Today Show: Maya Angelou Grew Up With Her Grandmother
Maya Angelou was only three-years-old when she and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother. Her mother was too young to take care of her two children and her father did not want to take the children when he and Angelou’s mother divorced. For 10 years, Maya Angelou grew up under the care of her grandmother, whom she lovingly called “mama.”
When she was 13-years-old, she and her brother were sent back to her mother’s home. Angelou told the Today Show she hated her mother, saying she wouldn’t even call her mother. She would simply call her “Lady.”
“I called her ‘Lady,’ and she asked me why. I said, ‘Because you don’t look like a mother, and you’re very pretty and you act like a lady.’ So she said, ‘All right,’ and she took that. And I liked her for that,” Maya Angelou explained of calling her mother Lady.
Maya Angelou: Mom & Me & Mom Review
In her newest book, Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou recalls her relationship with her mother and the transition she made from hating her mother to learning to love the woman who abandoned her.
She told the Today Show there were two reasons she came to love her mother. One was the moment when her mother told her she was the “greatest woman I’ve ever met.” “I sat there thinking, ‘She’s very intelligent. She’s too mean to lie. Maybe I am going to be somebody,'” Angelou said.
The second moment of clarity came when she had her own child at the age of 17. She finally knew for sure what her mother had been through. She knew what it was like to raise a child at a young age. She said her mother never said a word to her about the birth of her child, never chastising her for the decisions she made. She simply told Angelou the moment she walks out her door for good, she will know the difference between right and wrong and she will always know she has a home to come back to.
Maya Angelou said her mother taught her to be a woman. She came to respect her later in life and while her mother was on her deathbed from lung cancer, Angelou said she told her mother she was a terrible parent to small children but she was the best parent there was for a teenager. Today also happens to be Maya Angelou’s 85th birthday.