I’m on a mission: Find the Perfect Female Role Models for My Daughter
The Mother’s Day Edition
Each and every single day, something sparks my attention, and I realize, “Wow! I have so much to teach my daughter.” Between you and I, I am so scared I’m going to run out of time. Or worse, I’m going to be the one who forgets to teach something really important. These are the moments I call upon my “village,” to promise me they will be there to help my daughter navigate life and teach her all the rights from wrongs when I’m not there. For this chapter of my memoir, let’s dig deep and discuss the types of women I really hope my daughter grows up admiring and hoping to be like.
I’m So Perfectly Imperfect
I started to think of women role models I hope my daughter would seek advice from, and look up to. Considering I don’t have P!nk on speed dial, I look first at the women I am closest with. That I admire myself and seek answers from. Those who rise up to do good. Those who are visibly unlike the rest of the group. Those who defend the weak and show empathy and compassion. Those who are not afraid to be alone. Those who lift up other women, and not kick them when they are down. Those who make me laugh until my sides hurt. Pretty much, everyone, I strive to be on a daily basis, but I’m waaaaaaay too distracted to be them all at once, only people like Gayle King or Reese Witherspoon can do all that.
I think the last paragraph was a pretty clear blueprint, but these are women who have had a positive impact on my life, left a pretty distinguished mark, and a strong impression. I first jotted down a list of names that immediately came to my head, and then I realized, some were fictional and I’m really OK with that. Because women like Elle Woods deserve to be high on this list. I did also intentionally leave a few women whom I deeply admire the ways they’ve overcome different adversities off the list. It’s not because I feel they don’t deserve to be acknowledged, but it is their story to tell, not mine.
These women practice being inclusive, not exclusive. That’s a big one for me. I’ve been writing this OG list for what seems like forever. It is incredibly long and I had to narrow it down, but I finally came up with a list of those I want to celebrate, and have so much respect for.
I know you are all familiar with Luxury Travel Mom. If you aren’t, don’t worry because you will be. And when you do you’ll fall madly head-over-heels in love with her as much as my family has. I have so much to tell you about Kim-Marie, she amazes me every single time I talk to her. If you don’t believe me, just look at her four beautiful children. They are a true testament to how amazing Kim-Marie is. If there is ever a mother/daughter relationship I hope to resemble it is one as special as the one between Kim-Marie and her beautiful daughter, Macie. Kim-Marie is a pillar of strength, moral compass, and the epitome of beauty, class, friendship, love, and is showing Macie how to be the same because she leads by example.
I’m so grateful for Kim-Marie and her family every single day. She is everything I hope and pray Coco aspires to be one day. I can go on and on forever with pages of reasons why I hope Coco uses Kim-Marie as a role model, but here are the Cliff Notes: Kim-Marie embodies everything that is good in the world. She’s a whip-smart clever, a successful businesswoman, loving wife, super mom, devoted philanthropist, witty, and oh, so funny, (as in crying tears of pain because I am laughing so hard, kind of funny.)
But most of all, it doesn’t matter if you are a high-ranking official, celebrity, or homeless, she’ll treat you like family. The most important lesson I learned from Kim-Marie is she will ALWAYS return your call just in case you need her. My goodness, that is what a true friend is made of. Even when they have a million life things of their own they are dealing with, and their own family, and then they are also dealing with a million other people, she will still find a way to make time for you. For this, I’m incredibly grateful.
“It’s better to be interested than interesting.” I knew from an early age I really needed to find a woman role model stat otherwise I wasn’t going to survive this world. It wasn’t that I had a bad mom, I just never saw her, and we couldn’t have been more opposite. She was single, worked full-time, and when she wasn’t at work, she was cleaning the house, putting on her make-up, grocery shopping, running errands, doing laundry, and I was simply tagging along. Both of my parents were incredibly selfish, self-entitled, and I craved for something more. Less drama, no trauma. But could you imagine being just 4 years old and adult enough to understand something so sophisticated? That was me. The old soul vying for a childhood. It’s fair to say I learned more how not to be a parent from watching them.
I craved kindness and consistency. I craved gratitude. I needed a mentor. Something, or someone, I could depend on each and every day, not just nights and weekends. Someone who was investing in me bettering myself beyond striving for straight-A’s in school. I found that glimmer of hope the first time I saw the Oprah Winfrey Show in the 4th grade. She didn’t have to know me personally, I received her message and I admired her. If we’re being honest, Oprah Winfrey raised me. She has been my saving grace, inspiration, and role model since I was 9 years old. Oprah was my best friend.
