What Is Your Daughter Teaching You About Yourself?

On Monday, my baby girl turns 3 years old. I have been busy planning her little celebrations and reflecting about how much she has grown in the last year. She has truly found her voice and is not afraid to use it. She is extremely decisive, strong minded, independent, and cheeky. I am both proud of the fire in her heart and terrified for what those teenage years might be like.

It a pretty common headline these days to find an article with a letter addressed to your younger self. With my youngest daughter, Ari, I feel like I am looking right at my younger self. She reminds me that is ok to be multidimensional; to be both tough and delicate; smart and playful; sugar and spice.

Sometimes we hate to admit it but the very thing the drives us mad about are girls are traits that define our adult life as well.

What is your daughter teaching you about yourself?

PS: It’s almost here! Look out for this year’s holiday gift guide in next week’s newsletter.

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Hello, November!

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Can you believe it is November already?

Turkey, Black Friday, Holiday Shopping, Christmas Carols are all rapidly approaching. We are hard at work at our now 3rd annual Gift Guide to help you pick out smart and fun gifts for all the smart girls on your list. In the meantime, enjoy the fall weather and start warming up for the most wonderful time of the year!

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Yeah, me too.

This past week has been so heavy with the breaking news of rampant sexual harassment in Hollywood. I have read many of the accounts from several of the brave women stepping up to tell their stories.

Lupita Nyongo’s account published in the Wall Street Journal really struck a cord with me for two reason. First, her heartbreaking reason for not speaking up until now: “…I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him. You see, I was entering into a community that Harvey Weinstein had been in, and even shaped, long before I got there.”

And the powerful reason she thinks she has not had this negative experience with anyone else in her career since Weinstein: “… I think it is because all the projects I have been a part of have had women in positions of power, along with men who are feminists in their own right who have not abused their power.”

Womanhood desperately needs a culture of story telling and sharing. Too many of us secretly endure pain, hide scars, and smile hard. I can’t help but think this begins at home.

What stories did our mother tell us? What stories will we tell our girls? How will we prepare them for what is ahead?  “Half of all American women—54%—have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” at some point in their lives. Nearly a third have endured such behavior from male colleagues and a quarter identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits.” 

We need to be intentional about sharing our experiences and telling the stories about those hard worn scars. Because you have been there, your wisdom could light up the path to avoiding the same heartache for your daughter, your sister, your friend, maybe even a stranger.

Connecting through shared experiences, however awful the memories, is a beautiful way to lean on each other. EVEN IF all you are able to do is raise your hand and say, #metoo.

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Parts Known: Remembering Lagos

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They say environment matters when it comes to raising kids. Watching Anthony Bourdain’s reporting on Lagos, Nigeria on his show, Parts Unknown, earlier this week, I couldn’t be more proud of the environment that I was raised in. Where an untrained eye might only see the dust and grime of busy bustling Lagos, I was reminded of the grit and stubborn optimism that characterizes the Nigerian spirit. In Lagos, where there is a will there is a way indeed and everything around you sets that hope ablaze.

Bourdain summarizes his experience this way: “The government ain’t going to do it for you. Nobody is going to do it for you. It’s very much do-it-yourself place that inspires a real innovative spirit that’s quite extraordinary particularly in the tech sector. You know, you see kids from the countryside who never finished high school. Who with their own tools in the street will pull apart your iPhone and put it back together. It’s an extraordinary thing.”

Of course this way of life is not without it’s flaws. Sometimes it gives birth to strong individuals that think about their wellbeing over the communal one as it is largely the case with Nigeria.

However, the positives are undeniable and I found myself thinking and hoping I can pass on the joys of the Nigerian spirit to my kids who are growing up many miles away from those brutal, exuberant, dusty, hopeful Lagos streets.

In trying to deconstruct my experience, I am reminded of the independence I enjoyed as early as 5yrs old to explore and contribute to my household in meaningful ways; The rigor of my education and the heavy expectations my parents placed on me to be engaged and successful in my learning; The love and pride with which my community celebrated every bit of success I had while simultaneously reminding me not to be complacent;  Lastly, the magic was in the way every adult in my community took their role in co-raising me seriously. They did not let me off the hook when my parents weren’t watching and they took the time to tell me stories and teach me life lessons that only come with experience.

