Real Housewives of Potomac star Wendy Osefo, PhD, is a woman who wears many hats. She made history by becoming the first Black woman to earn a PhD in public affairs/community development at Rutgers University, and she is a Johns Hopkins professor, political analyst and entrepreneur, among other things. Now she can add the title of author to her growing list. Osefo has released her first book, Tears of My Mother, which goes into detail about, perhaps, her most important title: mom.
In the book, now available, she explores her experience being a first-generation American, her relationship with her mother, and the role her Nigerian upbringing has played in the decisions she’s made now that she’s a wife and mother to three children.
“What really inspired me to write this book was becoming a mother myself. I think once you step into motherhood, you come to a fork in the road. You have to decide if you are going to raise your children the same way you were raised or whether you’re going to take a different stab at the apple, so to speak,” Osefo tells ESSENCE. In the book, she mentions that while she respects her Nigerian upbringing, she chooses to do things differently as a parent.
“I have implemented some of the same things that I was raised on with my children. But I realized in my motherhood journey, for example, when we talk about education, I believe in working hard and manifesting. However, I am not wedding my children to a career,” she says. “I am not saying that they have to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. I am still taking the principles of my Nigerian upbringing, while creating the space where my children are able to explore different options — and to know that it is okay to not be the best the first time.”
And while Osefo says she may be trying to teach her children a new way to do things and look at life, she’s also learned plenty from raising them.
“Motherhood has taught me that it is okay not to have all the answers. It is okay not to feel like you are perfect,” she says. “It has also taught me unwavering and undying love. I always say that my first son taught me what it means to love and be loved unconditionally. My second son has taught me patience and how to give myself grace. My third child, my daughter, has taught me faith. When you become a mother, and you do your best along the way, you will gain so much throughout.”
The RHOP star wrote this book with truth and transparency in mind. While she gives honor to her mother, who has provided immense support and love from the very beginning, she drives home the importance of forging her own path and creating an identity of her own, outside of what was or may be expected of her. In this book, Osefo sheds light on topics we are all very familiar with. That includes the complexities of what being a mother means, what it’s like to celebrate one culture while trying to learn and embrace another, and the importance of blossoming into your own from the roots that helped you grow. There are also moments where she shares what it was like to speak her mind as a Black Democrat on Fox News, and her experience on Real Housewives of Potomac.
There’s so much to take away from and appreciate about the new book, especially the bond between mother and daughter. When asked if there was one question Osefo could ask her mom, Iyom Susan Okuzu, about her own story, she responded, “I would ask her how she did it.”
“She was an immigrant and moved to a country where she knew no one. She raised two kids and worked multiple jobs,” she says. “I remember being at my mother’s college graduation. I have literally grown up with her. To be able to do all of that and to still stand with grace, walk like a gazelle, be the most supportive person I have ever met, and to defy all the odds, how did she do it? I hope that [my siblings and I] have made you proud and that whatever you went through, it was worth it.”