Rockcrit and A-Mama Ann Powers thinks way too hard sometimes

Monday, January 23, 2006

Not such a desperate housewife

Felicity Huffman rules in so many ways, and here is another one. Thanks to my pal Jeanne for directing me to the clip. The best part is how Lesley Stahl touches her tongue to her upper lip when Huffman says she resents the fake question every mother is asked a million times -- fake, because, as she says, any answer but "yes, being a mommy is the best thing ever ever ever" is unacceptable. Huffman calls her on it, and you can just see Stahl's whole paradigm refusing to shift.

And yes, Jeanne, I need to post more Bebe pictures. My camera's busted. That's what kind of bad mommy I am!


Blogger Spitz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:06 AM

Blogger Spitz said...

Hooray! I'm stunned to see that clip, frankly, having chucked my TV many years ago. I didn't know there was anything resembling 'real' life left on there.

It's strange to me - I've actually gone back to look at it a couple of times since you posted it. Perhaps to reassure myself that it actually exists. And I've been thinking about this whole subject a lot. Is this not the issue that every ambitious woman struggles with? Or every woman with any ambition beyond motherhood (which I think is most of us).

When I had my daughter 11 years ago and certain people tried to relate to me as if that was the entirety of my being, it felt like being forcibly drowned. I absolutely struggled against it, but more than that, it infuriated me, especially coming from other mothers. When I go out to shows (i'm a music writer) and the first thing someone asks is, "where's E-- tonight?" it always takes me aback - it feels like I'm being asked, "why are you out here and not home with your kid?". To clarify: I do value honest inquiries about her, I love to talk about what she's up to, but this question usually comes from people who don't know us that well. Interesting.

I've been railing, for all of my adult life now that I think of it, against being defined solely by my motherhood. It seems to me that this is the one glaring indicator that women and men are still thought of so differently vis-a-vis work. And this is despite the huge changes in how men think about work/parenting. So many men are so much more deeply involved with their kids' lives than ever before, yet if they mention this in a public/work context, it's just 'bonus' for their awesome achievements. And yet this line of inquiry for women functions to reassure (?) us, the audience, that despite the fact she does all this great stuff, she is, when it comes down to it, 'just' a mother.

One of the reasons I work as hard as I do is to make a better life for the two of us, but also to show my kiddo that being driven by passion for work/art/life is just fine, that she doesn't have to put living up to others' expectations ahead of her own, that if she longs for something it's up to her to actualize it. After 11 years of certain sacrifice, I can see that she 'gets' it. It's rewarding.

One of the reasons I think I'm moved by that Huffman clip is that she is reacting honestly to this intrusion on her privacy, under the guise of journalism. Parenting is such a huge, awesome (in the true sense of the word), magical aspect of one's life - frankly it's rude to inquire about someone's children, or the experience of parenthood as some frivolous, add-on question. It cheapens it. I think of my relationship with my daughter (a fantastic, brilliant being of her very OWN) as a very private thing. I don't want to go around blabbing our magic moments to everyone, except maybe to the other love of my live (whose interest in it is endless and true, which is why he is!)

thanks for your blog Ann. I check in here a lot.

2:32 PM


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