Happy International Women's Day to all the awesome Women !!!!!
Growing up around strong women is one of the greatest gifts that I have been given. I was raised by a single mother around her very strong sisters and my grandma, who was the family's matriarch. Throughout my life, I have met many incredible women. As we celebrate women around the world, I would like to share what I learned from the strong women around me.
In this blog post, I will celebrate the five groups of Women who have impacted my life positively.
Women who love and care for their children
My motherhood journey started almost three years ago, and I am grateful for the great role models I had growing up. Being surrounded by strong mothers made me know that when my time came, I would be able to do it. The love of my mother and the care while we were growing up set me up for success in my life.
Lessons I learned
Women who work hard towards their Career goals
One thing that inspires me is seeing women who have beat all odds and are successful in their careers. I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of great women. Following the example of the women who have supported me on my career journey, I am committed to helping other women as well.
Lessons I learned
Immigrant Women I met on my journey
As I moved and lived in different countries, I met many awesome women. Some of them had been on their own journey for many more years than I was. It gave me the opportunity to learn from their experiences and wisdom. I also had companions on my journey who I got to spend time with as we all navigated our lives as immigrants.
Lessons I learned
Women who have been real friends
My friends have played a very important role in different phases of my life. I have a small circle of awesome women who are my "tribe." They are the first people I call when I accomplish big things, and things are not going well. Though we all live far apart, we work hard to stay in touch and are there for one another.
Lessons I learned
Women who supported my passion projects
Working on my passion projects is very important to me. I enjoy working on them because they help me feel fulfilled and reach amazing people. Starting my blog five years ago was one of the scariest things I did. I really appreciate all the women who read my posts, share their stories, and encourage me.
Lessons I learned
I am grateful for all the amazing women in my personal and professional life. Having role models, companions on my journey, and people I can give back to makes me proud to be a woman.
Time for Reflection
About four years ago, the women in my Mastermind Group decided to read "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown. It has been a book that has changed my perspective on many things. Since I learned about vulnerability as a sign of strength and not weakness, it has helped me get comfortable with my feelings and emotions.
In this blog post, I will share areas of my life where I am allowing myself and the impact it has had on me.
Starting point: What does being Vulnerable mean?
I like Brené Brown's definition of vulnerability as "the feeling we get during times of uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure. This includes times when we're showing our feelings, and we're not sure what people will think, and times when we really care about something and people will know that we're sad or disappointed when it doesn't work out."
Being Vulnerable at work
Thinking about being vulnerable at work is something that we are trained not to do. Acknowledging that there are many things that I know and others that I do not know is difficult. I have learned that it is ok to be vocal about it. Another area where I am vulnerable at work is sharing how much I struggled when I started working at a company that many people think is a dream company. I felt a lot of shame about the fact that I was not living the dream. Talking about my experience helped me overcome the sadness I felt and move on.
Being Vulnerable in relationships
It is weird, but even when we love people, sometimes it feels tough to be vulnerable with them. There is always a fear of being taken for granted when you bear it all and share how you feel. As my relationships have matured, I have had to decide to put myself out there and show my true feelings. I had to learn not to hold back when it came to love and not be afraid of disappointment.
Being Vulnerable as a mother
Especially when I talk to other mothers, I am candid about areas where I am not doing things people expect of a "perfect mother." I openly share the challenges I have faced so far on my journey. It is scary to talk about the challenges I had breastfeeding my son in the first three weeks of his life, challenges sleep training, dealing with mum guilt, and much more. Being vulnerable has helped me connect with other amazing women.
Being Vulnerable about my background
For the longest time, I did not feel comfortable sharing about the fact that I grew up poor and was homeless at one point in my life in Germany. I was very self-conscious and thought people might look at me differently if they knew. This was indeed a story I told myself. When I got the courage to share, I learned more about other people's similar experiences. My background contributed a lot to who I am today.
Being Vulnerable about my insecurities
One of the most difficult blog posts I wrote was when I shared about dealing with my insecurities. My weight gain was something I needed to come to terms with over the last few years. I could not believe that I actually wrote and published a blog post when I shared about it. It helped me see how much it mattered to me and the fact that everything was still alright. Talking about my insecurities is still hard, but I am learning to push through the discomfort.
