Jamilah B. Creekmur’s new memoir Raised By the Mistress somehow manages to make the reader feel sympathy for someone who spent 20 years in a relationship with a man she knew was married.
Creekmur is a successful entrepreneur and consultant who helped her husband Chuck Creekmur build All Hip Hop into the multi-million dollar business that it is today. Her story is not some salacious hip hop industry story though, it’s a very personal memoir about growing up as the daughter of a woman who loved somebody else’s husband.
The talkative paramours of John Edwards, Jesse James and Tiger Woods provide a glimpse into the lives of those branded as “the other woman.” But the stories those women tell induce more tongue clucking and disapproving head-shakes than sympathetic thoughts. Hardly anyone cares about the feelings of side pieces and even less to those who knew their lovers were married. Jamilah B. Creekmur ‘s Raised By The Mistress tells the story of a woman with a married boyfriend, but she is far from a side piece and her tale is complicated, more than a little sad and just a tad endearing.
Besides offering a unique perspective on infidelity, what makes Raised By The Mistress different is the structure of the story. Written by Creekmur, her mother Valli Lampkin, her stepfather Wayne Lampkin Sr. and bestselling author Aliya S. King–the daughter, the mistress and the married lover each have chapters in the book telling their stories in a first-person narrative.
Little Jamilah and her brother Kenny spent the early part of their childhood with their mother Valli and their father in Baltimore. But the early ’80s brought a divorce for Valli, a few unwise life decisions and eventually a relationship with a man named Wayne who happened to be a husband and father. Wayne and Valli formed a strong, instant connection that–unfortunately for Creekmur–included loud and frequent sex. Imagine hearing your mother’s groans as a pre-teen. Ugh.
For two decades Valli and Wayne carried on a passionate love affair that was punctuated by infidelity (yes, the cheating husband was cheating on his mistress), alcohol abuse, an STD and many lonely holidays. Wayne often had to spend the big holidays with his “real” family. But besides all of that, they also had an undeniable genuine affection for each other that even Creekmur had to begrudgingly acknowledge.
In a way, Valli is your typical mistress. She was sexually abused as a child, has major daddy issues, has a strained relationship with her mother and she’s always thought of herself as Wayne’s real woman, not the “other woman.” The interesting part of her tale is the length of the affair, the almost unbelievable ending and the rationalizations that she created and that she accepted from Wayne for their behavior. At one point in her tale she feels guilty for “cheating” on her married lover.
The fact that Wayne and Valli share a last name tells one part of the ending. After over 20 years of being with a married man, Valli got married herself. Seems like something of a happy ending for a scarlet-lettered woman, but her story is not one that would encourage other women to hang in there with their married boyfriends. If anything, it is a painful cautionary tale. This book offers no excuses for marital infidelity, but it does offer reasons. Take note. It’s real life and it’s juicy.
Raised By The Mistress hits shelves in the fall of 2010.
Madames, have you ever knowingly continued a relationship with someone who had a wife or girlfriend? Have you ever stayed in a committed relationship for too long for the wrong reasons?