When I Grow Up...by Liimu
When I was in my early twenties, I was at the Hard Rock Café in Myrtle Beach with my mother when I noticed Wyclef Jean and his entourage entering and sitting at the table next to us. Wyclef Jean is one of the founding members of the Fugees and was responsible for launching the career of Destiny’s Child and one of that group’s fairly well-known and successful members…Beyoncé. I was a huge fan of Destiny’s Child and the Fugees and could not contain my excitement at being seated right next to someone responsible for the two hugely successful (and talented) groups. I leaped out of my chair and asked if I could take a picture with Wyclef. As my mom snapped the picture, I leaned in close to him and whispered, “Can you do for me what you did for Destiny’s Child?” To my surprise, Wyclef responded, “Can you sing?” Of course, I said, “Yes.” (For those of you who haven’t heard me sing, you can check out my performance on NBC television in 2007 with Patti Labelle on YouTube or my original music at www.reverbnation.com/liimu.)
Wyclef then asked me if I had a demo, which I didn’t, but I would have broken into song right then and there – no shame in my game – if my mom hadn’t begged me to stop bothering them. I have often wondered if that might have been the moment my career took off. I think I also began to fantasize about my children actually pursuing their own dreams of superstardom as a way to finish my own story the way it should have gone.
In truth, I now realize that my story went exactly the way it should have. Having gotten sober at the tender age of 24, I know that I was a complete Lindsay Lohan-style train wreck waiting to happen when I met Wyclef. If I had been thrust into the spotlight, there’s no guarantee that my sobriety could have stood the test. What’s more, would I have met my wonderful husband? Had my wonderful kids? I love the life I have today and nothing is more important to me than being a mom. As for money, I have enough. And fame? That was never the reason I wanted to sing to begin with. In fact, I don’t particularly like being gawked at the handful times it’s happened. So, would my life have been better if I had gone down the path that Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Rihanna all went? From what I read in the tabloids, not so much. I like having a private life. I like being able to take my kids to the Santa at the mall and to Ruby Tuesday for dinner afterward.
But what about them? What if they want to pursue that life, which they very well may? I’m clear now that my role is to neither pull them back nor to push them forward. My role is to provide them with a strong foundation of love, support, and spirituality, to keep them tethered to the important things that matter, so that they can fly as high as they want to without ever having to worry about floating off into space like a leftover balloon from a backyard birthday party. If I do my job right, they can have whatever job they want and it will be equally successful, equally fulfilling and equally okay with me.