Being Vulnerable about my fears
In my birthday blog post last week, I shared ten things about myself, and for some reason, I wanted to share one of the fears on my mind. I shared about the fact that I am almost worried that no one will show up to events that I organize or read my blog posts. It is something that has held me back from taking big steps. Writing it down reminded me that it is real and I can overcome my fears.
Being Vulnerable about my dreams
Especially in the Nigerian culture, you are told not to share about your dreams. People have different thoughts about why you should not share your dreams. I always wondered, what if the goals and dreams I share never come true? The fact that people know and can see my disappointment makes me not want to share. I am being vulnerable by sharing my yearly goals, the progress I am making, and areas where I still have work to do.
Being vulnerable has helped me be my whole self and connected me with fabulous people. You never know who you are helping by showing up as yourself and accepting that no one is perfect. We all have the opportunity to continue learning and growing.
October is a month of celebration in our home. We kicked it off with our wedding anniversary, our Son's birthday, and the grand finale is, my birthday. This year, I am marking my special day by celebrating who I am and sharing a little bit about me.
In this blog post, I will share some experiences, thoughts, and fears that make me who I am today. Check out my other "Her Story" blog posts to learn more about me.
#1: I am German-Nigerian
It took me a while to own and celebrate both parts of my cultural identity. After I moved to the US over seven years ago, it finally became clear that both German and Nigerian cultures have influenced who I am today. My love for family and community is Nigerian, whereas my sense of responsibility at work is very German.
#2: I am a Wife and Mother
The two most important men in my life are my Son and husband. I am very fortunate to be married to someone I have known all my life. It is a very special gift that I never take for granted. Two years ago, we were blessed with our Son. Every day I find comfort in the home we have built for ourselves and our Son.
#3: I get to celebrate my birthday every year with someone special
I am one of those people who was blessed to be born with a birthday mate. My twin sister and I celebrate this wonderful occasion every year. It is very special to have a sibling with whom you share a lot with. One of the questions I get asked the most as a twin is if we can feel the other person's feelings and know if something is wrong. The truth is that there is a special connection that I can't explain.
#4: My sister and I were raised by a single mom
Our Mother gave birth to us in Germany and then moved back to Nigeria with us when we were 18 months old. Growing up was fun and challenging at the same time. I learned many valuable lessons about being a resilient woman from my Mother. When I look at how far my sister and I have come in our lives so far, I can't believe it given how we grew up.
#5: One of my greatest fears is that no one shows up to my "party"
In my job, I get to organize and lead various events. One of my steady fears is that no one will sign up and join. I stop myself from looking at the numbers of how many people signed and enjoy the surprise. I also tell myself that it's not about how many people show up but the value they get from being there.
#6: Working towards my financial goal is one of my motivators
I grew up poor but with some privileges in Nigeria. One promise I made to myself when I moved to Germany at age 15 was that I would be intentional with my finances and work towards building wealth. It started with me saving a very small amount from the small jobs I worked at when I was in university. I have kept my saving discipline going until now. As I earned more money, I set more aside and invested in building the life I desired.
#7: My purpose in life is to support women around me
When people ask me what I am passionate about, I always say, "helping women thrive in their personal and professional lives." I take the forums and platforms I have to connect with other women very seriously. Especially being raised mostly among women, I am a cheerleader for those who are working towards living their best lives.
#8: My Career has taken me places that I never imagined
When I graduated, I had no idea I would be where I am today, almost thirteen years later. I chose to be a program manager in Tech, which was the right path for me. I have gotten to sit in rooms and lead programs I never saw myself leading. Over the past three years, I have had the privilege of leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs as my contribution to making the world a better place.
#9: I wear my heart on my sleeves
For the longest time, I thought my emotions, empathy, and quickness to tears were weaknesses. I have learned to appreciate that it makes me who I am. Especially with my strong personality, I need to balance it with care for people around me. I accept all the tears that I cry as I feel all the emotions.
