Exclusive: Teresa Caldwell, Bow Wow's Mom And Manager, Opens Up About Motherhood And Overcoming Abuse In New Memoir
Caldwell wants to inspire other women with her story.
February 24, 2020 at 9:12 pm
Many know Teresa Caldwell as the mother and manager of hip-hop artist and entertainer Bow Wow, but she is much more than the "momager" of a superstar. Caldwell is a businesswoman with several companies, an aspiring public speaker and soon-to-be published author. She recently sat down with Blavity in an exclusive interview about her upcoming debut memoir I Once Was Her.
In her book, Caldwell recounts single motherhood, childhood trauma, emotional abuse and physical abuse. The successful entrepreneur told Blavity that her memoir is her testimony to young women and single mothers who may have gone through similar adversity.
Blavity: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. We know you as Bow Wow's Mom and manager. Are you still managing Bow Wow? What encouraged you to take managing into your own hands.
Teresa Caldwell: I am currently managing his television and film career. I'm focusing on rebranding [when it comes to] television and film because the music industry has changed. It's not fun for me anymore. I don't feel like I'm good at it anymore, so I decided to step away from that.
One of the reasons why I managed him from the beginning was because I always felt like no one could manage your child better than you can. I was told at the very beginning, always manage him because no one can do it better than you. So I've always been a part of his career until now because music is so different. It's not fun and I'm not good at things that aren't fun for me. In the industry [it feels like they] try to turn artists, entertainers, even athletes against their parents.
Blavity: Outside of managing an artist, what other career paths have you embarked on?
Caldwell: Aside from managing my son, I have an online store called Shop Taste. I'm also an interior designer — that's where my heart is. That's my main source of income. I do interior design for some high-end clients and right now, I have the opportunity to work with a hotel, which I'm excited about and of course, my book!
Blavity: I'm excited to read it!
Caldwell: I'm so excited about it too. I told you, I don't like to do things that don't excite me. I'm a very spiritual person, so I only do something if I hear God telling me that it's time. I've been trying to write this book forever. The reason I started writing is because I listened to the voice. I feel like when it's of God, He will align everything and that's exactly what He did.
Blavity: Your story and growth obviously predate your son's career. Why do you want to tell that story now?
Caldwell: My son is grown now and I felt like it was my time to tell my truth. [I believe] there are a lot of women that can relate to my story. I chose the title I Once Was Her because I once was her. I struggled, I had my child at a young age and I [at one point] was homeless. A lot of things that went on in my life, I hid. I wanted my son always to see me as a strong mother. So there were some things I even hid from him. He just knew that I was strong and always provided. Whatever he needed, I was there, but he didn't know me or the things that I went through. A lot of people [still] don't.
Blavity: Your book recounts past physical abuse and abandonment. What part of your story was the most difficult to write, and how did you get over that difficulty?
Caldwell: The most difficult story was me talking about my mother kicking me out at 15. That was very painful and even to this day it's hard for me to talk about it. I never understood how she could choose an abuser over her own child. When my mother was getting abused and ended up marrying him, I remember him beating her [so bad that] her front teeth came out. I was the middle child, [and] I couldn't take it anymore.
I said, "you're not going to keep putting your hands on my mother." I called the police and he was arrested for the weekend. When he got out, my mother allowed him to come back. He said I couldn't come back with her in the house. My mother chose him over me. How do you do that? How do you choose a man over your child? I told myself that one day, before she or I pass away, I want to forgive her for that.
My mother got sick and died from cancer, but before she passed away, she apologized and I was able to spend a year of her life, before she passed, with her. [Sometimes] my son doesn't understand why I'm overprotective. I made a promise with God that I would never be like my mother. I'm going to be the woman and mother that she wasn't to me.
Blavity: Thank you for your transparency, I hope that really helped in your healing process.
Caldwell: Thank you, it has.
Blavity: You've decided to include Bow Wow's words in your book as well. Why was it important for you to add him, and what perspective do you think he will bring to your story?
