22: Community Kids (w/ Gabi Garland)

February 14, 2024

Gabi Garland joins this week to share her single mother journey – from being in an abusive relationship, to losing her partner, to ultimately finding the best version of herself. Gabi is an authenticity coach and podcast producer who provides incredible advice to Meredith as she prepares to start IVF.




Meredith: 0:09

Hello everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Backup Plan. My name is Meredith and I hope that you know by now that I’m having a baby with my gay best friend, because I’m saying it at the beginning of every episode. I think it’s kind of obvious at this point. Exciting news Michael is in the other room right now. That’s right. We’re freezing sperm tomorrow. I’m going to go a little bit more in depth with what this whole trip has been about. Next week, kim and I are going to record a podcast by the end of the week so that we can just recap everything that happened. But I mean, things are moving this week Like it’s happening. It’s really happening. I am a little nervous. There may be the slightest hitch. I have a bum foot and I’ve had a bum foot for a long time. I did figure skating as a kid and then I did Irish dancing as a kid and also just heredity, I have bad feet. I had bunion surgery in 2021. 2022. 2021, my dad died, 2022. I got the bunion surgery in like May, april or May, and it was amazing. I had lapoplasty. If you have bunions, dm me, because lapoplasty is 100% the way to go. The recovery time was very little. It’s a surgery that corrects the issue rather than just cosmetically fixing it. I can’t recommend it enough. And if you’re in the Southern California area, dr Ebony Vincent in Orange County and Long Beach chef’s kiss perfect. Anyway, I had that done. But I also have a Morton’s Enroma. This is turning into a foot podcast. I was hoping that the bunion surgery would correct the neuroma, as was my podiatrist, but it actually just shifted it to a place where it feels a hell of a lot worse. So I had something called cryo surgery on the foot. So this is now the third surgery I’ve had on this foot, and that was a needle directly into the nerve ending that froze it, and I had that done before. I went to Europe with my mom and I didn’t think it worked. It’s wearing off now and I can tell you it did work, because I am in terrible pain and the idea of putting like another 30 pounds of pregnancy weight on top of this foot that I am limping on literally two, three days ago was when this started wearing off. I’ve made an appointment with a podiatrist. We’re going tomorrow before we go to the sperm freezing appointment and thankfully she has recently gone through IVF herself and so I can go to her and be like hi, I am at the precipice of doing this, can we fit this nerve surgery in? And then I can do what I need to do. I might have to put IVF off a month, which I don’t want to do, but if I do it might push us into the Capricorn territory if the IVF takes, and that’s something Michael and I are both pulling for. So I’ll keep you guys up to date on that. I don’t want it to get in the way, but it’s also one of these things that I tried to get a taken care of before, but she went on maternity leave and I was hoping the cryo surgery would be a more long term fix. If worse comes to worse, I can do the cryo surgery again, but it was $400 and it only lasted like three months. So I would rather do the thing that’ll actually get that fully taken care of, and then that’ll be four surgeries on my right foot but only one on my left foot. So anyway, now that we’re done with foot surgery talk. As you guys know, I went to the podcast expo in Orlando, florida. That was the end of last month, and I met some really cool folks, including Gabby Garland, who is our guest today. So she runs a podcast production company. She is an amazing person. She runs a course where she helps women get out of tough situations and kind of move into their next level, which I think is really great. Sometimes, in addition to therapy, you need a little bit of a community to help you move into your next space. And that’s what she does and she’s, for all intents and purposes, man. She seems to be doing a really great job. She’s got personal experience because she found herself in a tough place. She found herself in an abusive relationship and had a kid and then her partner suddenly died and then she found herself a single mom and, as I said at the beginning of this podcast, I don’t necessarily want to hold myself to only talking about women who are single mothers by choice. I think there’s a lot to learn and glean from single mothers not by choice, which is what she found herself as, and she really built a community for her daughter and her daughter is an absolute rock star Like. I can’t wait for you to hear her talk about her daughter and how wildly proud of her that she is and also what a badass her daughter is One of the reasons I wanted to talk to Gabby, too, was, after being a single mother for 10 years, she put herself back out on the market and found exactly what she was looking for, and I’ve said time and time again I’m happy. I don’t necessarily need somebody to come along for the ride, but if I do decide that’s something I want, I want to hear from somebody who’s done it pretty successfully. So enjoy that. It’s an interesting story about really determining exactly what you’re looking for and going exactly for that. Gabby can be found online at gabbygarland on Instagram. Gabby’s also got a podcast called the Resilient Heart Podcast which yours truly may be on there soon, where she talks to people who have taken their traumatic journeys and found like a new way through. You know, which is kind of a little bit of what I’m doing here. So if you want to check her out online, probably the easiest way is to go to Instagram. She’s gabbygarlandgabi, g-a-r-l-a-n-d. She can spell. Anyway, thank you guys, so much for listening this week and see you next week with Michael Gabby. I’m so glad you could be here. I’m so glad that we made this work.

Gabi: 6:12

I’m so glad that we connected at PodFest.

Meredith: 6:14

That was really fantastic. Me too, but before we get into it, give me a little introduction about who you are and what you do, and what the joys of being a single mother when you were one.