#10: I am grateful and proud of how far I have come
Every year around my birthday, I reflect on my life over the past year and the experiences that I have been through. This past year has been filled with many successes in my personal and professional life. It has taken a lot of sacrifices and has taught me a lot.
Final Thoughts - My wish for my new year
One thing that I realized is that I need to start dreaming about my future. I have accomplished many of the big things I had already wished for and planned for. This is a great time to get inspired and refresh my bold goals.
As we celebrate our son's 2nd birthday this month, I am beyond grateful for the great gift and experiences over the last two years. I want to take the time to reflect on my journey and the lessons I have learned. My life has changed a lot since "Mother" was added to my identity.
In this blog post, I will share the pivotal experiences of my motherhood journey in year two. If you would like to see how I felt after my first year of motherhood, see my reflections here.
#1: Experiencing changes after our son turned one
Motherhood has been one of the most immersive journeys in my life. It demands a lot from you mentally and physically. I don't know what it was, but my brain seemed to regain capacity when our son crossed the 12-month mark. I felt like I didn't have to think about his every need as much as I did in the first months.
#2: Trusting another person to care for our son
For the first 14 months of our son's life, my husband and I cared for him on our own while we both worked full-time. I don't know how we did it. We know that it was the safest solution as infection levels were still high where we live. At the beginning of this year, I looked at the goals I wanted to accomplish professionally and knew we needed some help. We are fortunate to be able to have a nanny that comes to our home for a few hours a week. It allowed me to focus on work and know he was well cared for. This was one of the best decisions I made this year.
#3: Integrating Work and Motherhood
Typically we hear about work-life balance. That assumes that we can hold a balance between work and life. I had to learn to work towards integration and not seek balance. It took me a while to accept that there will always be one aspect of my life that demands more of my attention, and I'll need to be agile. I am now ok with the fact that I can flex how I spend my time and thrive.
#4: Learning to prioritize my wellbeing and goals
There are so many different aspects of my life that I wanted to continue prioritizing even though my life has changed a lot in the last two years. I am very happy that I can continue writing my weekly blog posts, even with being a mother. Another aspect that I prioritized was growing my career, and I am very happy that I did that. One area where I am still learning and need to do better is taking care of myself.
#5: Dealing with "Mum guilt"
There is so much pressure to be a perfect mother. I keep asking myself what that actually means. Especially in an age where we get to see aspects of people's lives on social media, it can feel very intimidating when you see mothers that look like they are doing everything so effortlessly. I accepted that I am the best mother for AC. As a working mother, there are things that I need to do differently, given the time that I have available to me. I stopped feeling bad that I could spend a finite amount of time with him during the week and that I could not do all the fun activities with him. The truth is that he is having fun and developing beautifully. The pressure that I was putting myself under was totally unnecessary.
#6: Introducing our son to our family
Due to the pandemic, we had to wait for 20 months after he was born until we could travel to see our family. Words cannot describe the feeling I had when our son finally got to meet our family. We traveled from the US to the UK and spent three whole weeks with different family members. Hearing our son now call the names of our family members when he sees their pictures is very special.
#7: Learning about what a good Father looks like
Watching my husband be a great father taught me what Fatherhood means. I did not grow up with a father, so this experience has been very new. Seeing our son interact with his dad and soak up all the love warms my heart up. I feel very fortunate to have a partner who is very involved in raising our son.
#8: Finding support from the Mothers around me
There is something special about being about to share stories, get ideas, and be supported by the other mothers in my community. I have had the opportunity to learn so much and share with others. It helps to know that others are experiencing similar things and that we are all on our own learning journeys.
#9: Watching our son develop his passion for music
As a parent, a lot of people ask you what your child is passionate about. For the longest time, we were not sure what it was, and then we noticed him enjoying music. He started dancing every time music came on. Months went by, and my husband noticed that our son enjoyed watching people playing the saxophone. As a great father, he got our son his first toy saxophone. Our little boy has memorized all the moves and plays with his saxophone for hours every day. It is amazing to see him love music so much, and I'm looking forward to seeing how his passion develops.
