(63) Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs with Leslie

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Working mom advocate and researcher, Leslie Forde, and I talk about moms’ needs, the destabilizing effect of motherhood, the positive shifts she’s seeing in workplaces, the three things moms reported wanting most in the pandemic, and the “grabbing the crappy potato” theory, which you’ve likely experienced too. 

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Brandy:  Hello Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. In today’s episode, I’m talking with someone, a hero, really, who does research studies on parents relating to their well being. But she also works with companies and corporations to make their policies and work cultures more family friendly. Like I said, she’s a hero. Today, this hero and I are talking about the destabilizing effect of motherhood, feeling like you didn’t get the working mom memo because it’s not coming easy to you, the positive shifts she’s seeing in workplaces, the three things moms reported wanting most during the pandemic, and the “grabbing the crappy potato” theory, which I have since trademarked and it’s about to sweep the nation. You’ll understand in a minute because you’ve likely grabbed the crappy potato too. On to the show.

Brandy:  So many of us acknowledge the hardships moms face; the gender inequality, the invisible labor load we carry, especially in this pandemic, and yet we ask, “What can we do about it?” Well, today’s guest, Leslie Forde is doing something about it. When I learned about her and her organization called Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, I knew we needed to connect. She understands the big picture of moms’ struggles, systemic and personal, is helping change things for all of us, and I can’t wait to hear more. So welcome to the podcast, Leslie. 

Leslie:  Thank you. I’m delighted to be here. 

Brandy:  I’m so excited to talk to you about all these things. I have a lot of questions. I’ve read through your website and your Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs Manifesto, and was loving everything I read, so you’re totally my people. I want to talk to you about specifics, but before we do, what do you think the listeners need to know about you?

Leslie:  Well, perhaps what’s most important is that I am a work in progress on this journey right along with all of you. I think there’s no perfection in motherhood, and no perfection and parenting, and no perfection in how to approach this. I’m evaluating, reevaluating, and tweaking my systems, my mindset, my processes as I go. Because at every stage, our kids change, what they need change, what we need changes a lot. So that’s something I think everyone needs to keep top of mind. It’s not like there’s a magic end destination, but a willingness and a desire to just be on this journey together, as imperfect as it is.

Brandy:  Thank you for that. Yes, and I’ve noticed, too, that the different ages that your kids are, you tend to be in a different category of thinking. The way that I think about it is when you have really little kids or maybe your first and you have a baby or a toddler. In my mind, I didn’t learn all the things that I was going to get seasoned by until they were a little bit older. Until I realized. That beginning era, I think sometimes we feel things but we don’t know what we’re feeling because we don’t really know what motherhood is and how it’s supposed to feel for us. Then I feel like around when the kids are three to five (usually that’s when a lot of people have a second kid) that’s when moms go, “Wait a minute, this is too much.” I don’t know that moms feel like it’s too much in the first couple years. They feel it, but to recognize it and be able to vocalize it, I don’t know that that happens. But then once you get moms with kids who are a little bit older, then all of a sudden they’re like, “Yeah, this isn’t sustainable.” Then you get moms with even older kids that are like, “Not only is it not sustainable, but here’s what I’ve learned.” So I feel like there’s different categories of where moms are in the stage of having their asses handed to them. {Laughs}

Leslie:  {Laughs} Oh, that’s so beautifully stated. It was the second kid that broke me. {Laughs} It was the second kid, and it was after the second maternity leave and returning to work when I completely crashed and just wondered. I thought, “Wow, there must have been a working mom memo that I missed because everyone seems to have this figured out. I clearly don’t have this figured out.” I just felt like a zombie. I would drive to work and forget how I got there. Or I would drive to work, get all the way there and realize I left the breast pump at home, and it would be an hour and I would have to drive all the way back. It was a fog, and it was  destabilizing. I think there’s a certain amount of disillusionment that we all go through when trying to reconcile this image of what we thought it would feel like and be like, and who we thought we’d be as mothers, as partners, as children to our aging parents, as caregivers to ourselves. All of that starts to become, I think, in play based on what’s going on in your family, what kind of infrastructure you have, and it takes some time, I think to give yourself permission to do things differently from the way you thought you would.

Brandy:  That is absolutely true. One of the words you just said, “destabilizing.” That seems like such an apt description of the way that it feels. That everything that you stood on before now is up in the air and it feels like a constant search for the thing that’s going to make it stable. This is why I’ve always said, “If I ever go into business to earn a bunch of money, I’m gonna make baby products that help them sleep.” Because how many times have you been up in the middle of the night like, “I can’t do this one more night” and you look at the Merlin Sleep Suit or something ridiculous but you’re like, “I will pay $80 because maybe this will work.” That’s trying to stabilize. We think it’s all the products and all the things and sometimes there are things—shout out to Fisher Price Rock n’ Play that got recalled—sometimes there are things that help you stabilize, and then sometimes it’s an inner thing that feels like a constant quest.

Leslie:  Absolutely. Interestingly, it means sleep is huge, right? I think that’s at the foundation of when you start to feel like you cannot tolerate it for another moment, when you start to feel that you are not doing well. At least for me, when I looked back on each moment, sleep and not getting sufficient sleep, and not having kids who slept well, all of those things were at the heart of not feeling good. But the Moms’ Hierarchy of Needs, it’s the whole thing. I’ve learned that it’s not really just one thing, or even five things, but it’s all the things that we do for our mental, physical, and emotional well being that allow us to survive, to cope, to be good to ourselves, to be good to our kids. We’re fed this story of self sacrifice. 

Brandy:  Yes!

Leslie:  We’re kind of handed the—because let’s face it, a lot of us—we’ve seen our mothers do it, we’ve seen our grandmothers do it, and so we step into that role, without even questioning it. 

Brandy:  Exactly.

Leslie:  I used to tell people, if you go anywhere in the world, I’ll bet you if there’s a funny chair that has a short leg, or if you’re cutting a piece of bread, and it’s the end piece, Mom’s going to take that, right? The mom is going to say, “No, no, why don’t you guys all be comfortable? Let me take the less optimal thing. We’re conditioned to that. But it becomes limiting and it becomes harmful. It has the negative consequence that we don’t expect, right? If you give to everybody else selflessly and you do not take care of your own well being, it’s time limited. It will ultimately hurt you, it will ultimately hurt your family, it will ultimately hurt your career. All things that many of us hold very central to our identity, and very central to how we think of our sense of self.

