"Moms of girls, speak positively into the minds of your girls. Oh my. I see and hear some of the things my girls repeat and my heart breaks. Flabby areas, chunky this, gross that… they think that is ok. No way! We should be full of confidence." - Brittany Montgomery
It's a mommy, daughter duo that caught our eye this week. Meet 31-year-old Brittany Montgomery and her oldest daughter, 8-year-old Mary Grace. Like so many other girls, Mary Grace has struggled with confidence and self-doubt, but she's NOT letting that stop her.
Mary Grace ran for student government rep at her school and WON. She is excelling at soccer, softball and just joined the student choir. She also sells bracelets to raise money for Leukemia in honor of her nana, who was diagnosed 3 years ago. Brittany calls Mary Grace her "flower child" -- a lover of everything and everyone.
We are so proud of you, Mary Grace. Keep it up. You can accomplish ANYTHING that you put your mind to. Check out our interview with Mary Grace's mom, Brittany. She chats about motherhood, raising girls, confidence and of course, Mary Grace!
Every Ella: Hi Brittany! Tell us about yourself.
Brittany Montgomery: My name is Brittany. Mother of two BEAUTIFUL blessings. A wife to an uber handsome man named Chris for 10 years. I was a stay at home mom for 8 years. Recently returning to work, part time, as a teacher assistant. I LOVE diet coke, dancing, sparkles and Jesus!
How has motherhood changed you?
Motherhood has changed me in MANY ways. My entire world is now focused on two lives. These children depend on me. My actions will have a lasting impact on them. THATS SO SCARY! It has also allowed me to stop and see life in a whole new light. All the small moments in life are so important. Rainbows, flowers "weeds", butterflies, silly dances, etc. all those things are now the highlights of our days! It has also made me more conscientious of my words, thoughts and actions. They pick up on everything. I don't want my struggles to become their struggles, so I have to change ME. That's hard!
You're the mom of two girls. What's the biggest challenge and the greatest reward?
The biggest challenge I have found as the mother of two girls is self image/confidence. They are only 6 & 8 but they already speak negatively of themselves, think boys can do things better or compare themselves to other girls. It hurts my heart so badly. I find myself quoting my mom "if you could only see yourself the way I see you…" The greatest reward is watching them accomplish every little goal that they set for themselves. From walking, to jumping, to winning competitions and every big and small milestone in between!
Tell us about Mary Grace.
Mary Grace is my first born. She is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade. She is a typical first born child. She has excelled at every thing she put her mind to since birth. (Doesn't every mom say that?!) We call her our flower child. She loves everything & everyone!
What has been Mary Grace's biggest battle so far?
Somewhere along the road around the age of 6, she began to doubt everything she did. No matter what we asked, teachers asked or coaches asked, she was hesitant. She began battling the voices in her head and my heart ached. She would say "I can't." Pretty typical of children. But when we asked her to try and volunteered our help, she would break down. She truly believed she couldn't. She has anxiety attacks almost and just completely loses her composure at times. Often in a group setting, she would go silent and look to me to answer everything for her. Her teachers began saying that every test and paper, she would ask NUMEROUS questions and they'd have to reassure her that she does know the answer. She usually does; she is an honor roll student. On the sports field, she would just grip her hands tightly and look so lost. And then cry when things didn't go right. But she didn't even try in the first place. It was devastating to watch. She would avoid playing with friends and often didn't want to participate.
How have you worked to overcome that?
As a mom, I was willing to do whatever it took to help build her up! I read blogs and questioned other "girl moms." Finally coming to the conclusion that I must pray daily and use positive reinforcement. I decided to speak kind words into her life, reassure her that I believed in her and that NO ONE was better than her. (Sure, they might win. Things don't always go in our favor. But she was still a winner. Just try again.)
Mary Grace recently ran for student government rep for her class and WON. What do you think that meant to her?
I can tell you that the moment she decided to run for SHA, my heart sank. I was a doubting Thomas and just knew that this moment could be a HUGE set back. I began preparing the speech to her about losing in my head. Well, she hopped in the car after school that afternoon and said "Mom, we had elections today and I WON." (The had a reelection actually because the day before was a tie). Her face lit up. Her voice sounded so bubbly. That moment meant the world to her. Her friends believed in her too, not just her parents!
She is also excelling in soccer, softball and joined the school choir. Do you think these activities helped her confidence?
I have no doubt in my mind that soccer, softball and choir have boosted her confidence. Participating in sports, where you give 100% and all eyes are on you, have proved challenging. But the more she practices, the more she is in the field, you can just see her confidence in herself build. Sure, she has moments and we have talks, but she has come such a LONG WAY! She has made softball and soccer Allstars. She is an athletic child, no doubt. But we have taught her that if she is going to do something, do with all of your might. God has called us to shine in all we do! So she plays hard and practices harder! Once again, seeing that not only do mom and dad see her talents but others believe in her as well.
What is Mary Grace currently saving up for?
Mary Grace is a beautiful soul. She is currently saving for a sewing machine so she can make her own clothing. She is constantly thinking and creating in her mind. I can not wait to see it all come together and just what she creates for herself. I believe having her own sense of style will help her confidence as well. Totally finding and owning who she is! Makes me so excited to think about!
Your grandmother has Leukemia. What is Mary Grace doing to help?
My grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia about 3 years ago. It was heartbreaking for our family. Nana, is someone we see weekly and have so much confidence in. She is a hard working, confident southern lady! Mary Grace decided she was going to help raise money for the leukemia and lymphoma society in honor of nana. She has made MANY friendship bracelets. She set up a booth at a local craft fair and spent an entire Saturday selling her bracelets. And continues to do so!
What do you admire most about Mary Grace?
What I admire most about MG is her heart. She has such a deep love for people. She will wholeheartedly pray for you when she says she will, she will worry about your well being and is always thinking of ways to make people smile. It just amazes me that so much love can come from an 8 year old. She is beyond special to our family.
What are your hopes for her future?
As a mom, I hope that she finds happiness and contentment in life. (Close to home of course!) I want her to believe that she can accomplish ANYTHING she sets her mind to. She may fail, but that's ok, get up and try again! She says she wants to be a teacher. So I hope that she will pursue that career with all of her heart. (And give me a few grand babies to love! Weird to think about). My mom always used to yell "No body better 1-6. No body better." When I played softball. That is exactly what I want her to believe!
What advice would you give young girls?
If I could give young girls any advice, it would be to follow your heart. So many times I wanted to do what everyone else wanted me to do, or what the crowd was doing. Looking back, I missed out. My heart was crying out for something different. It is sad to me to think at 31, I am starting to follow my heart. I'm starting to believe in myself and it feels amazing! Girls are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for. No matter how old or young, GO FOR IT!
What advice would you give moms of girls?
Moms of girls, speak positively into the minds of your girls. Oh my. I see and hear some of the things my girls repeat and my heart breaks. Flabby areas, chunky this, gross that… they think that is ok. No way! We should be full of confidence. We are not all the same. I wish I was a Victoria Secret model, BUT I like food and my body is not made that way! Love me or leave me, I am who I am! Make them believe in themselves!