(55) Parenting Outside the Lines with Meghan

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Join me for this delightfully unexpected conversation that feels more like stand-up comedy than parenting advice. I had no idea what I was in for when I asked my guest, parenting coach and Washington Post columnist, Meghan Leahy, to come chat with me. She’s like the anti-parenting-expert expert, if that’s a thing. I don’t even know, but her words will be the balm you need as we talk about why the one-size-fits-all Super Nanny approach doesn’t work, the pitfalls of rigid parenting philosophies (attachment parenting cough cough), pandemic regressions in kids, our “North Star” as parents, and why she punched someone in the face as a kid. She’s hard AF and I had no idea! So. Much. Laughing.

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Brandy: Hello, Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. Today’s episode has so much laughing. I had no idea what I was in for when I asked my guest parenting coach and Washington Post columnist, Meghan Leahy, to come chat with me. She’s so much more than a parenting expert, you guys. She’s like the anti-parenting expert-expert if that’s a thing. But in an ironic twist, somehow that makes her an expert. I don’t know, but her words will be the balm you need as we talk about why the one-size-fits-all Supernanny approach doesn’t work, the pitfalls of rigid parenting philosophies, attachment parenting, pandemic regressions in kids and what our North Star as parents should be. So join me for this delightfully unexpected hilarious conversation that feels more like a stand-up comedy than parenting talk. On to the show.

Brandy: Joining us on the podcast today is a mom of three who’s also a Washington Post parenting columnist, a parenting coach herself and author of the book, Parenting Outside the Lines. You guys know me, after being burned by full-throttle attachment parenting the first time around, I am skeptical about nearly all parenting philosophies and parenting books (especially baby sleep books), but today’s guest caught my eye because I read an article by her that talked about how to trust your instincts to free yourself from over parenting. It wasn’t about quick fixes or five steps to perfectly behaved kids, which we all know is bullshit. It was about assessing what unspoken parenting rules we’re following and how they’re working or not working, along with abandoning the idea of perfect parenting in this modern world. One chapter of her book is titled, “Your Child Doesn’t Give a Shit about your Organic Salmon.” So naturally, I needed to connect with her. Welcome to the podcast, Meghan.

Meghan: {Laughs}. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Brandy: Of course, will you just real quick tell the listeners what you told me before we started recording about what liquids are in front of you?

Meghan: I have a mug of lemon, ginger tea. I have a cup of water and I have a red wine.

Brandy: Perfect. So we’re covering all the basics.

Meghan: It’s six o’clock where I am.


Brandy: So maybe is your entire parenting strategy, which I’m going to ask you about later, about philosophies, is it like “Have options? Maybe you need a little wine, maybe you need a little tea.”

Meghan: Yeah, it’s funny because my book is about don’t follow the trends. Although, when I met who I consider to be my mentor, I fell into a very distinct theory of parenting. But out of that theory, I felt like there weren’t any more strategies, so the theory kind of just opened everything up. The theory is an attachment developmental theory, which is not attachment parenting, which is its own thing.

Brandy: Okay.

Meghan: Attachment theory is simply how two humans attach to each other, connect to each other. There’s been a lot of work done in the very early days of infants, but a warm attachment from parent to child or caregiver to child then affects development, right? So a person will develop like a tree will grow in a crack, but how do you bring a human to their greatest maturation, to their greatest potential? That is what I want to know and that’s where every trend theory and idea can take shape. Anyway, that was a really wordy answer to your very brief question.

Brandy: No.

Meghan: But I do hate trends. I hate a parenting trend. People just slavishly adopt them despite all sense and reason.

Brandy: Yes.

Meghan: It’s insane.

Brandy: Oh my gosh. That’s exactly what happened to me with attachment parenting and the funny part too is, well, I guess it’s sad and funny, but I got Bill Sears, The Baby Book and I think, was there even like the parenting book? I don’t know, but I was so subscribing to “I will do everything for this being.” Then at some point after my nipples were like chewed gum and I was really unhappy in life – I don’t know if this was like one year or six months. 

I was like, this is written by a dude. This guy tells me that I need to be sticking a nipple in the mouth of my baby, but he’s never had to stick his nipple inside the mouth of a baby and so then I became very interested in what Martha Sears, his wife was saying because there were like little Martha quips. I’m like, no, no, no, no. I want Martha’s book. Give me Martha’s book because I feel like I have been swindled and the funny part is that I actually moved down to a part of California and went to the Sears practice for a bit.

Meghan: Wow.

Brandy: I never got to meet him. No, I don’t think I ever got to. There were two other Sears I met, but it was probably for the best that we did not meet face-to-face. Anyway, it took me a little bit to wean myself off of the Sears idea of things. So that’s kind of like where I come from. Then the second time around is like I’m gonna do it all different and then I’m like, oh, but wait, some of this attachment stuff is really important, but also I can’t be a human doormat so it was finding out what worked.

Meghan: Attachment parenting really works in those first couple of months-ish if everyone’s mentally healthy and physically healthy.

Brandy: Yeah.

Meghan: Then it quickly becomes enmeshment and boundarylessness.

Brandy: Yes!

Meghan: It quickly becomes – what happens inherently is that the power structure flips in the wrong way. If a family is in good working order, the adults are always in charge. ALWAYS! People are like power, bad word. No, no, no. It’s the person who’s supposed to be mature and keeping people alive and making money. Okay. They have to be in charge because you have immature – it’s like having drunks all the time. Either it’s great or it’s awful, so they can’t have a knucklehead in charge. If you go too hardcore on attachment parenting, you end up empowering the child inappropriately. They have too much power and not enough maturity and the resentment that I see in parents off the charts.

Brandy: Yeah, it’s like it has the opposite effect because the parent that I think comes to those has a really big heart and wants to give so much and I think a lot of times comes from a wound of their own where they didn’t receive so they’re like, well, I’m going to overdo it and I’m never going to let the child need for anything. But then the irony is that on the back end of that, that’s not sustainable, so a certain amount down the road, you’re right. You have these parents that are like, “I hate this” and you’re like, mmh. That’s actually worse than what I was trying to forego from my own experience. Huh? I’ve done bad here.

Meghan: Yeah, it’s too bad too because I use the word connection a lot because attachment has scared people. If we allowed common sense to rule, we would understand that this useless blob of a human, this thing that comes out of us or is given to us or whatever how it comes to us, of course, the strongest attachment is needed. 

Of course, it’s so physical and so emotional and so encompassing. But if we allowed common sense to dictate, we would develop with the child in recognizing the need for independence and risk and frustration tolerance. But if we keep listening to other people who call themselves experts, we lose that voice and some of us don’t have it because of childhood trauma, but for all of us that do have that voice, we lose it.

