By Womaness Editors 8-Minute Read
Real talk has always been a real big deal at Womaness. That's why we're celebrating it through Mother's Day by taking a look at some of the most formative conversations we have: those with our moms. Through a series of candid interviews, we’re speaking to moms and their daughters on the importance of open communication about what it is to be a woman...because when we do, we end taboos…and make sure each phase of the experience gets better with each generation.
Our series continues with life empowerment coach Tracy Lee Harris—a 54-year-old midlife creator and menopause champion whose age and body positivity always inspires us—and her 23-year-old daughter Sophie. Today, the power duo tells us how their closeness and openness has helped them both grow and thrive as women.
AN OPEN CONVERSATION WITH
Tracy Lee Harris, Mother to Sophie
Please share a memory of being truly open about something with your daughter. What did you learn from the experience?
“Unfortunately, I had a very estranged relationship with my dad when I was a child and have no contact with him now. I have shared my hurt and feelings about that with Sophie on many occasions. I wanted her to understand that even though her dad and I are are divorced, we both adore her. I wanted her to know that she is incredibly lucky to have two parents in her life who are present and supportive and love her unconditionally. It felt sad to share my experience, but I thought she should know. I hope she took away the notion that you can’t control what other people choose to do. You can only control how you react and what you do in order to move forward.”
What’s the most important thing you’ve tried to teach Sophie about a life well lived? What have you learned from her?
“I’ve always tried to teach Sophie that a life well lived means treating others how you’d want to be treated. It means going for what you want, but not at the expense of others. It means loving your family, being a good loyal friend and someone who is kind and thoughtful, but still driven and tenacious. It means standing up for what you believe in, but also being able to communicate effectively and to compromise.
Sophie has taught me that personal boundaries are so very important. She’s taught me to stand up for myself as well as for those I love. She’s also taught me that thoughtful communication and addressing conflict head on is often the best way to resolve it.”
What is the most important thing your daughter has taught you about self-care?
“Sophie has definitely taught me the importance of not neglecting myself because I’m too busy taking care of everyone else. She’s taught me by example the importance of finding balance. When she’s on her game, she’s literally unstoppable!”
What’s some advice you received as a girl that you tried to not pass along to your daughter?
“I was taught that I needed to be thin to be attractive. Period. It didn’t matter if I had a pretty face; I needed to be attractive to men, which was only possible if I was thin. I worked really hard NOT to pass one this along.”
“I taught her what to expect, that [menopause] is normal, and not to allow anyone to diminish her symptoms if she has them.”
What have you tried to teach Sophie about skincare…and what have you learned from her?
“My skincare routine was super simple when Sophie was young. I just tried to encourage her to be consistent and cleanse and moisturize. Not to leave makeup on her face. She ignored me for years, lol! Now she works at Estée Lauder and has more advice for me than I can take! I’ve definitely upped my game thanks to her recommendations. I now use serums and we’ve been known to mask together on occasion.”
What have you taught your daughter about your menopause experience? How did sharing it feel for you?
“Sophie has been by my side through my entire menopause journey. I’ve had many symptoms and have tried many solutions. I’ve shared it all with her. She knows that I started peri on the early side due to stress. I’m still going through it now almost 10 years later. I taught her what to expect, that it’s normal, and not to allow anyone to diminish her symptoms if she has them. I taught her that unlike when I was her age, there is now a community and a real conversation, and that menopause is something all women will go through in different ways. Sharing my journey felt natural and normal. Young women need to know what’s ahead for them.”
What are your hopes for Sophie in the future?
“I hope Sophie follows her heart, and surrounds herself with people she loves who love her in return. I hope she finds a career that’s fulfilling and satisfies her incredible creativity and drive. I hope she continues to travel and see the world, and, honestly, I just can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. She is truly dynamic and passionate and I know it’s going to be awesome.”
AN OPEN CONVERSATION WITH
Sophie, Daughter of Tracy
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?
“Recently I found out that I had some underlying health conditions that were impacting all kinds of aspects in my life, and several months ago I hit a breaking point and confided in her that something felt wrong. I felt vulnerable and nervous, but I know I can go to her with anything and she will always be there for me. Mom quickly called doctors, got me appointments, and once I got a proper diagnosis that explained my symptoms, she continued to support me as I began treatment.
I learned that it’s important to have a strong support system to help you through scary times, and even when you’re uncertain about things in your own personal life, having someone to turn to for validation, advice, and support can be make or break.”
What’s the most important life advice you’ve learned from your mom?
“A lot of things.
Be nice to everybody. No matter who they are. Be kind.
Go with your gut, it’s usually right.
Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, and think through all of your decisions.
If you’re going to text somebody something, make sure you’d be comfortable with someone reading it out loud in the cafeteria. LOL.”
What have you learned from your mom about being a woman? What do you think you have taught her?
“My mom taught me that it’s incredibly powerful to be a woman and that you should never underestimate your own power. My mom never pressured me to follow a traditional path as a woman, and she has always inspired me to do what I want and be who I want.
I’m naturally more outspoken, more extroverted, more assertive. I’ve taught her to trust in your own confidence, and to be bold in your decisions and your choices. If you feel good in something, wear it. If you want to be something, be it. Care less about what others think.”
What is the most important thing your mom has taught you about self-care?
“'Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.'
I didn’t used to really care about taking care of myself, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to it on my own. Watching my mom take care of herself and always present herself with her best foot forward, I’ve learned to always really care about how you present yourself in every way.”
“I hope my mom stays open to learning more about herself as she gets older, and I hope she stays curious about learning from me, too.”
What have you learned from your mom about skincare? What have you taught her?
“If you don’t take care of your skin now, It’ll catch up to you for sure!
I work in the skincare industry, so I think I’ve been able to teach her a lot! I’ve introduced her to all kinds of wonderful products and new technology, and referred her to brands and serums that I think would work really well for her. I think she has beautiful skin, and am always encouraging her that less makeup is more!”
Has your mom been open with you about her menopause or perimenopause experience? What have you learned?
“Well, of course she has, she’s a menopause influencer! Seriously though, she has always been open about her own struggles physically and hormonally while going through menopause and I feel that it is such a household topic now. I’m so open and comfortable to talk about anything happening with my body, my menstrual cycle, or even my thoughts about having children.
I’ve learned that menopause can be a BITCH! But it’s so normal. Every single woman goes through it and I can see through her and her dialogues about it that there is support and science in the menopause world now more than ever.”
What are your hopes for your mom in the future?
“I hope my mom stays open to learning more about herself as she gets older, and I hope she stays curious about learning from me, too. Now that I’m an adult, it’s a different kind of relationship that goes beyond mother and daughter, and having a best friend is something where you can learn from one another every day. Even though I’m much younger than her, I feel like I have as much to give back to her as she has given to me the past 23 years!”
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.