Ayesha, Callie and Sonya Curry and Sydel Curry-Lee get honest about anxiety, finding happiness and real life as “First Ladies of the NBA.”
It was a Red Table trip as the ladies of the Pinkett family – Jada, Willow, and Gammy – sat down with the women of the Curry dynasty to talk about what comes with having it all. From dealing with women around their men, to coping strategies for overcoming anxiety, Sonya, Ayesha, Callie, and Sydel dished-the-dish about the best advice they have as wives to men in the spotlight in this episode of Red Table Talk.
Sonya, the matriarch of the Curry family, got the conversation started right away as she lent her wisdom on the different levels of commitment when in a relationship. And let me tell you, right off the bat, this was some of the best advice I’ve heard about commitment. There is the first level where you are committed to the relationship because you love your man, the second level is being committed to the family and children, and the third level is a commitment to discovering who your spouse is once the babies have left the nest.
Even though you love your spouse, your attention takes a hard-right turn to your children.
This rings true because, even though you love your spouse, your attention takes a hard-right turn to your children, which may be hard to adjust from once the kids leave the home and start their own lives. Ayesha went on to compliment Sonya on her leading by example of a strong matriarch in their position (married to an athlete).
It is not something often discussed, but growing up with a strong matriarch in a family does instill a sense of responsibility and effortless knowledge on how that matriarch believes a household should function; even if you don’t know how to practically make that work yourself. When I was newly married, I knew that I should move wherever my husband moved in order to maintain a strong family core, which is what my mother instilled in us growing up by example. It was something that I looked at as effortless knowledge of how families functioned. Only after growing up did I realize that all households are not like that and considered myself thankful that our mother gave up her career in order to follow her husband to various locations in order to keep our family unit strong.
One thing Ayesha appreciated about her mother-in-law is that Sonya could balance her wants and needs with her children and spouse’s wants and needs, and she does it with grace. Ayesha mentioned that this is why she wanted to have something that she can call her own, something that will make her happy and fulfilled, because that, in turn, will give her husband comfort knowing that he has a strong woman beside him who knows what she wants.
As a business owner and writer with a husband and two little ones, I know what it is like to balance my personal dreams with the needs of my family. But one of the reasons I moved on from my career as a biomedical engineer is because I realized that my dreams and goals were paramount to the success of my family. Pursuing them positively affected how I showed up as a wife and mother.
From her website to her cookbook, it appears that Ayesha is a woman that does not stop when it comes to fulfilling her passions in life. But watching the episode I understood what drove those activities on a different level. Now, I realize that she does this in order to have something that is her own and something that can sustain her when her children are young adults living on their own.
Though, Ayesha does say that it is hard to balance home, work, and wife life, and sometimes she really just wants to drop her work life and focus on her family, because she feels as though she is cheating her family of time with them. In those moments, she says that it takes a lot of quiet reflection and solitude to search within herself and say, “This is okay, I got this.”
Sometimes Ayesha really just wants to drop her work life and focus on her family, because she feels as though she is cheating her family of time with them.
Sydel, the baby of the family, is in a whole different stage to Ayesha because she has actually only been married for five or six months. She expected her honeymoon year to be filled with quality cuddle time with her spouse and did not realize that being the wife of an athlete actually meant that she would spend six hours with her husband every two weeks due to his game schedule. However, Sydel did not want to travel with her husband; she is using this time to venture outside of her comfort zone and try to make her own friends.
This conversation started one that every woman of a superstar is aware of: What do you do with all the ladies around your man? Though I am not the wife of a spotlight athlete, I was very curious about this question and was listening closely as Sonya and Ayesha shared their experiences.
Surprisingly, Sonya and Ayesha had different takes, though similar responses. They both came to realize that they needed to have conversations with their husbands so that their husbands knew what they expected when in social situations. For instance, Ayesha always wants to be introduced; there is nothing that irks her more than having to introduce herself to a woman that is too close to her man. Sonya was a bit more relaxed; she says that she feels flattered when women try and talk to her husband, because she knows he is a catch and is confident in their relationship. However, early in her marriage, she had to have conversations with her husband about women being too close to him. He needed to tell them to step backward, no matter how awkward that might be, because if he did not then she would.
I got it. Whether your husband is a star athlete or stay-at-home dad, it all comes down to communication and being valued and treated with respect by the man you love. Being introduced as “my wife” by her husband is something that Ayesha desperately wanted to happen when in social situations, and she let her husband know that. Sonya, on the other hand, needed her husband to know that women should not be too close to him, because that reflected badly on her.
This situation sparked a serious discussion around something that I have never seen or heard wives of professional athletes discuss before –– anxiety. Starting with anxiety when in public having to do with various ladies disrespecting their role as wife and mother of a family. Though I never thought about it, these ladies do have to deal with a lot when it comes to “fans” of their husbands. Ayesha mentioned one occurence where she had her newborn in the backseat and a woman hastily opened their car door to lean inside for a photo with her husband. Instead of apologizing for her intrusiveness, the woman just told Ayesha that she knew what she signed up for. Now, that woman knows that she would be slapped to tomorrow if she did that to any other family, but she assumed that she could with Stephen Curry’s wife.
But the discussions around anxiety continued as it turned out that most of the women on the panel, including Jada and Willow Smith suffered from anxiety in one way or another.
Almost every woman on the panel suffered from anxiety in one way or another.
Though I often look at Ayesha as a mogul who has it all, I was stunned to discover that she takes medication for her anxiety. When coping, she says that it comes down to being open about your situation with the people close to you. Sometimes you have to tell them that you are about to have an anxiety attack — right now. It will feel vulnerable, but it is needed.
Willow completely agreed, though her anxiety is not situational. Jada mentioned that Willow could be alone in her room with her thoughts and have an anxiety attack from her thoughts alone. Her coping mechanism is to get all her energy out by doing pushups when she feels her mind going manic. Her mother also suggested that she write down ten things that bring her joy whenever her thoughts get the best of her. That usually works right away.
In the last three years, Sydel has had to work through anxiety in social situations, which they believe is due to her suffering five concussions as a competitive volleyball player. Her mother noticed her personality change and says it is something that they are working on and seeking therapy for, which has helped.
The conversation ended on a light note, and one that I could fully get behind, as we all witnessed a video text message of Sonya admonishing her son, Stephen Curry, for cursing on the court. Clearly showing that, no matter how old you become or how famous your children are, you still have advice to give when it comes to your kids.