Brandy:  I just have to stop you because you touched on something that hits me so at the core, which is this thing, if you go anywhere—the chair with the short leg, the baked potato with the brown spot on it. I’m only saying that because these are things that I do all the time, and I think about them, and I’ve never really articulated them. But yes, when I’m making dinner and there’s a baked potato that has a brown spot, or is a smaller one, or something like that, that I know maybe there’s going to be bitching about, I would take it myself because I would rather not hear the complaint. As I’ve been through this process of taking myself back and not sacrificing as much, I’ve really had to look at, “So I’m always going to be the person that has the torn end of the bread.? I’m always going to be that person?” That’s not fair. It doesn’t come from self-love and it doesn’t come from equality.

Leslie:  Right! Oh, that’s exactly it. And it has a negative spillover into other areas of our lives. If you’re always giving yourself the bad piece of bread, the bad spot to sit in, the uncomfortable this, that, or the other, it does spill over. It spills over into the workplace, into partnerships. There’s a way to be generous, and loving, and warm, and accommodating to our families, but not in a way that is self-sacrificing or self-harmful. Figuring out that balance and finding the right boundaries and rules to set within yourself and with the people around you—it takes some time to figure out how to do that. Also it takes some time, frankly, to understand what your personal weight bearing walls are. What are the things that are going to help you stay solid and stable versus the things that are going to really unwind your applecart? And this was all pre-pandemic.

Brandy:  Oh, gosh, right? It was already hard enough and then the universe was like, “This is the final boss.” Actually, at this point, I don’t even think we’re at the final boss. I think we’re at the boss of the level—if I’m using this video game analogy—I feel like this is the fake boss that you think is the big boss. Because you just never know, a pandemic? I’m not saying I want anything harder to come, I’m just saying we didn’t think it was necessarily possible before, so I don’t want to just close the door and think I know it all.

Leslie:  This is part of it, right? The pandemic’s an extraordinary event, but life throws really difficult things in our paths all the time and one person’s “difficult,” isn’t necessarily another person’s “difficult.” 

Brandy:  Yes, true. 

Leslie:  But I will say collectively, as a community, of mothers, of women, of people, this pandemic has thrown everything difficult that might have been in your personal box of horrors. It’s like, “Afraid of germs? Guess what?” {Laughs}

Brandy:  {Laughs} Yes! I’m thinking of Hellraiser. I don’t know if you grew up in the generation that had the movie Hellraiser, where that guy is holding the box, Pinhead. He’s got this box and if you open it, it’s the hell box. So thank you for the visual. {Laughs}

Leslie:  {Laughs} On that cheery note—These are the tests that also lead to our rise. It’s usually through something incredibly difficult and destabilizing. There’s lots of aspects within motherhood, within working motherhood, within even just the journey as a child of parents who age, all those things that we experience, it starts to give shape to our spirit. It starts to kind of lead us on this path of strength. So there’s always that side to this. I feel it, I see it in the community, and I see it in mothers who are part of the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs world who write to me, who are in the survey. People are finding their inner strength in ways that they don’t expect, which is beautiful, of course. 

Brandy:  That is beautiful. Okay, so tell us about Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. Tell us how it came to be and what it exactly is. I know you have this Manifesto, but then your organization is called Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. So tell us more about what you’re doing and what that is. 

Leslie:  Absolutely. Well, it was after that terrible crash when my daughter was born, and returning to work, when suddenly I had gone from being in a job that I loved, I had taken on a promotion while I was pregnant—And back then (this is now a little over five years ago because she’s in zoom kindergarten) I just remember thinking, “Should I be nervous about this? Should I be nervous about taking on double the size of my team when I’m seven months pregnant? No, it’ll be fine.” {Laughs} I’m an optimist. So it’s like, “Oh, no, it’ll be fine.” I was assured that it would be fine. The reality was that when I came back to work, the conditions had changed in the organization. Something that happens all the time and is happening for many people right now through the pandemic. Suddenly the company had different priorities. Within a few months of coming back, I had three different people on one of my teams all have the need to go out on FMLA leave for completely different reasons, all unplanned. I had open positions that I needed to hire for that suddenly I couldn’t hire—the company was trying to become profitable. So all of that was happening. I was short staffed, I was sleeping in one hour increments, I had a newborn and a toddler and my job was requiring me to bring my most clear-thinking, strategic, Superwoman self, because that’s how they knew me and that’s how I established myself in my career. But I was depleted. I didn’t have it in me. Like many of us, what I thought the answer was, was just to work harder. It’s like, “Oh, well, things are falling apart, everything’s going sideways, I’ll just work harder.”

Brandy:  “It must be me. I guess I’m just not doing it good enough.”

Leslie:  Exactly. It’s like, “I’ll just work harder, that must be the answer.” And of course, it was not the answer. So the more depleted, burned out, and exhausted I became, the less effective I was as a caregiver to myself, the less happy I was, it was bad for everything, including being bad for my career and my job. When you are empty, is not the time that you’re going to come up with the breakthrough ideas. A lot of organizations, especially in our culture, where work is glam—the “burn out” approach to work has been glamorized for so long, right? When we hear about the big, successful startup founder, aside from the fact that is usually a man, but let’s put that aside for a minute. It’s usually a man, but even if it isn’t, it’s that person who ate ramen noodles at their desk and slept under their desk and worked 80 hour weeks and pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, right? It’s all of that glorified, American individualism and you don’t need anybody and no, you don’t need sleep, and you just need to have perseverance and grit and then you will be fine. 

Brandy:  Right.

Leslie:  We’re all raised on that and when I realized that I could not—and I’ve always been the person who didn’t need a lot of sleep. I have a ton of energy. But I couldn’t work myself out of this problem. The job wasn’t sustainable. I took a huge pay cut, I went to a much bigger company, and negotiated a four day work week. And I had one direct report instead of two large departments. 

Brandy:  Wow. 

Leslie:  Yeah. So it was a big shift. And it still took over two years to recover from burning out. During that time (it was toward the end of that time) I had a casual conversation with a dad. I was doing some advisory work for a mental health startup, and he said, “Why are moms so stressed?” And I said, “Well— {Laughs}

Brandy:  Oh, my God. How did you get out of that without a restraining order is what I want to know? {Laughs}

Leslie:  Well, I asked him, I’m like, “How much time do we have?” I explained and it was part of that explanation where I just said, “You know, there’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and then there’s Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs.” And as soon as I said it, I felt it. Something in my body just clicked. I became wildly curious about what it would look like. I drew it on a piece of paper that evening. I later turned it into a PowerPoint also later that evening. Then I just thought, “Would other moms see this the same way? How would they define it?” I solved problems in all the years prior to having kids through research. I started my career as a market researcher. It has been part of my professional journey for a long time. So I thought, “Okay, well, let’s see how other people feel.” So it was about 150 moms later and it was the first Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs research study, of which now there are lots of them, but that one allowed me to refine it. The hierarchy itself, I’ll just describe it since we’re on audio.