Brandy: Right. Oh, okay. Yes, I want to ask you about this specifically. The part that I always ask people at the beginning, which, I mean, this is the sign of an awesome interview is when it’s like, we’re just rolling right past it because there’s already so much to talk about, but I want to go back to this, but first I have to ask you is what is something that you think the listeners need to know about you so that we kind of get an idea of like who you are and where you came from and where you are?

Meghan: Well, I’m proud to say I’m from Wilmington, Delaware. Our new president, of course being a proper Delawarean, I’ve met him numerous times. I was friends with his family growing up. He used to take me for rides with my friends to go get ice cream in his convertible.

Brandy: Okay. This is like now a whole different podcast. This is like well yeah we’re going to talk about some parenting, but then we’re also going to talk about Joe Biden.

Meghan: Girl, I’ve had the most crazy shit happen to me. I used to roll with this girl, Missy and she’d be all like, “My uncle Joe’s getting us ice cream.” But you have to understand this is Delaware. So if you’re a brick layer and you die, he’s at your funeral. 

Everyone in Delaware is related to each other or sleeping together or maybe both. We don’t know, but Delaware is just a giant town. The North and the South could not be more different. One was slaveholding and one was abolitionist, but it’s just a bizarre world and it’s amazing, but it was absolutely crucial in making me who I am. Super, super tight families are in Delaware. It’s very Irish, Catholic, very Italian Catholic, actually a huge African-American population for the size of it. But it’s just a rough place and it’s also very old money. DuPont’s make other money look like a frickin joke.

Brandy: Wow.

Meghan: We have a lot of cancer thanks to DuPont. It’s just a weird place.

Brandy: Real fast, I appreciate the way that you said that you used to “roll with a girl named Missy.” I just love the way that sounds. It’s like, I don’t know, you guys used to get in trouble and possibly there were firearms involved. Like, you don’t roll with somebody unless there’s shady shit going on.

Meghan: {laughs} Actually, not at all.

Brandy: Well, it is Delaware.

Meghan: Well, yeah. I mean, did I get in fist fights and did I have my nose broken? Yes. {Laughs}.

Brandy: Oh my God. Why is this podcast becoming a three-parter before my very eyes?

Meghan: Because that’s the thing. I think that people are attracted to me because I’m so maybe borderline nuts, but also, I don’t know what an expert is. I don’t like that. I’m not especially a great parent. I could bring my kids on to attest to that. I mean, I do fine, but I grew up a failure. I barely graduated high school. I was third to last in a high school of 40 girls and the other kids had serious learning disabilities. I got into college on a lie. I just kind of fumbled my way through so I was the kid who was a mess. I was the kid whose parents were like, “What the hell do we do?” I was expelled from middle school. They had to let me back in. But I’m not that ideal person. You’re not gonna find a picture of me walking through like a field full of hay or whatever or pussywillows or whatever. It’s just, I’m a lot, but I’ve always had just a super deep passion for kids and families and the inter-working of that. I’m always a deeply curious person. The only other thing that I want people to know is that I won a car in Oprah. I was in the crowd that was like, “You won a car. You won a car. You won a car.”

Brandy: What did you do? Did you cry? Did you freak out? What happened?

Meghan: I completely freaked out. I was with my best friend, Katie and I straight up sold that shit. {Laughs}.

Brandy: I was gonna say, was it like when she’s like, “You get a car!” were you like, oh, it’s a Geo Metro from like 10 years ago or was it a quality new car?

Meghan: Yeah, it was like 2005, whatever year it was. It was brand new, fully loaded like tape deck, who knows what that was back then but it had a CD player. Hello?

Brandy: Was it a Discman or an upgrade from Discman?

Meghan: OMG, bright yellow. Yeah, it was amazing. It was like the best day of my life. It was better than getting married, having kids, everything.


Brandy: Oh my God. You need to write a memoir or something.

Meghan: Also, I did stand-up comedy super randomly and my entire stand-up comedy bit is on winning the car.

Brandy: Oh nice.

Meghan: It’s 11 minutes on winning the car. It was truly like the best moment of my life. {Laughs}.

Brandy: So everything is just downhill.

Meghan: I mean, I said to my friend, I was like, “Now what?” Because our dream growing up was just like, let’s go on Oprah and get cable knit, cashmere sweaters.

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: That’s all we want.

Brandy: Okay. It’s like you’ve just dropped so many seeds and you know what’s so sad is you’ve said all those things and the thing that I want to know the most about is what was it like to punch someone in the face? And get in a fight? {Laughs}.

Meghan: Well, I will tell you this.

Brandy: How old were you?

Meghan: This is a parenting story. My father’s side had a beach house near Atlantic City in Ventnor.

Brandy: Oh, Ventnor is real? That’s not just Monopoly?

Meghan: No, well, it’s named after that. Yeah, or vice versa. It was a big, beautiful house and my whole dad’s side would go there every summer and I was friends with a girl who seemed really nice, but whatever she got in a lot of trouble and I was out walking. I don’t remember. 

I must’ve been with one other kid, but this is an example of where were my parents? Nobody knows. I grew up and a lot of us grew up in an age where we just ran free.

Brandy: Yes.

Meghan: Everybody’s like, remember the old days. I’m like, ughhhh yeah. Now, if the old days were great for you then there are good memories. For a lot of us, we needed a lot more supervision. We needed an adult saying like, “Where have you been? Where are you going?” Now, I also was a professional liar. So, okay. Anyway, these kids spotted me and knew I was friends with this girl, and back then they just rode bikes. I was 13 maybe and I didn’t want to walk home because then they’d know where I live. So I just kept walking and walking and what they did was they tied sticks to their bikes. They were called beatsticks and they’d beat people down.

Brandy: Shit.

Meghan: The girl that was coming after me I was like, alright. This is it. I gotta figure this out. So I punched her in the face because I was like let’s just get it started so it can get ended.

Brandy: She didn’t even have a chance to get her beatstick on you. You were like, I have a beatstick. It’s attached to me.

Meghan: Right. Well, the rules of fighting were you didn’t go, like it wasn’t group on one. So I didn’t have a stick. She didn’t have a stick. It was one-on-one. It was her beef with me.

Brandy: Okay.

Meghan: But the whole crowd was with her. Her crowd picked her up and threw her on me. We both landed on a bush.

Brandy: What the fuck is Delaware? Sorry.

Meghan: No, this was Jersey.

Brandy: This is Jersey shit!

Meghan: She took me by the hair and kneed me in the face until my nose popped. Here’s an interesting moment. We were on somebody’s lawn so the cops are called. I get up. I hear the sirens and I run home. I can’t really hold my neck up right because it was like, I had been too… I walk into the house. It’s like I have 52 cousins. Everybody’s there, whatever. My parents go to bed. No hospital. No nothing. Just go to bed, pack your shit and the next day we left and we never spoke of it.

Brandy: Wow.

Meghan: I love my parents. They were literally I think just white knuckling it. They were just like, “Just graduate. Just don’t go to jail.” 