#10: Growing my capacity to love every day
When people tell you that you discover a new type of love when you become a parent, they are absolutely correct. No matter what challenges we face as we navigate the complex journey of raising a child in America, we would not have it any other way. Every single day, we are filled with love for our son.
Being a mother has definitely made me better in my personal and professional life. The most significant change is that I have gotten more empathy for people. I have always been a compasionate person. However, I now have empathy for people even when I don't totally understand their backgrounds and experiences. I judged people more and now find myself thinking, let everyone live their lives.
As we progress and grow in our lives, we experience new things. Interestingly, I did not think about all the additional transitions I will have to go through as a Mother. Now I am here and learning how to manage my emotions and adapt to changes in our lives. I am also very aware that this is only the beginning, and many more transitions are coming our way as parents. This is year two of a very long journey with our son.
In this blog post, I will share my experience and how I am preparing for this new phase in my life as a mother.
MC's Journey: Navigating our Childcare changes
Our son was born at the height of the pandemic, which meant that my husband and I had to start our journey as parents on our own. Our family lives far away, and with the travel restrictions, they could not come to visit us. As a result, we cared for our newborn on our own and continued to do so for the first 14 months of his life. I learned to navigate caring for him while working full-time from when he was 3,5 months old. At the beginning of 2022, when infection rates were lower where we live, we hired a nanny who came in for about sixteen hours a week while we covered the rest of the time. I am fortunate to work from home, which worked very well for us. Now that our son is turning two years old in a few weeks, we are ready to expand his social circle. My little baby is starting Daycare. We know that he is ready, and it is a part of his development. However, thinking about the transition has been very emotional for me. For the first time in his life, he will be away from my husband and I, in someone else's care outside of our home.
How am I preparing myself for the transition?
Until we had a child, I had no idea how the school system in the US worked. I was a little more aware of how schools worked in Germany because I lived there for a long time and learned from my sister and friends who had kids. So, when we started talking about our son starting Daycare, my husband and I had to read up and talk to people around us. We are still learning a lot of new things. I am looking forward to expanding our community of parents as well.
Accepting the feelings I have
When people asked me in my early adulthood what my weakness was, I would say that I do not do well with changes. A few years ago, I realized that I have actually experienced a lot of change in my life and the change itself is not the issue. I now know that the impact of the change is what concerns me. Although I have accepted the change, I still feel emotional about everything that will be different due to the change. When I think about our son going to Daycare, I am very excited for him. However, the thought of him being away from us for hours a day makes me uneasy. I have been spending time thinking about what I am worried about and finding some techniques to help me adapt.
We had about six months between when we enrolled our son in Daycare and when he is actually going to start. It has given me a lot of time to get prepared in my mind. If you know me, you know that I use preparation as a technique to address nervousness about new and significant milestones. I am very thankful that I have planning skills that I apply to get my mind ready for the change. Once I have a plan, I find embracing the changes in my life easier.
Preparing my family
With our son going to Daycare, all our routines will change. My husband and I have started talking about the adjustments we will make. The next area that I focused on was ensuring we have everything our son will need for Daycare. I was shopping for things as if he was going to college. It is important that we have the critical things covered for his first weeks in Daycare. We can then learn about what else we need and get those. This is all part of the learning journey that we are embarking on.
Being thankful, brave, and hopeful
I am embarking on this journey with a lot of excitement for our son, as well as looking forward to how much he will learn from Daycare and then school when the time comes. We are incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to care for our son at home over the past two years. I know that I will smile when I look back in a few months and remember how nervous I am now. As with other transitions, I know that we will thrive and succeed as a family.
I would like to wrap up this post by celebrating all the amazing parents and caretakers who are caring for children. It is a huge responsibility that grows exponentially every year. Being raised by a single mother and seeing my sister being a great mum, I have great role models who have gone before me. Thank you to all parents and caregivers !!!
This time of the year is a great time to pause and reflect on our lives. 2021 had been a big year for me. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for everything that I have had the privilege to do and experience this year. I have learned to be very intentional about celebrating the good that is happening in my life. It is very easy to focus on what is not going well and forget the awesome experiences.
