When I heard that Joy Thomas Moore had written a book about being a single mother, I thought, “Haven’t we heard this story before?” But when I read her book “The Power of Presence,” I realized that it was not an autobiography, but a guidebook for growing a loving, productive family.
Moore has enjoyed a successful career as a media consultant, spending 15 years at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore and working on Emmy- and Oscar-nominated documentaries.
But while building her career, Moore also managed to raise three accomplished children. Her daughter Joy (Nikki) is an event planner in the D.C. area, while another daughter Shani is a legal and business executive at NBCUniversal in Los Angeles. Her son, Wes Moore, is a Rhodes Scholar, New York Times best-selling author of “The Other Wes Moore” and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation.
While growing his career and speaking on book tours, it was Wes who told audiences about the no. 1 key to his success: his mother. A self-admitted tough child to raise, he got into trouble and was sent to military school, but began understanding what his mother did for him and his sisters as he matured.
He now incorporates his mother’s life lessons in his relationship with his wife and children, he said.
“This is a woman who sacrificed everything she had and everything she was for her children,” Wes said in the foreword in “The Power of Presence.” “She knew she was all we had.”
Moore and her two brothers were raised in the South Bronx section of New York City. She learned about building community from her parents, especially her father, who was a minister. She also learned from her parents about being open to “talking things out,” as thoughtful conversations in the family home influencing the way she has cared for her own children.
Moore, a single parent three times over, left her first and third marriages by choice. Her second marriage ended with the sudden death of her husband. Through it all, she had a community of friends and family, particularly her parents, who were there to comfort and to help her figure it all out.
Moore’s children and their successes have dispelled any doubts she had about whether she did right by them.
“Presence is the secret sauce of parenting, period,” she said. “Presence makes the little things much bigger.”
Now, roles are reversed. Moore is on a book tour and Wes will be with her for a few of those appearances. She will share her seven points of “presence” that can guide people on that rocky parenthood path, including presence of mind, heart, courage, resources, connectedness and values.
“We can’t always be physically there for our children,” she says in her book. “But the power of presence can help us to be that voice in the back of their reminds that guides them through challenging times.”
Joy Thomas Moore will talk about her book in the Washington and Baltimore areas on the following dates:
Friday, Sept. 21
Mahogany Books @ THEARCDC
In Conversation with Wes Moore and Maureen Bunyan
1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, Sept. 22
Politics & Prose Bookstore
In Conversation with Wes Moore and Lissa Muscatine
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, Sept. 26
Enoch Pratt Free Library @ Church of the Redeemer
In Conversation with Wes Moore and Kai Jackson
5603 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md.