It’s that feeling of oh my God just graduate and get out of the house and now we’ve whiplashed into this – I track my kids on their phones 24/7. I’m like, oh, you’re walking to CVS and I like watch the dot move on Find My Phone. We’ve swung from this extreme of why is Meghan bleeding? To extreme parenting and the complete preciousness of children and adulation. But I went back to school that year a badass.

Brandy: Nice.

Meghan: I was like, nobody fucks with this motherfucker.

Brandy: Yeah, then you started rolling with Missy, or were you rolling with Missy before that? Did that get you Missy?

Meghan: I lived a double life. I was fighting people, but I also was part of what are they called? Those debutante kind of balls. Cotillion. I did Cotillions and wore my Laura Ashley. That’s Delaware. You have to understand that is Delaware. You will go to church and then you will like cut a bitch. You will have a boyfriend and then I also cheated on the boyfriend with his brother. {Laughs}.

Brandy: I mean, being near Jersey and also New York.

Meghan: I’m so close to Philly.

Brandy: Whatever’s in the air is just like you guys are getting the culmination. If heat rises, it’s just going towards you.

Meghan: Oil refinery.

Brandy: Oh, wow.

Meghan: Yeah.

Brandy: Okay. Having had this background and also, I love this because I have this whole little bit about like, okay, listeners, trust me, even though I’m interviewing a parenting expert, don’t turn this off and be like, “Brandy is sold out to experts.” I had this whole piece about it but you have just made that unnecessary because I think my listeners can tell that you’re the fucking real deal person that is not going to come here and tell us how to get our kids to sleep in three easy steps and blah, blah, blah. So thank you for making my job easier.

Meghan: Well, what’s cool is that I can also do that shit. {Laughs}.

Brandy: Oh my God. But wait a minute, are you lying? Because you can’t tell somebody you’re a professional liar and then not have them go hmmmm.

Meghan: No, I stopped being a professional liar. I stopped in college when I made real friends and I also went to college and told everyone I was like, borderline sober. I recreated myself. No, I literally like lied. Everyone was like, “What were you in high school?” I was like, “A rock star. Straight A’s.”


Meghan: Yeah, I’m not a liar and I’m actually too honest. But yeah, you’re selling out here.

Brandy: Well, no, because I mean, you’re giving me good reason to because like I said, when I found somebody who… your philosophy seemed to be don’t get yourself stuck in a philosophy, which I guess is technically a philosophy, but it’s not. But what I love too is when I read in your book that when people ask you what your parenting approach is you say, “I just want parents to stop losing their goddamn minds.” So, having had the background that you had and reinventing yourself and all of that, how did you come to the point of view that you have on parenting? How did you get there? What was your motherhood experience like that led you to where you are?

Meghan: I talk about it in first chapter a little bit, I had no aspirations. For a girl from the 80s and 90s where we were like get married, have kids and oh, by the way, get a PhD. That was the low key, high key message. Right?

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: I didn’t have any of that and that’s a really beautiful thing about being a failure. Everything’s available. I was at the bottom. All my classmates were like MIT and shit and I was just like, meh. All I had in my life were really strong women. I mean, my dad’s awesome, but my life was just really, really strong women and they were all teachers and I was like, well, that’s what I’ll do. My mothering started when I started teaching. Those boys were my boys. I taught all boys and I loved them. They were my kids and I took care of them. Well, I thought I was mothering them. I thought I was taking care of them until I had my own kids I’m like, this is a disaster.

Brandy: {Laughs}.

Meghan: But that’s where it started to begin and something happened that even though I was teaching them literature, the eighth graders would come to me and be like, “I think I’m going to have sex with my girlfriend this weekend” and I was like, “10-4, you can’t talk to me about that shit. By the way, can you afford condoms?” They’d be like, “No.” I was like, “Okay. Let’s do a pros, cons list.” I realized I needed a school counseling degree so I wouldn’t be sued. And so I went to Hopkins and I got a school counseling degree. While I was there, I got pregnant, took off a semester and had my kid. My mom was like, not La Leche, but like pretty hardcore breastfeeder. So that was my story. This is what I’m going to do. At one point, my mom had a hand on one tit. I think my dad literally was holding another. I had my teeny, not premature, but dangerously tiny baby and then there was a lactation expert holding maybe a fourth and third tit. I don’t know. But all hands were on me.

Brandy: Right. Everyone. Yeah, we will make this work.

Meghan: I looked at my mom she whispered, “This is crazy. You’ve got to quit.” Of course, it took me another five months, six months, seven months to quit. But it took me probably three years of me getting in my own way so badly that my own discomfort became so unbearable that I began to change.

Brandy: Right. Yes.

Meghan: I started working with a parenting group. I started going to help myself. Then I started working for them for free and then I became deeply disenchanted. They were very strategy heavy. Brandy, I would sit there and I’d be like, “Why is this working for some and not for others?” Some people are like click and other people are just permanently on the struggle bus.

Brandy: Great question.

Meghan: I felt really lost. I had started my coaching business and I was still kind of strategy, blah, blah, blah and then I met Dr. Neufeld. When I met him, everything changed. My parenting completely changed. Everything I do in my life is an output of who I am so there’s no separation. I show up everywhere in my life like this. And so once my own parenting was so changed, my Washington Post columns changed. My coaching changed. Everything. My ability to relate to other people. Everything changed.

Brandy: What was that specific shift? Are you saying that you had these certain ideals and agreements about things – rules – and then when you realize, like, I can’t be anybody but me, maybe I’ll just be me doing this. Then along with this work of Dr. Neufeld, is that what broke it open for you?

Meghan: Yes, it was like I was fiddling with puzzle pieces and then they all began to click like, oh, oh, oh, oh. I am a data nerd and I am a concepts nerd and I am a theory nerd because strategies are great and they are life-saving and trends are good. In and of themselves, these things are not problematic. It’s our slavish adherence to them.

Brandy: Ahhh, right.

Meghan: There’s so much room in this philosophy for doing what you must with always keeping attachment as your North Star. I had a friend today whose son flipped out at another kid’s house that they pod with and he threw the remote, he’s eight or nine, and broke their $3,000 TV.

Brandy: Oh, wow.

Meghan: Okay. On the face of it, punishment, shame, horror. Like, what’s going to happen? But the theory that I work in, I immediately say, “What was his reaction?” Well, he’s, “I hate myself. I’m a terrible person.” She’s freaking out about that. I said, “Oh no. That’s good. That’s right. That shows a moral compass because if you threw something and broke my TV, you would feel the same way as an adult.” In my mind as a theorist, I think click that’s good. My work is how do we experience all the emotions and not get stuck in them? It’s getting stuck that is our problem. Then next I know, if a human is experiencing appropriate shame – which shame gets a bad rap, everyone’s like, nooo shame – but it’s an emotion and that’s for a reason. If a person feels shame for an appropriate reason, doubling down, adding shame to shame actually interrupts the process and stops it, which is why so many of us have so much arrest around things. I was able to see that situation and help my friend.