I knew where to find her every day at 4 pm after school. We’d spend an hour together and over the years I learned about life that the adults in my world forgot to teach me after my mom died the summer when I was 12. Saying it is a true honor to have been chosen by her team decades later to represent her, is an understatement. It means I absorbed Oprah’s goodness. It means I am good. It means I did something right. And I learned from Oprah and my daughter Coco that dreams really do come true.
In fact, each woman in this Instagram photo screams positive role model.
I believe in angels. I believe they watch over us, and they send people into our lives when we need them the most. I believe with all my heart that angels brought Earline into my life. I don’t know how else to explain it. Since I was a little girl I dreamed of finding my prince and getting married, but since 1987 when I lost my mom I completely dreaded the event at the same time. I always wanted a beautiful wedding, but this was my mom’s dream to plan it with me for as long as I can remember, it just wasn’t going to be the same. Now there was this overwhelming, unspoken, invisible pressure of having to make this wedding perfect that was weighing me down.
We had gone to see a handful of venues, and I was ready to give up, nothing was impressing me. We were broke as a joke, on a very limited budget, had to scrape every dime ourselves, so when a friend recommended the Four Seasons we laughed and we laughed hard. But I went and set up a meeting anyway. I am still not sure why I did, but that was the moment I met Earline. Clearly, this was a divine intervention because sometimes we get what we need when we least expect it. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank those angels for her.
We got married there, and Earline was by my side the entire time. I’m so grateful almost 20 years later she’s still in my life. She’s the most beautiful, supportive, woman inside and out that I know. Family means the world to Earline, and if my daughter could learn even just one ounce of Southern Charm from her she will be blessed for a lifetime.
Oh. My. Goodness. If there is a mother who deserves celebrating it is this beautiful soul. The mastermind behind Global Munchkins and RookieMoms, and two-time Iris Awards nominee, Amber is the mother of five beautiful children and wife to the fantastic, Mike Mamian. My life changed for the better when I met Amber at Mom 2.0 a few years ago. She’s the kindest person I know, showers everyone with goodness, and is on a mission to be the change she wants to see in the world. Oh, and trust me when I say she will take hostages if she needs to. I’ve witnessed first hand the woman move mountains to get something done and somehow looks incredible while doing it, never once breaking a sweat. Her drive and motivation is something I want Coco to capture and bottle up for safe keeping. Just because Amber is sitting quiet smiling does not mean she’s not thinking about a 1,000 things, but I also love her because she knows when to take a break. She takes the time to step back, reassess, regroup, and recharge.
I personally don’t think there is anything Amber can’t do and I know for a fact she’s one of the best friends a person can have. She’s super funny, and an amazing sounding board. Everything she touches turns to gold and an inspiration to anyone who knows her.
Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes
When Coco was in Kindergarten, my husband and Berenecea’s husband, Oscar, became the “playground dads.” Each morning the two would catch up over guy things while pushing the kids higher and higher on the swings. What we didn’t know at the time was what a huge impact Oscar and Berenecea would end up having on our lives during some of the toughest times we’ve ever faced as a family. In fact, they showed us what the true meaning of family was. After only knowing us for a year or so, they did the unthinkable and embraced us when they saw everything breaking and spiraling out of control around us. It wasn’t just the carpet being ripped out from underneath our feet, we went through an 18-month period where everything that could go wrong, in every aspect of our lives did. And I am not exaggerating, I couldn’t catch my breath and I was drowning. The three of us had each other and that was it. I’m pretty sure it was during this time Coco saw me cry for the first time. Each and every single day was a hurdle or huge challenge being thrown our way, and then there were the countless deaths. People kept dying or getting sick, and I truthfully never thought it was going to end.
It was during this dark time I forgot how to smile, and I still don’t really remember how even though I’m at a much happier place. What a rollercoaster, but Berenecea stuck it out with us and got us through in so many ways. In fact, just knowing she was there if I needed to text her made the world brighter. One day I hugged her so tightly and just thanked her from the bottom of my soul for everything, and she replied, “That’s what we do.” I could finally exhale. That light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t an oncoming train. I knew instantly everything was going to be OK. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know when, but Berenecea Eanes was and still is a beacon of light for me and my family.
I want Coco to live like Berenecea and to keep her heart, home, and family open to those going through a difficult period. I want her to pay attention, to stand up to clap loudly for other people’s achievements, and take joy in learning lessons when she stumbles. I want her to see the power there is in learning, educating, and making even the smallest differences in people’s lives. I want her to show up and I want her to give a stern side-eye when people could do better. Because we can always do better.
