Meet Soliana Sapp, a mom of three who lives in Corvallis, Oregon. You probably recognize Sapp in her fluffy, pink bathrobe as she’s taken Instagram (and TikTok) by storm in the past few years. On her accounts, she shares unfiltered takes on motherhood, parenting and relationships for her roughly 900,000 thousand followers.

I first came across Sapp during the first COVID lockdowns, when I was desperate for something funny — or dreadfully, heartbreakingly — realistic to cling to. And there Sapp was, in her own kitchen, without makeup on, looking as frazzled (and fragile) as I felt.

Fast forward a few years and Sapp, who shares a freshman son, a fifth grade boy and a third grade daughter with her husband, is now an office manager at her younger kids’ school. So, while yes, she has a day job, she’s constantly riffing on what it’s like to parent teenagers, be snarky with your spouse, and yes, even got her #stitch featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show. In other words, she’s a riot and she’s only just getting started.

I had the chance to chat with her via Zoom — she was in her parked car chatting with me, her bubbly persona clearly showing — for Scary Mommy.

Scary Mommy: How’d you get started doing all this and when did you make it big?

Soliana Sapp: I started during the pandemic when we were locked down in the house and a friend introduced me to TikTok and said it seemed like something I would like. I am just a very animated person in general and I loved it. I feel like probably in the last year, maybe year and a half, it’s kind of taken off a little more than it has before that.

SM: What is it like having a day job and being Instagram famous?

SS: Oh, insane. I stayed home up until our youngest started kindergarten a few years ago… right when COVID was releasing people into the wild, I found a job within the school system, so I’m able to bring them to school with me. It’s been great in that aspect. And then since this has taken off a little bit more… I mean if you look at my videos, I’m basically click my phone and I’m done. I’m not an editing-lights-production type of a person.

SM: That’s what is so appealing.

SS: Really it’s legit reality for it. It’s just I put it down, I do my thing and I’m done.

SM: What do you see yourself doing with it? What’s your goal?

SS: Gosh, honestly, I mean my goal is just to make new time mommies or even moms that have been in the game for a while just to feel okay with the struggle, to feel like they’re not so alone or isolated, because it’s very isolating. My husband is in the military and is also a police officer. So for 90% of raising our children, it was just me. And I mean, I would seek that adult interaction or just something with somebody. Everyone’s busy with their children and their family. So… just relating to the fact that it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. It gets grimy and it’s okay. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes there’s not, but it’s just to bring hope and laughter to the yuck is really my goal. The big picture part, I mean, I just want to keep doing that just to be a little glimmer of something into somebody’s day.

SM: You seem like a very positive person.

SS: I try to be positive. Yeah, definitely, perimenopause is kind of sticking her little knife in me every once in a while and I’m like, ugh. I just feel like the world’s on fire all the time, and so if we can make our little whatever be a little happier, a little more positive, then it just makes the day a little easier.

SM: So what does your family think of your internet personality?

SS: Well, my husband and kids are just like, whatever, it’s you every day at home. Now the world just gets to see it. [My family knows] how wild and crazy I am already; women usually in the Eritrean community aren’t as ‘Ahh!’ as I am, and so they just think it’s funny. Or on The Kelly Clarkson Show with my hair crazy in a bow, then you’re not buttoned down and with makeup on. So they just think it’s insane and they’re like, “We don’t get it, but we love it. It’s fine, whatever.”

SM: So I need to know about the pink robe. How old is it? What inspired it?

SS: I’m a very frugal person, so I feel like it was a free gift for something else I bought as a gift for someone else. I’m constantly cold, and so I’m like, Ooh, it’s fuzzy. It’s nice. And once I started wearing it; it’s just been 8, 9, 10 years maybe.

SM: It’s a good life shelf of a robe.

