Ricki Lake's Round Table
Ricki Lake has been in America's heart for over 20 years, from her role in the original Hairspray movie to her amazing eleven year-run hosting her own daytime talk show, and more recently, her critically acclaimed documentary, The Business of Being Born. The 41-year-old mother of two tells Rachael what it's been like growing up in the public eye. "I feel like I am evolving," she says. "I am better than I was back then. Aging is a complicated thing, especially on TV and being different sizes. But I think it's a journey and I feel like I know so much more now. It is that cliché - when you turn 40, you know who you are."
For many women over 40 who are still trying to figure out how to balance being a wife and a mother while also finding time to take care of themselves, the Internet has become a virtual support group with countless blogs and websites aimed at answering these everyday dilemmas. Rachael gathers a few of these bloggers to share how they tackle issues such as staying sexy and finding happiness:
• Jennifer Pate and Barb Machen formed a bond after meeting in a Mommy & Me class, and soon after launched JenAndBarbMomLife.com. "It's about how our lives change as women once we have children," explains Jen, 43. "Our identity, our sex life, how we fit into our new roles as women." Barb, 42, relates that she was relieved to learn that the grass wasn't always greener on the other side: "I started talking to these moms and I found out, wow, she's not having sex with her husband either; she only takes a shower every other day too! You just feel better because you're not in it alone."
• Denene Millner, 41, is the creator of MyBrownBaby.blogspot.com. "I felt like I had to put out there the issues that affect moms of color," she says. "What it means to be an African-American mom in America."
• Stephanie Klein explains that she doesn't sugar coat any of the issues she confronts as a wife and mother. "I just put it out there," she says about her site StephanieKlein.com. "The fights with my husband, the parenting, the disagreements that we have ..."
When it comes to feeling sexy over 40, Barb explains, "It's such a state of mind. It's the number one thing moms talk about. Lack of sex, feeling sexy, when am I in the mood, my 'me' time ... my husband always says to me, 'You want to be a single mom with a husband.' I'm like, now you're talking! You take those kids someplace every weekend or every other weekend because I need my time!"
Jen adds that it's all in the perspective you take: "For me, I'm 43 - I promise in ten years I'm going to go, 'Man, I looked so good at 43!' so this is the youngest I'm going to be!" Ricki joins in that she tries to appreciate where she is right now. "OK, yes, I might like to lose 5 pounds," she tells the women, "but it's like, you know what? This is as good as it gets today."
According to Stephanie, being and feeling sexy is not all about lace corsets and tiny nighties. "To men, what is sexy is what is easily accessible to them; a quick reach up the shirt and you're good to go," she smiles. "And if you want to feel sexy, have sex! It will increase your endorphins and you will feel good; sometimes belief follows behavior."
It's easy to overindulge your children when you want them to have everything, but that can lead to some sticky situations. "It's really hard for children to grow up understanding where the dollar comes from," Ricki says. "It's something I'm still trying to figure out." Jen admits that she's found herself giving in to her children's demands for things when she's too exhausted to deal with a screaming fit. "It's hard sometimes; you're just worn down."
Barb states that she's set a firm rule for her kids when it comes to begging for things: "Christmas, birthday - it's all good, you can get whatever you want," she explains. "But if it ain't Christmas and it ain't your birthday ... my kids just don't ask for stuff. I set that rule." Denene shares how she deals with this problem by instilling a sense of value in her kids. "The way to shut all of that down is to give them an allowance," she says. "And tell them when you go to the store if they want to buy something, to bring their money."
On the concept of giving your child an allowance, Barb takes the opposite approach of Denene. "I don't even give them an allowance," she says. "They're supposed to be cleaning up the table, they're supposed to be cleaning their room. I'm not giving them an allowance for helping out; they're part of the family." Denene explains that she considers the allowance more than just payment for the chores her kids do. "I give them an allowance so that they know how to handle money," Denene says. "That's not for cleaning the house, that's a given; you're going to help take care of the home that you live in. The money is about taking it and splitting it up three ways; one for savings, one for charity and one for spending."
"That's brilliant!" Rachael comments. Ricki sums up their discussion. "It's really encouraging to see that we all live in different parts of the country," she says, "yet the problems and issues that come up for us as moms really are universal. We need to support each other."
Watch the video above to see the women discuss finding happiness in today's busy world, and what they have to say about a recent Time magazine study that said despite having more power, more money and a bigger role in the workforce, women today are nowhere near as happy as their counterparts 40 years ago.
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