthpeace is also executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. And of course, the whole team at Lemonada Media. Our producer is Genevieve Garrity and our show is edited by Brian Castillo. Thank you to our ad sales and distribution partners at Westwood One, and to all of our sponsors for making this show possible. Thank you for listening.