Brandy:  Yeah, please.

Leslie:  The base of it are all the things that we consider our foundational priorities; children’s well being and their health and their milestones, and then their activities and their education. Then the next layer up would be the household, and all the responsibilities we have in the household. Then as you get to the layer after that, and you start getting toward the top, then comes in our professional responsibilities. Then you have all those things at the tippy top for our mental, physical and emotional health, like self care, which by the way, in my world, in my pyramid, includes sleep, it includes movement, that does not mean spa days. It’s really the things you do for your physical well being that includes healthy relationships with other adults. It includes learning and fun and interest and growth. I wondered for myself, why am I never making time to get there? What is it that is preventing me from doing it anymore?

Brandy:  And then you’re like, “See bottom layer: Children’s well being.” Huh, interesting. {Laughs}

Leslie:  {Laughs} Yeah, you nailed it. That’s exactly it. Until I drew that little triangle, I was trying to do the impossible, and visualizing it changed my life. Because when I saw that everything at the bottom was never done—I mean, they’re all things that are never completed. 

Brandy:  Yes!

Leslie:  I’d always given myself permission to do the things at the top when everything else, quote, unquote, was “done.” So I then realized that I had to change everything about how I did everything. I became ruthless about carving out time for space at the top. I did not wait until it was convenient for people around me, I made it a priority. Some days, that priority meant that—and this is back when we still could travel so it might have been that before I was going on a business trip, I would go to the gym at 5:45 in the morning and run for 15 minutes, because that was all the time I had. Or it might be that I took 15 minutes before I fell asleep and passed out to journal something. It might have been that—and still this happens to this day, that if I can’t go running by myself, which I love to do, and it’s kind of my priority in the morning—but if I can’t, then I’m running behind my kids on their scooters, and I’m running little circles at the playground around them. Whatever I have to do to create some space for the types of things that help me physically, help me emotionally, help me mentally, and allow me to be all the other things and to have my other responsibilities at the bottom work. So that was the moment where my life changed, and I started writing about it because I thought, well, we all know that there’s a lot of systems, challenges, and problems. We all know that the way work works isn’t exactly friendly for working parents, let alone working mothers. It’s extremely unfriendly. 

Brandy:  Yeah.

Leslie:  We all know that our government system is among the least family friendly in terms of policies in the world, or at least has been traditionally. So I thought, there’s all these systems problems, there’s all these difficulties with gendered responsibilities in our homes, at least if we are partnered with a dad. So, what can I do today? What can I do this week? What can I do this month? I don’t want to wait for the cavalry to come in two years or five years. I won’t make it that long. What can I do now? So that was the lens that I used to recover from burnout, personally. I started interviewing amazing mothers, amazing experts, reading books about all of these aspects of personal development, but with the mom lens. What the “mom lens” means with the mom discretionary time lens, and the fact that not only do we have a plan A, we have to have a plan B, C, and D, if we’re going to carve out any space for ourselves. 

Brandy:  Right.

Leslie:  So that was the story and the research studies. Why was it so stressful? What was driving all of the challenge to get to the top? I started examining it from the internal perspective, like what are the stories we tell ourselves, why it’s so hard and how can we change them? Then over time, I increasingly (and I still do) weave back and forth between, “What can we do as individuals? And the systems that we work, live, and play in, how are they flawed?” Understanding how they’re flawed allows us to navigate them. Now that I work with employers on the business side of what I do, through Allies at Work, I’m trying to change the structure of work and make it so that the system that took me down, becomes one that’s supportive for other caregivers. Ultimately, we reach this point where caring for our kids, caring for our families, having a life is a normalized part of the human experience and we can work and play and run about the community with that expectation.

Brandy:  Something that you said is so important because on many of my posts, I have people say—when I’m pointing out some of the systemic problems, or the struggles with motherhood—people say, “But what can we do about it?” It’s so hard because I’m first enraged at the idea because it’s like, “Well, so now we have to caretake everyone, but now we also have to fix this problem on top of it.” I’m automatically like, “We shouldn’t have to fix it.” But we do, in a sense. We are contributing citizens and we want better, so we’re going to work toward better. But I think what’s so important is, I always talk about how there are these systemic things, and that feels sometimes like, “How do we even change that?” So then we look closer at our own environment, it’s like forests and trees, sort of. There’s a lot of things that we can do, boundary setting being one of the most major ones, I believe, for our personal lives. But you said something—”Understanding how the systems are flawed so that we can work around that.” That is super important, because that’s not like, “Well, you gotta start an organization, and then you gotta get on school boards and into City Council,” which all of those are—yes, do those things, too, for the people whom have the space and time and passion for that. But for somebody who is wondering, “I can’t go do all those things, but what else can I do?” I love that you pointed out that even just understanding the problems in the system is taking action, because then you know, and you can think to yourself, when you find yourself in a system and you’re like, “This doesn’t feel right,” you can go, “Oh, this system is actually set up so that I don’t thrive. How can I work around this?” Maybe that’s the next part of the conversation that us moms are having, too. The moms who have noticed these things is then, how do we work around them? I appreciate you pointing that out, because even acknowledgement is something and sometimes we feel like, “I need to be doing the big thing.” But acknowledgement is important.

Leslie:  Absolutely. I think you described really well that not everyone is going to approach the systems’ problems in the same way. Not everybody has the same capacity. Not everybody has the same interest, depending on the age, independence, and health of our kids, our partners, ourselves. All of those things shift over time, but there are steps. There’s always a step. And it can be a small step. It can be an intention around your own time, it can be an intention around how you show up in the workplace, how you show up in your home. It can be things that—frankly, I consider voting fairly simple. 

Brandy:  Yes, yeah.

