Holly Robinson Peete: A Cool Mom Visit

Well, here is my new favorite. Holly was recently a guest on my TV Guide Network show, “The Fashion Team”. She, of course, used to be on “21 Jump street” and “Hanging with Mr. Cooper.” She and her husband created a charity to help people pay for therapy and such for people with Parkinson’s. She lost her father to the disease. He was the original Gordon on Sesame Street. She also has a son with autism. She speaks openly about this to help kids get diagnosed early and get the proper help. She said her son has benefited from from the therapy and care that they were able to provide, but many families can not afford it. So, even though she has 4 kids, she works on that as well. She was also candid about how families with autistic children have an 80% rate of divorce  (fortunately hers is going fine) and that awareness is especially important in the black community where it’s more taboo to talk about kids with LDs (learning disabilities).

In between dishing on the red carpet for the show, we had some good mommy chats. She is such a nice person. We talked everything from how to walk a red carpet (she says, she yells at her husband, “Don’t talk!  They will get your mouth in a weird position, and if we ever break up ,they will use it as picture to make it look like we were arguing.” So true.) to Madoff. Since she runs a charity she was so upset by the foundations that have been vanquished by the dirtbags.

So, I had my video camera on me… but it wasn’t working well. I managed to get part of a quick chat with her about finding some “me” time before they puled the lights and broke down the set.

Empathy

I’ll be honest, I’m still a bit rattled by some of the reactions to the vlog, “What to Say.” What got me were the comments that basically went like this, “Hey, former rich lady, quit your crying a lot of people have it worse than you.” The line that really got me was, “I don’t feel sorry for you.”

I have exposed myself more than I had EVER planned to when I started on this blogger path. I think I was a tad naive about the boundaries here. Since there aren’t many. I really only wanted to do amusing videos and help moms feel less isolated. But one can’t always find the humor in life. And after many months of saying nothing, I did decided to reveal on Cool Mom arguably the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me. And NOT just me, but my stepchildren, my husband, some of their relatives, and my own children. As all moms know, it’s one thing to have something happen to you, but when something affects your kids, it hurts much more.

On Momversation, there was recently a discussion about Jon & Kate Plus 8. Some have criticized the parents for exposing their kids to the TV glare, that everyone will have seen their divorce unfold on TV. Well, at least in LA, it was quickly known that my husband was invested through a feeder fun with Bernie Madoff. So, my children will grow up with their friends knowing more details of our personal financial life than most ever share. My stepchildren have had people come up to them, “Sorry about what happened to your family.” etc. And yes, that pisses me off. I’m sorry that will be a part of their personal biography. But as I often tell myself, one can’t control others actions, one can only control how one RESPONDS. So, that is why I thought, well, let’s try to find the silver lining here.  And I don’t mean the obvious, “Hey we have our health.” But all the people who are going through financial turmoil can reach out to each other and not feel alone, not feel isolated. Again, isolation is a theme here.

The other aspect of the comments that irked me was after having our money stolen and having to lie to my daughter about why we are moving was to have people say, “You don’t have it that bad.” Or in a sense what at least one person said, “I never had that kind of money to lose, so shut your yap.”

In 2001, my friend Nina and I were robbed at gunpoint. The man said, “If you scream, I will kill you.” We gave them what we had and they let us go. We called the police immediately. They arrived and never did catch the guys. But as we stood there shaking, one of the police officers said, “You are lucky they didn’t rape you.” I sort of feel that was what was being said to me again, right here on this site.

When a friend has a parent die of a heart attack, do you say, “Well, my dad lingered in a cancer ward for months; be glad you never had to see you dad whither and die like I saw mine.” No, that wouldn’t be kind. You will have 1) taken the opportunity for your friend to express their grief and 2) made it all about yourself.

But one might say… “I’m so sorry for your loss, at least he went peacefully and wasn’t in pain for long.”

It’s very slight the change in speaking one has to make to say “the right thing.”

At the same party where I said to a stranger, “Well, we lost money with Madoff” who then abruptly replied, “I know.” (slap) Another person handled it more artfully. She knew I had moved out of the ‘hood and asked where we were (indicating she already knew why). She started telling me about how badly some of her families investments have gone recently. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “It’s very nice of you to share this with me,” knowing she still had her big, pretty house and all. She said, “Well, that’s why I shared it. I didn’t want you to feel it’s only you.”

