Come August 2020, I will be an empty nester when my younger daughter, Lila, leaves for college. It’s a bittersweet proposition, right? I mean, the day-to-day labor of parenting children will be over for me; I’ve rocked my babies to sleep, endured countless nights of them waking me up out of my sleep, and lost sleep worrying about them, and now all of that will come to an end as I enter the stage of parenting from afar, as the mother of two young adults.

I am all-at-once happy and sad, and always in a state of contemplation about how lightning fast that time between “baby” and “grown” flew by. Certainly, it was this I was thinking about when SPEAKEASY WITH DENENE producer Sean Powers asked me if I had any old videos of my girls for this week’s episode, code word: FLOWER. I literally teared up when I found a video of them as little ones, playing in the backyard on a swing set I saved up for six months to buy them. I remember that day—how happy they looked, pumping their little legs, giggling as they challenged one another to swing higher and higher. They were little flowers in an American family garden. An American dream.

It is their voices that you’ll hear in the first segment of “FLOWER” as I contemplate how I parented my daughter, Mari, through a rough time in her early teens, when a lack of confidence in her appearance made her doubt her superpowers. I explain how I “watered the flower” to help my daughter grow into the confident, beautiful, intelligent young woman she is today.

Tracy Murrell’s “The Swimmers II.”

Maryam Moma (l) and I (c) listen as Tracy Murrell explains her creative process.

It is that confidence in growth that I explore in the second segment with Tracy Murrell and
Marryam Moma, two incredible fine artists who tell how they blossomed this past summer when they took their art to a new level—Tracy internationally and Maryam during a residency made possible by Tracy in her Atlanta-based studio. Note: I’m thoroughly obsessed with Tracy and Marryam; each wields exacto knives like a conductor in the finest symphony, using the instruments to coax incredible pieces of art that tell gorgeous stories about femininity, blackness, freedom. I adore their work and was genuinely intrigued by what they had to say about their creative processes and, in Marryam’s case, how I unwittingly contributed to her work.

We round out the episode with Jillian Hervey, aka half of the dope group, Lion Babe. Jillian, renowned for her shock of red hair that looks like a lion’s mane, made some of my fave tunes this year on her group’s album, “Cosmic Wind.” Jillian explains how she blossomed out of the shadows of her famous mother, former beauty queen-turned-singer and actress Vanessa Williams to become a flower in her own right, running her own band, with her own unique sound and a colorful musical expression that’s caught fire in the world of alternative neo soul music.

Of course, SPEAKEASY WITH DENENE wouldn’t be complete without an awesome FLOWER playlist, with all my fav songs celebrating the way we bloom.

And if you haven’t listened to the first four episodes—password: LOVE, password: FLY, password: BEAUTY, and password BLACK—get to it! If you have already, thank you! You’ll love the “FLOWER” episode every bit as much as the others, I promise you. If you haven’t subscribed, now’s a good time. I don’t want you to miss out on all this fabulousness. Seriously. Get to it. It’s free. And it’s available on all podcast platforms, including StitcherSpotifyApple Podcasts and so many more. What more could you ask for?!

Do me this solid: no matter where you listen to SPEAKEASY WITH DENENE, please head over to Apple Music and rate the podcast and leave a comment if you are so moved. Your kudos helps to boost our numbers in the rankings, bringing SPEAKEASY TO DENENE to more people who deserve to see the beauty of blackness we explore on the show. I thank you in advance for that honor!

Until the next Speakeasy, be easy.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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