xoNecole's Moms Who Inspire series highlights modern day moms mastering all the tasks on their plate, from day to day responsibilities to ensuring their children are kind, educated and well-rounded human beings. Each mother describes their inspiration, what motherhood means to them, and how they maintain their sense of selves while being the superwoman we all know and love.
Ayana Gibbs is a mom who believes women should continue to be authentically themselves and accomplish the goals they had before becoming a mother.
Ayana was always very curious about people and storytelling, and because of this, she gravitated towards journalism in undergrad, and strategic communications in grad school. She was 22 years old when she became a mother fresh out of college. Like most young black women on a mission, motherhood wasn't part of her plan. Especially since she'd just left a broken relationship. But once she became a mother and rekindled her love for self, she refused to let statistics to cripple her.
Ayana and her daughter Ayo@ayanaiman
Ayana believes she set herself free to be a damn good mother, and uses her platform to share her story. Today, the public speaker, certified professional life coach, and chief communications officer helps other women transition through pain and heartache.
As a Mom Who Inspires us by helping other women put their best foot forward, Ayana discusses her life as a mother and how being truly good to her daughter means to be good to herself first.
On her happiest memory as a first-time parent:
Just watching her smile in her sleep. She was unmoved by the troubles of the world or what she did or didn't have, she existed in pure harmony. I loved that, and when I was with her, I experienced the same. There wasn't a moment I would look at her and did not smile.
On the moment in her career that tested her determination:
I was working in higher education as an executive assistant and felt like I had lost my way. It was a field I had no interest in and my time at work extended after hours and before I clocked-in, which had adverse reactions to my health.
At the time, I was determined to find stability financially and provide a home for my child, but I knew staying wasn't an option.
I diligently worked to secure my goals in less than four months and committed to being a full time grad student, while I started my speaking career. I learned you can't always force yourself to exist in all situations and that you have to make a decision before one is made for you.
On how her mother has influenced her parenting style:
I would describe my mother as one word: Interesting. We share a lot in common - we're empaths, charismatic, fiery, new age thinkers, natural chefs, and can light up any room. My mother raised us to be expressive, so free speech and affection were essential to our family dynamic. In many ways, it shaped my ideas of parenthood.
I've continued to express my love and support of my daughter by giving her the tools to empower herself.
My mom allowed me to make my own decisions because she knew what I was capable of and I continue those same tactics. I want my daughter Ayo to know the weight of her decisions and feel confident in decision making, while I guide her to a possible outcome.
On the power of pivoting in your career:
I firmly believe in the power of pivoting, which allows you to be flexible in all situations, even the uncomfortable ones. Learning to pivot allowed me to go seek "my cheese" elsewhere and not be attached to where it used to be. I move with intention. When your account is in negative and it feels like the world is on your shoulders, you need faith to see your way through, while taking action to bring your goals to fruition.
On what a typical day in her household looks like:
On a good day, I'm up by 6 am to work out and take a shower before Ayo wakes up so we can eat breakfast together. She comes out her room and tells me to put on her favorite show while she takes a seat at the table in perfect view of the television. She has cereal, while I enjoy [an] egg white and spinach omelet. We get dressed and head out the door to drop her to school while she asks a million questions. Depending on my workflow, I head to an office or go back home to work until it's time to get her. I ask about her day where she faithfully responds "good," as we head home to unwind. Me catching up on emails, her on the iPad (writing her letters before any shows - issa rule), then dinner whenever I get to it (trying to be better), bath time, and bed by 8:30 pm. Again, on a good day.
On the unexpected life lesson her daughter is teaching her:
I'm an affectionate parent and there's no shortage of "I love you" in my house, however, Ayo is teaching me the power of a hug. Hugs can be healing and necessary for soothing pain. This lesson reminds me to surround myself with people that make me feel safe and seek them out when I need to be uplifted.
Strong women need love too.
On the life advice she'd give her daughter:
I want Ayo to learn from me that action is a prerequisite for greatness. Life can be tough and there will always be uncertainty and the only way to change the narrative is to take control and take action. We always have that choice.
On how she practices self-care:
My ultimate self-care practice includes prayer and meditation, it's the way I release stress while aligning with gratitude.
I make time to be present and get quiet, alone. But sleep is my favorite thing to do when my daughter is not around (laughs).