Gabi: 6:28

So I am a CEO of a company that is two parts, so one part is the healing components for women specifically. So it’s all Riky, hypnosis, nlp, soul work and shadow work to really just help women step out of old stories and into their voice and into their power, and that turned into a podcast production company. So I ended up having a yeah, I ended up having to turn to clients that were, you know, stepping out of that space and into another, and then they wanted to launch a podcast and so we just ended up kind of going with it a little over two years ago, and so it’s just been a pretty wild ride since, but I’m having an absolute blast, so I guess that’s a blessing.

Meredith: 7:10

What I really loved about the conversation that we had. I explained to you what this podcast was about, which was very strange at that convention because a lot of times it’s a pretty straightforward like oh, I have a podcast about, you know, coming through trauma. Or oh, I have a podcast about video games, and I was like hi, so I am, I do a podcast where I talk about cervical mucus and my own innards. The looks on some of the faces, especially at the gentlemen none of them were awful. Like every single one of them was very sweet, but I could tell we’re like processing. Like how do I respond to this?

Gabi: 7:46

I was smiling Like what am I supposed to say right now?

Meredith: 7:51

But then when I started talking to you, you mentioned about how you’ve been a single mom in the past. You’re happily married now, but what really resonated with me is part of the reason I started this podcast and started creating my own resources was because I couldn’t find anything out there. That was what I was looking for and a lot of the single mother by choice stuff felt exclusionary of like a situation that you found yourself in and I was like I can learn so much from you as well. So whatever you’re willing to share from your own story, I’ll yeah, really it’s kind of a wild story.

Gabi: 8:29

So I met her father when I was really young. We actually met in an AOL chat room way back in the day. So yeah, I was actually working for AOL at the time. I was in one of the break rooms just hanging out. You know, it’s like you just hop into a chat room like 18 year old female wants to cheer out whatever.

Meredith: 8:46


Gabi: 8:47

Super safe, super safe, yeah. And I ended up talking to him and he got on and stayed and talked to me that whole night that I was working. I worked 5pm to 2am and or 5pm to 2am and we ended up. I ended up moving to Florida to be with him. It was, unfortunately, a domestic violence relationship Very, very tumultuous. He suddenly passed away when she was four. He was killed in a motorcycle accident and it was layers upon layers. Of so much of the work that I do with women is so much of the work that I wish I would have done much sooner in my life.

Meredith: 9:27

The same thing I’m doing, like create the resource that you didn’t have.

Gabi: 9:31

Yeah, absolutely. And I, when he passed away, it was one part guilt because, you know, if you’ve ever been in a domestic violence relationship or in a use of relationship, in a capacity, peace is something that you won’t really get to experience. So I remember many, many, many nights praying for peace and when he passed, then I feel awful, like I had, you know, like I asked for peace and then he died and so this is my fault and so there was all these layers and I didn’t really have, you know, the emotional intelligence back then at 25, when he, when he died, to unpack all of those layers and suitcases that I had carried with me because of that relationship. But there was something that was really beautiful about it is I was really young when I had my daughter, was 21. She was born a month after my 21st birthday and so we literally got to grow up together and you know, through this whole process of me healing and growing and changing and evolving, we’ve had some really tough conversations about the things that we went through together but kind of sharing with her some of my guilt for the ways that I was not a great mother, because I wasn’t. I mean, I was struggling in trauma, financial insecurity, like there was just layers upon layers of messy, some created by myself and some of it was just kind of environmental, based upon what I had gone through. And she had the most beautiful perspective when I apologized to her for what we had gone through, as she was like I’m really happy with who I turned out to be and so if anything would have been different, I wouldn’t be who I am, and so, like you don’t have to feel bad for everything that we went through, and so it’s just. I think especially single moms get such a wrap about your kids are going to be on welfare and they’re going to have 75 babies and they’re, you know, never going to move out of your house, and so to get to participate and get to witness her go out into the world and blaze her own trail has been really beautiful. It’s also really humbling because it’s in spite of everything that she didn’t have for me, and I think we joke that she was born like a 35 year old, lovely young lady, but she was a baby, so that’s the same thing my parents said about me.

Meredith: 11:34

The exact same age too. So how old is she now and what is she up to now?

Gabi: 11:41

So she’s 20, she’ll be 24 in June and she, at 16, decided she want to be a volunteer firefighter and EMT. So she took all these certifications and then she became a paid firefighter and EMT and then she did that from 16 to 20. And then at 20, she went into the police academy and is now a police officer. She’s training with the SWAT team and she’s going to be one of the instructors for the range, for the shooting range, for the academy. She’s a literal badass Like it’s I raised, an actual superhero. It’s. It’s yeah, yeah, it’s just it’s cool to watch it where I’m just like, oh my gosh, at 24, I was not like that, I was not yeah.

Meredith: 12:27

Yeah, so when she, when you, were still together with her father, so were you with him for the whole four years before he passed.