Leslie:  Right? That’s, that’s a civic right that we’re all blessed with in the US and in many places around the world, it’s like, hey, show people. I believe voting in the system sense as citizens, but also, frankly, voting with your time, vote with your wallet, and what you spend money on. We are powerful as a community. Women control over—conservative estimates will say 85% to 90% of consumer spending. All consumer spending. There’s very few categories that are not controlled by women. If you think about that, and you think about these organizations that do not treat us, promote us, support us, allow us to—insert X, Y, Z—A lot of those organizations rely on our money. We don’t have to spend our money in places that don’t support women or don’t support us. We can support women businesses, we can support underrepresented founders, we can like or share something that we see on social media, from someone who’s trying to help and make changes. There are lots of small steps that we can take at the individual level, at the community level.

Brandy:  Yeah. I’m always an over-thinker. There’s so many complicated layers of so many things. So, I hear that, and I absolutely agree with that. Then I think about things that muddy the waters a little bit, which is like Amazon, not a great company. The amount of tax dollars that Amazon could be paying that they’re not could be doing amazing things for our entire country. World. Also, Amazon being able to deliver so quickly makes it so that moms don’t have to leave their house and get the kids all together and then go out especially in a pandemic. So it’s this hard thing and I think there’s a lot things out there right now where we’re trying to do the more ethical thing, and then sometimes if we choose the thing that feels more ethical on paper, that’s like, “Okay, so my money won’t be going to a billionaire, it’ll be somebody who supports the causes and the morals that are more valuable to me. But then I have to get in my car and go drive or possibly order something online and wait longer, which means—well, I’m just going to go out and get it anyway.” That, I think, becomes almost like—it can be for people (Hello, me). What do you call it? Analysis paralysis? Which is like, “Okay, this company is doing this, but then this one, I get it tomorrow.” So at the end of the day, are we gaining—? I don’t know, this is a tough thing. Every situation is different—I’m gaining something because I’m supporting a company that supports women, but then in order to do that, I had to pay more money, which I don’t earn, because the system is set up that I’m at home with my kids, and I don’t get an—{Laughs} So anyway, there’s that.

Leslie:  I totally get that. I don’t think any one person has to tackle every one thing.

Brandy:  Right. Yes.

Leslie:  There’s going to be a lane that feels like a comfortable lane for you or feels like a meaningful lane for you. Also to your point about analysis paralysis, even thinking about bigger picture, systems issues, it requires some space. 

Brandy:  Exactly! Yes. 

Leslie:  If you’re a mom with a newborn right now, and you’re in the middle of a pandemic, or if you’re a mom who has children with special needs, or if you’re recovering from COVID, or if you’re trying to take care of your parents and your kids at the same time, you don’t have space, right? You just need full on, every lever that you can pull to save yourself time, to save yourself space, and you’re going to want to avail yourself of every convenience, and you should. 

Brandy:  Right.

Leslie:  It’s something where, I feel that if you find your space, you give yourself some sort of self care, things that take care of your mental, physical and emotional health each day, get yourself to a stable place, and then over time, it will become clear, where you want to prioritize for your personal changes and your system changes. For some people, the changes really need to start in the home. The gender equality issue is a big issue. I’m seeing it in the research study that it’s about 30% of my surveyed moms who say that their partner is doing more at home than pre-pandemic. 30%. So that means 70% are not.

Brandy:  Wow. Ugh. Have not stepped up. That’s enraging.

Leslie:  Of course, this varies if moms are—this tends to be an issue of a mom as partner to a dad. There’s incredible resources, people I’ve interviewed, amazing authors like Tiffany Dufu wrote Drop the Ball, Eve Rodsky who wrote Fair Play. There’s some great step by step, “Hey, you want to get people partnership at home? Here’s how.” Just creating that kind of space inside of your home, where you’re not responsible for everything at the bottom of the priority list or everything at the bottom of the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. That can create some space. At work, changing the dynamic, if you are unable to create boundaries easily at work, figure out what resources you might need to support you. I’ve had several people—because I do a lot of speaking to employee groups now, oftentimes parent groups—I’ve had people just independently, long after I’ve given a talk, send me an email, saying, “Hey, I’m dealing with this situation at work, or this inappropriate thing happened at work, and what should I do?” It depends on how much psychological safety you have. I say that if you don’t feel like you can ask for more flexibility, or the time off that you need, or to rearrange your work priorities to align with the resources you actually have, band together with other parents. If you don’t have a formal group of parents, like an employee resource group, then informally band and say, “Hey, are you also getting three times the work when we have a third of the resources? Well, let’s raise that!” Knowing how the structure works, most businesses, even though they are filled with caring people, the organization itself is optimized for things like profit and efficiency. 

Brandy:  Yes, exactly.

Leslie:  You can frame what you need in a way that is more likely to be received favorably and by that I mean, you can say, “Huh, I love that you’ve given me this new project, this seems like an amazing new project. But wow, last week, that other project was really important, and I’m only part way through that, so, Hmm, I feel like I’m not gonna do a great job on this new one if I’m still trying to deliver on the old one. Which one’s more important to you? Which one should I focus on right now?”

Brandy:   Yeah, right.

Leslie:  Right? Put it in the frame that allows your message to be received, and allows you to let your manager or someone from your leadership team help narrow the focus by making it clear to them what they’re really asking of you. Because a lot of times, leaders will just ask for things without thinking that you’re going to interpret all of it as urgent, or they might actually intend for it to all come across as urgent, but it’s really not all urgent. So it’s like, “Okay, alright, let’s play that way. Let’s let’s talk about this, do I really need to do these two things simultaneously, that I don’t have the resources to do?” Or “Wow, guess what? I love the idea of doing this, I’ve been wanting to do this for years, I’m going to write up a budget for a project manager, and if we add a project manager halftime, then it’ll be really easy to get this done in the next three months or six months, or whatever the time frame is.” So those are little things, I think, to help create more, frankly, access to your own discretionary time. Because that’s where the power is. That’s where you get to a sense of clarity for yourself. That’s where, if you need a nap, you can take a nap. If you need to journal, you can journal. If you want to call a friend, if you want to eat ice cream. Whatever it is that you want to do, it’s this scope creep on your discretionary time that’s preventing it. Think about, other than your children—maybe your children, if it’s age appropriate. In some cases, it might be age appropriate to have a child start helping you. If you have a baby or a toddler, it’s not going to be helpful. But look at your available resources. How’s the mix of responsibilities at home with your partner? It’s a long, long climb to fix that, but start the climb now. Whatever’s going on at work, if you’re not well supported there, or you don’t feel like you can push back, figure out how to push back and create some sanity to your schedule in a way that feels safe and will not jeopardize your job. I understand that’s a very real thing.