Brandy: Right. Yes, you know one of the things that I appreciated about your article and I think all of your articles, but specifically the one that I read, which I want to talk to you about in a minute is that you talk about different kids needing different things not this sweeping one-size-fits-all Supernanny approach to breaking the spirit of every kid equally.

Meghan: Can I tell you something?

Brandy: Yeah.

Meghan: Two years ago, a television company started interviewing me for a reality show and I kept saying to them, “If this is Supernanny 2.0, I can’t do it” and the thing is they won’t tell you. I go through the five interviews and they’re like, “We’re flying you out to LA. Here’s a contract.” It was like me and one other person or two other people. And it was Supernanny.

Brandy: Oh my God.

Meghan: I slid the contract back and I was like, “I’m not dragging kids to fucking nanny mats and I’m not going to elicit crying.” Anyway.

Brandy: Gosh. That’s the show we need. We need your show. We need you.

Meghan: Yeah, but how could that ever be? Nobody would watch it. Womp womp. {Laughs}.

Brandy: I’m sorry. I’m already thoroughly entertained because what you would do is you would take the crossover between the people that love reality TV like myself and then you would cross over with parenting. It would be perfect and then we would actually learn something. Sounds amazing, but you know it reminded me of – I used to be a childbirth educator for 10 years and also a doula. One of the things that made our approach different, which I really loved and thought was very special about it was that we would look at these parents that came into classes and we would look at them archetypally, but we would look at them and we’d have somebody come in who’s like, “Oh my God. My home birth, it’s going to be amazing. Everything’s magical,” and then we would see another person come in who is like, “I’m super scared of a Cesarean in the hospital and I want data and I need facts.” It was like, we would look at these two people and know they needed two different things. Like the lady who was in her magical child – and you know, none of these things are bad or good – but the lady who was in her magical child needed somebody to bring her into kind of, we called it her warrior, but like more of a mature, like if your birth required something different, how would you be able to be adult in that moment and make those next choices, just like the person who comes in and is terrified needs a little bit of magic. So it’s like they need a little bit of what each other has so that their toolbox is not limited to one way of being.

It seems like from what I was understanding that that’s sort of the way that you have people, different kids need different things and you help parents figure that out. Which is like, if you have a kid who says sorry all the time and who feels shame and feels awful for everything and like you said, the scenario happens where they break the TV, you probably don’t have to add any shame to that because they’ve brought enough for everybody. But if it’s another kid who maybe their moral compass is different or they don’t attach with that feeling then maybe there’s something there that needs to be brought out. So does that seem like an accurate assessment?

Meghan: Yes, and I love that whole like doula story. I needed you when I was pregnant for the first time. But to even add to what you’re saying, it’s almost always an “and.” Don’t add to shame and there needs to be a consequence. So what does that look like for a sensitive child?

Brandy: Exactly.

Meghan: It’s rarely this or that, black or white. The essence of maturity, which is this was a mind blowing thing for me with Dr. Neufeld when he said the essence of maturity is holding two opposing thoughts at the same time.

Brandy: Yes, right.

Meghan: If you start to begin to think that way all the time and with your kids and with yourself, you can make room for a lot.

Brandy: Gosh, I so agree with you on that. I mean, this is a conversation I have with friends all the time about everything in life about parenting, about being a writer, about being a mom, also a wife, all sorts of things…

Meghan: Politics {laughs} 

Brandy: … is that you have these two things that are conflicting, but you feel both of them.

Meghan: Yeah, I’m sure you’ve spoken with and met a lot of parents who haven’t matured fully. They’re super, super smart and they’re capable on many levels but the beautiful thing about children is they will keep showing you yourselves until you get it, or maybe never, but they’re going to keep showing up, like with the mirror. I always say to my parents, because inevitably they hire me with so much hope and then they’re like, “Fuck.”

Brandy: {Laughs}.

Meghan: But I’m like, listen. There’s suffering for nothing but suffering and then there’s suffering in service of change. So let’s do suffer for change. You own more of your suffering and stop spreading it around and I’ll help you. I’m going to hold your hand and golf clap you and tell you let’s go left a little whatever, but let’s at least be miserable toward the discomfort of coming out different. Not better. Just different.

Brandy: So, how do we stop losing our goddamn minds? If there was one piece of advice or insight of yours that has helped parents the most, what is that? Is there one place that most of our issues stem from?

Meghan: Yeah, and I think you alluded to this earlier. If we paused… well, first of all, there’s just the pause. The idea of pausing. I always say to parents, unless there is body harm or serious harm to the home, almost nothing needs to be addressed in that moment, so let’s even just contemplate the pause. And if you can do that and parent yourself first – and everyone will say, “Oh yeah. That’s lovely. Well, my kids are tearing each other apart in the living room.” I say, “Right. Go stop that.” I have to coach parents to scream, “No! Stop!” Because we’ve been so beaten into this, (soft voice) “It looks like you’re having a hard time. I’m seeing big feelings.” What?

Brandy: Why do you have to attack me like that, Meghan? That was like me for the first three years of my son’s life.

Meghan: Listen, I get it. I don’t blame you a bit. We went to this bonkers, like (soft voice), “You’re experiencing this…” What the fuck is going on? I have to have parents go into a mirror and yell at themselves in the mirror because their nervous systems have become so accustomed to being afraid. For anyone listening like, oh, you’re saying be loud and violent. No! Be in your proper place of power in the hierarchical structure of a family. You wouldn’t let two small animals tear each other apart. You’d go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa” and rip each other apart and deal with it later. Appropriate action is always called for, but all of these things parents do, let’s talk it out, let’s get to the bottom of it. The amount of talking. Like, why do kids fight? Why does the dog lick at its own balls? Because they do!


Meghan: Why does everything have to be deep? I don’t know. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which is the most Irish prayer you can say.

Brandy: Oh, that’s what my mom says all the time. I love it.

Meghan: Again, it can be deep, but if every parent listening can take the pause and parent themselves.

Brandy: Okay. What does that mean? What does that look like from your point of view?

Meghan: It would look like putting kid A in the basement and kid B be on the second floor and your monologue is something like, “They always do this. Why my kids are such assholes.” There’s usually either back thinking or future thinking. “They’re always like this.”

Brandy: “It’s never gonna stop…”

Meghan: Well, that’s future, right? So back it. “They’ve always been bad,” so now you could create a story. And just like you said, future thinking, “They’re gonna be serial killers. They won’t love each other growing up. They’ll be like my brother and I, distanced. They won’t go to each other’s funerals.”

Brandy: Wow.

Meghan: Then there’s a story of failure. “They don’t love each other. What have I done wrong? I’m too wishy. I’m too boundaried. I’m too this.” Okay. Stories, stories.

