By Sally Mueller 7-Minute Read
Real talk is real big around here.
And it’s especially true when it comes to how we share information woman to woman (we’re a menopause company, after all…the last stigma standing!).
This month, we'll be celebrating the power of openness at Womaness. And we're doing it by spotlighting some of the most formative conversations we women have: those with our moms.
Through a series of intimate interviews leading up to Mother's Day, we'll be speaking with mothers and daughters on the importance of open, candid communication about what it means to be a woman. By doing so, we hope to break taboos… and ensure every phase of the experience gets better with each generation.
And you know what? In the spirit of keeping things real, my daughter Mary and I are going to dive in first.
Let’s all vow to keep things open with our daughters—and our nieces, goddaughters, students, younger friends (and yes, our sons, too)—about menopause and other truths about being a woman. Because when it comes to menopause, you are the change. And with even more openness, you'll continue making it better for every woman after you.
Yours in menopositivity,
Sally, Womaness CEO & Co-Founder
AN OPEN CONVERSATION WITH
Sally Mueller, Mother to Mary
Please share a memory of being truly open about something with your daughter. What was it about and what did you learn from the experience?
“I've been very open about aging and taking care of my aging parents. Mary’s been very involved in that journey. And I think it's been really helpful for her to understand how difficult it is to age in this society and the fact that when you get into your 80s, you may need some extra help.
My parents are both in pretty good health and still want to live in their own home, but they need assistance with gardening, basic upkeep, and running errands. It’s made Mary super empathetic about helping the elderly. She's in Romania right now, working with a lot of older Romanians. She’s really helping her community there see the value that older people bring to society and the personal impact they've had on her life.
Mary knows she's really blessed when it comes to having all four grandparents still living. She's really focused on spending time with them and hearing their stories and unique perspectives. She also has a lot of older professors at Notre Dame who are just iconic, teaching into their 70s and 80s. Mary just soaks that all in.”
What’s the most important thing you’ve tried to teach Mary about a life well lived? What have you learned from her?
“Along with my husband Mike, we’ve really emphasized that she should stay physically active. She was on the cross-country team in high school and I’ve told her to not give up her running, because staying active will help you stay mentally active. Mary’s also learned to invest in her hobbies, as I think having outside interests is super helpful as you get older, too. She's really into pottery and got a minor in studio arts at Notre Dame. She loves gardening and we helped her build her own garden at home. And she’s an adventurer. She’s not afraid to move for a year across the globe, even taking day trips in Romania on her own.
Mary is wise beyond her years. To be honest, I think she's taught me more than I've taught her! She's very well-rounded. She invests a lot of time in her own faith. She is a very good friend to her friends. She really takes the time to celebrate their birthdays, their milestones, and spend time with them. As much as she had a full plate in college, she always made time to do things for her friends. I’ve learned a lot from that.”
“To be honest, I think she's taught me more than I've taught her!” - Sally on Mary
What is the most important thing your daughter has taught you about self-care?
“Mary taught me about diet and how it can impact your skin health. In college she completely cut out dairy—even after being so passionate about her daily yogurt—as the dairy was actually causing breakouts. So she’s taught me about living a balanced life and being very careful about what you put in your body, knowing it can affect not just your energy level or your weight, but also the health of your skin.
She’s also healthier about social media. She uses social for her friends or for interesting sites she’s into, but doesn’t use it for following a lot of not-so-great role models. That’s not her thing. She’s living a good balance between spirituality and healthy living.”
What’s some advice you received as a girl that you tried to not pass along to Mary?
“An unhealthy obsession with weight. I grew up surrounded by it. Like many in her generation, she’s definitely embraced who she is. She’s shaped differently than me; she knows she’s shorter and more curvy, but it’s not a big deal to her (and it shouldn’t be!). Instead, she values that she is strong and powerful—especially as a runner, who has built up strength in the lower half and butt, the central powerhouse of the body. Her dad has also helped emphasize that strength. Such a healthy outlook. It’s so refreshing to see.”
What have you tried to teach Mary about skincare…and what have you learned from her?
“Early on when she was 12 or 13, Mary started using natural skincare. She had more sensitive skin and saw a dermatologist for help. She educated me on how important it was. And now I’ve co-founded a menopause brand featuring natural solutions for changing skin (among other issues)!”
“She’s taught me about living a balanced life and being very careful about what you put in your body...” - Sally on Mary
What have you taught your daughter about your menopause experience? How did sharing it feel for you?
“Funny thing is, she’s now been living with my experience for 10 years. I was much more open about it with her. And as I was learning more and more, I shared it with her, like realizing that menopause is more than hot flashes—that it’s also about interrupted sleep, drier skin, etc. She’s going to be much more prepared than I ever was. My mom literally downplayed her experience…she only told me she went into it 'early' 'because of stress.'”
What are your hopes for your daughter in the future?
“Mary’s going back to Notre Dame in the fall and I hope she’ll enjoy her master’s program. Bigger picture, I know she definitely wants to be a mom someday and would like to find a guy in her life, so I support that as she’s fulfilling her educational life, she’d also like to fill her emotional life, too. Having kids is really important to her. She says she wants 10! I’m rooting for her in every way.”
AN OPEN CONVERSATION WITH
Mary, Daughter of Sally
Please share a memory of being truly open about something with your mom. How did it feel for you? What did you learn from the experience?
“I told my mom that I was thinking of leaving the country and spending a year volunteering after school. Her reaction was that there is no better time in my life than to do this now, even if it is not a regular job after college. I learned that she is here to support my adventures—from the small ones to the big ones, even if that means leaving her and my family. I felt supported and encouraged for this next step in my life.”
What’s the most important life advice you’ve learned from your mom?
“To not be afraid to talk to people or to have fun every day, especially to laugh in every situation. On the side, to care about the elderly and to go visit them.”
What have you learned from your mom about being a woman? What do you think you have taught her?
“Being a woman means embracing beauty: beauty in other people and beauty in who you are. I think I have taught her that it is never too late in life to change one's gaze toward what is beautiful, true, and good. Anyone at any age can do this. It is actually what we are called to do every day.”
“I learned that she is here to support my adventures—from the small ones to the big ones, even if that means leaving her and my family.”
What is the most important thing your mom has taught you about self-care?
“To not be afraid to express oneself in fun colors and outfits. Preparing oneself and expressing oneself is an act of love for others. She always helped me recognize how to take care of my skin, especially the importance of sunscreen on my face so that it can withstand the damage caused by the years of being in the sun.”
What have you learned from your mom about skincare? What have you taught her?
“I have learned pretty much everything from my mom about skincare—which products are the best, which ingredients are important, and what is a reasonable cost for these products. I think I have shown her that a natural skincare routine is always the best.”
Has your mom been open with you about her menopause experience? What have you learned?
“(Fake answer: To make a menopause brand in the middle of my menopause as a big payback joke to menopause) Real answer: To expect that it will be a struggle, but to accept this time as a period of growth in what it means to be a woman.”
What have you learned from your mom's menopause experience? “(Fake answer: To make a menopause brand in the middle of my menopause as a big payback joke to menopause.)” - Mary on Sally
What are your hopes for your mom in the future?
“To retire blissfully with grandchildren. I don't know how to answer this except honestly hahaha. To r-e-l-a-x [insert here meme from Aaron Rodgers]. To know how much she is loved as a person and not simply for her work, even though it is good, it is just not the essence of who she is.”
(Mary, did we do it right?)
If you've got a story of open conversations that have influenced younger women in your life, tell us about it in our private Facebook group, The After Party. The hope is we'll inspire more conversations—and make menopause better with each generation. Because they deserve it too.
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