Gabi: 12:36

No, it was with. I think this is kind of a true statement for a lot of women that are in domestic violence relationships you leave and then you go back, and you leave and you go back and I think the statistically they say it takes about seven times before you finally leave an abuser and be gone. And I wish that I could say that once I left I wasn’t going to go back. But I genuinely believe I would not have ever left in some capacity because one he knew how important having a family was for me, but he also knew, because I grew up in a very Catholic environment, the shame that I felt for having a baby out of wedlock and so it was kind of his way to draw me in, to kind of trap me, which everybody talks about girls dropping boys and sometimes boys trap girls and that’s kind of what happened to me, honestly, and we weren’t together. Actually at the time I was actually dating somebody else but we had about a two week period before he died. We were actually getting along like we weren’t. We would sometimes get on the phone and scream at each other and hang up like it was really really toxic, really really disrespectful relationship, and about two weeks leading up to him passing away. There was like a peacefulness to our dynamic.

Meredith: 13:49

Oh gosh, that’s the worst.

Gabi: 13:50

Yeah, oh my God it was. But then at the same time it was like at least we weren’t throwing down when he died. Like there was a part of me that was like that’s sad. But then there was another part of me that I think I would have felt even worse if I was like the last thing I ever said to him was absolutely hateful. Then I think I would have been an extra layer of unpacking and therapy that I would have had to go through to figure those, those conversations and that understanding out.

Meredith: 14:17

Wow, yeah. So after he passed, what was, what was your living situation at that time? Like when, when did it hit you that like I’m a single mother now? And how did you react? Like what was your first kind of knee jerk?

Gabi: 14:36

My first one is was kind of horror. To be honest with you, it was a pretty devastating thing. I had already gone to bed and he I was actually staying with living with my parents at the time and he was out and I had talked to him earlier that day. Actually, we used to buy and sell cars from auction when we were together, and so he was picking up a motorcycle and he was going to drop it off at one of the storages and then someone was going to come purchase it and he was hit when he was on the motorcycle and actually died Shortly after. He didn’t, wasn’t, it wasn’t anything was like go to see him and the thing that I think was the hardest about it and it was trying to try and understand was I needed to see that he was actually dead. I know that probably sounds super morbid, but when you have been manipulated and gaslit and abused and a tortured like I mean, it was really like he was. He was a very not kind man and when he passed away, my daughter and I flew to Florida for his funeral and I didn’t let her see him because the terms of the accident he did not look like himself in the face, but I his hands will always stand out to me because his hands were so, so big and so strong and it was one of those like I needed to see that for me, to know that that was really at peace at that point, like he was gone, we weren’t going to be running anymore, we weren’t going to be hiding from him, we weren’t going to be having to go back and forth to court. So it’s, it was a lot. I don’t think that I understood until much later all the emotions that were kind of wrapped up in those years spent with him.

Meredith: 16:16

Yeah, that’s absolutely wild. So I mean, at least you had, you were with your family and you had a place that you don’t have to worry about switching locations or anything like that. So at least you had that. But how long would you say that you really felt and were a single mother? Because I know you’re happily married now. So when did you meet your husband now?

Gabi: 16:40

So my daughter was there was 2314 when we met, so she was 14. And so she was already like you know, like I said, she was already a grown woman. But we met we actually met online and he didn’t. He didn’t even meet her till about a year and a half after we met. I was just very like guarded when it came to her. As far as it wasn’t because I was worried about him specifically, but it’s just. I think a lot of times single moms will because we want to be with somebody. I made this mistake myself, or it’s like. You know, nobody wants to be lonely, nobody wants to feel like they don’t have anybody who loves them or to come home to. And too often, especially for single moms, especially when you go through any type of domestic violence or an abusive or just an unhealthy relationship, you end up getting these unhealthy attachments to people and to you. You miss a lot of red flags and you know it’s just like, just because I want someone to love me, I’m surrendering so much of what I need to be mindful of and I think the sad part of it was one I made. It take longer for me to get better and be happy, but to at four. It wasn’t really that different when he died, because he wasn’t allowed to keep her by himself. We didn’t. You know, there was like the trade-offs of her was with through my father, and so it was very distanced and so I did that by design, just for her protection. And then when he died it was like okay, well, it was still really difficult to obviously tell your child that her father is dead, because she’s foreign. She understands, but she also. Later we had conversations about things that she actually saw and I understood so much more of what I thought I had shielded her from that she actually experienced, and so it was. You know, it’s peace, it really is peace. And people are always like oh, his dad. And I’m like no, no, no, no, no, no, no, like that is God’s protection, that is God’s blessing, because it was a really hard many years for them.

Meredith: 18:49

Yeah, so for you know, when you say that you wanted to protect her and that you didn’t want to give up the peace of yourself, like I totally get that, I guess it’s. Please excuse my cat, he’s very interested in the conversation as well. I keep very gently pushing him this way, but he just really wants to get in the camera. How long did it take for you to be able to see that you were dating somebody? Was dating a priority? Was meeting somebody a priority?