Brandy: Yeah, great.

Meghan: If you were to parent yourself, it would be like, what’s real here? What’s real? What’s real right now is that they can’t be in the same room. So I’m letting the temperature go down. What else is real? What else is real is that there hasn’t been a fight in about a month and everyone’s tired or maybe somebody is hitting puberty. Assessing the reality because these fights these kids, whatever, in the moment, it feels like a tsunami. But if we parent ourselves into what’s real… now, maybe what’s real when you parent yourself is my kids fight every day and they say horrible things to each other every day and that is what is real. Great. That’s a good data point and then it becomes proactive rather than reactive.

Brandy: So what does somebody do with that then?

Meghan: I tell a story, when my third was born, I was always alone in the morning. My husband goes to work at 5:00 a.m. So I had a six-year-old, a three-year-old and a teeny baby.

Brandy: Oh my God.

Meghan: Then as they got older, my middle one would come down. I’d be making their shit lunch and crap breakfast and I would hear my middle one tackle my baby and the head hit the hardwood floor. I mean, look every morning. And every morning I’d be like, “Goddamn it! Who does that?” Alright. Who’s stupid here? Me. Okay. Finally, I’m like what is the reality of the situation? The reality is that my middle is now this is just pure habit. She’s getting a lot of attention from me. So what can I do instead? My middle’s name is Wheezy and I dumped out a thing of coins on the table and when I heard her come downstairs, I grabbed her by the hand and said, “I need you to count these coins and put them into piles.”

Brandy: Genius.

Meghan: Now she had a purpose and she stopped tackling her sister. It was just not that deep.


Brandy: You are like, you just busy them with busy work and then they’re not slamming their sibling’s head into the ground.

Meghan: Well, and whatever we pay attention to grows. I was paying attention to drama and trauma and screaming and pain and then I was paying attention to counting skills and she could keep some of those dirty pennies. If we parent ourselves, we take care of ourselves. To parent someone is to take care of someone and to lead them and to guide them lovingly with compassion and boundaries. What would that look like to parent yourself? It’s hard. I mean, that’s mature shit.

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: It’s really super easy to just let our limbic system go and just flip out, especially during COVID.

Brandy: I was gonna say I feel like that’s where a lot of people are, that bandwidth we used to have is gone.

Meghan: Gone. I mean, yesterday in the car, literally I turned to one of my kids, I was like, “The sound of your breathing makes me want to open this car and jump out onto the highway.”

Brandy: {Laughs}.

Meghan: My husband looked at me in like mouth of words like, “What the fuck?” I’m like, “I don’t know,” and then I turned around and her face was horrified and I’m like, “Sorry.” But that was just the theme of the day. Nobody could be together.

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: It was just friction and I just said to everyone, “I’m sorry I’m being such a bitch. I just shouldn’t be near all of you,” and they were like, “We shouldn’t be near any of us. Nobody.” I was like, “Great. Everyone pick a corner of this teeny house and just get a screen and let’s just ignore each other till bed. Done.”

Brandy: See, that’s what we need to be hearing. Honestly, that is what we need to be hearing in this moment is that somebody who’s a parenting expert who wrote a book on it, who writes for the Washington Post, this is what you’re saying. I swear.

Meghan: I find something really powerful that I don’t know why I don’t hear experts saying more is the power of doing no harm. How about not making something worse and calling that a win?

Brandy: Yes, how about letting something go?

Meghan: Right. Can you overdo it? Yeah, and your intuition might whisper to you if you are and you can listen to it and reality check it. My friend, she and I were walking and I just stopped in the street and started not like laugh crying and I said, “I already did all this shit. My kids were little. I cut the cherry tomatoes. I swept up the quinoa of the floor. I did it. Now, they’re all here and they’re not supposed to be here.” She said, “Girl, listen.” She goes, “Dinners together? Hell no. I’m already eating with them twice a day.” She goes, “By the time we get to dinner, everyone’s sitting in front of Blackish” and I looked at her I said, “Right. The standards we’re holding onto from before times, as I call them.”

Brandy: Yes, I think that and that’s so true. I know I felt it when we went into the pandemic, which is I had gotten both kids in all day school finally and I had high fived my husband when it happened. It was in 2019 and I was like, “We did it. We made it through one of the hardest periods ever and now our life is up and up from here.” Right? “We can go out sometimes. I can have a thought” and then the universe is like, oh, you will not enjoy very much of that. I know for my friends too who had littler kids that have grown up, that are elementary, middle school aged, once the pandemic hit, it was like, we all had PTSD. Like, no, no, no, no, no. There’s supposed to be no way I go back into this. I came out of this already. I’m not going back into it and so many of us are having a hard time because it feels that same way like what you’re saying – I already did the thing where I’m cleaning up Ikea plates 20 times a day and there’s food everywhere and we’re with each other constantly. I hear you on that and I love this idea of how about we all just have a meal either separate or in front of the TV. This is not normal the way that we’re living.

Meghan: No, and you know it’s okay to grieve it and it’s okay to be angry and sad about it and holding two opposing thoughts at the same time, recognize your good fortune, recognize your health, recognize your love for your kids and your family and whatever.

Brandy: Yeah.

Meghan: Everyone keeps talking about, well, what is patience? It’s just this ability to hold both and then when you can’t, to properly grieve it, to properly feel it and say, “Okay.” My kids are a little older and they just get down. It’s just been this swing of no, it’s not fair, and life never owed us fair.

Brandy: Totally.

Meghan: One of the beautiful things is that my in-laws… my father-in-law has passed, my mother-in-law is alive. She lives directly next door to us.

Brandy: Oh, wow.

Meghan: It’s like Everybody Loves Raymond, but not funny.

Brandy: {Laughs}. I’m imagining it’s probably a little funny.

Meghan: It’s a lot. But my husband’s father, they’re both from the former Yugoslavia, Serbia and my husband’s father was taken as a prisoner of war during World War II and put into a camp, and my husband’s brother was significantly younger. They didn’t know each other obviously at the time and her father was a general and had to flee because they were looking for him, the Germans. She lived in a house with her mother in Serbia and they took her mom away to interrogate her and she was alone in the house with soldiers. She was maybe seven and her sister was five.

Brandy: Oh wow.

Meghan: What’s been really amazing is when my father-in-law was alive, I’ll never forget, he would come over and I’d be like, “Oh God. I’m so hungry,” or something and he’d be like, “When I was in the camps, I ate one chocolate bar for six months,” and I would go, “Tats,” which is Serbian for dad. I was like, “Tats, how am I supposed to be a fat American brat with you talking about your six-month chocolate bar?” and he would laugh. But my kids grew up listening to this and without shaming them, there is this thing my Buddhist teacher says. She did a reading from a Buddhist teacher in the 1300s who said, “I’ve never seen worse times than this. We are living definitely through the worst times.” It’s always been unbelievable. It’s always been hard. I think as Americans we’ve just been a bit spoiled, and certainly there’s quite a few Americans right now like, “Hey, not me asshole!”