That’s why I speak about what happened to me. And if you don’t like me or don’t like that Yes, I do mind having to sell my house, lose my retirement, to have the money my husband earned after building a successful business where he worked long hours and stood on his feet for years being stolen from him, then GET LOST. My setbacks, my challenges are mine. If they aren’t good enough for some, well, too bad. I have way too many other things to worry about. My son needed me to nurse him today, my daughter needed me to hear her feelings about her day, I needed to prepare for my TV job the following day. Not to mention I needed to give my husband some love and figure out when I could visit my dad in assisted living. Instead, I was preoccupied by the critical remarks I had read. Sorting this all out.

Please don’t leave me a nasty comment about this. The old axiom if you don’t have something nice to say… then just move on. Go to another blogger. I’m too raw about this issue. I’m trying to hard to move forward and not look in the rear view mirror. I had hoped to to create a forum of sorts for everyone to share stories about what they are going through. This is an unprecedented time in most of our lives.

“Please my friends be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own hard battle.”  Plato

What to Say

(Note: Not the original intro I had written. See below for ensuing sh*t storm.)

Okay, this was my attempt to do a twist on the vlog I did post miscarriage “What NOT to say” about hurtful things people said to me after that. This is what TO say because I found it was hard when people didn’t say anything after we found out we had been robbed and had to sell our house.

Frankly, this vlog was not as successful as the one I patterning it after. I think I tried to cram too much in. But the take-away for me to remember is: if someone’s misfortune is uncomfortable to you, imagine how it is for them.

Not that I’m always succesful at this… work in progress.

Momversation: Are You Sick of Jon and Kate?

This might seem funny since we are hearing more about Michael Jackson than the Gosselins, or the failure of the G-8 to agree on how to fight global warming, or the US journalists held in North Korea.  But as a rabid consumer of pop culture, I can’t ever act too high and mighty. The momversation.com crowd weighs in on whether we have had a bit too much of the prolific people from Pennsylvania.

They may have been eclipsed for now, but did you think they were a bit oversaturated?

Top Chef Masters: My Own Watching Party

Okay, I couldn’t watch it live. Even though I knew the outcome, it made me more nervous than I realized. We went over to Mark’s restaurant and ate, and I had a big glass of white wine (I like them dry and minerally). After the bunnies were in bed, and Mark came home from work, I watched it.

It’s funny since I have hosted reality shows, and I know how much of it is set up and made in the editing room, yet I was still drawn in to see my husband compete.

For those that didn’t see it, I think Mark did very well. He looked handsome, and he was genial and articulate. Which is why I think they used a lot of his sound bites. I also thought the New Orleans chef Jeff Besh came off as a very likable guy. I found the other two chefs were mumblers and a tad harder to understand, but nice enough.

Mark had been saying for months (It was shot a while ago) “I could have done better in the Quick Fire.”  Ironic that his flaw was forgetting the olive oil when I have learned so much about cooking with olive oil.

Stefano stava cucinando
Creative Commons License photo credit: BobbyProm

In the challenge, he had to tie one hand behind his back (they all did). I loved that they had him talking about his dad who was born with only one hand. And that they showed the sweet photo of he and his dad when Mark was little. His dad was pretty solid. He was a teacher. Taught special ed and drivers ed and painted houses in the summer to support his family… with one arm!

The shows goes a fast clip, but Mark was AWOL from home for two and half days. He said there was a lot of sitting around. And the judges’ deliberation that takes about 2 minute in the show? That took 3 hours. He and the other chefs did sit around and drink and wait… and wait.

While we watched, I would pause and ask him things like, “Was your fish overcooked?”  He said probably: “They say you are going to go, and then you have to wait.”  Ah the magic of “reality” television.

When it came down to just he and one other after the other two chefs were ordered to get their knifes and get lost, I said, “Do you feel bad when people are eliminated?”

He said with a smile, “No.”

My Top Chef

Okay, tonight is the night! My husband Mark Peel will be on Bravo’s Top Chef: Masters. I’m a bit of a stage mom so I have to chat him up. He is a very unassuming guy who never blows his own horn. And I want him to have some recognition.

Last year when we got the bad Madoff news I said, “2009 is going to be a good year for you.” His restaurant celebrated it’s 20th year; his cook book comes out in the fall; and his new cocktail bar will open in the fall. I said one of of my goals this year is for you to get on Top Chef. I asked a casting friend I know to submit him and also my agents did so, but it’s so Mark that I think they just found him by his own reputation. In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, he is the Tortoise.

The Bravo site has different behind-the-scenes stuff with the chefs. They asked Mark to send in some video and pictures. The request sat there for weeks before I took up the task.  I said:

“You know, I know something about doing videos for the web”. I hope they use what I sent in!

Of course, he is also a great dad, and he sweetly carried Rex around Campanile the other night so I could eat with my friend and Vivien and her friend.  No wonder I love him… whether he wins or not tonight.