In this blog post, I will share the ten things that I am grateful for. I am excited to share a snapshot of my "gratitude list" for this year.
#1: Living in good health
Especially with everything going on in our world today and the global pandemic, I have come to appreciate being alive and healthy even more. I am grateful that I wake up every morning and get to live my life without any major health issues.
#2: Having our son
Going through the first year of his life and watching our son grow is something I feel very blessed to experience. He has brought a lot of love and joy to our lives. The gift of having a child has changed my life for the best over the past months.
#3: Having amazing family and friends
My social circle is pretty small, but it has the best people for me. The most important person that I am grateful for is my husband. He has been my biggest supporter throughout this big year. I would not have been able to work and take care of a baby without him.
#4: Being able to work from home
The last time I physically went into an office was in March 2020. I am very grateful for the fact that I have been able to work from home and care for our son. Although it has not been easy, I appreciate that I can do both at the same time from our home.
#5: Being financially stable
Every day, I appreciate that we do not have to worry about meeting our basic needs. It has taken a lot of discipline and intentionality to grow my finances. The work that I put in is paying off. I am thankful that I have enough for myself and to support others are well.
#6: Growing my career
The growth that I have experienced in my career over this past year has been phenomenal. I have gotten to work on many impactful projects with amazing people. Having success in my career has brought me a lot of joy and helped me see that I can do this.
#7: Enjoying the small things
Recently, I noticed that I was feeling more like myself. I was able to enjoy the small things in my life again. Things like food, music, movies, walks, and more bring me joy. I am very grateful that those small things make me smile.
#8: Progression on my journey
As I have reflected on my journey, I have become more grateful for all the experiences that I have been through. Celebrating the good, bad, and ugly has made me appreciate how far I have come. The lessons I learned have helped me build a great life.
#9: Working on my passion projects
One of the fears I had when I became a mother last year, was that I would not be able to continue working on projects that I care about. Being able to write my blog, share my story and build connections has been something that has made me feel fulfilled.
#10: Being happy and hopeful for the future
I can confidently say that I am happy with where I am in my life today. I was not always able to say that. When I think about what the next year holds for me, I am very hopeful. There are many great things that I am excited to do and experience. I am grateful to be in a place in my life where I can be myself and live the life I desire.
We have a lot to be grateful for, even though it may be hard to see sometimes. Whenever you feel down or discouraged, remind yourself of the good that is happening in your life.
Time for Reflection
Reflecting on my first year as a Mother
When I found out we were expecting a baby in March 2020, I had no idea what life journey we were about to embark on. It was the same week when the world started shutting down due to the global pandemic. My experience being pregnant was very different given the times we were in. Everything went better than I expected, and our baby boy was born in October 2020. My motherhood journey kicked off and has been on for a year now. One thing I am grateful for, is that I had been caring for children from when I was younger until I graduated from college. My experience taught me a lot about caring for the basic needs of children. However, having a child of your own for 24 hours every day takes a little bit more.
In this blog post, I will share the ten lessons I learned from my first year being a mother to our amazing son. Check out my reflection on my first mother's day.
#1: Acknowledge the huge life change
Becoming a mother or parent changes your life in a very significant way. I had no idea what to expect and was surprised by how much my priorities would shift. Having time during my pregnancy to mentally prepare for the shift in our lives helped me. However, the past twelve months have changed me even more. I am still getting to know myself as a mum.
#2: Don't live in fear
One of the first things I committed to doing when I found out that I was pregnant was not allowing fear to take over my life. Eight years earlier, I had a major surgery that made me worry about having a healthy pregnancy. I am so thankful that everything went well. Fast-forward to now that I have my son, I have to fight more fears on a daily basis. I constantly need to remind myself that every fall or scary moment is part of the journey.
#3: Embrace and enjoy the journey
People were right when they said time would go by very quickly. I have to constantly remind myself to be in the moment and enjoy the time with my son to the fullest. The pandemic gave me a gift where I get to work from home, be with him and experience his milestones. Seeing him grow and learn new things every day has been one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced.