Brandy: Right. Yes.

Meghan: “Try being BIPOC indigenous trans, anybody on the fringe.” Speaking as a white person, that’s fine. But I say to them and I would say to little kids, “You don’t know this, but you’re gonna be really brave out of this. This is gonna be a thing that you’re gonna be able to say you did this.”

Brandy: Totally. Yeah, we talk about that too. I’m like, “You will get to use this for years with your kids.” When they tell you, “I haven’t been to a roller coaster in forever,” you’ll be like, “I was quarantined in my home.” I’m like, “This is your depression. This is your uphill both ways in snow moment.”

Meghan: That’s right and I think it’s the best of times and the worst of times and we can really look into… I always tell parents – because storytelling is so powerful, and we’ve swapped that out for experts – but to look into your culture, your heritage, your ancestors, your family, and find the stories where people make it. What we want to do is deliver a lesson. We want to give a strategy. People don’t need that shit. Kids don’t need it. They need a grounding in place in time because no matter who you are, you have an ancestor that made it through something.

Brandy: Yeah, it’s so funny when you’re in it, it doesn’t necessarily feel like that. I’m sure people in Depression era – in all the eras, I mean, you’re in the moment and you’re trying to survive and so you’re not thinking necessarily like great books will be written about what we’re going through, but it really does define a certain time in the world and a certain generation sometimes too when it’s long enough.

Meghan: It’s also hard for me to feel like I relate to Depression era people where I’m like, this is hard. It’s time to watch The Crown. {Laughs}.

Brandy: Totally. Oh my gosh. Yes, there’s no comparison.

Meghan: And, I mean, I nerd out for the thought of the longitudinal mental health studies on this.

Brandy: Oh my gosh. I know.

Meghan: Mental health of children, I’ve been really keen to. People are really hiring me about regression things and that is a sign of stress in young children because a five-year-old is not gonna to be like, “Listen, my symptoms of depression are showing up as anger, sleeping with you and lack of appetite.” {Laughs}.

Brandy: Totally. What are you telling those parents? I especially am curious with the ones who are sleeping with their parents again. What do you tell those parents?

Meghan: The first thing I ask parents when kids are co-sleeping with them is, “Does it actually bother you or do you think it should bother you?” Because there’s a chorus of people out there like (whispers), “Very bad. Big problem.” Actually, most of the world sleeps with their kids, which is to say neither way for me because I don’t have a dog in that fight. I want to know, is it okay for you or not? Sometimes the parents whisper, “I kind of love it.”

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: I’m like, great. Guess what? Your kid will eventually go to college and you won’t go with them. I also talk to parents like, is it hurting your sleep? Because parent plus no sleep equals hell no. Is it hurting your marriage? Is it hurting some really basic functioning? Then we have to work on different strategies that fit that family’s needs and usually what I’m coaching them around is how painful it will be. Everybody knows what to do.

Brandy: Yeah, that’s why the baby sleep books kill me because it’s like the No Cry Sleep Method. I wrote this article for Huffington Post that was just me raging about it, but it’s like this joke. They say there’s no crying, but I’m sorry if you’re gonna leave your baby… everyone’s crying.

Meghan: No, everyone’s crying. The dog’s crying.

Brandy: They have one where it was this lady was called it the “Sleep Shuffle” and it’s like, are you fucking kidding me? You’re gonna shuffle away from your crying baby and that’s not gonna feel awful? The book should be how to deal with air-raid siren screaming in your space and how to cope with that because I feel like that’s the thing is, we kind of mask it and that’s what I’ve always thought and that’s why I feel like the sleep books have never served me because they always pretend that there’s not crying and that that doesn’t feel bad.

Meghan: To your point too, I have to ask. I will have parents call me and be like my two-year-old won’t go to sleep. Okay. Alright. There’s what they present and they fill out this long questionnaire and we come to find out that mom has just spent nine months in chemo. So out of this two years the child has been on earth, the mom has been largely physically and/or emotionally unavailable to that child. Well, guess what? That changes fucking everything.

Brandy: Yeah.

Meghan: There’s attachment issues all over the place and that is neither good nor bad. It simply is what it is.

Brandy: Right. Like what you’re saying, assess the reality of the situation.

Meghan: Yes, so we have to dance. Then my job just turns purely psychoeducational for, hey, this is what’s normal. This is what is typical. There’s no dysfunction here. Is it hard? Does it suck? Hell yeah. But let’s all just realize that everyone’s doing the best they can with the tools they have, especially your child. So we’re gonna work on the attachment and then sleep will happen.

Brandy: With what you were saying about the attachment here, it reminds me of the article that I wanted to ask you about that I read, about you being at the grocery store with one of your daughters and how you said that leaving that cart of groceries was the best thing that you could do and how that really impacted you. I’m curious if you’ll share that so that the listeners have some insight into what I’m talking about because I feel like it relates to what you’re talking about with the sleep as well.

Meghan: I was an excellent baby mother. I was fully on it except for, of course, the breastfeeding that of course I eventually did have to quit. But I was an excellent baby mother because being a good baby mom means that you’re 100% in control because you have this blob.

Brandy: Right. Oh my God, yes.

Meghan: I was made for it and I was at ease with it.

Brandy: Yeah, me too.

Meghan: The culture saw that, wow, Meghan, you’re so good. Really? Okay. Well, if you do a good job, your kid matures and individuates and wants some independence and I don’t know, maybe a voice. But I was a pusher and so we had done a million things, whatever bullshit mommy and me music or whatever, clapping in the circle with other grown adults.

Brandy: Right. That really want to cry but when you go around in the circle to see how everybody is, everybody’s like, “I love this,” but deep inside they’re like, {sobs}.

Meghan: Without it, I would have been miserable and with it I was miserable, which is still pretty much how I live my life. We had done that. We had done something else. It was like five o’clock. She was two years old. I was just gonna stop at the grocery store for a couple of things. There’s your first thing ding ding the lie to yourself to push your story forward. Strapped her into the seat. Just a couple things, I needed about $300 in groceries and she wouldn’t stay and she was screaming and she was getting up. As I reached for a box of cereal, she kind of tried to leap out of the cart or made a move and I grabbed her. But at the same time, an older woman screamed because she was jumping and I was like, Jesus fucking Christ. It was that moment where it’s like, the whole store was like, {gasps} and the music stopped. Peter Cetera stopped playing and I saw myself for exactly who I was. I saw myself for a perfectionist, a pusher, a control freak. I mean, it was like ice cream and yogurt and cheese, a lot of dairy apparently. But I picked her up and held her football style or surf board style and left the store and told the guy, “I got to go.” He just looked at me like, “Yeah, good. Get out of here crazy bitch.” I had to do that thing where you put your elbow into the middle of your child to strap them into the car seat because the thrashing is so bad.