It was a wonderful way to grow up and the person I am because of it, is a wonderful way to be. It will be my joy to share to extend these gifts to my girls.

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On Passion Hustles and Raising Smart Girls

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to showcase Raising Smart Girls to over 200 girls at the Empowherment Summit, an event sponsored by a local girls empowerment organization.

It was WONDERFUL!

I really wanted to use the opportunity to engage the girls in a way that is meaningful and consistent with our mission. So we gave the  girls that visited our booth an opportunity to create their own lip gloss and learn about the chemistry of lip balms.

It was a hit! I really loved watching the girls light up as they learned what they were going to be doing. It validated our hypothesis that girls love STEM learning if it can be presented in a meaningful and relatable manner. We had over 50 girls indicate interest in a girls only STEM Maker club where we would teach them how to make more things they care about. Needless to say, I left that day feeling energized about this passion hustle of mine. It reminded me that this work is meaningful and many other people care about these same outcomes I am passionate about.

It has been a struggle to get content out and manage my transition into my new role at work. However, you are never far from my mind Smart Mommies. I am constantly reading and learning things that I think you might find useful and I am always so eager to share.

My dear friends who served as my team at the summit were absolutely wonderful; They both inspired and honored me with their commitment and service. They were so perfect in their support that I was able to fully focus on telling our story as passionately as I could to every family that walked up. It felt great to be so well supported and reminded me to seek help more often.

So I would like to ask you too, Smartmommy. Can you help?

I have a passion for enriching the way girls learn. My goal is to do this by empowering parents (i.e this newsletter), redesigning and customizing learning content with girls in mind and by surrounding our girls with a supportive community.

Do you have ideas to contribute? Do you work in Education? Are you a writer or editor? Are you a visual artist or graphic designer? Not sure how you can help but would love to? Please please reach out.

I am eager to hear from you!!

Photo credits to my super talented friend Ama @EbeleEdmund

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Happy New School Year!

img credit blog.whiterabbitstudio.fr

 

Heyyyyyyyy Smartmommies!

Summer is over and we are back to regular programming! Hope you’ve missed us as much as we’ve missed you and hope you had a great summer! I’ll share the highlights from our summer next week.

In the meantime, we pray your girls are settling into school nicely and that they shine brighter than diamonds this year.

Truly, we are looking forward to partnering with you again this school year in raising your smart girls!  

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Try Your Wings

Do you remember the first time you truly felt independent? Grown?

For me, it was the moment I got the keys to my first apartment. I was trying to avoid traffic the other day and had to drive the apartment complex; It was quite nostalgic. I vividly remember falling in love with that apartment and everything about my newly minted independence. I was so excited about everything; paying bills, furniture shopping, and making the space my own. I felt a beautiful strength.

When was the first moment you felt independent?

Now when was the last time you allowed your self to feel that again. After that first step of growth that usually signals the beginning of adulthood, it is easy to tether ourselves, and we usually do, to what feels safe and predictable. The reality is there are many more moments to embrace new opportunities and experiences. Remember the joy of finding your independent self that first time and try your wings again.

Happy Independence day weekend friends!

Ps: Would love you hear about your first and pivotal moment of growth and independence. Leave a comment!

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Wonder Mommy vs. Wonder Woman

 

                                                      Credit to SatrunTwinsArtShop on Esty. Visit the store to buy this poster.

 

“Let’s get daddy to help us fix it!” That was T’s immediate solution to the problem of her bike handle coming loose. Normally, I would say just say ok but that day I actually asked why she didn’t think to ask if I could do it. Her honest response caught me off guard.

“Because I have never seen you fix anythingggg.”

Wait, what???

It took me a minute to realize that she was probably right. While in my head, I was wonder woman (in full costume) — to her, I was just wonder mommy; the one who makes sure we all eat, sleep and generally stay merry. How could she possibly understand the amount of work and love it takes to run a household and that her dad and I work together as a team? How is she supposed to know that it is in fact laziness and not incompetence that makes me leave most of the fixing related tasks to her dad?

Outside of our home, I am usually conscious about her experiences with gender roles but I hadn’t thought to consider what she was subliminally learning from my own role in our home.