Brandy:  That seems to be at the heart of it. I’m just shocked that during the pandemic—and it seemed like it was maybe happening at the beginning where employers were like, “Whoa, what’s happening? Okay, let’s chill out for a little bit.” Some places closed down for a little bit and it was like, “Oh wow, kids are home,” and we all understood that that was part of it. Then as the months went on, it was like that was forgotten and I’m just shocked that more employers weren’t like, “Hey, we realize that people’s kids are home non-stop and so our workday is going to be an hour less each day, or we’re going to be doing everything flexibly, so you tell us what hours—”I mean, I get it also from the employer point of view that that’s a lot of management. But I’m just surprised. I guess my point is, nothing changed. In fact, some places got busier. I’m just surprised because it was like, wow, they just all assume that the other person is going to take on the brunt of this. In some cases, maybe that’s possible, but that’s not sustainable for the other person taking on the entire burden of the pandemic. What about their job?

Leslie:  Right! Well, you’re asking the right questions. I’ll say that on a very positive note, I’m seeing some employers that are doing incredible things to support their people. 

Brandy:  Tell me more about that. 

Leslie:  Yeah. So, there’s three things that come up. When I ask moms in the survey, “What do you need—?” This is the pandemic study, so I started it over a year ago, March 30th, of last year. It now has almost 2,000 parents who have taken it (98% mothers, so it’s overwhelmingly mothers). As I’ve looked at the data, and I have kind of analyzed this over time, the three things that people want for their well being, their productivity, their happiness and health, it’s mental health care, child care, and flexibility. Flexibility doesn’t cost an organization anything. But it is a way of doing things that is very different for organizations. It’s not something that they necessarily know how to figure out, especially in certain industries or know how to figure out quickly, but I’m seeing positive shifts toward that, I worked with some organizations on that. Flexibility is just a matter of changing the way the work gets done, but it is not an out of pocket cost. So organizations can lean into that. And leaders, you’re gonna have a lot of people who listen to your podcast who have direct reports, who are leaders in their organizations, don’t require synchronous time from people if it’s not necessary. I’ve had a part time woman who worked with me who was amazing. Actually, my current person is and my former person who’s currently on maternity leave, she is fantastic. But I knew—she has a toddler at home, and she was pregnant. She doesn’t need to be on call for me. We just had like a couple of check-ins that were short, worked them around her schedule, and I just said, “Hey, every couple of hours, if you can check in on email, to see if there’s scheduling needs for clients.” But almost everything could be done asynchronously, when it was convenient. Because I told her, “If you want to take your child to the park, you want to take a nap, you want to do whatever you want to do, great do that!” Leaders need to show that and they need to model it for people to let people know that they’re not chained to their computer from nine to five, just because even when they’re sitting in their homes, even when they have their children to feed, and deal with remote school, it’s just not realistic. So there are a lot of things that can be done to create flexibility. Mental health care, for organizations if they can afford to, subsidizing it, helping people access providers, helping people bypass long waitlists for child psychiatrists and adult psychiatrists or psychologists. A lot of people need support and they’re having a hard time getting it because it’s a global mental health crisis. 

Brandy:  Yes! Right. 

Leslie:  And then childcare. I encourage organizations to pay for childcare. I believe, with everything that I’ve researched and have learned (and I used to work in the care industry) if you don’t pay for it upfront, you’re going to pay for it indirectly. If people can’t come to work because they don’t have childcare, you’re going to pay for it in lost productivity, you’re going to pay for it in absenteeism, in sick days in—it’s like, just pay for it cleanly. Put it on the budget in a clean way and all the caregivers—mothers especially, but there are lots of people who are caregivers to elderly people, there are lots of dads who have taken on active and primary care roles. Let people have the support they need to do what they need to do. Child care and elder care should be subsidized, in my opinion, very heavily.

Brandy:  I think that’s brilliant. And I think mental health and child care go hand in hand. I feel like those are linked. I remember a friend of mine, she had a three year old at the time, I forget how old mine were, but it was just mayhem all the time. She had older ones too. We would always talk candidly about how things were going and where we were struggling. She said, “I finally realized the fix for a three year old, and it’s you have to have a babysitter. You just have to. There’s no ‘positive parenting’ and all of those things and doing your own work. That’s all great and that helps but you sometimes just need to get out and not be around the three year old.” All those other things. So I do feel like childcare and mental health can also be linked. Childcare is so, so important. I agree that if that was something that was more accessible for people, that you’re exactly right, a lot of the anxiety of the working parent, I think would be at least mellowed knowing that childcare was provided because that’s such a huge stressor.

Leslie:  Absolutely. I’ve seen people get really crafty, because of course, we’re really crafty. So I am seeing really cool things happen. It’s not the majority, but it’s a sizable minority. I’d probably say somewhere between, I don’t know, 25 and 30% of the surveyed moms I’ve seen move in with their parents for grandparent care. So I’ve seen a lot of people pick up their lives, move across the country, and they are just indefinitely living with their parents for support. I’ve seen people do all types of creative neighborhood pods, bubbles, I’ve seen people enlist friends for virtual care, and have lined up somebody to entertain their child during a big meeting on Zoom. So there are crafty things that can be done but fundamentally, caring for children (especially young children), helping children with remote school, running a household, especially if everyone is working and schooling largely from home where there’s a thousand times the laundry, dishes, etc. Any one of these things are full time jobs. Right?

Brandy:  {Laughs} Right! That’s right.

Leslie:  These are not trivial things. They are, in and of themselves full time jobs. It’s a lot. There are a lot of heroics happening right now, largely from women who are trying their best to hold on to their jobs, to support (sometimes) aging parents, to care for their kids, to deal with Zoom school, all of these things simultaneously, but there’s a high price. And it’s in our mental health, it’s in our physical health. People are giving up their scheduled appointments, they’re not going to have their therapy done that they need to have done. They’re avoiding their routine checkup that they were supposed to have, all in this massive quest to save time. But it’s not sustainable and it’s not healthy. 

Brandy:  No. No. So tell me about Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. You started this organization, because again, there’s blog posts about all of this kind of stuff about what we do and boundaries and all of that, but then you took it a step further, and made an organization. Tell me what your organization does and what you’re hoping the big change that your organization contributes to is?

