We launched a mother-daughter podcast this weekend. My kid says it’s a vibe.
“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, but I must make amends”… That was the last voicemail my dad left me before he went home to be with the Lord in 2012. He didn’t normally leave messages like that. He was usually grumpy or agitated that he hadn’t reached me, but that time, he was singing one of my mama & I’s songs that we sing when we see beautiful old Mercedes. It was the perfect memory, until my phone reset itself. I no longer have that physical memento of my dad’s voice, and it pains me. This is why we launched a mother-daughter podcast.
Losing a parent or a loved one aches from a spot that is unreachable with any condolences. They say time heals all wounds, but you never really fill that spot. As I look back on the end of my father’s life, I have many regrets and I never want to make those same mistakes again.
My mother is 73 years young. She’s already surpassed the age of her mother, father, grandfather, sister, brother, and husband when they left this earth, so I am grateful for this time. She works out every day, is a nutritionist, and can hang with the best of them. I refuse to take this time for granted. When I casually mentioned to her last week that I thought of a way that we could spend time together and bond, she responded with, “I thought we already did that years ago?”. Ha! Lawd, help us.
We know what we are, but we know not what we may be
It’s why wolves, run in packs, cliques form in high school, why some victims find it difficult to leave their abuser, how street gangs recruit. We all have an innate desire to belong.
Growing up as a biracial girl; the daughter of a black boomer hippy mother; with a Tuskegee Airman grandfather; a white soul cowboy father; front row in a black Pentecostal church; living in a tiny, predominately white town on sacred Indian ground, it was a blessing I even knew my name. I had no idea who I was or from where I hailed.
My mama never mentioned race or ethnicity, so I didn’t have any idea I looked any different from my peers. I had been taught that it didn’t matter, and we are all sisters and brothers in Christ. Until I went to an all black school in Jr. High, I was figuratively blind. I wholeheartedly could not understand why no one liked me because I “looked white”. What do you mean white? I realized, that like an adopted child, without having a solid foundation of where I’m from, I would forever be searching for a home to belong to. Thus began the journey of piecing together our heritage, and adding cherished memories and traditions along the way.
I didn’t just want to know the names on the family tree, I wanted to experience their likes and dislikes, their joys, their cultural beliefs, their pains. I wanted to give my children a sense of heritage. Furthermore, I am raising them to stand firm in their identity, so their roots can take hold, and they can feel secure in their culture. Unlike my story, they will not have to find their identity elsewhere.
Why start a podcast with your mom?
Growing up, my mama worked 3rd shift to raise us. She would come home from a nursing home shift from hell, usually in an Alzheimer’s unit, just to get us up for school and run errands. She worked hard to care for us. Money was tight, but she never mentioned it. We struggled, but she never said a word to us. We had a storage unit which she eventually couldn’t make rent on because she had to pay bills, so many of our pictures and beloved items never made it back to us. I have very few pictures of growing up, and even less memories, unless someone has told me the story. This adds to my love for journaling. Without that brief record of a moment in time, it wouldn’t exist in my brain.
Aside from the trauma I experienced in college and in relationships, I may have what’s called a ‘Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory’. I can remember some events, but no specific details about those events. I had no idea that others could remember things so vividly until I became an adult and started to notice when my family members would ask if I remembered this date or *insert detail here* about an event. Once I began researching, I realized it was a real phenomenon.
I even worried that I experienced a severe case of postpartum depression, not remembering details of my children’s lives since they were born. Then I realized it was my life, which I also could not remember details of. I don’t remember ever being held or curled up on a sofa watching a movie with anyone growing up. I don’t remember ever having anyone play a game with me. It’s just flashes of events in my mind. No details, just still frames, mostly things others have relayed to me or journal entries I wrote. This makes creating lasting memories and tracing our heritage that much more special to me.
The techy part
It was Saturday evening, I should have been finishing homework, folding laundry and probably a million other things, but what do I do instead? Google ‘How to start a Podcast’. Google said I need a host, a name, a genre and a domain, so I begin brainstorming names. I popped open my notes on the MacBook and started jotting down names that would fit my mama’s style and the idea I have for the show.
Within 20 mins (record time for me), “Down to the River to Pray” came to mind. It checked all the boxes for what I was looking for. She grew up in a city along the Ohio River, which was one of the first stops along the Underground Railroad. The song, “Down to the River to Pray” is thought to be a spiritual and one that my mother and I soulfully sing dancing through the home. It embodies our Christian beliefs, with ‘pray’ mentioned. It was a perfect fit.
With the name solidified, we needed a podcast host. Apparently you don’t need to upload your shows to each platform, like previously thought. The right host does it all for you. After another quick search, I went with Buzzsprout. It’s free for a beginner tier and seemed to come highly recommended. It took about 5 minutes to set up from start to finish.
Next, we needed a domain. Typically, for domains, I will either use Namecheap or Google Domains. Google was asking $40 for a .show domain for the first year, so I went with Namecheap for $6. After I grabbed the domain, I decided to create a WordPress site on a virtual server using AWS Lightsail. I’ve been using AWS Lightsail lately because of it’s ease of use and budget friendliness for sites without a ton of traffic. The domain set up, virtual server and WordPress installation took a total of 1.5 hours from start to finish, but I haven’t fully added the copy to the WordPress site yet.
Finally, we needed a picture to use as the cover for the show. I browsed through other podcasts, admiring the art work and picturesque photos of these hosts. I knew there was no way I could get my mama to agree to a photo shoot when I have to sneak photos of her just to have some for albums! So I went searching on iStock and Unsplash for something that would fit the vibe. After about an hour of no hits, I started trying to match the theme of the song. I searched for a woman in vintage clothing with boots, similar to her style, and this exquisite rustic piece appears!
I know it was meant to be because while Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum was on PBS the other day, mama kept commenting on the girl and how utterly adorable her boots were with her vintage dress and how she thought the little girl was her, in cartoon form.
My kiddo checked in often when I was editing. The idea blew him away! I couldn’t believe I had a teen’s approval. It was the aesthetics he had an issue with initially. He said it looked okay at first, but it needed adjusting. Once I added this pic, he said I ‘understood the assignment.’ Ha! So I purchased the rights for the picture, so we can use this beautiful work for the show.
This is the final result. When we launched a mother-daughter podcast, it took roughly five hours of work on a Saturday evening. Although the time spent building and brainstorming doesn’t seem like much, having a safe space for my mama and I to laugh, cry, and reminisce together is worth more than a lifetime of work. Plus, my kid said it’s a vibe.