Leighton Meester is a mom to two kids with her husband Adam Brody
Leighton Meester prefers to keep her kids out of the spotlight.
The couple got married in 2014, and Meester says that watching Brody become a father has been a “joy.”
"I get the joy and the pleasure of watching him become a father," she told Access Hollywood in March 2022. "He's everything that I imagined he would be as a father when we [first] decided to have kids," she continued. "It is really amazing he has become that and [is] becoming every day more so."
In August 2018, before the birth of their son, Meester opened up about how she and Brody juggle work and parenthood.
"I also think the nice thing about being an actor [is] you can work a lot, and when work is work, it's, like, super intense and long hours and you might not see your family for a long period,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “But then I'll have, like, months off at a time, so I can really be home and spend time [with Arlo]. I prefer it that way."
Though Meester and Brody have shared a few anecdotes about their daughter and son publicly, they tend to hide their kids from the spotlight for the most part. The EXmas actress explained her decision to keep her family life separate from her career while speaking with Refinery29 in March 2017.
"I am very proud of that area of my life,” she said of being a parent. “But I'm also really proud of the show, and the work I do. I think the perception is: You’re an ingenue, or you’re an icon, or you’re a mom. There’s no in between."
From secretly welcoming their daughter to becoming a family of four with the arrival of their son, here's everything to know about Leighton Meester and Adam Brody's two children.
Meester and Brody secretly welcomed their first baby in 2015
Meester and Brody’s daughter, Arlo Day Brody, was born on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Whittier, California. At the time, the couple didn't comment on Meester's pregnancy or their baby's arrival — which came as no surprise to fans, as the private pair had also kept their 2014 wedding a secret.
The Country Strong actress did, however, seemingly hint at her and Brody's future as parents while speaking with Nylon in late 2014.
“Most people I know are starting to get married. It’ll be kids next,” the former Gossip Girl star told the magazine. “I like the grown-up stuff. I like having a house. I’ve got dogs.”
Meester says being a mom is the "hardest job in the world"
While the couple keeps their family private and haven't shared photos of their daughter, Meester has opened up about becoming a mom.
"I feel that I am really lucky, and yet, still, I stepped into the hardest job in the world: being a mom," the actress told Shape in March 2019.
She later added, "One thing I have come to learn as a parent is that you have to step back and let your child struggle a little-let them fall down at the playground. It's the way they're going to learn."
Arlo isn't afraid to share her thoughts on her parent's work
In May 2020, Meester shared her daughter’s strong opinions on her and Brody working together on the ABC series Single Parents. "Our daughter was like, 'You've been at work for so long.' It's like, I've been here for one day," she told ET. "She's like, 'Both of you guys can't work at the same time.' "
Meester's own difficult childhood has influenced her parenting
Meester has also opened up about how struggling with poverty in her own childhood has impacted the way she raises her daughter.
"We live in such a bubble," she told E! News in August 2023. "And we obviously are really happy and grateful to give her everything that we never had growing up. But we also want her to understand that not everyone grows up like that."
The Single Parents actress shared that she would be bringing Arlo along for her upcoming volunteer work with hunger relief nonprofit Feeding America. "I think it's just all about setting an example," she said. "When we sit around the table, we always talk about what we're grateful for and what the best part of our day was and just give thanks to our food."
She continued, "And so she knows sort of in a child-friendly way, that there are different ways that people are growing up. So I hope that she can take that in, but mostly just to be grateful for everything that she has."
Meester and Brody welcomed their second baby in 2020
Brody confirmed that he and Meester had welcomed their second child, a baby boy, in October 2020. The news broke that Meester was pregnant in March of that year when she was photographed with a baby bump.
Following their son's arrival, Brody opened up about becoming parents of two during an interview with PEOPLE. "It's been pretty magical," he said. "It's such a crazy time for everyone and we're so, so, so fortunate that we have some of the security we do and have the flexibility with our jobs we do. We talk about it all the time and we're just ridiculously fortunate and lucky."
The actor also said that being quarantined during Meester's pregnancy had some "benefits" for the couple. "You've gotten to be in a cocoon. The world outside is scary for the moment and also thrilling and hopeful," he explained.
"For us, luckily in this time in our lives, this moment in our lives, this family growing by one has definitely had its magical moments and it's had its benefits, for sure," Brody continued.
Arlo loves being a big sister
While speaking with PEOPLE, The O.C. alum shared that Arlo is "very excited" and "very happy" to be an older sibling. Their son's arrival also had the added bonus of giving Brody and Arlo extra time to bond.
"With my wife certainly preoccupied more than usual these last six months, I've even gotten to spend extra time with [Arlo]," he told PEOPLE. "It's been magical, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life."
During an interview with WSJ. Magazine a few months later, the actor elaborated on how he and his daughter spent their quality time during the pandemic.
"Go Fish was big for a while. We've stepped it up to Monopoly Junior. A little piano, a little karaoke," he explained. "[Our daughter] has flirted with wanting to learn to ride a bike without training wheels and then kind of backs away when it gets real. And then a lot of walks through the neighborhood."
Meester struggles with being away from her kids while working
Two years later after their son was born, Meester told ET that being away from her kids “doesn’t seem like it gets better.”
"I've been thinking maybe it would, but it doesn't,” she said. “And now I've really doubled up on this kid thing. So it's kind of, it's a double whammy of like, 'Well, there's a baby now and he seems like he needs me.' "
She added, "Working is the ultimate guilt [because] I want to be here, I'm having fun. Of course, I think it's good all around, but this world, our society, everything, it doesn't really give us a lot of space for feeling whole on either end, and feeling good about going to work, or leaving our kids, or being with them. We can't do that either."
Meester said it was particularly difficult filming her movie A Weekend Away in Croatia when her son was still a baby.
"I was with my baby, but he is a baby and he couldn't be separated. We couldn't be separated from each other," she reflected. "It was hard to leave him for the better part of most days. There's never an easy way of doing it."
Being a mom has helped Meester relate to her characters
"I really was excited about playing a new mother who's having a weekend away for the first time — which is both the most exciting prospect and the most terrifying when you have a new baby, especially for the first time,” she told the outlet.
"But she's not with her kid," Meester said of her character. "That would drive me mad. I would be devastated to be in a situation like that and be thousands of miles away from my kid."
Meester describes motherhood as an "emotional journey"
Meester has also shared that her parenting journey has "made me reflect on my own upbringing and childhood."
"It's all just so intimate and private,” she told PEOPLE in August 2023. “It's something that I could never put into words, really. It's such an emotional journey to have children, and it certainly has made me reflect on my own upbringing and childhood.”
She continued, "Having children, I want to give them all that we never had when we were growing up, but also to be candid and open about how grateful we should be for everything that we have."
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