SS: Good shelf life. I tell you that thing has been through a lot. It probably needs therapy on its own, but I went to wash it I think a month ago and I got cold. I’m just constantly cold. And so there was another robe that a friend had gotten me way back in my closet. I was like, oh, I’ll just wear that for a second while it’s drying. I walked out and my oldest looked at me and he’s like, “What is that?” I was like, “It’s a robe.” And he’s like, “Why are you wearing that?” They’re totally fine with the nasty pink robe… It’s just part of my DNA.

SM: Who are your favorite follows on Instagram now or TikTok?

SS: Oh man, names are so hard for me. Some faves include Annalee Grace (@annalee15): I feel like she just puts it all out there, is very relatable, whether it is mothering stuff or a relationship; Chrissy Allen (@csapunch); Libby Ward (@diaryofanhonestmom); Ashley (@ashelnok); Meredith Steele (@babiesofsteele); Nicki Marie (@nickimarieinc); Emily Feret @emilyjeanneferet; Ashley Desanno (@lotsamiles….we actually went to highschool together and are friends); TJ Therrien (@tj_therrien); and Bryan Ferreira (@bryguyferreira).

And all of them are honestly just real about life. They just put it out there, how they are, where they are, what they’re going through, and I just love authenticity and not covering up whatever, you know what I mean? Just putting it out there the way it is in real life.

SM: Who have been some of the most fun or exciting follows that you’ve gotten?

SS: Probably those same ones, to be honest with you. Molly The Mom, she does the dancing and she’s been fun. Someone’s like, oh, do you have any celebrity followers? I’m like, I don’t know. I feel like I’d be more excited for these other moms that I’ve watched kind of go through it, follow me back to know, because that means they get it and they understand and they’re relating to my reality, which makes me feel like, okay, this is awesome.

SM: Are you an Elf on the Shelf person?

SS: No… I am going to sound like such a Grinch, but I despise Christmas. It is not my jam. Thanksgiving on my side of the family is a huge holiday. We go back and forth every other year to my parents’ house and there’s just a house full of 30 or 40 Eritrean people and we stay together for four or five full days in one home… And there’s food and ridiculousness and games and just, it’s insanity. My kids literally are like, okay, 364 days till we get a go back, mom.

SM: Oh, that’s so sweet.

SS: It is just full of love. Growing up, when we came to America, we didn’t really know really what the whole Santa tree thing was. And my parents did their best and they did a wonderful job, but it was never what I see now as a mom. What other families do… I just can’t. So no we don’t have Elf on the Shelf, I don’t do the whole big house. I have a dead wreath still from five years ago that I tried to reuse. I am very practical and I try to keep it magical for the children, but also practical.

SM: When did you come here then with your parents?

SS: We came in the late ‘80s. And I went back with my mom in ’93 for a little while and came back.

SM: Do you go back a lot still or no?

SS: No, our country’s not great right now. I want to go back when I can take my husband and kids and he’s [the country’s president, Isaias Afwerki] not allowing that access right now, so we’re just going to wait and hopefully things will change…I think he was compared to Saddam Hussein.One of the worst dictators in the world.

SM: Yeah. Oh god. Well, hopefully they’ll get there at some point.

SS: I hope so.

SM: Okay, onto more fun things. What are the stupidest trends you’re seeing with kids?

SS: My kids, not really because their hair is already curly just from the mixture of my husband and I, but a lot of kids have been perming their hair and wearing it long. A lot of long curly hair apparently is a thing. But they are perming it, which I feel like is very interesting. I didn’t know anyone but grandmas that did that, but okay. And just the language is like, “Oh, I cook up, my drip.” I cannot keep up. I pick up my kiddo from basketball and I don’t understand half the language.

SM: I used, whatever word it was, it wasn’t as obvious as” riz” with my kid the other day. And he was like, “Oh my God, you used that word correctly.” I’m like, “Yeah, look at me.”

SS: Good job, mom.

SM: But it’s true. It’s like, what’s even happening?

SS: Crazy. And the music, and I feel so old saying this, but I feel like it’s horrendous. I mean, you can’t understand it. Blah, blah, blah, blah. How do we like this right now?

SM: It’s not even rap. It’s like this horrible fake, no.