#4: Lean on your partner or support system
Before I had a baby, I always thought I would have a stronger network and the "village" that would help me. Due to the pandemic, my support system was my husband alone. I have come to really love and appreciate my husband in a very different way. We have taken care of our son on our own from the day he was born till today. Learning to let go and accept his help made my life better.
#5: Do the things you said you would never do
There were some things around taking care of a child that I said I would never do before I had our son. Now I have come to accept that it is ok to do things that I would not have done because they are necessary at the moment. The truth that I have come to accept is that I can't control everything and striving for perfection is exhausting.
#6: Make time for things you are passionate about
One thing that I knew I really wanted to continue doing after becoming a mother was writing my blog. It has become something that allows me to express myself and grow in many ways. I made a deal with myself that I would not post for the duration of my maternity leave. Once it was over, I went back to writing my weekly posts because I really enjoyed them.
#7: Chase your professional goals …. responsibly
While being a mum is fulfilling and exciting, I know that I still want to continue having a successful career. I returned to work when my baby was 3,5 months old. Going back to work at that time was a conscious choice that I made because of the professional goals I had. In the last nine months since I went back to work, I have worked extremely hard. There have been times when I had to remind myself to rest a little because I was going too fast.
#8: Find your "flavor" of motherhood
As with everything, comparing yourself to others around you never has a great outcome. I have found that I am a mother that prioritizes being prepared, reading up on parenting topics, cooking my baby's food from scratch, and much more. I also acknowledge that there are things that other mothers enjoy doing that I do not, and that is perfectly fine.
#9: Be gracious and kind to yourself
We set high standards and have expectations of who we want to be as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, working professional and all the other identities we hold. Having high expectations of ourselves is good until it puts you under pressure and causes unnecessary stress. It is essential for you not to be too hard on yourself.
#10: Celebrate yourself
Reflecting on the last twelve months, I am very proud of all that I have accomplished. Taking care of a baby and working full time has not been the easiest thing I have done in my life. However, I have been doing both and rocking it.
Celebrating milestones has become a tradition for me. I want to make sure I am reflecting, learning and being grateful for all my experiences. To all the mothers out there, thank you for being awesome!!!
Is your life story remarkable?
Over the past months, I have been thinking about the power of sharing our life stories. Have you ever told someone something about yourself and they say, “oh wow, that is a very interesting background “? Has your response been “no, it’s not that remarkable, many people have experienced similar things”? That is exactly how I have responded to people's comments when I share my story with them. It has been my way of normalizing and minimizing my unique life experiences. However, this year as I celebrate the huge milestone of living abroad for 20 years, I am determined to celebrate my journey and no longer take my experiences for granted.
In this blog post, I will share how I am approaching telling my story to commit publicly to ensure that I follow through. This officially kicks off my "Her Story" series, where I will share different experiences and lessons learned.
In 2019, I had the strong desire to start writing down my story. I set a goal to write my story by the time I turned 35 in 2020. Well, many unexpected things happened differently last year like a global pandemic and having a baby. Having my son rekindled my desire to tell my story. I have decided to take steps this year and start sharing my experiences with the world. This is one of my bold 2021 goals.
Why am I telling my story?
I like to start by asking myself what my motivation is and the outcome that I hope to accomplish by doing it with everything I do. As I began to think about why I wanted to tell my story, I realized that the reasons why I wanted to embark on this journey varied vastly. Some of them include:
What is holding me back?
As I embark on this new and scary journey, a few thoughts are holding me back from doing this amazing thing.
How am I going to approach telling my story?
Although I have some fears and concerns about sharing my story, I have decided that it is something that I need to do for my growth. For things that seem too big or scary, I create a plan and start working on them one task at a time. I will be taking the following steps over the next months on my quest to tell my story.
If you have ever wondered how remarkable your story is, remember that you are the only one who has lived the life you have and walked in your shoes - Your story is special and unique.
And if you have been thinking about writing or sharing your story, I encourage you to join me on this bold journey.
Time to Reflect
What part of your story do you want to tell people but have not permitted yourself to?
How do you think sharing your story will help others?
What is holding you back from sharing your story?
How will you overcome your fears and take the bold step to share your story?