by Meredith O’Brien
Okay everybody, a few, disparate items are on the moms in pop culture & politics agenda this week, so grab your coffee mug (or martini glass or wine glass, whatever floats your boat while you peruse the Mommy Tracked web site):
Suburban Marital Misery?
The other night my husband and I went to see Date Night , the comedy starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey who play a suburban couple with two young kids who are bored out of their minds by their tedious suburban life. This is how the movie’s web site described Carell and Fey’s characters who have a regular date night each week (that’s more date nights than I have) at the same local tavern: “Their conversations quickly drift from barely-date talk to the same chore-chat they have at the dinner table at home. Exhausted from their jobs and kids, their dates rarely end in fore- or any other kind of play, let alone romance.”
Bleak, eh? As the husband and I chuckled uncomfortably at the scene where the kids appeared in their parents’ bedroom and pounced on them, at the work-induced fatigue that often makes parents of young kids want to curl up on the sofa with the TV remote instead of putting on fresh clothes and make-up to go out, I thought, “Is this what middle class, suburban marriages are -- at least as far as the movie is concerned -- so boring and dreary that you have to have a wild night involving inadvertent criminal mayhem, guns, car chases and other dangerous madness in order to feel like you have a pulse?”
Just before the movie began, the tone was set with the new trailer for Sex and the City 2 which made it look as though the bloom was off the rose a mere two years into the marriage between Carrie and Mr. Big. I couldn’t help but wonder: “What the heck’s going on out there? They live in the city and don’t even HAVE kids to suck the energy out of their sex life.”
Working Parenthood – with Toddler Twins -- a Breeze?
I read two interviews this week with Jennifer Lopez as she was promoting her newly released film The Back-Up Plan . Now don’t get me wrong, I like J.Lo. I have her CDs (Don’t judge, music snobs!), thought she was fun in Maid in Manhattan and really liked her in Out of Sight. (Fabulous flick!) So I don’t hate on the J.Lo., particularly given the fact that she too is a fellow mother of twins (hers are 2 and mine are 11).
But these interviews, man, they irked me. When talking to People Magazine  about working parenthood, Lopez reportedly said, “It’s a balancing act. I wouldn’t say it was tough.” I wouldn’t say it was tough. With twin toddlers? (Tell that to the Date Night characters.) Lopez added that when she brought her children on set, “I was working and my whole life was merging together, and it was just total happiness for me, a real feeling of wholeness.”
In a Redbook interview , Lopez was asked how she deals with the maternal guilt she sometimes experiences and said: “I’m not different from any other mom who feels the need to go out there and work to provide the best for their kids.” This all annoyed me because obviously, if you’re an international, multi-millionaire superstar with physical trainers and staff, working parenthood can be a heck of a lot easier than if, say, you had three kids under the age of 4 – my twins were almost 3 when their baby brother was born – you have no help staff and your husband works some late nights while you’re trying to work from home. When those moms, the staff-less ones like yours truly, hear celebs talk about the ease of working parenthood, I’m left to wonder if they really understand how annoying such comments can be. (And don’t even get me started on the whole body “bouncing back after pregnancy” garbage; if I got paid gobs of money to get into shape, even after having had twins, and someone was watching my kids, I wouldn’t go around talking about tight abs to mothers who barely have time to shower.)
But after a bit of internet searching, I unearthed another J.Lo. interview, with Betty Confidential/Shine , in which she called working parenthood “very hard” and described feeling badly when her kids see her getting ready to go out to a work event and plead with her not to leave. Even celeb working moms feel conflicted, apparently, except that they have inhumanly flat abs and perfect mani/pedis while they’re coping with mommy guilt.
Michelle Upstaged by Pooch
Poor Michelle Obama. She was fielding questions about life in the White House  from the offspring of White House staffers on Take Your Child to Work Day when her family’s dog Bo upstaged her, barking and tapping her forearm with his paw to get her attention. (See the video of Bo ) As Obama tried to push ahead and continue talking about being the first African-American first lady, Bo would have none of it and continued to bark at her. After she pet the dog and told him he was going to have to leave the room because he was disruptive, the children said, “No!” So Obama relented and walked Bo over to the children to let them pet him.
A Breast Pump on The Office
A new episode of The Office  capped my pop culture week, featuring a storyline where Pam returned from maternity leave and placed a cute photo of her infant daughter on her desk next to the crispy plant that her deskmate Dwight knowingly allowed to die while she was home with her newborn.
At one point during the day, Pam realized that she needed to pump her breastmilk, as she began to feel uncomfortable, but couldn’t locate her breastpump. As Dwight – who claimed he’s a whiz at milking the cows on his farm – starting vigorously rubbing Purell on his hands, he said, “This is going to traumatize me a helluva lot more than you, believe me.” When Pam passed on Dwight’s offer to milk her, he said sharply, “Fine, let your breasts explode.”
Pam checked the women’s bathroom to see if she’d left the pump there (What, Dunder Mifflin doesn’t have a special room for her to use?) only to find it being used by her non-lactating co-worker Meredith who said she liked the way the pump felt, as Pam freaked out. When expressing one’s breastmilk at work has become a punch line in a mainstream comedy, that, my friends, is saying something.
Anything catch YOUR eye pop culture-wise? Kate Gosselin saying she was exhausted when she performed badly on Dancing with the Stars as she’s in the midst of a custody battle with her ex over their eight kids and being called a bad mom for appearing on the show? Violet Turner returning to Private Practice and wanting to assume partial custody of the baby she’d abandoned after colleague Addison Montgomery bonded with the baby?