SS: My kids listen to it and love that. But then they’ll switch up to this. I’m like, how can you even compare?

SM: So do you ever go karaoke, and if so, what’s your go-to karaoke song?

SS: Oh, I love Whitney Houston. We have a karaoke machine at home. Just a little speaker with a microphone and we have our TV set. Oh yeah, my family, we do it… My brothers must have gotten it for my daughter, but it became a family thing.

SM: What are your songs?

SS: My kiddos will listen to Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Whitney Houston. Gosh, a lot of nineties.

SM: So, besides your videos when you’re making fun of yourself or your kids or whatever, how do you blow off steam at the end of the day? What’s your go-to screw it all?

SS: Our days are insane. Our evenings are crazy because I’m basically just chauffeuring them around to all their activities. But once we get home, it is just eating and talking about our day. While the kids will do their whole shower/bath thing, I will either read my book or just talk to my husband, sit on the couch across from him or by the fire and just chit-chat for a while.

SM: What have you been reading lately?

SS: I just finished a Jodie Picoult book and someone’s telling me to read… is it Colleen Hoover? It Ends With Us? And I usually love true crime, to be honest with you. Anything suspicious or gripping.

SM: So speaking of recommendations, do you watch any television? If so, what are your favorite shows right now?

SS: My husband and I started House of Cards. We are old school, so it takes us a really long time to catch up. We’re never home to watch TV… And then since it’s been icy and once it starts raining, I hate running outside, so I will run on my treadmill and I started watching First Wives Club… It’s been fun, honestly. I love watching Black women actresses come together and act.

SM: What’s the thing your kids have done that made you the absolute maddest that you’re just like, that you’re willing to share?

SS: Our biggest thing I think is just lying. Just tell us the truth. Just don’t lie. That gets me the worst. Especially if it’s something like you see it and you witness it. That just really irritates me. But other than that, it’s just normal stuff of help out a little more. This is your home too. We all work, we’re all doing this trying to survive. And that’s been the hardest being at work and not being home. It’s just everything feels like it’s falling apart. And I feel like making these videos also is therapeutic to me and having other people be like, that’s what my house looks like or that’s what my struggle is. Because sometimes I’m like, am I failing? What am I missing? My mom worked – first of all – she came to America with nothing and then she worked three or four jobs at one time, six to seven days a week. And I feel like she had it way more put together than this. So I struggle with that aspect of it.

SM: I know you had a video the day about teenagers that you’re like, “What the hell?” And I’m curious what’s been the most surprising but yet obviously shouldn’t have been surprising thing about raising teens?

SS: My oldest is a lot like me, and so we butt heads in that aspect of things, but he’s very empathetic and very loving and we’ve been always so close. And so my least favorite has been as he’s grown and he has this little group of friends that are amazing, him leaving for, which sounds stupid, but trick or treating it was in the last year or two. “Okay, I’m going to go with my friends and do this.” Oh, okay. It’s not just the family anymore. They’re starting to kind of branch off and want to experience things and do things without, who wants their mom around at that age anyway? I get it. That’s been my least favorite.

Communication’s super low. Very, very least favorite. But having one-on-one time with him where even if it’s just him sitting in the front car on the way home or after the littles have gone to bed and he gets to just stay up a little bit longer, those conversations, no matter what they are, are probably my most favorite. I mean, I miss the snuggles and the constant togetherness part of it, but the intimate moments that have taken over just that are very few and far between, but still just very impacting.

SM: Yeah, I get that. It’s a weird age especially, I mean your kid is older than mine, but that push and pull of them is very interesting to watch in real life.

SS: Yes, they want you there, but they don’t.

SM: And they need you there in certain ways.

SS: Yes. And I’m just walking that line of is this it? Nope. Nope, not right. I have to let lead that while also trying to be a parent.

SM: Do you have a personal motto?

SS: Laugh more. I mean, that’s it. There’s so many out there that’s like, be you and do this and do that. But just laughter for me.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Photographs by Zach Lewis

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Kate Auletta

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert

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