Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2011 was a particularly awesome Mother’s Day to remember. Why? Because it was the first Mother’s Day in 6 years that I actually felt like I earned the title of Mother; and it was the first time in 6 years that I actually felt like I deserved the title of “Mother.” [My daughers are 6 and 3 years old].
Oh, and Oprah returned a tweet of mine. But more on that later.
Up until this particular Mother’s Day, I mostly felt like I was going through the motions of Motherhood. You know, mentally checking off the things that I knew I was actively supposed to do, and somehow intuitively felt I should do, while having stressful moments about all the other monumental milestones that I was required to do, while endeavouring to execute my tasks with exquisite charm and grace. After all, “Flawless Mothering” isn’t new–television’s June Cleaver created that indelible impression– it’s our self-absorbed culture that makes it “seem” that way. And yet, I’ve always taken my Mothering seriously, perhaps too seriously? None of us wants to be blamed for creating immediate and future psychological problems for our offspring. Ask any Mother.
At some moment in time, a woman begins to feel that she has earned the title of Mother once she’s made enough mistakes to learn and correct those mistakes. Once she has gotten past all of the Advice Expertism and The Heroic Mothering Stylings of the Mommyblogger Media to finally own her own parenting style she begins to experience what her own Mother must have experienced once she too finally “got it.” And yes, for me it’s taken six years of stay-at-home-mommyism, and two children to arrive at this point.
I will not ever forget the day I called my Mother, who raised me and my 2 sisters as a Single Parent, long distance. My eldest was 2.5, and I was going through a particularly emotional time with my Mother in Law. As I cried to my Mother on the phone, she cleared her throat and said evenly, “You know Bolaji, you’re somebody’s Mother now.” BAM! I’m pretty sure that it was at that moment that something changed in me. What my Mother was telling me was that it was time for me to cope, to Mother Up, and to be a Parent. No matter what else I perceived to be happening at the time, I had parental responsibilities, and I had a little person to care for. The implication was that if I wasn’t prepared to embrace the role on a emotional level, then I should endeavour to do so on an intellectual level. The fact that I was “Somebody’s Mother” was significant. It was enough for me to focus. My Mother knew this.
Yesterday evening as I sat in front of my computer I contemplated my fabulous Mother’s Day and how I had the pleasure of maxing out on the do nothing concept of this day. I sat tweeting about my Mother, whom I had called when I woke up to both thank her and apologize [again] for what I know now, and it was then that a Tweet from Oprah appeared on my Timeline. She said:
And then I tweeted these things as I contemplated what to say back.
And that was that!
Before realizing the magnitude of my tweet exchange with Oprah, I had been thinking about The Judds, Shania Twain, and The Catherine Zeta Jones stories. In my head I’ve been ruminating about what I called “The Hollywood Abuse Narrative” in which I posit that celebrity stories of dysfunction somehow “trump” the “average” story of abuse. My position is that because these narratives increasingly occupy centre stage and more public attention, so to speak, that the stories of women, men and children who don’t live in the spotlight become diminished. I still believe that Hollywood privileges the stories of celebrities, but the tweet from Oprah certainly opens up the conversation.
Oprah didn’t answer my final question in which I asked if she believed that The Media and the celebrities themselves “exploit” their abuse situations a second time for public consumption, but I’d venture to say that since Oprah is a big media mogul herself it’s unlikely that she would answer the question. And besides, her tweet was as if wisdom had spoken which meant that in essence, I had my answer.
So that was my personal awesome “Oprah Moment.”
When I checked Oprah’s Timeline, of the people she responded to, I noticed that we all began our return tweets with the following, “Thank you for responding to my Tweet!” I mean really, it’s not everyday that a media icon and a celebrated philantropist with over 5 million followers singles you out, and responds to your tweet, and it’s not everyday that your life is directly touched by goodness.
Serendipity? Faith? A Blessing? Luck? Indeed!