Gabi: 19:26

And, if so, when did that become a priority? I dated a little bit, but I also understood fairly quickly that my version of what our relationship was supposed to look like was clearly not what normal behavior was. I didn’t understand. Like to give you an example of me getting into fist fights with this man. You know, if, like I was dating somebody the guy that was dating when he actually passed away if he would do something that would irritate me, I would literally just backhand him. Oh, and it just. It was just a natural reaction. It was just like a reflex. And I remember one night he pulled me aside and he was like and I did that and he like grabbed both my hands. He’s like people don’t do this. And I was like what are you talking about? I’m not doing anything. He was like people don’t smack them, other people when they don’t like what they say or their joke. He’s like that’s not normal. And I was like huh. So I ended up going to anger management and trying to figure out initially, like kind of what, what was even going on with me. So it’s been I was single. I had a couple of relationships here and there, a couple really great guys that I met and I would do everything in my humanly power to run them away. Because if you know anything about trauma, when something is safe and you’re used to chaos, then you create chaos in a safe environment or you do what I did and I would just tuck tail and run. And so I think when you think about being a single mom, there’s a protection piece that I feel like is essential for moms. You can’t open up the newspaper and see a single mom that made a really great guy from work and then she moves in with them because it’s easier to have two people in the house and he can help with the child, and then they end up killing these babies. And I think this happens like those. Those ones always give me a visceral reaction, because I know that feeling of wanting so much to have somebody to love you and to be happy and to have a family and then surrendering yourself to environments that are unhealthy and then your kids end up paying that price. Or women get stuck in these different cycles and single mom life is not for the faint of heart, but I also think there are so many blessings of it too that people don’t realize where it’s like I never had to really share her. She wasn’t anybody else’s but mine, so it was like any decision.

Meredith: 21:45

That’s, mom, like I got it I know, I’m so glad I don’t have to compromise with anybody. Yeah, no, I mean for me. Obviously I’m coming from a place of extreme privilege of being able to do this because it’s my choice and because I have the support of my mother ready to go, and I have the support of my friend ready to donate and everything. So I’m so, so, so blessed, incredibly blessed, it’s beautiful, I love it.

Gabi: 22:13

Like I loved your story when you were telling me and you were probably like, why is she so excited? I’m like no, I freaking love this. Like this is amazing yeah.

Meredith: 22:19

It’s a best case scenario and it’s something I’m really happy of and proud of. And I have so many people that are like, don’t worry, you’ll find a guy, and I’m like, or I don’t, or like that’s not part of the equation. That’s not a part that I’m like he’s not even concerned about, with this little cat over here. But I just what I’m kind of looking into the future with you a little bit, just like you are with somebody that you’re incredibly happy with.

Gabi: 22:48

You’ve had another child who is how old? He’ll be five in next month.

Meredith: 22:53

Was your relationship with him totally different, like when you met him. Was it just, this is what it’s supposed to be? I feel safe, I feel happy, like were you seeking him, or was it just some divine plan?

Gabi: 23:08

Well, it’s kind of funny. So I was working I was in network marketing at the time, so I had the kind of the flexibility to be able to work from anywhere and it was my daughter’s 13th birthday, I believe yes, 13th birthday and I had decided I was gonna take my daughter and her two best friends on a like a birthday trip to Denver. We lived in New Mexico at the time and so it was like a whole road trip and I got them their own hotel room. I was right across the hall from them so they could have like their girl’s night and jump on the bed and do whatever. And we were out on the. They had the hotel, had a roof deck pool and we’re sitting out on the roof deck pool and we were just talking about their lives. Like what do you guys wanna do when you, you know, when you school’s not that you know, kyle at college is not that far away and just listening to them talk about what they wanted to do when they were done with school and when they were moving on, and both two of them said one is still really close with my daughter and then my daughter. They were both like what are you gonna do when we’re gone, like you’re all by yourself, and I think it was the first moment that I was like oh, they’re like actually worried that I’m not like coupled, like she didn’t wanna leave, and then I’m all by myself, and then she’s like no, what do we? You know, now you’re all by yourself, great, great. And it was so funny because that night I was in my hotel room and I was just like I ended up on this dating app and I had I hadn’t put any pictures, I just registered them. How many glasses of wine in are you? I don’t know for sure. Like at least two to three vodka tonics were involved before that profile got created.

Meredith: 24:38

Yes, ma’am.

Gabi: 24:39

And then I fell asleep and I like woke up the next morning and it was like so, and so I met the love in their life and blah, blah, blah and I was like screw stone. So and I like took the fall down. And then we had another conversation when we were there, because we had taken them out to dinner and I made them all dress up and so, walking they’re probably like trying to figure out did she have like three kids that are the same age? They all look completely different? And we walked through the restaurant and we were all dressed up and everybody followed us when we were walking through. Their eyes were following us and then one of the bartenders and another waiter came up, was hitting on me and they were like see, you don’t want you to be by yourself. That’s when you’re a boyfriend. And then that night I got on that website and put my pictures up and that night I pulled up, Like I. Normally what I would do is I would get online. I’m like I’m attractive enough. Like I get online, I put a couple of pictures and see who messages me and then kind of filtered through to find who I was interested in. And what I did is I actually did a search for what I was looking for, Some parameters, like I admittedly wanted someone over six foot, my husband’s almost six four and I did a search and the search comes up like this and the very top right-hand corner with a picture of him.

Meredith: 25:45


Gabi: 25:45

I was like that’s my husband. I don’t know where the plot came from, I don’t know where the nothing. And I was just like that’s my husband and I sent him like a little like flirt chat or whatever. And then we ended up getting on the phone that night and our first phone conversation was like five hours long. And then it was like two weeks later he flew out to see me and we broke up, got back together and long distance is hard, but I moved here in 2016. And we got married in 2017. So Wow, yeah, it’s crazy, yeah, crazy crazy.

Meredith: 26:17

And now you’ve got a little boy too. And it’s like you have the family that you were looking for, so nice.