On the unique ways she shows her daughter she cares:
I become the tickle monster and chase her around the house for tickles. Like me, she can't handle it. It's always fun to laugh it up. I also practice affirmations with Ayo so we repeat these mantras daily. Our favorite ones include: I am love, I am forgiving, I am strong, I am beautiful, I am wise, and I am amazing.
On who inspires her to be a better mother:
Mothers who are innovators inspire me as they embark on new territories in their perspective careers, like, Bozoma Saint John, J.K. Rowling, Wendy Williams, and the countless mamas that I meet in person or see on my timeline that are taking on motherhood on their terms.
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Christine Carter is a voice for millennial moms (and uniquely, young black female professionals and mothers). She has been featured in and guest contributed to several global digital publications, including Forbes, TIME, Health, Ebony, Black Bride, Inc., Women's Health and many others.
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Porsha Williams And Simon Guobadia’s Marriage Has Ended: Here’s A Look Into Their Relationship Timeline
Porsha Williams and Simon Guobadia have called it quits.
After a 15-month-long marriage commenced with two elaborate wedding ceremonies, PEOPLEexclusively reports that the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star has filed for divorce from the Nigerian businessman on Thursday.
With online rumors around Guobadia's citizenship status coinciding with the announcement of their separation, a source informed PEOPLE that the divorce is "unrelated to recent allegations involving Simon's past" and is an “ongoing matter.”
In November 2022, the ex-lovebirds tied the knot in Atlanta during a show-stopping, 350-guest Nigerian traditional native law, with a traditional American wedding to follow.
Ahead of their wedding, Williams told PEOPLEexclusively, “I am ridiculously excited. I am just so ready. I'm not even nervous. I know I'm marrying the love of my life, and it's going to solidify our relationship and our family bond. I'm calm and excited."
Although their relationship has come to a sudden conclusion, their whirlwind romance was one to watch; or in this case, look back on. Here’s a breakdown of the moments that made Williams and Guobadia’s relationship one to remember.
2020 - Porsha and Simon's First Encounter
Porsha Williams and Simon Guobadia first crossed paths in 2020 on the set of Season 13 of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Guobadia was then married to friend of the show, Falynn Pina.
May 2021 - Their Surprise Engagement
In May 2021, Porsha Williams surprised fans by announcing her engagement to Simon Guobadia shortly after he reportedly declared his divorce from Falynn Pina. Williams shared on Instagram that their relationship started a month earlier, and Guobadia had initiated divorce proceedings in January 2021, which had been resolved.
Williams took to Instagram to dispel rumors around the overlap in Guobadia’s prior relationship.
“Our relationship began a month ago—yes we are crazy in love,” she wrote in the caption. “I know it’s fast but we are living life each day to its fullest. I choose happiness every morning and every night. Tuning out all negative energy and only focused on positive wishes.”
November 2021 - Porsha Clears Up Rumors Around Their Relationship Timeline
On an episode of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen looked to “nail down some dates” in connection to alleged overlaps with Porsha, Simon, and his ex-wife. She shared that she reached out to Guobadia to express her sympathy for his divorce, having experienced the weight of divorce herself.
“I actually told him, ‘I’m sorry for your divorce,’ and all of that because I know what that feels like,” Williams shared. “I know what it feels like to go through betrayal and hurt.”
She continued, "A little birdie had told me that [Falynn] was pregnant, so I knew what he was about to go through." Porsha noted that his ex-wife’s pregnancy announcement prompted her to offer support to Simon, which opened a door for their connection to deepen and eventually fall in love.
November 2022 - Williams and Guobadia Tie the Knot
The couple spared no expense for their not one, but two wedding ceremonies. On Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, the two celebrated their love in front of 350 wedding guests at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The first ceremony celebrated Guobadia's Edo culture, while the following day featured a star-studded American wedding. Williams told PEOPLE that the double-wedding was a "true fashion extravaganza," as a nod to her numerous outfit changes.
November 2023 - A Diamond-Studded Declaration
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, the couple exchanged extravagant dazzling diamond rings — a stunning emerald cut for her and a stylish band for him.
February 2024 - The Two File for Divorce
Williams filed for divorce from Guobadia on Thursday, Feb. 22 2024, after nearly a half of marriage. While the cause of their divorce is still unknown, sources close to Williams confirmed that the divorce is an “ongoing matter.”
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images