Caldwell: I felt like it was important to include him because I lived my life for him. I wanted people to hear his side and see that we have such a great bond. But I also wanted people to understand that being the mom and being the manager can be tough. What makes my book so different is that each chapter starts with one of my close friends. They talk about me, and then I go into the chapter [with my own words].
[In Bow Wow's chapter], people will see another side of him. It's tough being a single mom raising a son. I always felt like I can raise Bow to be respectful, but it was really a struggle for me to teach him how to be a man. The emotions and things that men deal with aren't the same. Women, we deal with things differently. I wanted him to tell his side and his story. Also, I want people to know that it's okay to be a mommas boy, he used to get teased about it. I haven't read his chapter yet but I'm excited to see what he wrote.
[Also] Curtis Martin did my forward, he used to play for the Jets. He's my good friend and [plays] a big part of me being who I am today because he really helped me grow. He helped me get a closer relationship with God, helped me become a better woman, a better mother and a better friend.
Blavity: Has your relationship with your parents impacted your dating life and how you view love?
Caldwell: I was a daddy's girl. I wanted to be the best little girl for my dad. But my dad didn't give me the love that I needed. He would call me names; he wasn't a good father. But that's why I tell my son it's so important to be there for your daughter. The first man a little girl will ever love is her father. And if that father doesn't show her the correct love and attention, and show her how a man should treat a woman, it can go so many different ways. So that's why I am on my son about him being a great father to his daughter.
I can say that I did not know what real love feels like, so the men that I attracted were like my father. Until I became an adult and did [inner] work on myself, I said that I would no longer tolerate this or attract this type of man. When I fixed myself, I started attracting different men.
I talk about it all [in my book]. From life as a little girl to a teenager to having Bow and being in the industry. I even talk about my marriage and my dating after the divorce. I started dating a lot of athletes. I don't refer to them by name. Now I'm being patient and waiting on God to bring the right one to me. Even when I go on dates now, some of the guys are moving way too fast. I need to be your friend first because the next man that I marry is going to be my last, so we have to be best friends. I date with purpose and I'm very careful.
Blavity: Before becoming a mom, what were your dreams and goals?
Caldwell: I touch on some of my goals in my memoir. I set attainable goals and I usually achieve the goals that I set. When I was a little girl, I always used to say that I was going to live in a mansion and I was going to be a millionaire. I was going to have a Bentley and I was going to have a Ferrari and I always loved fashion and design.
Blavity: A lot of people are still trying to figure out their dreams, but you knew at such a young age.
Caldwell: I knew exactly what I wanted. I was always creative.
Blavity: What do you want readers to take away after reading your memoir?
Caldwell: I want my readers to get strength from reading my story. I want women to know that I was strong and had to be for my child. I want to let my readers know that wherever you are in life, it's okay to start over. I feel like God took me through these things to figure it out and for me to tell the story. The biggest loss in life is when you don't be who you could be. I want readers to know that nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes and we learn from them. We all have a choice. I made so many mistakes, but I bounced back from all of them. I still make mistakes and I'm still learning. I'm still a work in progress. I don't think that's ever going to stop.
When you have a relationship with God, it changes your life. Certain things happen and I'm like, where did that come from? God, you are showing out! I'm telling you, there have been times when I didn't even know how I was going to make it through. But God showed up and showed out every time. For 2020, I want a lot of those wow moments.
Blavity: When your book is released, what is the main thing you want people to know about Teresa Caldwell?
Caldwell: I want them to know that I went through it. Don't feel sorry for me, but I made it. And you can make it too. I want folks to know that I'm strong, spiritual and that God is my foundation. At the end of the day, just be a good person.
I Once Was Her will be released in May 2020. Additionally, Caldwell is putting her dream to design a hotel in the atmosphere and hopes to begin speaking with girls about her life. To keep in touch with the author visit her on Instagram and Twitter.