As dreamy and deluxe as any Hollywood star’s life may seem, Patricia Heaton wants you to know it’s not always fabulous. “Our culture is so celebrity-focused and focused on what everybody’s wearing and who’s seeing who. I know, for me, life’s pretty average. I go through the same thing everybody else goes through.”
The daughter of a Cleveland sportswriter, the Everybody Loves Raymond actress, 44, was a journalism major before switching to drama. Her need-for-attention nature kept steering her to acting.
It all came together perfectly when, a few years ago, her pediatrician asked her to speak at a dinner. She wound up talking for 45 minutes and was such a hit that she expanded her mix of heartfelt and wisecracking thoughts into a new book, Motherhood and Hollywood: How to Get a Job Like Mine (Villard, $22.95).
It arrives in stores today.
Life for the actress is often as mundane as anyone’s. She and husband David Hunt are up at 6 a.m. in Los Angeles getting their four sons ages 3, 5, 7 and 9 off to school. She makes lunches and checks homework. Of course, there is a nanny, an assistant, a home with a swimming pool.
“I’m not kidding myself,” she says. “It’s a great life, and we have a great house, and we get to go to movie premieres, and I have a great job, and I’m always meeting people. But it boils down to, invariably, we look at each other and say, ‘Aren’t you glad we have the kids to go home to?’ ”
She lays out her motherly concerns in the chapter titled “Raising Kids/Lowering Expectations.”
“We worry so much about the effects of just about everything on our kids. My parents didn’t seem that concerned,” she writes. “I’m always trying to sneak echinacea into their freshly squeezed organically grown orange juice, while my mom was content to give us Pop-Tarts and Tang for breakfast.”
In the chapter “Husbands: An Owner’s Manual,” she proclaims, “I believe that, for women, there is no avoiding marrying the wrong person, because we often marry men. And men are just plain wrong.”
She does add that her husband, an actor and producer, is “perfect.”
But having kids left her body less than perfect; she reveals she has had a breast lift and a tummy tuck. Both were prompted by her four Caesarean sections and by the pressures of stardom.
Her breasts, she says, were “horrifying.” And her stomach was a mess. “I had a big ridge of scar tissue. My belly button was herniated. Then there was that skin that hung there. It didn’t work to suck it in. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done 1,000 sit-ups. ”
The tummy tuck was like having another C-section, she says. “I would recommend it to anyone.”
This week, she’s particularly happy about it, because she’s trying on clothes to wear to Sunday’s Emmy Awards, and everything fits.
Having already won twice for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, Heaton says she’s “excited but relaxed” as she goes up this year against Jennifer Aniston, Jane Kaczmarek, Sarah Jessica Parker and Debra Messing. “If I win, that’s amazing; if I don’t, that’s cool. I feel like Jennifer Aniston certainly deserves a nod.”
Family life keeps things in perspective. “At the end of the night, whether you win or lose, it doesn’t mean anything, ultimately.”
Although she says she’s “blessed” to have landed a gig like Raymond the new season starts Monday on CBS at 9 p.m. ET/PT she doesn’t mention much of the show or co-stars in the book.
“The book was intended to be something bigger than just me being on a sitcom. One of the overriding themes is perception vs. reality of what it looks like to people when they read magazines. Then a lot of the autobiographical stuff is just about how I got here and why. I wanted to be honest about it but have it be light.”