Brandy: The violent thrashing. Yes.

Meghan: You just pin them down. I was in a full flop sweat and taken on the face of it, it wasn’t that big of a deal. But for me, it was the culmination… Now, of course, I went on to still be a pusher and I still do, but it was a big wake-up call. And really for other parents, I talk about, “Be honest,” because the story I was carrying was, well, I’m in charge and parents would say, “Well, needs are needs or we gotta do what we gotta do and if you give them an inch,” and then on the other side of it, you have the parent where the kid is like, “I don’t like it” and they’re like, “Great. Okay. Quit. Nope. We’re not doing that.” No tolerance for frustration.

Brandy: Yeah, the thing too when you were talking about earlier about parenting yourself, what I loved about that moment and you writing about it was, I feel like Supernanny would have been like, “Well, this is the time where you tell them that they have to behave and blah, blah, blah.” But I loved that you were coming at it from the most compassionate thing I could do in that moment was to leave. I love that piece because sometimes we don’t think like, shit I don’t want to be here in this moment so I’m just gonna leave everything. We think well, I started it so I have to finish, and I’ve got this cart of groceries.

Meghan: 100%.

Brandy: So I love that you were like, I’m getting out of here for my sanity, for my kids sanity, for everybody else.

Meghan: Well, and I circle around to it because then parents will say, well, you’re just gonna let it all go and you’re gonna… but that same child jumped out of her crib and broke her collarbone. That was inconvenient. That was bad because I had to pin her to a table while they x-rayed her and she’s screaming and so those are the needs of the situation. When you’re a parent, you have to do what you have to do. You do it mostly. But in my brain, the grocery cart and the broken collarbone had equal weight because of the lies and the stories I told myself.

Brandy: Yeah, well the other piece that I just really appreciated about that when you were writing about it was you said that I needed to do what I needed to do to keep our attachment strong, and so it was like those two things seem so important to me, which was your own sanity even if it meant that you left groceries and you didn’t get the thing that you wanted to get. And then the attachment because even though I talk shit about attachment parenting mostly because it was such an extreme version.

Meghan: It’s the techniques that did you in.
Brandy: It’s exactly right. But I’ve always been wired for attachment with my kids and that to me really rang true in what you were talking about, which is looking at the moment and looking at is what I’m about to do… and of course we all fuck up and then we apologize. But is what I’m about to do keeping the attachment between me and my child or is it not? I think that that’s an important, almost like a guiding question for ourselves in those moments where we need to take that pause. I feel like all the things that you said about what’s real in this situation. Also, what do I need? Do we need to abort this entire situation? Then third, how am I helping or hurting the overall attachment in this moment? That’s a lot. I mean, I don’t expect that parents would be able to do that at the moment.

Meghan: Listen, I think if anybody is listening right now, you just said it all. Done and done. You just said everything that needed to be said and what’s really amazing about that, which is why I think attachment parenting for you went left, is that attachment shows up as boundaries too. It just doesn’t show up as connecting, connecting, connecting.

Brandy: Exactly.

Meghan: It shows up as also me locking myself in the only room that locks in my house which is the bathroom. It also shows up in me leaving them and going on retreats for seven days. That’s a form of attachment because I am my best self when I’m with them when I come back.

Brandy: Yeah, that’s what I had to learn. It took me years to learn it. But I finally did because I just felt how much better it was and it didn’t feel imbalanced like that power dynamic that you’re talking about. I mean, in the moment that you wake up to it, I know that you’ve had moments like that. I know most listeners have where you see these moms on mom groups online all the time who are like, “I am at my wits end. I don’t know what to do about this anymore,” and I’m almost like – I don’t post this because nobody wants my point of view with a little bit of older kids. I mean, yeah. I was gonna say maybe they do. But no, they don’t, but it’s like, I almost want to be like, “Yes! you are about to have a breakthrough.”

Meghan: Totally.

Brandy: You are about to not put up with bullshit anymore and you had to get here in order to do it. Welcome. This is like what my husband and I went through not that long ago where I was like, “Hey, our kids are old enough that we shouldn’t have to lay with them for an hour before they fall asleep. I’m pretty sure they know we love them. Pretty sure that we can actually have an evening to ourselves and not be held prisoner in dark rooms for an hour.” It was like to get to that place where I was so angry about it and resentful, even though I would show up with a smile and do it, it was so powerful to be like, oh my God. I have a choice here. I don’t have to keep doing this and also to realize this isn’t about our attachment. This is about I don’t have options. This isn’t about love.

Meghan: Preach on it. {Laughs}.

Brandy: This is not about an unhealthy boundary-less power dynamic that is not helping them either. Nobody’s winning.

Meghan: In the attachment theory, Dr. Neufeld always says and my great teachers who I love (and they’re all Canadians so they think I’m like fucking nuts because they really got a handful of me), but he always said, “You can never be overly attached. You can be insecurely attached.” Because in family systems you can have a lot of talk about enmeshment in things. But when I talk to parents, I’m like clearly you guys love each other. You’re good. You’ve done all these things and so let’s look at the definition of insecure and let’s look at how we can strengthen that. This isn’t a problem. It’s just a lesson. Like you said, there was just a lesson for you to learn and it’s always gonna be painful. {Laughs}.

Brandy: Yes, totally.

Meghan: But you know what’s amazing is when you come to expect the pain, it’s less painful.

Brandy: Right. Because this is what I know with birth work as well, it’s like the story we tell ourselves about the pain is the actual suffering. That’s the worst part of it is, “Oh my God, I’’m a terrible mother. I’ve always been a terrible mother. I always will be a terrible mother. All of that story…”

Meghan: Or “I won’t be able handle this.”

Brandy: Yes.

Meghan: “This will get too big for me.”

Brandy: Totally.

Meghan: “The crying will never stop. Oh, this will get worse. This will…” Right? Yes.

Brandy: Yes, that’s such a hard place to be in. I mean, you even saying those words, I’m like, Oh my God. I remember being in that place of like, I’m never gonna get out of this. I will not survive this but it’s real. It feels that way.

Meghan: It just keeps coming. So the teen and the tweens, and you have even less control. You’re just sitting there like, {screech} but my work is constantly asking myself, how am I showing up. I keep saying Dr. Neufeld, but he always says and I have this written down everywhere I am, “It’s not what you do. It’s who you are.” If parents could stop being like, “What do I do?” And ask themselves, “How can I be? How can I be here?” Right? It won’t give you every answer and it won’t make everything easier, but it will take you off the hook of this American obsession with fixing, with solution, with stopping things or starting things because that’s not how humans are. Everything that moves in the parent child relationship moves within a connection. People ask how do I get my kid to cooperate? Well, how attached are you? So I didn’t know you from shit before this really, right?

