This morning I woke up to the familiar and sometimes terrifying sound of sticky little feet running towards my bedroom. My seven year old daughter, Sistafoo, couldn’t wait to get started on the annual Mother’s Day ritual being played out across the USA. Moms everywhere are trapped in their beds waiting for adorable variations of room service. Hand-written menus are presented, dandelions are carefully placed in bud vases, and breakfast foods of all types are plated and delivered with the same hope, care and anticipation felt by Top Chef contestants as they place their meals before the panel of judges.
After selecting my side dish from a limited menu, I stared at the fading cherry blossoms outside my window thinking about the day ahead. Today I had planned to sift through my office in search of notes, and pictures collected during 14 years of adventures and fun with Oprah and Harpo. I laid in my bed thinking about the blog posts I planned to write, until I realized that what I really need to do on behalf of moms, children, people and animals everywhere is say;
Happy Mother’s Day Oprah!
Maybe it seems silly that I have a lump in my throat as I think about it, but Oprah has served as mom (or super-extra-bonus mom) to millions of people in every stage of life. I was seventeen when I started watching The Oprah Winfrey Show and it has influenced my perspective and every facet of my life. I doubt there are many people who could honestly say they haven’t learned a little something from the Oprah Winfrey Show, even if they struggled mightily against it. Like Cotton, and our own mothers, Oprah has woven herself into the fabric of our lives.
I smile when I think of the momilarities and parallels between Oprah and typical mothers. Oprah has said that if she wasn’t busy being Oprah, she would have been a teacher. Guess what? Just like our own parents, Oprah has become the world’s teacher, the person we look to and trust as she learns, lives and shares 25 years (and counting) of lessons, personal growth and experience.
Like other mothers, Oprah knows exactly what we want for Christmas, she is the first to forgive us, and is our biggest fan and cheerleader. She takes us with her everywhere; camping, Australia, into her closet, her kitchen, and even into the bathroom where she teaches us icky, important things about poop, and proper bra fit. Sometimes her moods and reactions surprise us. She can be sensitive and vulnerable when we expect her to be tough and assertive. Like every mom, Oprah has made sacrifices and changes for her “children.” Working moms like Oprah never get enough time at home and she has willingly sacrificed having her own family, personal vacations, privacy and reading time under her favorite tree, in order to be there for us.
Together we have gone through ages and stages; there were moments when some of us “kids” rebelled, surprised and lashing out when we found that we had moments of disagreement with our role model. Some have argued over political differences (she is the original Obama Mama!), or burned with envy at not being chosen to ride in the front seat for every cool adventure or “Favorite Things Show.” Still other “kids” like me, let our attention wander a bit while Mama Oprah got in touch with her spiritual side. But ultimately, we all end up at Oprah’s house. It’s big, comfortable, and noisy with familiar voices and friends. People are always coming in and out, and everybody is welcome.
We love Oprah’s quirks and foibles. Every mom gives their kids something to giggle about on the bus. She’s that mom who is always trying to stay hip. We secretly can’t wait for her to sing, dance, wear Tina Turner’s wig, or try fly fishing while wearing unfashionable hip waders, because it means we can, and SHOULD, do it too. When Hugh Jackman or Jamie Foxx elicits a girly giggle, or Oprah admits to having had one Tequila shot too many, we sigh with relief and pleasure at our kinship of awkward moments.
Oprah knows the best way to teach a lesson, is to learn a lesson, so she lets us see her personal struggles and weaknesses. She teaches us to forgive by talking through her own resentments and she is always chasing us around with familiar reminders about the dangers of texting and driving, the importance of reading and community service, and the good news about vacuum seal storage and Spanx!
And now here we are 25 years after Oprah Winfrey adopted us and became our favorite working mom. On May 25, we will watch as Oprah enters her next phase, a move that I am sure she will describe as just another step in her journey. But before the credits roll on that final show, please allow me to celebrate the world’s most famous “mom” on behalf of anyone and everyone who has spent even a moment of fun, inspiration or enlightenment in Oprah’s warm embrace:
Happy Mother’s Day!
This may be your Farewell Season, but it’s not goodbye. We know that you will still be working hard to be present in our lives. We are all thrilled and delighted that you will finally have more time to travel, play with your pups, visit neighbors, cook for Stedman and read in the shade of your favorite tree. On this Sunday, know that mothers and others around the world, salute you, and all that you have given to us.
We love you. We appreciate you. We see you.
Your eyes tell us that although you’ll miss us, and we’ll miss you, you’re ready and at peace with your decision to do your OWN thing. On May 26, 2011, instead of having an empty-nest you’ll have an empty-studio and a life full of possibility and adventure and learning.
Don’t worry, we won’t push our Oprah luck by suggesting that you will be ready to be called Grandma Oprah!
With lots of love and giant gratitude for helping us live our best lives,