Actress Claire Danes announced yesterday that she and husband Hugh Dancy are expecting their first child. Danes, who won a 2012 Golden Globe for her new series Homeland, and Dancy, who stars in NBC’s upcoming drama Hannibal, married in 2009 and have made a home in the same New York City neighborhood where Danes grew up.
Like many women my age, Danes’ signature role as Angela Chase on the short-lived TV drama My So-Called Life had a profound effect on me during my adolescence. Angela was something of an anti-heroine, a familiar presence for girls who weren’t outcasts but who had no interest in the typical social structures of high school. Watching Angela’s growing pains when I was 15 and the countless times I’ve re-watched the series since then, I’ve always been struck by how similar she and I were/are, and how much I learned about myself by watching her work through her teenage troubles. But I remember realizing with amazement the first time I re-watched the series as a parent of an older child how much I related to Patty, Angela’s mother.
Danes undoubtedly has plenty of friends and family and paid assistants to help her prepare for motherhood, but it takes a village to make a pregnant woman completely terrified of her new role. So, drawing from the wisdom that Danes’ work has helped me to acquire, I would like to offer her some advice for her new life as a mum.
Claire, at some point, your child is going to have to find some way to assert her individuality. It’s a normal part of adolescence. One of the easiest ways to do this is to drastically alter her appearance. You will be tempted to scoff at her efforts because why don’t they assert their individuality by taking the trash out without being harangued? Or you might be horrified by the hair color that she chooses. But try not to be too harsh. Hair dye isn’t permanent and after your kid “has a time” at Let’s Bolt! she’ll melt your heart by apologizing for her behavior and falling asleep in your arms.
Okay, So Maybe He’s Bi. Who Cares? His Cousin Can Still Drive.
Your snarky teenager has a point. Her friend’s sexuality does not affect said friend’s cousin’s ability to drive. It’s true. Tests have been done. Sure, her efforts to get away with something are achingly transparent. She’s got to prove something to herself and sometimes you have to let her make questionable decisions. But know that you’ve raised her to be smart enough about her safety. So even when something actual is happening, and it’s a little too actual, she’ll keep her wits about her and later have a moment of self-realization about the parallels between her life and Anne Frank’s life while talking to the cop who drives her home.
So How Can We Have Been Together for So Long and Not Be Able to Dance Together?
I have no doubt that you and Hugh love each other, but children change the dynamics of even the strongest marriage, and you may find yourselves in rough spots over the course of your life together. While your daughter is obtaining a fake ID from her crush under the guise of working on Krakow’s volumeter, you will be arguing with your husband and throwing your beloved Cinderella figurine on the floor in a fit of symbolism. So, the pixie cut was a dud, even though it does show your ears more, and the ballroom dancing was a disaster. Yeah, Camille said it’s a lot of fun, but Camille thinks Velcro is fun. You and Hugh will find your way back to each other and have hot make-up sex. And he’ll decide against cheating on you. And your daughter will get her fake ID, which she needs anyway because existentialism.
I can’t tell you exactly why your 15-year-old doesn’t want to participate in the mother-daughter fashion show with you anymore. Maybe it’s the hot sophomore girls poll and Sharon Cherski’s distinction of best hooters. Maybe it’s that one zit she got. Maybe the dresses that you’re sewing for the show are just kind of hideous, even if they do remind Rickie of Mary Quant. Maybe it’s all of those things. Again, she’s gotta carve her own spot in the world and the one you have ready for her won’t always be what she needs. Besides, you have a younger daughter who you’re totally ignoring who would LOVE to do the fashion show with you. So, while you’re sashaying down the runway to “Return to Innocence,” your teenager will be crying tears of joy in her crushed velvet dress and it will be the most 90s moment ever.
I’ll Bet the Karma at Amber’s House Is Just Through the Damn Roof
Your daughter will no doubt compare you to other mothers at least a few times. But you’re far from perfect. And you know, if you weren’t so good at pretending to be happy, you’d be better at actually being happy. So you can’t really fault your daughter from taking a break from you from time to time, especially when you’re still navigating the quirks of your relationship with your own parents. Let her enjoy the novelty of her friend’s free-spirited mom. She’ll realize that that much freedom isn’t really worth it when Amber breaks up her friend’s illicit party then calls her issue-having daughter an old drunk before leaving her to go meet Rusty.
You Know, It Was One of Those Fights Where — It Doesn’t Even Seem Real, It Seems Like the Fight Is Having You
Your kid will love you. Always remember that, even when it seems like she hates you. She’s just trying to figure out how to comprehend that love. Sometimes, to understand how she feels about you, she will befriend people who have had the opposite fortune in life, who don’t have anyone who they love like that and who don’t have anyone who loves them like you love your kid. The two of you might have to encounter Juliana Hatfield’s ghost at the abandoned warehouse for your teen to realize how lucky you both are. The love between a mother and her child is pretty spectacular. Cherish it. And don’t be such a douche to Rickie.