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.
If you asked her one word that described how she became a mother, Nikisha Riley would say "unexpected."
The health and wellness social media influencer was 16 years old when she found out she was pregnant with her son Jaden. Raised in the midst of dysfunction, abuse, and toxic behavior, Jaden became a source of life and a source of purpose for the young teenager. She knew then that she would craft a better world than the one she lived in for her now 17-year-old son, protected and filled with love, hugs, kisses, and positive affirmations. And it started when their hearts both shared a beat.
Nowadays, Nikisha is not only the owner of the all-natural skincare line (a Solange favorite) Folie Apothecary, she's also one half of the popular lifestyle blog Urban Bush Babes and is on her way to being newly transplanted to LA, on the heels of divorce. Though it wasn't a path that she thought she'd be on, it's one that she is embracing wholly and completely, in the pursuit of her purpose and ultimately her happiness.
As a Mom Who Inspires us with her bravery and her transparency, Nikisha walks us through her upbringing, her career, and what motherhood looks like for her.
Nikisha & her son JadenCredit: Nikisha Riley
On what motherhood means to her:
Motherhood is like your heart being pulled out of your chest and watching it walk around. It's the most vulnerable place anyone could ever be. It exposes everything in you. I remember the first time I took my son to the park and put him in the swing. He laughed uncontrollably. I was able to bring joy this tiny human with the simplest thing. It made my heart so full.
On how her upbringing influenced her approach to motherhood:
I was very independent growing up. There was a lot of dysfunction, abuse, and toxic behavior. I didn't get a lot of hugs and kisses. I didn't feel that protected and I definitely felt abandoned at times. I didn't feel comfortable being honest. When my son Jaden entered the world, I wanted to keep him away from dysfunction and abuse. I needed him to know he could always count on me and be honest with me, even if I didn't agree. I've always wanted him to be his own person instead of me projecting my own desires onto him, wanting to provide a safe and stable space for him to grow into his own.
I tried to give him everything I didn't get growing up that I know caused a lot of damage in me.
Nikisha & JadenCredit: Mater Mea
On growing up with her son:
Since I became a mom at the very young age of 17 years old, I preserved characteristics of myself by default.
My son and I grew up together, so I was very much still exploring who I was and giving myself the space and the grace to do that.
On what a typical day in her household looks like:
I wake up with my morning routine. I drop my son to school. I drink a smoothie or veggie/fruit juice. I meditate, dance, workout at the gym. I check emails, I work on Folie orders, brand collaborations, or modeling. Eat a big ass salad for lunch, continue working. Get my son from school or soccer, make dinner, and wind down for the day with my fave show or a movie.
Jaden at the age of 12Credit: Nikisha Riley
On how she got through difficult parenting moments:
My son's school years going from the end of elementary to middle school scared the hell out of me! I was a single parent and he has ADHD as well, so school has been the toughest part of parenting for me. I would have nervous breakdowns at least twice a week from his grades or the school calling me. There were so many times I didn't know if I was gonna get through it. I took things day to day until I finally decided to move out of Brooklyn so he could have access to better schools and an actual childhood.
On the important lessons she & her son have learned from each other:
I'm always telling my son to stay true to his authentic self. And that resilience is key to living his best life. Learning how to bounce back after tough times or failure.
My son has taught me to let go.
I have to allow my son to be himself without projecting my own vision or wants on him.
On the three words that represent her approach to motherhood:
Humble, resilience, and unconditional love. Humble because there are a lot of times where we as parents make mistakes and we have to be willing to admit them and tell our children sorry. Resilience because raising another human being is the hardest job in the world and isn't for the faint of heart. Unconditional love because a parent's love should never be based on conditions. We are here to accept, guide, and help this human be the best version of themselves by providing a safe space for them to grow.
On how she practices self-care:
I practice self-care everyday ever since my diagnosis with anxiety disorder and ADHD. It starts with my environment and making sure it's not anxiety-inducing. Also, the people I choose to surround myself with have to be chill and not toxic or dysfunctional. I eat healthy, I work out, I take breaks, I go to bed early, I take supplements, I hang out with my friends. I do things I love, like dancing, cooking, watching thrillers on TV. I research ways to live holistically, and I say no to things to make sure I'm not taking on too much.
Nikisha with her motherCredit: Bee Walker/Paper Monday
On who inspires her to be a better mother:
My mom has always inspired me as a single mom. I saw her work so hard. She never made excuses, she just made things happen. She taught me what resilience looks like, something I always knew I could do, since she was able to do it.
On choosing a career that moves her:
I stuck to only doing things I was passionate about and it ended up turning into my career. I've chosen different careers throughout my life, like public school teacher, blogger, business owner, etc… because I have more than one passion. My favorite part is that I don't ever have to compromise my values or my time working on things I'm not passionate about. I get to be my authentic self.