#WonderMamaTribe is my new interview series which is aimed to celebrate motherhood and all the WONDERful and inspiring Mums out there, working so hard to make sure their little ones are well, loved and appreciated, and to bring them up to be the best human beings they can be. That is no mean feat so we Mums really must support each other! Which is why every week, I’ll be bringing you one amazing Mum, her life story and her experiences of being a Mum.
We also have an Instagram community, using the hashtag #WonderMamaTribe, so that we can inspire each other and celebrate all the daily achievements we have. Feel free to spread the news and tag your friends, daughters, sisters, Mums and Nans in your Instagram photos with a hashtag #WonderMamaTribe. Each week, I’ll be selecting one special Mama to be featured on my blog as an inspiration to all of us.
This week, I’m talking to the gorgeous Alisa from the UK Yankee blog. I really love Alisa’s outlook on life and the positive influences the females around her have had on Alisa’s personality and her parenting approach. I hope you enjoy finding out more about Alisa as well.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your children/ family.
My name is Alisa and I’m a native Midwesterner (from just outside Chicago) but through a series of bizarre decisions & life events, I ended up married to an Englishman and living in Kent. I have one daughter who is 8. For the purposes of my blog, she goes by the name Minnie-Sue.
The driving force behind everything that UK Yankee is about comes down to family. I grew up in a raucous and fun loving family. My dad’s parents lived across the street from us and my mom’s parents were about a 10-minute drive away. On top of that we had loads of aunts, uncles and cousins so my early life was a hive of family activity. All the time.
But in addition to ‘blood’ family, my extended family has a special way of just absorbing important people into the fold. So all of our friends along the way have just become family (I don’t think anybody ever even bothered to ask them if they wanted to be part of our gang…oops!). We have become such a motley crew of people, it’s why I say on my blog that in my world, families are made up of a rag-tag bunch of people who somehow all came together in a tangled bond of love, laughter and crumbs.
My main motto is ‘Love Makes A Family’. It is my truth.
2. What female role models did you have as a young girl and woman?
I am so lucky to be surrounded by women who bring different strengths and perspectives to my life. My mom is from a family of 4 girls. Collectively, they are known as The Aunts. They were like scaffolding during my formative years. Always there, always encouraging, always supportive, always loving. And they always showed up!
My mom’s mom is a legend. She was a 4’11” white-haired powerhouse. Known to all and sundry as Grandma Mabie, her opinions and proclamations make us laugh. But there was always an element of common sense in what she said. I write about Grandma Mabie and The Aunts a lot in my blog. My grandma died a few years ago and I still miss her like crazy.
Then there are the Italian women on my dad’s side. My Grandma Jean had a killer sense of humour and an inimitable Italian sense of style which my dad’s sister, my Aunt Gay, has inherited. Although my grandma passed away a good few years ago, spending time with Aunt Gay is like spending time with Grandma Jean. And like the other Aunts, she is incredibly supportive of my writing. *She also buys Minnie-Sue the most stylish clothing you can imagine (think black leather motorcycle jacket!).
Finally, there are my girlfriends. So many amazing women doing amazing things in their own life. I started to think about listing them but as I think of each name, I take a moment to think about the phenomenal things they do in their lives and realise that I would be contributing to an epic blogpost. I am attracted to strong & interesting women so it’s not a surprise that my friends fit that description!
3. What females do you currently look up to, inspire you and seek advice from?
I totally and completely idolize Michelle Obama. She is definitely at the top of my Dream Dinner Party list. She is so damn smart! And I love how warm and passionate she is. But mainly I love that she has a big laugh. I have a big laugh too. Sometimes I worry I’m too loud, but if Michelle Obama can do it…
As for seeking advice, I would say that right now it would be other women in business. I happened to ‘meet’ Aby Moore from You Baby Me Mummy on a Facebook group for digital entrepreneurs and she invited me into her Facebook Group Mamapreneur Revolution. I have a huge amount of time for what Aby says because she really knows her stuff and she is unfailingly generous. Equally, I love the support from the other bloggers who are in that group and others I belong to. I believe passionately in women supporting women and I love to see this being played out in real life!
