I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband called me “an un-supportive wife."
He said I didn't support him in his pursuit of his dream career.
We've had many arguments in our 10+ year relationship, but this comment insulted and hurt me more than anything he's ever said to me.
All I do is support him.
I couldn't believe he just uttered those words. I was shocked to silence when he first spat that out at me. I looked around in disbelief that he could actually feel that way.
I looked around at the janky old apartment in Jersey City (above my mother in law, mind you), that I agreed to move into for him from my beloved city of Manhattan so he'd be close to school for his needed prerequisites. I looked at the bin of freshly washed laundry done so he'd not have to worry about having bright white shirts ready for work, and I looked at my non-existent workspace since he has the entire office to himself…
Then my rage came.
I had an Ally McBeal moment of bashing my laptop right onto the top his head. I spat right back at him. Listing all the things I've done that show my support in his future career. From helping him with research, writing, to small things that make his life easier so he can do what he has to do. It was a laundry list, and by the time I'd finished, my face was soaked, I was standing over him, shaking and much louder than I started out.
“Yeah, but you never SAY supportive things."
I wanted to punch him in the nose.
Words? I thought. You want words?
Had I known that all I needed to do was shake a pom pom and say “Go John, go!" I'd be happily living in a cute uptown Manhattan apartment and not be so far from all of my friends, family, and support system.
If I'd known that words mattered more than actions, I'd have done a LOT less, been a lot more comfortable, and just tossed a few saccharine sentiments at him each day while maintaining the lifestyle I wanted. Sigh.
To me, words are worthless. Anybody can say whatever they want, but what I value are actions. Politicians say “no new taxes" and then raise them five minutes later. Cheaters say “you're the only one for me" and then go hook up with their side piece. People talk about getting healthy for years as they continue to lay on the couch eating junk food. Words have very little value in my eyes.
Actions matter. What you actually DO means a lot more than what you say to me. There's a big difference in the friend that visits you in the hospital after you've given birth saying “girl, I got your back" and the friend that pops up a week post-partum with two casseroles, forces you to lay down and starts tidying up your home while you rest.
I had a moment of resentment-tinged clarity after my “I'm oh so supportive" tirade. My mind went to Gary Chapman's book “The 5 Love Languages" that I read very early in our relationship, and re-read last summer. I gave my husband the book to read, and he didn't. So I sent him the quiz to help him discover his love language in lieu of reading. He never sent his results. ::sturdy side eye::
THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES ARE:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
After reading, I realized that acts of service, and quality time are my languages. (Don't get me wrong, I love a gift as much as the next girl!) But I feel most loved when you actually do something meaningful for me. I think this stems from what I saw my dad modeling toward my mom growing up with little things like filling up her gas tank and keeping her car clean.
I wanted to say (in the nastiest, attitude-filled, ratchet, neck swiveling way) “If you had actually read the Love Languages book…maybe you could have communicated this earlier…."
But instead I was silent (for once). He was finally telling me his love language!
My husband was communicating his feelings. In his way. He was letting me know that he was hurting and feeling unsupported and needed something different from me. It didn't matter how I felt about my level of support towards him. It didn't matter how I felt about what it was that he needed.
And it was my job to ensure he had what he needed. Period.
Words may not hold much weight with me, but it's irrelevant if it's what's required for my husband to feel like I've got his back. Just like him doing the dishwasher each night is just a random chore to him but makes me feel loved and like he values the time I have to spend in the mornings with our son.
Since this conversation I've changed the “language" I speak with my husband. I'd be the person to clean the bathroom because he hates doing it almost as much as I hate doing dishes, thinking that he understands it as an act of love. But it doesn't translate. He doesn't speak that language. Now, I've been trying my best to speak (literally) words of affirmation, words of love, words of appreciation, words of encouragement and words of support to my husband. He's my best friend and I want him to always feel like I support him in his endeavors no matter what language I have to speak it in.
Knowing his love language has made me a better wife.
I now encourage everyone in a relationship (or looking for a relationship) to read "The 5 Love Languages" or take the Love Languages quiz and figure out their own first. This allows us to be able to effectively ask for what we need in our relationships. If you are being supportive, pouring out words of affirmation and doing household chores as a way to show your love, but your partner's love language is physical touch, they are not going to feel happy and completely supported and loved if they aren't shown affection.
I also encourage everyone to have their significant other to read the book or take the quiz as well. It's important to be able to speak the language of love that your other half understands. It makes for a happier, more intimate, an deeper connection. Who doesn't want that?
Maintaining a strong and happy marriage requires so much effort and energy. There's a saying, “happy wife, happy life." But I believe it goes both ways. I want my husband happy, which in turn makes me happy, and we both get a happy life and family out of that.
It's a work in progress.
What's your love language?
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Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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