It’ll be a busy weekend for Kelly Rowland. She’s off in Australia working on new projects, but the new mom to six month year old Titan Jewell (her first-born son with husband Tim Witherspoon) will touch down back at home the morning of her first Mother’s Day, to be with her son.
“I miss my baby!” the singer and star of BET’s upcoming reality show “Chasing Destiny,” lamented to EBONY when we caught up with her in New York for Dreft detergent's #Amazinghood launch of new laundry products for little ones. “[On Mother’s Day] I want to eat and be with my family and be around love…I know I’m also going to have a nice moment where I’m going to light a candle and say a prayer and talk to my mother and just have a little moment of meditation.”
This first motherhood milestone will be a bittersweet one: just a few weeks after giving birth on November 4, 2014, Rowland lost her own mother, 66-year-old Doris Rowland Garrison. Kelly says she can still feel the spirit of her mother, who she has called “an incredible soul who made countless sacrifices,” and has many lessons she hopes to pass on to her own child. She’ll make sure he knows “that he’s stable, and that he’s happy and that he’s confident,” just like her mother did for her. “When I’m teaching him things, [I’ll] look him in his eyes,” she says. “That kind of thing is important to me. That instills confidence in them when you’re looking in their eyes and you’re talking to them. You’re not talking down to them and allowing them to make their own decisions. That’s absolutely what my mother gave to me.”
Her mother also left her to the care of another woman, who has proudly stepped as a second mom. After Kelly’s parents split in 1988, her mother moved her and her brother from Atlanta to Houston where Kelly would famously join the budding singing group Girls Tyme alongside a young Beyonce Knowles. In 1992, along with the new girl group that would help start her road to fame, Kelly’s family expanded and the matriarch of the Knowles family, Tina (who’s now rocking the last name Lawson after her recent wedding to handsome actor Richard Lawson) took her in as one of her own.
The tight-knit bond between Kelly and Tina was further highlighted this week, when Tina penned an open letter to her “four daughters” — Beyonce and Solange, her niece Angie of course, Kelly. “I gave birth to two of you, but I have four incredible daughters,” Tina wrote in TIME. “Kelly, I know without a doubt that you were a true gift from God. You came to live with us when you were only 11 years old. You were the sweetest, most kind person I had ever met and you still are. You are also a true survivor. You never give up. Your discipline and drive always inspires me. You make me want to take better care of my body and constantly motivate me to exercise and take time for myself. You have the best listening skills and are a loyal friend to many.”
Kelly draws as much from her “other mother,” as she embarks on her own motherhood journey. She says Tina has taught her “to have a good time with being a mom.” “She’s such a great mom and has such a good time with us,” the singer reflects. “I just want to have fun with Titan like that. I want him to know ‘my mom is so cool! She’s silly, she told me that I can’t do such and such, but that’s because she did such and such!’ You know what I mean? I want him to know that we’re cool but that I will get on you!”
Navigating the path from “It girl” to “cool mom” hasn’t been without it’s bumps. Like any working mom, Rowland has realized that staying true to her passions and being present in her baby’s life can be a tricky balancing act. “I’m learning how to handle it, to be honest,” she says. “I think that the time management has really been a challenge for me because I dedicate so much of myself to my craft and, now, to new projects. But I still want to see Titan grown and I don’t want to miss anything. I have a studio in my house and I’ll run back and forth, like once I finish a verse or a chorus or I finish it all in an hour and I’m right back there to look at Titan.”
Luckily, Kelly has a group of girlfriends who get it. Although she says she’s had to cut some people from her life after becoming a mother (“I don’t tolerate BS or negative energy around me…I don’t want it around my son.”) many of her longtime friends — like Beyonce and LaLa Anthony — are still right beside her, navigating motherhood right with her. Girltime has grown up: “We have play dates, we took classes together, me and another friend of mine — Lance Gross’ wife Becca — took CPR and all kinds of baby classes together,” Kelly says with a laugh. “We’re learning together”
When EBONY asked what Black motherhood means to her, Kelly echoed that old adage “it takes a village to raise a child.”
“I feel like we do it as a community. I will say it feels like we’re all in it together.”
The more mothers, the merrier.