Finally, my own mom is my go-to person for advice about parenting. She raised the three of us as a stay-at-home-mom. She is also a nurse. I think this is a great recipe for common sense!
4. How would you describe yourself as a Mum? What sort of a parent are you?
In the parenting dynamic in our house, I am definitely the more easy-going of our parenting duo. Chalk this up to my crazy, loud upbringing. But I’m always up for a project or fun idea and sod the dishes in the sink! I believe strongly in Intentional parenting and try to really be present in the moments I have with my daughter. I’m a bit of a hippy with some of my views I think.
I also lean toward the activist side of the spectrum. I believe so strongly in empowering girls to be strong women and I am unapologetically feminist. So my daughter has been exposed to this. Though my brand of feminism is strongly supportive of people being who they want to be regardless of gender.
I am hyper-aware of the fact that I am my daughter’s most likely role-model for womanhood. So I want to set a good example for her. (But in the spirit of honesty- I do realise that my raving-feminist rants at times drive my husband to distraction so I do try to temper these ? )
5. What and who has influenced the kind of a Mum that you are now?
I think that a lot of my own experiences in growing up have formed the type of mother I want to be. When I was a kid, there was a huge amount of pressure on how girls should look (As if that’s changed…ha!). But all the women around me were always on diets when I was growing up so I remember having a very distorted viewpoint of what ‘healthy’ looked like. I vowed that this was not something I would introduce to my own child.
Also, I’m not totally cool with where the world is going at the moment, on so many levels. I fear that we are too tied up in the digital world and we don’t connect enough as humans. I fear that we are forgetting what is really important. I also fear that the world for which we are preparing our children is not the world that they will actually be facing.
This influences my approach to child-rearing. Although I want Minnie-Sue to do well in school, I would rather she continue to have an enquiring mind and empathy for other people. I don’t believe that learning is contained within the walls of a school and I really rail against this notion of ‘unexcused absences’ from school. I want to be in the driver’s seat deciding what the important lessons are. These are things that my husband and I both try to incorporate into our lives and the way that we are raising her.
6. What’s your favourite part of being a Mum?
There are moments when my daughter just completely levels me. She does or says something and I think, ‘Yes, THIS is what life is actually about’. I’m coming off a week of feeling high on pride in Minnie-Sue. She worked her socks off and did incredibly well on her first Piano exam. And she showed a level of empathy and compassion to a classmate that totally floored me. These are the moments that just totally reduce me to tears when I think what an amazing human being she is becoming.
7. And what is the hardest part?
Watching her grow up. All parents know that this is the most bittersweet part of parenting. Of course you want them to grow and develop and you want to know the person that they will become. I just want to slow it down.
This is compounded by the fact that childhood seems so accelerated these days. Sometimes I want to take my family away from the madness and go live in a hidden cottage away from technology and society and just BE!
8. Do you think it’s hard being a Mum in this day and age?
It’s probably no harder than any other time. The challenges are just different. If I could ban one thing though it would be the pervasive screens in our lives! Please, can’t we just connect with each other?!?!
9. What three pieces of advice would you give to first-time/ expectant Mums?
- When you have a choice between sleeping or ironing- always choose the sleep!
- Never, ever, ever turn down offers of free babysitting! Ever!
- Get your little one into a relax & wind-down routine. And stick to a bedtime (especially when they get older). Bedtime = You Time!
Every Friday, Alisa is also running a blog series #BossGirlFriday. Each week, she profiles another girl to be The Boss and tell everyone what it’s like to be a girl in today’s world. Details about how to get involved can be found on Alisa’s blog every Friday.
If you enjoyed this interview and want to read more inspiring stories, please join my mailing list for weekly updates and share this post to spread the love. If you’re on Instagram, you can also tag a Mum that you know and who inspires you, using the hashtag #WonderMamaTribe, highlighting why they are a Wonder Mama. You can tag yourself too! Each week, I’ll be picking one wonderful Mum to be featured on my blog. If you’d like to be interviewed yourself, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org