The Key Is Love
My Mother's Wisdom, A Daughter's Gratitude
For beloved superstar Marie Osmond, one gift that her mother gave her stands above the rest: the gift to trust and follow her heart. Even when the path seemed bleak, it was this unwavering faith that allowed her to follow her dreams, both professional and personal, and survive the hardest times in her life.
In an age when most women work outside the home—and nearly a third of women raise their children alone—being a mother is no easy task. No one knows that better than Marie, who has been an entertainer for forty-eight years and a mother for thirty. She, like so many women out there, has struggled through years of being a single parent and a working parent, while juggling the need to be there for her children and still be there for her other “family,” the multitude of fans and followers who look up to her.
Through it all, Marie has turned to the person who helped her at every stage of her life and her career: her mother. Drawing on the wisdom that Olive Osmond imparted over the years, Marie weaves a rich, touching, and honest memoir about her life offstage and off-camera, where she took on her most important role: motherhood. Through personal delights, dreams, downturns, and devastating tragedy, Marie offers insights on creating a strong family, raising happy and independent children, and, especially, moving forward when it seems impossible to do so.
Charismatic women. Powerful women. Exceptional women. Determined women. Inspiring women. Famous women. In the five decades of my entertainment career, I’ve worked with many women who are defined by those descriptions.
Starting at the age of three, I was given the rare opportunity to learn some of the success secrets in my world of show business from the top female stars of the day.
To name but a few:
I observed the winning charisma of Pearl Bailey, Cyd Charisse, Kate Smith, Loretta Lynn, Cher, and Dale Evans.
I had an up-close view of the show-stopping power of Ethel Merman, Julie Andrews, Tina Turner, Debbie Reynolds, Dolly Parton, and Connie Stevens.
I absorbed all that I could of the exceptional comedic insight of Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Ruth Buzzi, Anne Meara, Isabel Sanford, and Minnie Pearl.
I even shared the stage with a new generation of determined and talented performers like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Jessica Simpson.
These are only a small number of the famous females from whom I learned something of value, an idea to contemplate, or a tip that gave me a new perspective on being an entertainer. I was raised to believe that there is always something new that you can learn from the people you work with in every capacity.
Loretta Lynn was a great example for me of a woman who was an award-winning, in-demand, entertainment business success story and a loving wife and mother.
Lucille Ball taught me that the best comedy need never be cruel to be funny. She also schooled me on the benefits of good lighting for the female face.
From Pearl Bailey, I learned that giving one’s time and energy (she was an ambassador to the United Nations) enriches your performance through life experience.
From Tina Turner, I learned to let the music be an expression of strength and joy.
I could name hundreds more women in all aspects of show business who have graced my life with their groundbreaking individual style and insights into what is, more often than not, a tough career path. There are a few common traits, though. They usually have an intuitive trust in their talent and the personal quality of endurance that gives them the courage and the drive to put themselves out there before the public eye. You have to have that drive because it overrides any lack of confidence. As Minnie Pearl said, “It’s the most unglamorous glamour business in the world.” She was right. What may appear to many to be a charmed life can also be isolating, emotionally battering, invasive, exhausting, and risky.
Of course, there are incredible rewards, as well. It’s an amazing feeling to be appreciated for what you do and to feel like you have brought happiness to others. I was fortunate that I could observe, in action, some of the best examples of women performers who actually managed to do it successfully.
One woman, though, stands alone as the star who most influenced my life both professionally and personally.
She was the constant light that I could follow without ever fearing I would fall. She was the star who could lead the whole show, but who never took a bow. She never sought the spotlight; but her inner radiance was visible to all who took the time to observe her. In a culture that recognizes a star’s power through awards and bigger paychecks, she had neither. She didn’t need them. She understood the importance of the part she played in this life. She was never interviewed about an upcoming role, live performance, or album, but the way she acted and the words she spoke made her the perfect role model for me and, I know, for thousands of others. I learned by her example and I succeeded because of her belief in me.
Her last name is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but not her first. Her first name comes from the ancient Hebrew word shemesh, meaning “to be brilliant.” As time has passed, I comprehend on a deeper and deeper level how “brilliant” she was. I was named for her, and I pray, every day, that my life will honor that name. She was, is, and will always be my guiding star. She’s my mother, Olive Osmond.
For years, I’ve had a deep and continuous feeling that, as her only daughter, I needed to write down at least some of the countless ways she embodied womanhood and especially motherhood, not only for my brothers and me, but as a woman who truly understood the crucial importance of “mothering” all of God’s children, wherever she met them and no matter what their age. She knew the immense importance of her walk in this life as a daughter of a loving God and as a loving mother.
My mother’s influence is the core of how I parent my own children and, on a broader scale, how I hope to interact with all my family members, my friends, my fans, and every daily encounter along the way. My mother’s philosophy for how to approach every interaction, experience, challenge, and choice in every single day was this: “The key is love.” She would always, first, strive to “be positive” and, second, to always be kind. If her kindness was rejected for any reason, my mother’s solution was to put forth even more kindness.
I know my daily approach to mothering isn’t as consistent or as wise as my mom’s, but I also know that she would have been the first one to respond to my shortcomings with kindness and some positive words of encouragement. She was always ready with a positive thought for anyone she would talk to, a thought that would always move us forward in our thinking.
I’m known for saying, “If you’re going to laugh about it in the future, you might as well laugh about it now.” I even used that phrase for the title of my last book. Like my mother, I believe in a positive outlook on life, but when it comes to motherhood, I feel it’s crucial to grasp the seriousness of the long-lasting and far-reaching effects we have on the future through how we nurture our children today. I know it’s the single most important “calling” on this earth. A mother is a child’s first teacher. We are raising the people who will grow up to influence society and the world. As women, whether we have children or not, we “bear” the future by being the nucleus of the home.
There isn’t a challenge or a reward in the whole entertainment world that even comes close to the challenges and rewards of motherhood.
My mother’s generation of women counseled and advised one another over the backyard fence, or in the halls of their church, or at the school bake sale. Considering that 77 percent of women today work outside of the home and more than 30 percent of American homes are headed by single moms, like my own was for four years, we don’t really have the opportunities or the time to talk with one another face-to-face anymore. That’s why I want to put on the page some of my own mother’s best advice, some of which she noted in her journals, some of which came from her own mother. I noted much of it in my journals over the years. I’m including my own stories of being a mom: the delights, the downfalls, and some of the dreams I’ve had that you might share in your own parenting.
My mother was charismatic, powerful, exceptional, and determined, though she was never “famous” in a traditional way. However, her influence, like every mother’s, will live on generation to generation to generation.
I’m writing about my thoughts as a woman and a mother, most of which are thoughts passed down to me from my mother and her mother before her. My hope in sharing them with you is that they will be thoughts that “move us forward.”
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