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: Now if you call me a month from now, like, hey Meghan, can you connect me to blah, blah, blah? Yes. Why? Because we’re connected. Not because of my resume or you’re this or that or this, because we’re connected. That’s how relationship works. It’s that hard and that easy. It sucks. I mean, it’s a major, like I’d say to my husband all the time, “What did we do?” {Laughs}.

Brandy: I did not know about this. Nobody tells you about this. It’s true and it’s constant work. I feel like that’s the thing that is so hard for me about the experts is exactly what you’re talking about is the fix. It’s like, well, if you just follow a method, it will fix everything and it’s like, no, this is the work of our entire life I think, and I just need somebody to be honest with me about that.

Meghan: I find that very freeing. I know when I say it to rigid people, they’re like, {gasps} but I’m like, yeah, no, listen. I know you’re freaking out but look at the freedom, and this is work until you die. That means that every moment, every day, every breath is another moment. There’s no end game.

Brandy: You sound like that CNN anchor during the election that was looking at the map, “This is fun. This is fun. I love this. This is fun,” and we’re all like, that guy is psycho and we’re all freaking out at home.


Brandy: I was like oh, isn’t this fun. It’s so fun! But I know it. But obviously I know I’m just kidding, but I know what you’re saying is there is a relief that it’s like, oh, I’m not in the broken part that I have to fix. Like it’s all the broken part.

Meghan: Which also makes it never the broken part.

Brandy: Exactly. Because it just is. Because it’s not broken because it’s life. It just is life.

Meghan: I would get all my kids out to the car in the morning and many mornings, we’d all be crying by the time we got in the minivan.


Meghan: Of course, I’m the parent coach that lives on the street so people are like, wow and I’m like, yeah, fuck off. At one point, I was like I want to drop them off at their three different schools knowing that we’re good. Not maybe permanently, but right now, and so I would always say something like, “Look at us all feeling our feelings fully,” and they would all kind of stop crying and look at me and I’d be like, “This is just true humanity.”

Brandy: Right.

Meghan: They were like, “Oh God. You’re awful.” I was like, “I know we’re a disaster, but I love you so much and when I pick you up, I will still love you even though we’re all mad,” and I would see a little like (sigh), “Okay, mom.” That bridge of love that your behavior sucks, your mouth is garbage, whatever.

Brandy: You have crust on your face even though I’ve told you this every morning for the last 14 years.

Meghan: Right. And no matter what, I love you and show up for you.

Brandy: Yeah, that’s big and you’re right. It’s simple, but it’s also not.

Meghan: It’s always simple is the hardest. It’s the worst. It’s the facockta out there.


Brandy: So, will you remind us of your book and where people can find it and you online?

Meghan: Yeah, my book is Parenting Outside the Lines: Forget the Rules, Tap Into Your Wisdom and Connect with Your Child. You can find it wherever books are sold. It’s weird to see it. It’s like on target.com.

Brandy: So cool.

Meghan: I know it’s weird. If you go to mlparentcoach.com, everything is there; the book, I have an online class, coaching. Tomorrow I start my Parenting Outside the Lines lunch bunch, which is we are going chapter by chapter of the book and you don’t have to have the book or have read it to be in it and we’re just gonna kind of like you and I did tonight ask the big questions. Like what stories are you telling yourself? Where are you on the pendulum? Of course, now that you know me, we’ll have some laughs. So everything that you need from me, my Washington Post columns, you can read them all there. You don’t have to pay for a subscription, although do, because it pays for my paycheck, but whatever. It’s all online.

Brandy: Will you be doing more of those for the people that miss out on this one?

Meghan: More of what?

Brandy: Lunch bunch.

Meghan: Yes, it will be every month kind of permanently. If you miss it, they’re all recorded.

Brandy: Oh, that’s perfect.

Meghan: We’re going chapter by chapter and you get all the worksheets and the most important part, it is pay what you can while in pandemic. It can be $5 a month because as long as people are struggling, I still want them to have somewhere to go to get just some support. People always are like, “Meghan, what’s your big goal?” I’m always like, “Ughhhh,” but really it’s like I just don’t want you to feel shittier.

Brandy: Yes, I’m with you on that.

Meghan: I just want you to have a laugh and maybe a cry, but come away with like, I’m okay. I mean, I’m fucked up, but I’m okay. I’m making it through and yeah, here are my goals. Here are my aspirations. But also just some like self-love.

Brandy: I always feel like some community of some kind so that you’re just like, ah, I’m not alone in this. It’s just like, it means so much. I think connection with other people in similar places.

Meghan: Yeah, not to brag, but my community is awesome. They’re smart, they’ve had it with the other shit, they’re ready to do work or just love themselves or just be vulnerable and have fun and they’re a great group of people and no dickheads allowed. {Laughs}.

Brandy: Oh my God, perfect. Meghan, thank you so much for joining me today and answering all my questions. And I’m so thrilled to have someone that I can refer people to for parenting support. You know that isn’t bullshit and rigid and all of those things so you are my new go-to person. Thank you for doing the work that you do and thank you for sharing all of the amazing stories that you did. We definitely need to do a part two that’s just like, let’s hear more, is what I’m thinking.

Meghan: I’m totally down for it. This was so fun. I’m so appreciative.

Brandy: There’s really not much else to say, except we went off on like a 20-minute tangent about the Real Housewives that I spared you all from. But maybe if there’s a part two with Meghan, we will do a deep dive. Okay. Wait. I guess something I would say is I know that motherhood can be riddled with anxiety even if you weren’t an anxious person to begin with. The responsibility feels so big and it feels like you can break them if you don’t do everything just so, and sometimes we expel constant energy trying to make sure the attachment is beyond strong. But one of the things Meghan said that really stood out for me was about how attachment also looks like boundaries. The Sears books don’t mention that important piece. I think sometimes we get in a headspace where we think that attachment is so fragile, but we spend so much time building it that it can’t be that fragile. Like having a babysitter watch them for a few hours is not going to detach the two of you, nor is figuring out age appropriate boundaries around sleep or whatever else you need to be a better parent. It’s similar to what I used to tell moms who were separated from their babies after birth for whatever reason. Your baby shared your body for around nine months, heard your voice, felt your love, and even being separated for a few hours, even days cannot undo those nine months. That moment of togetherness can still happen even if it’s postponed. And all is not lost. I know that we have to go through our own discovery of this. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you are willing to make a necessary change. But if you needed a seed planted today, consider it planted.

If you enjoy this podcast, you will like 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. One Amazon reviewer said, “From the very first page I was howling and had to turn and read it to my husband. It was my life. The author’s ability to evoke the real, raw experience of motherhood from the euphoric highs and the oh so lows is beyond anything I’ve read before. The grounding reality makes the engaging storyline exciting and cathartic as you feel yourself going along for the ride. Get this book and share it with your mom friends NOW.” 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.