Leslie:  I continue to research, write about, and shine a very bright light on these issues that affect moms’ ability to have space for self care, growth, learning, and development. I continue to research that and interview experts and share that very broadly with mothers from the site. That’s at the heart of sharing and showing the possibility because I know, every day, there’s some mother who’s kind of at her wit’s end, and barely hanging on by her fingernails, and she needs to know that there is a path. So I’m very passionate about that. The business side, the revenue generating side of the work, which is newer, which I started, I launched in July during the pandemic, which was not my original plan (there’s a story behind that). I started an “Allies at Work” part of the business. I’m allowing organizations to have access to my research, to my research frameworks. In some organizations I’m running the same pandemic study that I run nationally for parents, but I’m running it with everyone inside of their organization. And then I’m on the back end, looking at the data and saying, “Hey, here’s what your parents need. Here’s what your senior caregivers need. Here’s what your non-caregivers, your single employees need, because they are facing loneliness, depression challenges.” It’s helping organizations create cultures where they’re actually walking the walk of what they say. So many companies and organizations talk about being “family friendly” and “family friendly” means don’t schedule team meetings at 8am when you know that people are home with their kids.

Brandy:  Getting their kids ready for school. Yes.

Leslie:  Exactly. “Family friendly” means not expecting people to be online all day. “Family friendly” is not sending people text messages, slack messages, etc. at nine and 10 o’clock at night and expecting a response right away. But yeah, I go in and work with organizations to prepare it. I do a lot of public speaking for employee resource groups, and parent groups. Sometimes I’m just an ERG (which is an employee resource group). They’ll say, “Hey, here’s the themes we really want to focus on this year and Leslie, will you just plan all of our content and find the speakers if you’re not the speaker, and come up with our calendar of events for parents for the next six months and the next year?” So that’s the work that I do in addition to the sharing of the writing and the research for moms.

Brandy:  Ah, see, this is so brilliant, because again, when people ask, “What can we do?” Well, part of it is, look at what your skill set is, then if you are somebody who has the time and space and resources to do something bigger (not everybody can do that) but I think this is beautiful, because your research, your background mixed with your passion for this has created something—I know you said you have this program called “Allies at Work” and what I had read about is that it helps employers retain working parents and to create inclusive workspaces where caregivers can thrive. I mean, that’s just so genius and that’s where your skills are but then you’re taking those to help all of us. I think for a lot of us moms who—there’s a term that Beth Barry from Revolution from Home uses called “changemakers”. Us changemakers in motherhood are finding what our skill set is, and then marrying it with how do we help moms. So it’s really great to see the way that you’ve taken it, because I haven’t seen anybody else doing what you’re doing. I would imagine, maybe there’s people out there doing it so it’s not to say that that doesn’t exist, but I was just super inspired by what you’re doing. Because it’s like you’re going to the root, you’re going to employers instead of like, “Well, just self care more.” I mean, some of that stuff is part of it. But it’s not just putting it more on moms, you’re like, “No, I’m going to educate the people who are creating these systems, and help them to humanize their systems.” Thank you!

Leslie:  Oh, you’re very welcome. Absolutely that, to your point about not putting more on moms. I was just having a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a friend, and I said, “You know, you can be the world’s best palm tree, but if you get planted in Massachusetts (which is where I live) you’re gonna die!” Right? Palm trees don’t don’t survive in Massachusetts. A palm tree needs to be—my family’s from Barbados, so a palm tree needs to be in Barbados, or somewhere. Jamaica, Florida, California. But environment matters. If you are trying to set boundaries, and you want to live a life that includes caregiving, and includes having a thriving career, if your organization does not support you in that, or your boss does not support you in that, it’s going to be like climbing up an icy hill. So finding and understanding, what are the levers that you can move in your personal life and in your professional life, and aligning them so that you have the environment that supports you, and that you’re working toward the environment that supports you. For me, as the cheerleader right now working in these systems to support mothers and working on—I also am part of an advocacy group of writers where we’re trying to influence government policy and change, as well. We can do hard things, we can start to do these things. But don’t take it upon yourself to feel like you are failing because the system around you, the environment around you, the conditions in your home, or the conditions at work, aren’t really designed to support your quest for some space. Understand that and then figure out where can you get leverage. Self care, I’m tell everyone right now, that could be closing your bathroom door and splashing some water on your face. That could be taking three minutes to do some deep breathing before your next call. That can be just going outside and walking around the block or walking around your home. It doesn’t have to be this huge time consuming thing. Start somewhere, but you have to have some care for yourself, before you can show up in the world, or in the work, or even as a parent in the way that you’re capable of.

Brandy:  The way that I like to think about non-toxic self care—because everybody knows, they’re waiting for me to say it—I loathe the idea of self care because I feel like it’s been weaponized against us like, “Well, just self care and then we don’t have to change any of the systems.” It’s told back to us by people who refuse to help us and then we buy into it. There’s a whole thing there. But I think at its most non-toxic core, self care is in the moment or moments asking yourself, “What do I need, as opposed to what do the others need?” Then whatever that thing is, doing that thing. It’s (I think) putting our own needs at the top of the priority list for however long that is. For some people that’s taking a breath, going for a walk, going for a run. For other people, that’s having a shower, closing a door, putting up a boundary, all of those things. It’s like, “What do I really need in this moment?” and not necessarily taking in the—what I was thinking about in the beginning with the baked potato story is like, “No, I’m not going to put in that, when I asked myself what do I need in this moment, it’s not going to be so that nobody else has to feel frustrated or sad.” I mean, sometimes I guess self care is, “What do I need in this moment so that I don’t have to hear bitching?” So that can be part of it. 

Leslie:  {Laughs} Right!

Brandy:  You know what I’m saying. I really think it’s that shift because when we get into motherhood, all of a sudden everything is like, “What do other people—what does this child—what do they need?” Self care at its core, to me, is peeling back that layer and saying, “What do I need?”

Leslie:  Exactly. It’s, “What do I need for my mental, physical, and emotional health?” And making the space for it and not treating it like an event. To your point, it’s not something that’s for sale, it’s not something that we can go and buy, it’s not waiting at the spa, and it should not be an event. It should not be this special occasion thing that happens once a month or once a year. We have the right and the ability to bring these things into our daily lives and live within our lives in a way that we are proud of, in a way that fuels us, and not feeling like we’re living in a life we have to run away from.

Brandy:  Exactly. I think too, true self care is setting up your life—whether that’s creating boundaries, making changes, all of those things, setting yourself up for a life that doesn’t need a survival mode, level 10 self care all the time. I feel like if we are in a position where we’re always like, “Okay, I need self care, I need self care!” (which I think all of us are in that, especially in the pandemic). In a way, then it’s like, okay, but then what’s the bigger need? Because the self care in a sense, can be the band-aid, and it can also be the thing that we—it’s like an avoidance of what’s really going on. “Well, if I do these things to self care then I don’t actually have to change anything, and maybe change is uncomfortable.” So I think the whole self care realm is a whole thing in itself.

