Don Knotts died today at
81. He won a several Emmys for his
role as Barney Fife, and tickled our funny bones as Mr. Furley. My favorites, though,
will always be Theodore Ogelvie in The Apple Dumpling Gang and his repeat
Scoobie-Doo performances as himself/detective/groundskeeper.
I must admit it. I watch Desperate
Housewives. But I watch, mostly, because
it’s sandwiched between the Building Skate Ramps for Kids with No Bones Show,
and my serious addiction Grey’s Anatomy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s an OK
show. And I really liked it last
year. But, really, my life doesn’t need
any more quirky, random drama.
Despite all of that, I have another reason for viewing DH. I have a lot of admiration for one of the
actresses, Felicity Huffman. Recently, I heard an interview with Ms.
Huffman on NPR. She spoke very little
about her roll as Lynette Scavo, and chose to discuss, instead, at length another
project, Transamerica, In which she portrays a pre-operative
male-to-female transsexual. Not exactly
a walk down Wisteria Lane, there.
But mostly, I liked her interview because she talked about meeting her
husband, William H. Macy , and
about her take on acting. She didn’t
just rattle on about the wonder of being in a top rated TV show. I felt like I could sit down and have an
interesting conversation with her over, say, Chinese takeout.
She was again interviewed
recently by Lesley Stahl. And while I don’t tune into 60 Minutes, I did
find this interface to be quite interesting.
Stahl:Is this the happiest time
of your life, being a mommy? Huffman:No, no, and I resent that question. Because I think
it puts women in an untenable position, because unless I say to you, "Oh,
Lesley, it's the best thing I've ever done with my whole life," I'm
considered a bad mother. And just when I said 'no' you, you went back. [mimics
Stahl recoiling] Stahl: Let me rephrase it then. Are you a good mother? Huffman: I don't know if I'm a good mother.
YES, YES, YES!
Now, I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. Thank goodness someone famous had the eggs to
How many of us knows – really knows- that she is a good mother? I don’t. I know that I love my girls. I
know that I’d lay down on a train track to save them. I know that I work hard to make sure that
they feel good about themselves while learning to treat others kindly and with
I know that I sometimes get angry with them. I also know that there are days when that anger has more to do with me
than with them. I know that if this
didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be true to myself...or to them.
I resent our culture for instilling the notion that I am somehow supposed
to be super human, just because all of my reproductive organs are
functional. The magic of pregnancy has
to do with the fact that a human being can form within and then emerge from
There is; however, no mysterious transformative event that occurs to make us
better people. We all enter into
motherhood hoping that we can figure out how to make it through without causing
serious psychological damage to another person. We also hope that we might be able to hold onto a shred of our former
hobbies, jobs, social group/status, identity. Some of us do (with or with out grace) grasp, however tenuously that
former self. And some of us simply redefine
No, I wouldn’t say that being a mommy is the happiest time of my
life. I would say that it contains some of the happiest moments
of my life. But there is nothing
glorious about wiping noses, butts, and counters. There is no elation in worrying that your
child could get sick, molested, or (heaven forbid) poor grades. Motherhood is hard. It should be. That’s how we get good solid adults out of the deal. And while it does include countless trips to
the playground, it will never be a walk in the park.
-- edited to add that although I refer to mothers as those who've experienced pregnancy, this is only due to my own personal experience. I have nothing but respect for those who parent without having first physically gestated. For that matter, daddies rock, too. --