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.