Leslie:  It is a whole thing in itself. I believe, at least from what I’m seeing in the data, almost everyone, and this includes the dads too, even though they’re a smaller percentage of my study, everyone’s doing more of everything. Everyone is doing more of the things at the bottom, more childcare, more children’s activities, more household work, and it’s to the tune of like 80% of people are doing more. Those who aren’t, it’s usually because their children are older or more independent. So everyone’s doing more of everything and 80% have said that they are doing either terribly or not as well as usual at self care, and it’s in the way I define it. It’s sleep, it’s movement, it’s going to your doctor’s appointments, it’s nourishing your body. It’s basic human needs. We are human, we are biological. We have to sleep to perform optimally.

Brandy:  Right, basic human needs, and we’re told that those are luxuries. They’re sold to us now that those are luxuries, but I look around and everybody else in my house has these things. Then when I get them, which is rare, but then when I do get them, I’m supposed to feel like “Oh, I just had this luxurious self care where I ate lunch.” {Laughs}

Leslie:  {Laughs} Or I ate lunch sitting down. 

Brandy:  Right. Exactly, and then I feel all good like, “I’ve got this thing figured out! Look at the self care!” And it’s like, red flag. Shit’s messed up. There’s something bigger going on when lunch is self care. Are we serious? Yeah. {Laughs}

Leslie:  {Laughs} Yes. In the pandemic, it’s dodgy right now, right? Nothing is normal. But it does mean that even if it’s not what you used to do, you still need to do something to support your own energy levels and support your own physical health and support your sleep. I just encourage people—because I know. I know mothers. We will drop our own self care as the first thing. We’ll start there, instead of it being the last resort.

Brandy:  Exactly. It’s always the first resort. I was gonna say, too—when we were talking about the chair with the broken leg and the baked potato thing—I was gonna say too just to acknowledge that it can be so frustrating when you are the person—and a lot of times it’s the moms who are doing these things and nobody else around you even knows that you’re doing them because you don’t call out, “Just so that everybody knows, I got the potato with the black spot in it that I’m gonna have to cut out!” We do this, it’s just subconscious. Nobody in our house really knows that we do these things, and then sometimes it can be frustrating because then you look around and the people in your house are operating from the exact opposite. They look at four baked potatoes and they’re like, “Which one’s the best one? I’ll take that.” We’re operating from, “Which one’s the mangled one? I’ll take that.” It can be frustrating because you think, everybody else is out to get theirs, in a way, and not that it’s malicious but it’s a subconscious conditioning. This was explained to me so well in Darcy Lockman’s book, All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership, which, if you haven’t read is amazing. She was also on the podcast.

Leslie:  That was recommended to me and I’m now going to add it to my reading list because it was recommended to me recently. 

Brandy:  Oh my god. It’s great. If you want to go back, in my podcast episodes I had her on. It’s one of my top three interviews. It was just so great. We cover a lot of the stuff in the book. What she talks about that I think is just so important is that women are conditioned to be under receivers and men are conditioned to be over receivers. So that’s a situation right there where you just have it in our subconscious framework that like, “I’ll take the crappy thing,” and then the other people in the family, kids and if it’s a husband situation, they’re like, “Ooh, this one looks the best.” Sometimes it’s hard not to feel resentment or even check yourself. “Why am I taking the crappy version of everything, but everybody else has this respect for themselves that they want the best thing?” Why is this like that?

Leslie:  Exactly. And we wither under those conditions, right? 

Brandy:  Right! Who wouldn’t?

Leslie:  We diminish ourselves, we wither. And over time, I’m convinced that that toxicity and resentment and inner sadness, from not living life fully, from not being able to grab the best potato. I believe that it has a very harmful and corrosive effect on marriages, it has a very corrosive effect, even on our relationships within the family. As much as we love our children, we need to show them self care, we need to show them self respect. I don’t want my daughter to grow up and do these things automatically, that I have had to try to train myself out of doing. I certainly don’t want that. Nor do I want my son to sit back on the couch and watch television or be on his computer, and if he partners with a woman, I don’t want her spinning around him treating him like a king. Like he can’t take care of things in his own home. I don’t want that gender divide for either of my kids. If we treat ourselves well, it spills over into positive effects in all the areas of our life and our relationships.

Brandy:  Yes. And thinking about spilling over too, I ask the listeners, if you are the person always grabbing the crappy potato, that is a subconscious thing that may be happening. You have to stop and go, “In what other areas am I grabbing the crappy potato?” Even though that’s a weird analogy, if it’s so subconscious that you do it and you do it in a lot of different ways throughout the day or through the week, what bigger areas are you quote, unquote, “grabbing the crappy potato?” Weird, yes. Trademark! I just trademarked “grabbing the crappy potato.” {Laughs} 

Leslie:  I love grabbing the crappy—Well, but it’s a thing, right? You’re probably volunteering for the crappy assignment at work, or you’re volunteering your time for something that you don’t have time to do, or you’re wearing the thing that you have that’s threadbare, falling apart, and that you probably need to recycle, or whatever it is. All of those things just become a normalized part of the motherhood experience in ways that I think are harmful and unhealthy. 

Brandy:  Yeah. Consistently putting ourselves last. That seems like what your hierarchy is all about.

Leslie:  Yeah. We can’t put ourselves last consistently. It’s kind of critical to flip it.

Brandy:  Yeah, it’s not sustainable. So in closing, what are your most important levers that you have used personally, to help dial in and get your needs met? If you could think of the top two things. Changes that you’ve done in your life after being broken by being a working mom and having your second child? What would those things be?

Leslie:  That’s a great question. Without question, running every day. Now, running is my thing. It doesn’t have to be running for everybody else. But I think it’s the movement aspect of it, and since the pandemic started, I’ve become an all weather runner instead of a, “Hey, when it’s 40 degrees or warmer, I’m gonna run outside,” now I’m running outside no matter what. Just setting myself after the kids are set up and after they’re—I’ve given them breakfast and they’re set up on their Zoom calls for school. Getting outside, no one’s asking anything, no one is needing anything from me. I am using that time and that space. I’m not even listening to anything. I’m using that space to just listen to nature, be in nature, be in my thoughts and that is a very powerful reset for me every day. The other would be morning pages. If you’ve ever read Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way, it’s just three longhand pages about anything that you feel like you need to write about or want to write about. I try to do them in the mornings. There’s some days where it happens at night. There’s some days where it’s two pages, and I really wished it was the three pages but just free form free writing, getting stuff out of my head, allowing myself to get any negative thoughts or even positive thoughts, worries—put them on the page—has been incredibly healing and powerful. So those are my top two.