Gabi: 26:27

It never comes in the package that you want, it never comes in the timeframe that you want, because I think too often we think it’s got to look just like this and I think, once I surrendered to, this is who it’s supposed to be, and then let’s just see how that looks for us. We’re able to create a really beautiful life together and our little boy is his feral and he is wild and he is so freaking cute, but he’s so much fun and it’s fun. It was a huge shift. Was not great at co-parenting Because never had to do it, so that was an adjustment. So yeah, that’s a tough one.

Meredith: 27:02

I think too about when I was younger and you coming out of college and stuff and seeing folks that were getting married really young. The thing you’re supposed to do is like you know you go to college and you need some money or whatever it isn’t. It wasn’t anything I ever actually wanted, like when I later I looked back and I said, like was I supposed to do that? Should I have worked harder to find a relationship? There’s nothing I could do to work harder at that, like what I could have gone on more dating apps or whatever. But I’m so glad I didn’t have the life that I thought I was supposed to or that I just kind of was. And I don’t think I’m beholden to society, like I think I’m a pretty freewheeling person, but there are these like markers that you see and I didn’t fit into them anywhere in there and I’m glad. I didn’t. I’m glad it didn’t work out that way. And yeah, I have a friend who she is a single mother now and she has her mother and brother live nearby. I want her moms with her brothers really close nearby and she was talked about being in an orca pod and that she has her orca pod, she has her support system and she’s like, if I find somebody who fits into this great perfect.

Gabi: 28:27

All about it, yeah.

Meredith: 28:28

Do that, but rather than forcing some kind of specific idea of something to find something that works with where you’re at and what you’re doing I think is so strong and powerful.

Gabi: 28:43

No, I do, and I think too there’s also this like. I think we talked a little bit about it when we talked before. Was there’s such a like? When you like I was joking my daughter was a community kid. I come from a really I’m adopted, but I come from. The family that raised me was a really big Hispanic family and most of them lived in our town, and so when we moved back home from Atlanta to back home to my hometown, she had uncles and cousins and aunts and people that I’ve known and grown up with my whole life there to just pour love into her. And I think, when you look at a single mom environment, the best thing that you can do for your babies, whether they’re male or female, is give them positive role models that are examples for them to learn from, grow from you know, to take them out and show them what the world’s supposed to look like and really be somebody that pours into them. And I think the reason why she is who she is is really very little to do with me. To be honest with you, I don’t believe that I. Of course I’m a part of it. I was her only parent.

Meredith: 29:39

You were a pretty good North star, it sounds like.

Gabi: 29:43

But the everybody around her was loving like she got just. There was no lack in her life because she didn’t have him. I feel like so many of my. You know I have an older brother and a little brother and I have uncles that were really close with her and my dad and they’re close, so she always had these really strong male role models that just thought she hung the moon. So she was never lacking that and I think there isn’t. I don’t think family has to look a certain way. I really don’t, especially as someone who’s adopted. I think beautiful people can come from, whatever environment they grow in. And when people are judgmental of single moms or different decisions, I think if you sat down and listened to why these circumstances happen for people, if you choose kindness, then you don’t have to be judgmental. You can just let people live their lives.

Meredith: 30:35

So you had a lot of family around, but who was your main? Who were your main? Orcas.

Gabi: 30:42

Who were the folks?

Meredith: 30:42

who relied on the most.

Gabi: 30:44

Well, when I lived in Atlanta, I was actually I actually worked for Best Buy and I literally created kind of my own community with my really good friends there. So that was our, that was our orca community. Back then I was probably one of the older ones, I was the only one that had kids, but, like my guy, friends would literally go like, oh, you’re working late, so like they’d take her to the mall. They’re like she’s better than a puppy. I met so many girls and I was like I’m hanging out with my friends, little daughter taking her for ice cream, and so I got really good at finding beautiful people to have in her life. And then my, my kind of long-term orca was my parents. They were really kind of the, the, the, the foundation of what we spent the most time with and they, you know they’ve. She was I was 21 when I had her, so they were pretty young when she was born and so she’s kind of you know, she’s like an extension of the fam and it’s it’s cool to see. I remember the very first Christmas. My brother was like I don’t know what we did before she was here. I was like Christmas was definitely not really this fun. Like it was. I’m pretty sure it was not yeah.

Meredith: 31:45

I am. I think too that, not to knock on traditional relationships, but you know, I I think that this way of life really does make you work hard to give your kid a well rounded like. It’s such an intentional thing. And I kind of think back to I was homeschooled between sixth grade and high school graduation. And if you can’t towel on a social butterfly, I had to find situations to be social and I did theater, I did dance. My mom was amazing. She like put together homeschool dances for us. We had 60 kids at one of them and I mean, this was back in 2002 when it really wasn’t as prolific as it is now. And I always tell people like I didn’t make friends based on convenience. I made friends with people because I had genuine interest in spending time with them and I was genuinely meeting them in environments that suited me and that’s probably why I’m the way I am now. That’s probably why I’m so comfortable in this environment and creating this life that I’m happy and thrilled with, and everything that you just said kind of resonated with me in that same way of like you gave your kid such a beautiful community because you had to, and the kudos to you on that.

