Lauren Watley and Jody Watley © 2014 Jody Watley
Happy Birthday to my beautiful and intelligent daughter Lauren!! I gave birth to Lauren when I was young and quite naive to love and relationships – which has provided many a theme through my some of my songwriting. I’d been dating producer Leon Sylvers III for 2 years. Some people have acted as if this was a big secret, and have gone on to make up stories without facts, just speculation. The fact is, is that my career and interviews have always been focused on my music and not my personal life. When I was in Shalamar, during those days it was the same, not really a tabloid mentality of delving into any of our personal lives and of course pre-internet. Being protective does not represent hiding anything. Leon and I were engaged to be married (actually, he ended up being engaged to me and another girl, she a member of the group Dynasty). I’m wearing my engagement ring on our “Friends” album; a diamond cluster – ‘I’m in love with you both.’ What a revelation – OK, lol. My failed love relationships and accompanying heartbreak including this one, will be covered in my memoir when the time comes; and what these experiences have taught me about myself, life and love. I carried on professionally and personally as a single mother; being responsible for her every need, loving every minute even in the most difficult times, facing each challenge head on – and to this day a proud Mom without regret. Most of you think because I’ve never worn pain on my sleeve, that I haven’t experienced any. That can’t be further from the truth.
Despite pressure at the time to not have Lauren, not from Leon I’d add, but the guys Howard and Jeffrey in the group back then and Dick Griffey; because I was going to ‘ruin’ Shalamar or mess up our constant touring schedule; I didn’t fold to the pressure or verbal abuse thankfully. While everyone was concerned about dollar signs – I was concerned about myself and this new life. The grueling schedule was maintained. I worked until I was nearly full term with her. Lauren was going to have to love music because we were onstage almost every night. I was twirling in heels, never gained much weight; contrary to Howard’s constant reminders that not every woman could bounce back like his wife at the time Rainey.
Our schedule often meant staying up late to come up with new choreography to keep the show or television appearances fresh, designing costumes, and often waiting for Jeffrey and Howard to show up to learn new routines after they were finished doing what guys do on the road.. and working my butt off onstage. Always optimistic, no one was going to have the satisfaction of watching me fold. I was dancing harder sometimes than the guys – in stiletto’s. We never know how strong we are until we face challenges in life that’s for sure. I worked through my nausea, fatigue and sometimes sadness, though always reciting positive pearls because what our bond would be would be joyful before she even arrived. When she was born, for her first passport she was barely a week old and I’m cradling her in my arms. Then she and I were off to our life adventure – beginning with the continued tour with Shalamar. I refused to let them think that by having a baby, I would be any less the hard worker I was. It was one of the great decisions of my life to have her – she is a gift to my life. I’m proud of the young woman she has become.
Always a petite gazelle Lauren, who I’ve often referred to as my precious and my princess – has always been wise beyond her years, and remains so. Lauren has always made my friends and I chuckle because she had everyone’s number from a young age; sizing the adults up with her knowing soul. Early on, she was determined that she hated pants, always a little lady and I honored and enjoyed her determination at a young age. She’s an inspiration to me, a terrific daughter, granddaughter and a great big sister to Arie. Lauren was his first example to be study hard and be a great student – which he became because he witnessed the work ethic of his big sister (as well as having me being the nag lol).
I’m in awe of her intelligence and view of the world. It’s broadened my horizons in so many ways. Parents, you can learn from your children, trust me. Lauren is wonderful human being and I wish her hopes, goals and dreams for her own life come true today and everyday as she continues on her journey. It’s always been easy for me to take a back seat to her. I reflect today on nearly every day of her life from seeing her the first time, crawling, her first steps..all of the baby, infant, toddler moments.. school plays, musicals beaming with pride, awkward open houses, sleep-overs with her friends playing dress up in my petticoats, wigs and vintage dresses. I think of our trips, holiday traditions, Halloweens dressing up and crashing parties, and suriving haunted houses, our dinners, birthdays, going to our special park, meatless sandwiches, laughs and tears (that doesn’t stop) – the homework and crashed computer before her essays were saved, the first tooth lost; nearly fainting having to shake it out..being there for her to look out and see my face and never putting my career ahead of being a present ‘Mom’ for her – graduations, including the most recent from college. A great cook (like me), I love that when she’s home we can cook together and share recipes. All children deserve this. Fame wanes – children are constant, my perspective and priority has always been clear on that; even when they become adults. Birthdays for parents are a bit nostalgic – can’t help it. The public knows me as a singer – to Lauren and Arie, I’m simply their Mom, and I treasure it. Thank you Lauren for sharing my horoscopes (always on point and on time), and being so whimsical.
Lauren is artistic, witty, intellectual, loves animals which is something she has passed on to me – well, except hamsters – she will laugh and know what I mean on that reference. She’s modest, not flashy in the least and humble; not a show business brat. She doesn’t like spectacle, downplays her outside beauty, but it’s undeniable as it radiates from the inside out. I struggled writing this blog today – because of being protective and private, and not wanting to get in hot water with her (lol). Truth be told I don’t like spectacle either, unless I’m performing. A by product of being the daughter of someone in the public eye is really wanting to have her own identity and not be pre-judged because of who her Mom is, or father for that matter. Both of my children are that way and as their Mom I always want to respect them and want only the best for them – and hope I’ve instilled the confidence to walk boldly on their path in life. We’ve always had a special relationship, she’s like my soul mate. I can say the same for my son. Lauren never hesitates in the most respectful way to make sure I’m not doing too much and has kept me grounded which I am thankful to her for …even making sure I was never showing too much cleavage during my early solo career – not that I had much back then, lol.
I celebrate her today especially – she is a gift and I love her more than words can convey; I tried!
Happy Birthday Ms. Lauren!! Love, Mommie