Mama of Mystery

Five questions for Lauryn Hill.

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This isn't the ordinary Five Questions for a Public Mama that I write periodically on my blog, Seeds. I don't want to know how Lauryn disciplines her five kids, what it's like being married to a Marley or where she buys her knit hats. I don't want to know if she has a television in her house or whom she's going to vote for.

My questions are much more basic. They have to do with sanity and survival. They have to do with the intersection of art and commerce, genius and madness, motherhood and living on a tour bus for six months.

If Lauryn came to my house, I'd make her some tea and take her outside to look at the palm trees. If she wanted to talk, here's what I'd ask:

1. Where have you been? I know you can only live so much of your life in public. You can't give it all away, even though millions of people wish you would. But if you want to come back, you've got to reconcile the places you've been. You've got to arrive, connect the dots and make yourself whole.

2. How are you? I can't find anything about you on the Web that isn't questioning your choices, interrogating your lifestyle or longing for your happiness and stability. It's not about them, but still, don't leave home without the basics: an excellent psychiatrist, a fabulous body worker and a credible spiritual guide.

3. How are your kids? I have one, and sometimes I feel I can barely eke out a blog post! How do you make art with five? Rohan told People magazine you're happy being a mom, living in the suburbs. True? Are the kids thriving? Are you taking care of yourself so you can be the best mother possible? Are you surrounding yourself with people you want your children to emulate? Partner choice is everything.

4. Are you making music? Sometimes making art is the best thing in the world and sometimes, well, it's not. There is a difference. Sometimes you have to step back and ask, is my work making my life better, and if it isn't, why not? Artists have driven themselves into the ground following their muse. Proceed with caution.

5. Are you coming back? I'll understand if you don't. A lot of champions have gone down. If the choice is you or the business, choose yourself, okay? But remember, no matter what, when, where or why, a rose still and always will be, a rose.

Never give up.

Rebecca Walker is the author of "Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime for Ambivalence." Her blog on The Root is called Seeds .

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