So if it’s not apparent already, you need to be pretty darn special to included on this list. This list is pretty hard to get on and focuses on the women in life that I want my daughter to learn from as she grows up. Enter: Busy Philipps. I have wanted to be Busy’s best friend since the first time I watched Freaks and Geeks. And then I loved her on Dawson’s Creek, to me she was the coolest person on that show. But it is her role in society today that I want my daughter to be inspired by. Busy has used social media to become the Digital Oprah in my mind. She’s smart, sassy, beautiful, empowering, supportive, an amazing mom, healthy, and has fun! She’s basically a pinata of emotions, you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always an amazing story. I want my daughter to also understand her longtime best friendship with actress, Michelle Williams because it is truly a beautiful, celebrated, relationship between two women. Two mothers.
Busy is all of us. From her excitement of reaching 1million followers on Instagram at an LCD Soundsystem concert, to face masks, incredible fashion shots, and proud mom moments, we all see Busy.
Word on the street is Ms. Philipps is starting production on her new late-night talk show for E! “Busy Tonight.” You so know at some point this entire blog is going to turn into “Busy Tonight,” recaps. It’s only a matter of time. I better start working on changing the logo to JetSetBusy now. Guys, she’s just that frickin’ awesome. So E! execs if you’re reading this, call me…I’d love to interview the fab, Ms. P!
Oh, goop. I tried to be skeptical. I really did, but the fact is I love EVERYTHING about you. From her approaches to life, family, food, style, health, you name it. I am 100% on board with Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m glued to her new podcast series and I am a disciple of her skin care line. I find so much peace when I dive into her website, and her recipes and cookbooks are YUMazing. Seriously, I own every one and each one is filled with amazing dishes. She even got me to listen to Coldplay which I swore I would never do. What I want my daughter to learn from Gwyneth and her team at goop is she is the creator of her own destiny. She can have peace and happiness if she wanted to, but it’s a choice. I learned from GP that life is filled with choices, how you live it is up to you.
I’m excited my daughter lives in a world where goop exists.
The Best for Last
The last woman is not even on Instagram. Needless to say, I saved the Best Woman for Last because it’s going to be so difficult to type with my hands shaking and my lip quivering. The most important role model of my entire life has been my grandmother, my babci, Theresa Wesolowski. The earliest memories I have are of my grandmother holding me. Rocking me back and forth, singing lullabies, with my bottle and my blanket. It was where I felt the safest. I was protected. She taught me what love was, how to show love, and most importantly that you could never say, “I love you,” enough times. Growing up, there was nowhere in the world I would rather be than at my grandparent’s house. I would count the days until school breaks because I knew that meant I’d be home.
See, I had a room at my mom’s house, and I had a room at my dad’s place, but neither of them was home, they were just simply a mailing address, and I was just a shuffled around kid. But my grandmother’s house felt like home, and ironically that’s the one place I didn’t have a bedroom of my own. But it was my home. Where my toys were. Where I was loved more than anything in the world.
Many times I feel like I’m living my life in reverse. I grew up pretty early in life having lost both my parents by the time I was 22. And as devastating as it was to be an orphan for most of my life, I can’t help to think that the Universe had some type of agreement that by taking them sooner they would let me have the stability of my grandparents longer. I can’t tell you how many times I would bargain with God, Jesus, Mother Nature, whoever was listening, “Please just let my grandparents live long enough to have my grandfather walk me down the aisle, and my grandmother hold my first child.” My prayers were answered, both happened. The worst day of my life spanned over the course of two weeks.
When Coco was in first grade I got the call to come home to New Jersey. It was only a matter of days or hours (the doctors were unsure,) I had to get back home and say goodbye to my grandfather. I still can’t process the loss of losing him. My g-ddamn hero. He was the strongest man I had ever met both physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I couldn’t worry about me. I was about to take on what would become the most important job of my life. There was no way I was going to let my grandmother go through this again. When I lost my mother, she lost a daughter, but that didn’t matter. She knew I needed her to pick up my pieces and put me back together. And I had every intention to do the same for her. This couple was my everything. The glue that held my world together, and now it was my turn to be the glue for her. The night my grandfather died I had nodded off sometime after 1:01 am and when I opened my eyes at 1:23 am my grandfather was no longer breathing. I’ll never be able to properly convey in words what it felt like. So much peace, and so much agonizing pain at the same time. I used the next few minutes to tell him everything, and just sat, and loved and prayed and held his hand one more time because I knew the next words out of my mouth were going to be the most powerful words someone was ever going to hear. The man she loved for 70 years was gone.
The Moral of The Story
It’s not what people do, it’s not what people say, it’s how they make you feel is what you will be remembered for most.