Gabi: 33:13

No, I think I think it is. It’s not as scary as everybody says. I think had I been more financially secure, I would not have had a lot of the struggles that I had being really young. I was a high school dropout so I definitely kind of came into it not in the greatest of situations, but it’s despite all of that. She turned out to be like the literal best human, and so I’m like it was all worth it.

Meredith: 33:39

How do your kids get along?

Gabi: 33:41

There’s a big age gap, oh yeah, 19 years is a little bit of a big age gap. I, he, she comes out. So we were there, we were home for Christmas and I, he’s. He is non-verbal. He’s he is diagnosed with autism about six or eight months ago and so he’s not verbal in terms of like, he’s going to, like, hey, big sister, but he’s. It’s so interesting, they’re dynamic because she’ll always. I mean, she’s got a good job, so she buys him all the good toys. Like you know, she bought him like this freaking fire truck. That was like the loudest thing in the world. You would sit in my office and push the buttons. I was like it was horrible. I was like you don’t even love me that you buy this toy for him. Like, what are you doing? But they have like she’ll buy these cozy things. Like one of them, when I was actually pregnant, she bought this little monkey that you can warm, warm it up in the oven or in the microwave that’s. If you’ve seen it. It’s like it’s got like beans in there tummy and it’s got like aroma therapy in it. She bought him one of those when he, when I was pregnant, and that is his cozy. We’ve had to swap it because he like choose on it and it gets gross and so we have to swap it out with a new one. But every toy that she’s gotten him that’s like a cozy that becomes his cozy, and it’s really interesting how everybody will give him all these different things. But he gravitates to the things from big sister and he doesn’t even necessarily know it comes from her, and so there’s this really cool connection with them. That one, it’s really fun to watch. And two, we were joking tonight. It’s like she’s going to end up being kind of. There was a we were out at dinner and there was a big sister and a little brother that were sitting in the table behind us. Of course I’m, like you know, being nosy listening to the conversation Because they were telling the waitress that he had just gotten accepted to some colleges, he’s graduating from high school, and she was taking him out to out back to just to celebrate what he was doing and I was like that’s going to be like my daughter and and and Squish. And my husband’s like, yeah, he’s like you know, there’s such an age gap that she’s going to. He’s going to always have somebody that’s going to be able to like be there for him forever, because she’s so much, she was so much older than him.

Meredith: 35:46

I mean, how wild is it? Because she is nearly, she’s nearly the same age you were when you had her. So what? I mean that must be a real sort of forgive me for saying, but mindfuck to watch. Oh, absolutely.

Gabi: 36:04

And every time I tell people they’re like you must, like that’s crazy, you were done. And the thing was that I knew I wanted to have a baby with somebody Like I wanted to like, like, be in love, Like I want to know what it’s like to have somebody that wants to go to appointments with me and is like, excited to go baby shopping and all of those things, and so getting to experience that with somebody that I love, that is literally the best dad I could have ever freaking picked is such a cool blessing. But getting to, for her to get to see that healthy dynamic as well Like she saw me healthier, single and happy and then now she gets to see me healthy and happily married, and I think those are really beautiful for her to get to see.

Meredith: 36:46

So, yeah, yeah, I mean you’re still providing her With guidance, like it doesn’t stop when they’re, you know, 18, like it keeps going, and I think that’s so, so beautiful.

Gabi: 37:00

I’m like changing diapers and giving, like you know, career life decisions to like 24 year old, almost 23,. 24 year old, it’s, it’s. It is absolutely a mind fuck, but it’s so much fun and I’m such a different mom now than I was back then for her. Yeah, I mean, it’s so much more cool to know I’m a better mom for everybody than I was back then. That’s what I mean.

Meredith: 37:24

That’s how we are, I mean, as humans, though we keep hopefully growing and enhancing. That’s the goal, yeah, yeah, we hope. When did you, did you have a period of time when she was growing up where you saw it, where you looked and you saw her and I mean maybe you never had this moment, but did you ever have like a light bulb moment where you were like she’s going to be okay?

Gabi: 37:54

Yeah, there was a couple of different moments. So she there was. This was like seventh grade and we had just gotten over like some bully situations at school and she was the bully so we had to deal with that, but it was really awesome. I mean, I was literally telling a girlfriend about this today like part of what I learned at that time is that that was she was learning from me how to behave, and what I was now I was behaving was not attractive, and so she was learning that. And so, one, it was a gut check for me to get myself together and two, it was an opportunity for us to sit down and talk through why that behavior is there. And then Now I forgot the question that you asked me?

Meredith: 38:36

When did you see it?