The truth is, growing up in a dual working parent home, she is only privy to a few short hours each day before she goes to sleep and weekends with me. This is clearly not a lot of time for her to really experience the fullness of my essence as a woman.

I actually remember struggling with this with my own mom. As a teenager, I longed to crack the code on who else my mom was outside of being my mom. I imagined her in red pumps and dressed up in much fancier clothes than her nursing scrubs. And when I didn’t discover a more “exciting” side of her, I almost resented her for not being more. Little did I know that there were indeed many dimensions to the beautiful woman she was then and still is now.

And now I see how without being intentional about it, the singular dimension of me that my girls experience most of the time could shape the kind of woman they think they can be or have to be. As they get older, it is imperative that we spend time really getting to know each other, trading stories and actively growing together.

For now, anytime there is a “perfect for daddy” assignment like rescuing us from an intruding bug or fixing something broken, I think twice about not taking it on. Worse than my daughter thinking that I cant do it, is her not even thinking to try for herself.

There are so many things our daughters are learning from us when we are not saying a word. The research about the linkage between your body image and your daughters that I share in this week’s roundup is further proof.

Pay close attention, Smart Mommies!

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P.s.: Also speaking of representation, the new Wonder Woman movie is doing a lot to empower young girls. These kindergarteners had some interesting takeaways.

P.s.s: Cheers to these amazing #smartgirls that have been in the news lately! Bozoma Saint John, Yuma Soerianto, Masako Wakamiya.

P.s.s.s: About our lemonade stand, a more detailed update to come later but here is a quick one — we haven’t had a real go at it yet. We got rained out on our debut day and we haven’t decided on another good weekend to try yet. Stay Tuned!

P.s.s.s.s: Lastly, happy father’s day weekend to all the dad’s keeping the bar high for their daughters on what a good man looks like. We see you, #SmartDads!

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Editor’s Note: And I’m Back!

Hey Smart Mommy,

Happy new month! Sorry I have been MIA for the last two weeks. My time has been so stretched lately. I can best describe it as my 5yr old daughter describes sour candy; in the middle of yummy and yucky. There are a lot of good things going on but lots of other less fun but important things zapping my time.  Anyway, I’m finding my balance again and excited to continue with our weekly conversations.

There are lots of goodies in this week’s roundup including a discussion about having a more robust talk with your daughters about sex and some suggestions for keeping your kids from learning loss over the summer (hint: focus on non-traditional learning and reinforcing key subjects in fun ways). In my home, one of our non-traditional learning highlights this summer is my daughter’s lemonade stand. She has been planning it for a few weeks and is super excited about hopefully making her first sale this weekend.  I have enjoyed helping her understand the basics of running a business and seeing her face light up about all the possibilities.  I will report back next week on how it goes.

Lastly, I have enjoyed getting letters from several of you sharing experiences and challenges in your parenting journey.  I hope to share some, with permission, with the rest of the community shortly because sometimes, knowing you are not alone is enough to inspire all the courage you need to push through whatever you current situation or try something new.

So please do keep sending in your letters and notes!

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Editors Note: Fierce Love

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, NPRs How I Built This, on my way to work recently and Barbara Corcoran (think Shark Tank) was being interviewed. She has been open about how bad she was at school when she was younger and how she struggled with self-doubt. However, the part of her story that I didn’t know was how big of a part her mom played in that. When she failed a test and the nuns at her school would tell her that she was stupid, her mom would tell her “oh don’t worry about it, with your imagination, you will fill in the blanks”. That affirmation from the very person who mattered most, gave her a strength to hang on to and basically became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It made me think, have I done that? I know my child’s strengths but have I used it to encourage her when she is down. We are quick to come to the rescue when your child is hurt or down but how often do we actually point them to their own strength so lovingly that it reinvigorates them. Think about those annoying traits; does your child talk your head off like mine? Does your child feel bad about it because she gets shushed a lot or does she feel great about it because she knows she has a gift, even if it needs to be developed.

Don’t miss the opportunity to introduce your child to her own self. Every time you do, you place a rock solid block in her foundation where healthy self esteem and resiliency can develop from.

In short, I need to learn to replace “You talk too much, T!” with “you are such a great storyteller, T!” more often. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend Smart Mommies! Rock on! Continue to be fierce in your love for your children!

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