In Her Shoes A de­voted dog mom doesn’t un­der­stand why hav­ing kids makes her col­league con­sis­tently late.

Working Mother - - Contents - By Au­drey Good­son Kingo

Brit and Leiah be­gan work­ing to­gether one year ago, as the co-hosts of a Wash­ing­ton, DC, ra­dio show, Good Things DC. The two were orig­i­nally in­vited on air as panelists, but they hit it off so well, they were asked to take over host­ing. They have a lot in com­mon: On the first day of work, they re­al­ized they had both signed up to com­pete in their first pageant ear­lier in the year. But there is one big dif­fer­ence be­tween the now-best buds: Leiah is a de­voted “dog mom,” and Brit is a mother of two boys, Jace, 8, and Lo­gan, 3.

Brit oc­ca­sion­ally runs late be­cause of her sons, and Leiah wishes Brit would reach out when she needs a hand. Can these two learn to lean on each other more?

Brit’s Side

“Leiah’s big on be­ing on time. I hate to use my kids as an ex­cuse, but that’s my re­al­ity.

I can plan ahead and give my­self plenty of time to make sure I’m not late, and then one of my kids will have a to­tal melt­down and he doesn’t want Dad, he wants only Mom.

“One morn­ing, I found my son’s home­work on the kitchen counter, so I drove to his school to drop it off be­cause I knew he had a test, and I wanted the

teacher to know he was pre­pared. Our last show started 10 min­utes be­hind sched­ule be­cause I was late to the stu­dio. I feel bad. We’re never wait­ing on Leiah.

“Leiah loves her dog, and she should. But she doesn’t un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a dog mom and an ac­tual mom. Kids are more com­plex. If I need to leave for any­thing (no mat­ter how brief ) and my hus­band has his own obli­ga­tions, I can’t just pop out and be back in time to let my kids out for a walk. I have to en­trust them to some­one else. It takes time, money and emo­tional en­ergy! It’s not the same as find­ing a ken­nel for Mon­key.

“Be­cause Leiah doesn’t have kids, she wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to work out, and she says, ‘ You should come to my gym with me!’

I’ll tell her, ‘I need to sleep!’ If I’m up work­ing out, it’s in my build­ing, where I can get back home be­fore my kids are up. I love her, but some­times I think, ‘Girl, you don’t even know what you’re ask­ing.’

“My kids love Leiah, though. If they’re around when we’re record­ing, they don’t care about me at all. ‘Can I sit on Leiah’s lap?’ ‘Can I Snapchat with her?’ She has cre­ated such a strong bond with ev­ery­body in such a short span of time.”

Leiah’s Side

“Both Brit and our boss have chil­dren, and I don’t. It’s chal­leng­ing to be the one with­out kids. Some­times they’ll say, ‘ You don’t un­der­stand be­cause you don’t have kids’ or ‘ You don’t even know what tired is.’

“And Brit some­times can­cels plans be­cause some­thing comes up with the boys. For ex­am­ple, we had an end-of-sum­mer bar­be­cue for our show, with a live tap­ing, and Brit showed up an hour-and-a-half af­ter I got there. I un­der­stand that life as a mom is chaotic, but we had planned the event four weeks ear­lier. I’m sure she will prob­a­bly say that I don’t un­der­stand be­cause I don’t have kids—and it’s true.

“I’m vo­cal with Brit. She’s been late only a cou­ple of times, but when she’s late, our show starts late, which looks ter­ri­ble to our lis­ten­ers. Thank­fully, Brit is open to con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. I’m just a big no-ex­cuses per­son. I think ev­ery­one can use some­thing as a crutch, and for moms, it can be their kids. I am guilty of it too. Brit said I once went home early from a party to let my dog out.

“But I feel like my com­mit­ments are viewed as less valid since I don’t have kids. If a par­ent says, ‘I have to go home and re­lieve the babysit­ter,’ no one ques­tions that. If I say, ‘My dog has been locked up for eight hours,’ al­most ev­ery­one says, ‘He will be fine; he’s just a dog.’ Moms with­out pets can­not fully un­der­stand the love I have for my fur baby. Be­ing a dog mom is full-time, just like hav­ing kids. Yes, we can leave our pets alone for pe­ri­ods of time, but we feel sim­i­lar guilt about it. Both dogs and kids get sad when you leave.

BRIT A Vir­ginia na­tive, Brit is mom to Jace, 8, and Lo­gan, 3, and wife to Bryan. LEIAH Leiah and her hus­band, Jay, are proud par­ents to their res­cue poo­dle, Mon­key.

“I also know it’s tough for Brit be­cause she doesn’t have fam­ily in the area. She doesn’t trust a lot of peo­ple with her kids, and I don’t blame her be­cause the world is not a nice place. I wish my mom friends like Brit would reach out more when they need help. I think they think the child-free life is so cool. They don’t re­al­ize I’m at home mak­ing cook­ies with my dog, and I would love to come over and bake cook­ies with their kids.”

Hear­ing Each Other

Brit wasn’t sur­prised that Leiah is an­noyed when she’s late. “Ob­vi­ously, it’s not in­ten­tional. I would love to be on time. But my re­al­ity is, some­times I can’t.” She did come up with a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion: hand­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity to her hus­band. “I will make sure that when some­thing comes up, I’m not the only one fix­ing it.”

Leiah also sug­gests Brit per­form men­tal triage when emer­gen­cies arise. “I know Brit’s a per­fec­tion­ist and wants to tackle prob­lems im­me­di­ately. But maybe she can ask her­self, ‘Does it have to be done right now?’”

Ad­mits Brit, “That’s a good point.”

Both Brit and Leiah agree that hon­esty is key to han­dling sched­ul­ing dilem­mas as they arise—and prom­ise to keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open. Leiah pledges to be pa­tient, and Brit vows to reach out for help—even though it can be hard to do.

“I know Leiah would take great care of my kids and they would have so much fun. But it’s not some­thing I even think of. I’m so used to tak­ing care of ev­ery­thing my­self,” Brit ac­knowl­edges.

“It’s dif­fi­cult for any­one to say, ‘I’m over­whelmed and need help,’” Leiah says. “But if you want to get stuff done at home, I’m happy to come and dis­tract the boys for an hour-and-a-half.”

As for Leiah feel­ing like her com­mit­ments—like Mon­key—are less valid, Brit says: “I don’t think Leiah’s things that can throw a sched­ule for a loop are ‘ less than.’ In a per­fect world, we should all value the things in life that are im­por­tant to us, free of judg­ment.”

While Brit can’t prom­ise her sched­ule won’t hit another snafu, and Leiah knows it’s hard for her to un­der­stand what it’s like to be a work­ing mom, they are go­ing to be gen­er­ous and ac­cept­ing of one another—dif­fer­ences in­cluded. “When you’re com­pas­sion­ate and con­sid­er­ate of what­ever peo­ple are go­ing through, even when you stum­ble through mis­takes and dif­fer­ences of per­spec­tive, you can al­ways come back to a good place be­cause you care about the other per­son,” Brit notes.

Leiah agrees. “There is enough suc­cess and money and hap­pi­ness for ev­ery­body. Too of­ten women try to com­pete with one another when we are on the same team.”

Brit’s re­sponse? “Amen, sis­ter.”

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