Gabi: 38:37

When did you see that this was a success story, that she was so, like shortly after that, there was a little girl that was getting bullied on Facebook and she messaged her directly and she was like hey, I just want to tell you like, not everybody hates you. Like, if you want somebody to sit with, like, I’ll sit with you. Like I got to see the here’s where we messing up, here’s where I’m messing up, here’s where I need to adjust my behavior, here’s you just your behavior, and then here’s how we need to behave. And then getting to watch the application of it. And she was like oh, wow, and there was that. That one was a big moment. And then there was another one where she was. She was in high school and she wanted to apply for this position or this, this role in the play. It was like the lead in some one in one of the plays and she, I guess some of the, the bigger roles. They’re like you have to be in there for a certain amount of time. You got to kind of pay your dues and she was literally perfect for this role. And we had gone out to dinner with my dad and we were sitting there and she was like I really want whatever the role is I can’t remember the name of the role, and she was like I want to ask her and I was like we’ll do it. And she was like, but what if she says no? I was like what if she says no? But what if she says yes? And she did it and it was like that. I feel like kind of unlocked for her, like it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, but if you want something, you got to at least get yourself in there and see what happens. And I joke that I made her a little too fearless because she’s a cop and squat and all of the other things. But it’s, you know, the world is not kind and the world is, you know, kind of a rough place to be, and so she’s, she’s very solid. And and there was another there’s one I actually will tell you, because this was literally just recently so she graduated from the Academy and I flew home. It was during COVID, so they had like a big COVID outbreak at the graduation, so it wasn’t like the full production. But I had flown home and I was taking her to this really beautiful speakeasy steakhouse that we love and we had an Uber over there so we could both have some drinks, because she’s old enough to drink, which is still weird, and we’re. We got back to her house and she was in this really cute little two bedroom, one bathroom house and we weren’t in the house 15 minutes. We had gotten changed and I was walking into my bed, the bedroom I was staying in and she brings in this Tamahawk and she’s like here, just keep this by your head, by your bed, because you know, new Mexico is kind of crazy. And I was like, okay, that’s random. I put it by the bed and then she went across to her room and I’m laying there and I hear just pop, pop, pop, pop. You just heard like a whole series of gunshots and I was like, and it was close. And I remember thinking, holy shit. And she comes in, like, and I’m, I’m like I could feel my adrenaline going because it was that close. And she walks and she’s like okay, mom, she’s like I don’t know where those are coming from. Can you go ahead and turn the kitchen light off, like this is literally the tone she’s talking to me in. She turns on her radio and she logs into the system to see where the shots were at, got her gun loaded, it gave me the other gun and I’m just sitting here like I am a grown mom and she was so chill and I’m like, even in this environment, she’s going to be okay, because I literally got to see her tone, demeanor, all of it, absolute calm, just hearing all these gunshots, and I was like, okay, we’re going to be, she’s going to be okay, like she’s going to be okay, which was terrifying for me. I’m like, oh my God, like I’m freaking out.

Meredith: 42:01

Maybe right somewhere else.

Gabi: 42:03

Yeah, I’m like seriously and it’s I mean New Mexico, unfortunately is is got a lot of bad pockets. It’s it’s a pretty high crime study. But she, you know, she loves what she does and she’s really good at it. So I just got to be supportive and cheer her on.

Meredith: 42:19

Right, so you live pretty far away now because you’re in.

Gabi: 42:21

Virginia. Yeah, we were literally. I just literally just got off the phone with her. She’s coming out here to go see a comedy concert in April, so I’ll get to see her soon.

Meredith: 42:29

Yeah, how often do you guys see each other? How often are you traveling?

Gabi: 42:33

At least three to four times a year. During COVID we didn’t get to because she was actually a first responder at the time and, with a little brother that has a heart condition, we literally didn’t see each other for about two and a half years, which was absolutely brutal. Yeah, that was that. That one broke me pretty much that was really really hard.

Meredith: 42:52

Obviously, I mean thank her on behalf of Everybody had like that’s absolutely wonderful what she’s doing, what she’s done and given. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. As I draw this into a close here. I mean, I’ve given you my story. You know where I’m at. We had a lot of time to talk in between panels, but do you have?

Gabi: 43:13

any advice.

Meredith: 43:14

What should I be prepared for?

Gabi: 43:16

I’m starting IVF.

Meredith: 43:19

This next cycle is when I will start preparing for it, so it’s coming up.

Gabi: 43:25

I’m all you know. I’m going to be like in your DMs, be like oh my gosh, what’s going on?

Meredith: 43:28

I want all the teeth, yeah, and.

Gabi: 43:29

Michael, is it a boy or a girl, so that I can send you a picture or get you guys a gift? If it’s a girl, it’s going to be something sparkly. Just full disclosure.

Meredith: 43:37

That’s how I roll it’s boy, it should be something sparkly too.

Gabi: 43:41

I’m not objective to that either.

Meredith: 43:42

Yeah, michael is coming on Sunday and he’s going to be freezing, so that’s so exciting.

Gabi: 43:52

So yeah.

Meredith: 43:53

I’m here for any advice anybody has to give.