Brandy:  That’s great. That’s got to be clarifying too, to take some of the things that are in your head and get them out and then be able to maybe make sense of them in a little bit of a different way. 

Leslie:  Absolutely. 

Brandy:  So with your first one about the movement and making time to run and not having anybody need anything from you. Is your husband or partner taking care of the kids? What’s the child care for that?

Leslie:  That’s a great question. I do have a nanny. Monday through Friday, I will go running after she is here. 

Brandy:  Perfect. 

Leslie:  Because that’s been a really—that’s just a critical part of how I’ve set things up based on the type of working schedule that I have. My husband is also here. What I’ve done—and I think this is kind of a brilliant thing, and it’s a function of my kids being a little bit older now, because my daughter, like I said, she’s in kindergarten, my son is in fifth grade. In the mornings, I’ve allowed the kids, which I never used to do, but I allow them to have just a wheat tortilla with some cheese in it, so they have something early instead of me forcing myself to make breakfast on the week schedule and doing that on Saturdays and Sundays. So they make that and then I make pancakes as brunch later in the morning. I go for the run, they get to have their wheat tortilla, my husband’s up, he’ll let them watch a cartoon, and I’ve given myself permission for that to be okay. Then I come back from my run. I don’t have to rush around because I know they’ve had something, and if I make breakfast at like 10 o’clock or 10:30 or even 11 o’clock, it’s brunch. It’s cool. 

Brandy:  Yeah, totally. Is that on the days that your nanny isn’t there? Because the days when—

Leslie:  Oh yeah, so this is Saturday/Sunday schedule when it’s my husband.

Brandy:  Ok, this is a Saturday/Sunday. Got it. It’s so important to get the help. We talk about different levels of financial privilege to be able to do those things. But I think what I always loved about when I was writing my book, it was the first time I’d really hired a babysitter, because we couldn’t really ever afford it, and then I had issues about, “I don’t know that I want to leave my child yet.” Anyway, I did, because I had to. I had to get this book out of my body and my brain. What was so lovely about it (that I feel like is a not talked enough about part of hiring a babysitter) is that when you switch it off with your spouse, or your partner, there’s always this, I don’t want to say a tit for tat thing, but there’s always this thing where it’s like a contract or a deal that you make. It’s like, if that person’s watching the kids, then it’s kind of like, that person’s been doing more of the childcare for the day, but when you hire somebody and you pay them money, you have none of those strings attached and none of that, “Who’s doing more, and what does that mean about who gets time later?” and all of that. So outsourcing the things that you can outsource, I think is brilliant.

Leslie:  Oh, yeah. So much in there. Where do I go on that? There’s a few things. Yes, it’s a clean transaction and that’s a beautiful thing.

Brandy:  Yes! That’s exactly it. Yes!

Leslie:  There’s no emotional strain or baggage. Right? It’s a clean transaction. But also, frankly, care is critical. This is something in our society that drives me crazy. It’s almost like the societal messages that we should be fully devoting all of our time in service to our loving families and to our children, but we should also be successful in earning money and managing our careers. If you are working, or running a business, childcare is essential. 

Brandy:  Yes.

Leslie:  I know a lot of people do not have it right now and I know that I’m very fortunate to have it. But in the periods of time where I’ve not had childcare, which have been usually for long stretches of time, for different reasons. We’ve had nannies who’ve had to leave. I had a nanny who had to return to her home country to take care of her parents, who were ill. It always happened in some critical stage in my work life. I’ve flown my mother here from Barbados, and I’ve had—my mother now, by the way, is 81 years old and the last time this happened, she was 80 and so literally—sorry, she was 79. So she takes naps during the day and she’s trying to take care of my active kids, and then I’m taking work calls from the halls of dance class and swim school. Childcare is a profession. It is a job. It is a job that deserves proper pay, proper respect, proper benefits, and it’s a very important part of our infrastructure. Because it’s unpaid or underpaid, today in most families and most communities, it’s been devalued for the importance that it has to how our society works. So I think it’s essential and I tell people, “Yeah, I wouldn’t be doing all the things that I’m doing, or able to do the things I’m doing in the same way without childcare.” It is not possible to take care of young children and have a full time career. You have to trade something off.

Brandy:  Yeah. So Leslie, where can people find you and Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs if they want to know more? Or follow you or even get involved?

Leslie:  Oh, sure. Well, momshierarchyofneeds.com is the website. I’m on all the social places; Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs on Facebook, with an underscore: moms_hierarchy_of_needs on Instagram, @mom’shierarchy on Twitter. There’s even—I’m not so active on Pinterest, but I’m on all the social places, and I have a Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs room now on Clubhouse, and I’m increasingly having these very interesting conversations there. So that’s been really fun.

Brandy:  Okay, good. I know, people are gonna want to reach out and connect with you because you have a lot of really valuable information and just your insight on things.

Leslie:  Yes, the working mom’s struggle. That has been the defining path that has led me here, so I’m happy to talk about it. 

Brandy:  Wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today and also for your amazing work. When I first emailed you, I believe I said your organization is, quote, “everything I’ve ever wanted in life.” It’s true! I facilitate conversation that I hope helps validate, and hopefully shifts moms who need to be shifted, but you are doing that and also taking the action and we need you, so thank you so much.

Leslie:  Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it. Thank you for inviting me and providing me with the space to talk about this work.

Brandy:  A quick plug for my book, which as an indie author I gotta do. If you’re enjoying this podcast, you will likely enjoy my book, Adult Conversation: A Novel. It’s a darkly comedic story about a frazzled modern mother and her therapist who go on a Thelma and Louise style road trip to Vegas, looking for pieces of themselves that motherhood and marriage swallowed up, while they are also tested and tempted to make life-altering choices. Yes, there are strippers, there’s weed, it’s Vegas. One Amazon reviewer said, “This book is hysterical, relatable, and an escape from the crazy reality of motherhood. Brandy has a way of bringing the characters to life. Easy read and quick, so it doesn’t feel daunting to try to squeeze this book in between children’s needs. You will want to keep coming back for more and more.”

Brandy:  As always, thanks for listening.

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.