Dr. Leesha M. Ellis-Cox, the November 2018 Momma of the Month is no stranger to the blog. She’s visited several times sharing insight into mental health, and most recently to discuss her first book, Ditch the Mommy Guilt: A Blueprint for the Modern Mommy. Today, we’re spotlighting her as an amazing momma.
Tell me about yourself.
Hey, Chandra. First, let me say that I am so honored to be selected as Momma of the Month. I am Dr. Leesha M. Ellis-Cox. I am a wife, mother, physician, entrepreneur, author, and Jesus lover. I was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. I received my B.S. in Biology and Doctor of Medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I completed my general psychiatry residency, child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, and community psychiatry fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. I also have a Master of Public Health Degree from Emory. I am the oldest daughter of Alvin and Ruby Ellis, sister to Dr. Tina Ellis Brinkley, wife of Coach Kenneth Cox, Jr., and mother to Bailey, Evan, and Khloe.
What do you want your kids to learn from your life?
My heart’s desire for my babies are many, but the four most important life lessons that I wish for them to learn are: 1) how to cultivate a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for in Him all things are possible; 2) that there is purpose and value in their very existence and to live from that perspective even when the world tries to tell them otherwise, especially in our current sociopolitical climate; 3) that their fears, mistakes, and failures do not define them but that those missteps should inspire them to go harder and chase after their God-given dreams; and 4) that virtues such as kindness, a compassionate heart, and love for humanity should be practiced daily and given freely.
What are the best and worst things about living in Birmingham?
I often say that my husband drug me here to Birmingham, Alabama, kicking and screaming. It is a nine- or ten-hour drive from our North Carolina family, flying out of Birmingham almost always requires a connecting flight, and there is no Crate and Barrel, and I absolutely love Crate and Barrel. There has been so much goodness in Birmingham, too, though. Over the nine years we have now lived here, our family grew to five, we have joined and serve in an incredible church, our marriage is stronger, our friendships are richer, and the food scene is burgeoning.
What is your proudest wife moment?
My first proud wife moment is that we are celebrating 16 years of marriage this year, which is a tremendous blessing. My second proud wife moment is that my husband received Coach of the Year not once, but twice, during his ten seasons at Birmingham Southern College!
What is your proudest mom moment?
I have three children, two daughters ages four and 11 and a seven-year-old son. Every day they inspire and challenge me to be better. What I am most proud of for each of my children is their heart for God. My four-year-old prays for our family. While I don’t always understand what she is saying, I know that my heavenly Father does. My son will stop and pray for others when he sees that someone may be hurting. While traveling the highway back to Alabama after a trip visiting family in North Carolina, we witnessed a horrible car accident, and Evan immediately asked if he could pray for those involved in that accident. My oldest daughter prays for others as well and has an earnest desire to deepen her relationship with Christ.
What is your proudest personal moment?
In this season of my life, my proudest personal moment has been my decision to step out on faith and pursue entrepreneurship. I am a woman who has carefully and strategically mapped out my life, and I find uncertainty and doubt difficult to manage. Starting a business is fraught with so many unknowns; so, for me, this whole process has been scary and stressful. I’m doing it scared but filled with faith, and I’m getting it done!
You have a heart for mommas. Tell me about your book and upcoming conference.
Parenting is hard work, and juggling the ups and downs of motherhood is no easy task. Between kids and family, work, and life with its never-ending to-do-list, we often struggle to fulfill our own needs and those of our children. In our attempts to meet the unrealistic expectations of motherhood, we experience tremendous mommy guilt. I define mommy guilt as the nagging sense of inadequacy and constant fear of failing as a parent. We don’t like to acknowledge our true feelings out of fear of criticism and being seen as a bad mom. In my Amazon best-selling book, Ditch the Mommy Guilt: A Blueprint for the Modern Mommy, I explore this topic from my perspective as a physician mommy of three who knows its torment all too well. Filled with personal anecdotes and helpful tips imbued with humor and honesty, I dispel the myth of the “perfect parent” and challenge moms to accept and embrace the realities of parenting. The book covers five key strategies: a) adopting a healthy mindset, b) dismantling commonly held but ineffective and impractical parenting tips, c) practicing real self-care, d) the importance of surrounding ourselves with a rock star mommy tribe, and e) building resilience.
Ditching the mommy guilt is more than just a book, it’s a movement! To that end, I am hosting Motherhood The Remix, the inaugural motherhood conference to be held at the Grand Bohemian Hotel March 1-2, 2019. Here’s the basic premise: as moms we share one common goal, which is to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted children who grow up to become happy, healthy, successful adults. However, we no longer parent the way our parents or grandparents did, and frankly we shouldn’t. Like setting an old classic to a funky, dope beat, we have remixed and redefined motherhood. We must adopt a new approach to parenting, one in which we are willing to take care of ourselves first so that we are better equipped to take care of our babies. Moms attending this conference will have fun while talking openly and honestly about the challenges of parenting and how not to lose your identity in the process. You don’t want to miss it. Learn more at www.motherhoodtheremix.com.
What’s next for Leesha Ellis-Cox?
I am working on two new books—a devotional for moms and a children’s picture book. I am also working on a mindset coaching program and online course for moms. Stay tuned!
Is there anything you would like to add?
I am passionate about moms, but I am also passionate about mental health. Preserving mental health is critical, especially for people of color where rates of untreated psychiatric illness are high. However, stigma abounds, which keeps people sick because they forego needed mental health treatment. I make it priority to speak to churches, schools, and other community organizations so that I can educate them about mental health and mental illness and reduce stigma. In November, I have the honor to present to a group of pastors at the Macedonia International Bible Fellowship conference in Los Angeles, California. I will discuss mental health for pastors and how pastors and other leaders in ministry can support the mental health of those they serve.