Gabi: 43:56

I think the thing of almost 24 years of being a mom and doing a lot of things really well and doing things horribly wrong in other situations, I think the most beautiful gift you can give them is honesty, because I think an honesty not in like an oversharing aspect, but apology, and honesty because I think too often as parents, it’s always the do as I say, not as I do, or just because I said so. They’re going to learn from what you do, not what you tell them, and so anytime she was doing something that was difficult, it was literally a moment where I had to sit with myself and go okay, what am I mirroring? That I’m getting to see back from my behavior, and especially in babies, the more peaceful you are, the more happy you are. There is just an environment that grows for them that you can’t. You can’t replicate that. And being able to one of the things my daughter’s always like you, always like it doesn’t matter what she’s doing, doesn’t matter where she’s at, doesn’t matter what she looks like. I’m just like you’re the most beautiful, you’re the most smart, you’re the most you know, because the world will do enough to tell them that they’re not. And so I think one of the things that I did really well was build her up to the point that no one was going to be able to break her, and she knew who she was, she was strong in her beliefs and she was really. She knew that serving others and being a good person was important, and so I think, as a mom whatever, whatever you do everything has to be around. How do I raise this best, the best human that I can, and put them around all different types of people, the array of people that she has grown up with, from me, from the LGBTQ community to every race under the sun, and so she’s never looked at the world without that lens, and so it’s, and I think every single person that was different from who we were poured something a little different into her, and I think that’s such a beautiful blessing for them, and I think it’s just freaking have fun. I think the two I was it’s. It’s cool to get to do this now, but one of the things that I am acutely aware of, even with my son at five, is there’s going to be like there’s going to be a last night that he doesn’t want to be rocked to bed, and so even on the nights when life is a little crazy, I try to always make time during the week to at least have a couple of nights that I’m rocking him to bed, because it really is so wild. Everybody’s always like, oh, you know it goes fast. But like, once you’re in it, you’re like his birthday’s in five, in next month, and it’s going to be five and I’m like where did five years go? And on one hand it feels like a lifetime, and then the other hand, it’s like he was just a baby, like four days ago, like what is happening?

Meredith: 46:43

Well, the way that time shifts, the older you get like. I did a lot of babysitting when I was a kid. I was the neighborhood babysitter. And those kids just felt like babies forever and I remember getting kind of like burnt out on, like the laying on the floor and playing with toys and like how long does it take to get them to sleep, and it all seemed to be like such a permanent spot. It was like they are children who don’t want to go to bed and that’s who they are and that’s where we’re at, and like that same baby now is she’s out of college. I don’t know where she’s at. I don’t want to look up online because it’s kind of horrifying to know that she’s old now. But you know, my nephew was born during COVID and he is turning four this year, in just a few months, and I love spending time with my nephew and doing the absolute most mundane things and I know it’s like I have the luxury of just being around him when he’s fun and not when he’s throwing his tantrum.

Gabi: 47:51

Yeah, you’re like oh, have a kid back.

Meredith: 47:54

But he’s such a gentle little soul and I love like cleaning up his toys with him and I love reading him another book and I love like all of those moments and he was just a baby, like last week, and now he’s not, and I think that was another reason I was like I got to do this because it is fleeting. It’s gone so fast and so that’s why it’s not even like a. It’s different than a biological clock ticking. I mean, I guess it is, but it’s just ticking in a way. I didn’t expect, so no.

Gabi: 48:35

I, I get it and I can totally resonate with the thought of like getting married wasn’t really my thing. Like I was like you. I was like I would have like nine babies and live in Parkwood. That’s like, oh, my parents, my dad was like, well, where’s your husband? I was like, oh, I’m not going to have a husband. He was like mortified, absolutely mortified. So I think being a mom is literally of all the things I get to do and I love being the CEO, I love owning a company, I love having a whole team but being a mom is like, but there’s nothing like it and I think you know it’s not everybody’s path, but when you know that it’s your path, like it is there, there’s nothing to explain. The moment that you get to see your baby and like, the minute you like your heart will just melt into a puddle and I don’t think it ever goes back. I think it’s just, I think it’s outside of your body.

Meredith: 49:21

If you are called to it, you should do it, and if you’re not called to it, you shouldn’t do it. I think that’s the other, the flip side of that coin, because I’ve seen a lot of people who don’t want to be parents, who are. It’s troubling. So I think, that is just as important a story as to say like, if you don’t want to do it, that’s okay, cause there are people who do, and yeah, well, we’ll, we’ll raise the guy funds.

Gabi: 49:44

Well before you go what would you like to plug.

Meredith: 49:47

What do you do? Where can people find you?

Gabi: 49:50

The easiest place to find me is either Instagram or Facebook. All same name Gabby Garland, G-A-B-I Garland. I so, like I said, I do own a podcast production company. I do have a me season program, which is literally the six month framework that got me from a girl that was fighting in the bars, being messy, getting drunk, being really embarrassing in public and in private, to somebody that is really happy, really confident and really whole as a human, and so I’m really excited about that program. I have a group that’s going right now the next one starts actually in March and podcast production. The thing that I don’t think I knew and I know you probably can resonate with this too is there’s so much peace to being able to just own your story and stand in it, and I think too often as women, if our story doesn’t look like what it’s supposed to look like, people look at us a certain type of way, and so getting to help women create beautiful podcasts that are able to let them share their story, their expertise and all the things that they do in the world is such a huge blessing, and my team and I love it. And so, even if it’s just getting on some of the podcasts, like I tell people like I, of all the things I’ve ever done in my life and I’ve had a pretty cool career being a podcast producer and getting to do the work that I do with women is like it’s everything. It’s a gift to get to do what I get to do.

Meredith: 51:11

Good for you. Yeah, I love that. Thank you so much, Gabby, for joining. And uh everybody check out the shit.

Gabi: 51:23

Thank you, lady. It was great to talk to you.

Meredith: 51:25

The backup plan was created, produced and hosted by me, Meredith Kate. Julian Hagens is my co-producer. You can find us on social media at backupplanpod. The best place to get updates is to sign up for our newsletter at backupplanpodcom, where we also post all episodes, show notes and transcripts. Thank you for listening.

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