Friday, June 30, 2017

Can you be a Real Housewife if you don't have kids?

The NotMom flagged an article on Facebook this week about "The Real Housewives of New York City" and how Real Housewife Carole Radziwill has been shamed by her castmates because she doesn't have kids.

Now, I have never watched (I have never had the slightest interest in watching!) any of the "Real Housewives" shows on TV, aside from occasional glimpses while dh channel-surfs. (These are "real housewives?? Seriously??) (The closest I've ever gotten to the show was when I spent a girls' weekend in New York City a few years back and the driver of the stretch limo we'd hired told us the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills had been recent passengers.)

But my interest was piqued, not only because of the childless/free angle, but because I read (and loved) Radziwill's beautiful memoir, "What Remains," several years ago (mini-review here, at the end of a fuller review of another book). "What Remains" tells the story of Radziwill's marriage to Anthony Radziwill (son of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's younger sister Lee, and thus a nephew to Jackie O. & the late President, and a cousin to Caroline & John Kennedy Jr.), her friendship with JFK Jr. and (especially) his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and how she tragically lost all three of them within a few short weeks in the summer of 1999, when she was 36 years old.  (She's now 53.)

Everyone knows the sad story of JFK Jr and Carolyn and how they died.  Anthony died a few weeks later after a long struggle with cancer. (JFK Jr had been working on a eulogy for his cousin at the time of his own death.) He had already had one bout of cancer before he and Carole met in 1990, when they were both working for ABC News. She knew when she married him (in 1994) that he could not have children. Nevertheless, they built a life together as "two news junkies who liked travel and the chase of a story." As she told Britain's Daily Mail in 2013:
"I knew that he couldn't have kids, and that wasn't in any way a deal-breaker for me. I just wasn't that girl who dreamed about getting married and having children. Those weren't the priorities for me. Now, looking back, I think it would have been nice to have a child... But I'm not going to sit around and mope about it." 
I'll admit I was surprised when I heard Radziwill had agreed to be on the show. I don't know much about her beyond her book & some of the articles about her I read when it first came out, and admittedly I've never watched the show, but beyond her lack of children, she doesn't seem like a typical "Housewife of."

Because I've never watched the show, I don't know what, if anything, Radziwill has said there about not having children -- but it sounds like she is happy with her life today (which apparently includes a much-younger boyfriend).  I'll admit, I have no idea what the article is talking about when it refers to all the drama going on among the Housewives -- and there may (or may not) be reasons for the others to be upset with her.

But not having children should not be one of them.

(Anyone watch the show? Care to enlighten me on anything I'm missing here?)


  1. I've never seen the show and wasn't aware she was on it, but housewife sort of points to the marriage part of the equation, not the kids part. It's not housemother or Real Stay-at-home Moms of New York City. So... why harp on that?

    But speaking of which, I can't remember -- have you seen Jackie yet?

  2. Thanks for the tip on What Remains. I checked it out from the library and devoured it in two days. So many things resonated with me as I am the wife of a cancer patient with a semi-longterm terminal diagnosis. This book was honest, brave, and right on the money in the way it describes medical appointments, difficult diagnoses, changing relationships, denial, hope, and abiding love. I can't thank you enough for pointing me to it.

    1. Oh, I'm so glad you liked it!! I picked it up mostly because of the Kennedy angle, a peek inside the family, etc., but it is so, so much more than that, isn't it? I am sorry that it has such personal resonance for you, though... thinking of you & your husband & family. <3