1. What do you think of the “mommy wars” ?
I’m not even sure I know what that term means. I think it’s the alleged war between mothers who have outside work and mothers who don’t. Sometimes I think it’s a media invention, just the latest in a long line of Zeitgeist fads that conspire to make women feel threatened and insecure, and to make us feel competitive with each other. Still I must admit that I sometimes feel judgmental toward mothers who have outside work *and* have very young children, perhaps because I think they’re judging me but also because I think babies really need to be near their mothers.
This past weekend I had the following exchange with my dearest friend, who just married a few days ago, and who is a highly respected scholar, and who is hoping very much to have a baby. I said, “I hope that awkwardness won’t arise in our relationship due to different choices that each of us is inclined to make. Sometimes it’s hard for me to let others make their choices and be non-judgmentally supportive.”
She said, “Why is that?”
I said, “Well, I guess I feel like the choices I’m making are the best ones I could be making for my children.”
She said, “Yes, exactly. For *your* children.”
You can see why she’s my best friend. She cut straight through the bullshit.
Seriously, more often than not, the bottom line for me is that I have a hard time genuinely believing that there’s more than one way to do something. I know it’s wrong, but it’s the truth about me.
2. When did you last do something just for you?
I did a crossword puzzle last night. Loved it. Also, answering these questions (and most of my online activity) is pretty much just for me.
3. Boston or NYC and why?
New York in a flash. Because I love the energy and the theatre and the amazing random coincidences that happen there. Because despite it all (and there’s a lot to overlook lately) I love the Yankees. Because you don’t need a car to be in New York. Because I would love to worship at B’nai Jeshrun every week.
4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
From the time I reached double digits, I wanted to be a famous actor and singer. Before that I wanted to be Nadia Comaneci. Before that I wanted to be the President of the U.S.
5. What’s your favorite musical?
That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite! I adore Sweeney Todd, both because I love the piece and because the production I did back in 2003 was hands-down my favorite job ever. Others I love (and would love to do) are Follies, Carousel, West Side Story. And for sentiment at least, I love The Sound of Music. It was the first musical I ever did (I don’t count Annie since I only did excerpts) and although people tend to dismiss it, I think it has great dramatic potential — think of it as being about a family escaping the Nazis, rather than as being about a bunch of cute kids dressed in draperies.
6. How would you describe motherhood to a newly pregnant friend?
Depends on the friend! If a quip were in order, I’d say it’s a combination of cloud 10 and “what was I thinking?”. If a serious answer were appropriate, I’d say it’s a full-being experience — spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual. The hardest, best, most fulfilling, most harrowing thing that anybody can do. It’s an opportunity to live the truth of every cliché and to know the meaning of the word impossible. It’s life-altering, mind-altering, and (especially) the thing that most alters one’s relationship with the passage of time.
7. Who would you most like to meet who is famous and alive today ?
Elton John or Stephen Sondheim.