SheKnows is proud to offer The Parent Trap column, by mother and writer Lain Chroust Ehmann.
Headline from the Associated Press: Actress Camryn Manheim Loves Mommyhood! This “news” caught my eye on several levels. First, I’m a confirmed star-a-holic, addicted to all things Hollywood. Second, I have a soft spot for Ms. Manheim, one of the few to buck the looks-are-everything trends of the rich and liposuctioned. And finally, anytime I see the word “mother” in a sentence, I have to read it. It’s a curse.
But even I, in my glitz-induced stupor, had to ask: Who cares? Yet still, I read on. Apparently, after giving birth last month to a 9 lb., 2 oz. bundle of joy named Milo, Manheim is delighted with her new role as head of this single-parent household. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she enthused in an article with Us Weekly.
Call me a wet blanket — after all, any baby should be a cause for celebration — but I can’t help responding with the words of that immortal legend of popular culture, the Church Lady, “Well, now isn’t that special?”
Maybe I’m a wee bit cynical here, but I’m not all that wowed by Manheim’s flowery avowals of baby love. What’s the big deal? We’re genetically programmed to adore our offspring, sort of like the way men’s DNA incorporates the affinity for watching TV programs incorporating explosions and/or lycra-wearing humans — male or female. There’s no news there; it’s human nature.
Another thing: Manheim has, by nearly all accounts, the perfect pregnancy and motherhood. Not only did she avoid all worries of how her boss would respond to her news (the writers of “The Practice” conveniently wrote the pregnancy into the script, even before she’d made her announcement public), she also got a true Hollywood baby shower hosted by the likes of well-heeled costars Lara Flynn Boyle and Kelli Williams. You know these folks were toting more than a year’s supply of Desitin in their designer gift baskets.
Next, there’s the issue of parentage. Manheim won’t tell how she got pregnant, nor will she reveal who the father is. I must admit I’m relieved she’s closed-mouthed on the issue of conception; even for me, there’s such a thing as “too much information.” But while I’m not advocating single motherhood, there are some distinct benefits to going it solo.
For instance, there’s no “helpful” he-man encouraging you to “let the baby cry it out” or looking at you dumbly when you ask him where the nasal aspirator is. There’s no one to chronicle your newfound slothfulness, which manifests itself in your inability to find time to get dressed — let alone clean the kitchen — before 10 at night. There’s no one to drive up in the evening, throw open the door, announce loudly, “Boy, am I tired. What’s for dinner, Honey?” and then look confused when you throw a sodden burp cloth at his gleaming leather shoes and run upstairs, sobbing.
And on the issue of single motherhood, though Manheim proudly declares, “I’m a single mom — 100 percent,” I beg to differ. The AP article duly notes that while Manheim “really wants to be a hands-on mom,” she’s a bit selective about when and where those million-dollar digits are engaged. For instance, she’s hired a nurse to help with nighttime feedings, but she maintains rights of first refusal on “Gymboree and infant swim care and Mommy and Me classes.”
Ok, I admit it. I’m a tad envious. But while being a mom isn’t a cushy job for anyone, it’s somehow newsworthy when a superstar decides she loves motherhood. Why wouldn’t she, when she’s got the bucks, the night nurses, the personal assistants and the gourmet chefs to make it all a little easier? If I had all the trappings Camryn Manheim does, I’d be having the time of my life — even with the extra five pounds that are apparently permanently attached to my hips.
What’s really interesting is not that Hollywood’s A-list enjoys parenting, it’s that so many of us normal folk love being moms, even with our limited budgets, our hapless spouses and our cranky kids. It’s nothing short of amazing that after months of sleeplessness, we can still feed and dress our babies, wipe their noses and bottoms tenderly, pick up the house, throw a load of clothes into the washer, write a grocery list and call the boss to check on next week’s client meeting. And then, to-do list nearly accomplished, we pull our unwashed hair into a ponytail, slap on a baseball cap and head out to that Gymboree class, knowing there’s no place we’d rather be in the world — including in Camryn Manheim’s $250 Manolo Blahniks. Now that’s a miracle.