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March 06, 2009

Opting Out of Motherhood

024_rachael_ray-1 No, I am not packing my bags and calling it quits as the title suggests. I did want to deposit my two cents, though, about Cynthia McFadden's recent interview with Rachael Ray on ABC news. I applaud Ray for standing her ground and not feeling pushed into motherhood because it's what people expect the next step should be. I really resented McFadden asking her if she feels something's missing from her childless life. Just because women can give birth doesn't mean it's the only thing that provides a level of love, comfort and measure of success —and by the way, I'm a mother of two.

So what happened during the rest of the interview, you're wondering? I remember when I first saw Ray shilling for Dunkin Donuts a few years back, and thought "like she needs the money". McFadden referenced an Anthony Bourdain MSNBC interview. His words: “She's hugely influential, particularly with children. And she's endorsing Dunkin’ Donuts. It's like endorsing crack for kids.” The surprising thing? Ray admitted she'd agree with him too without knowing the back story. It turns out D&D is a huge supporter of her charitable organization Yum-O! Her non-profit is devoted to teaching kids and their families how to have a healthy relationship with food. Yum-O! has scholarship partnerships with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

I also saw Ray on a panel at last year's New York City Food & Wine Festival with no other than Alice Waters, discussing the future of our children's diets. She's on our side, just dealing with a different kind of juggle. As a mom, I totally get it—even if it's a mixed message. Yum-O! is Ray's way of giving back. This is her baby and she decided to do what was in its best interest. As for Bourdain's comment, it's up to us as parents to filter the messages and teach our kids how to make smart choices.

Whether you love her or hate her, as a woman you have to be proud of how Ray held her own in that interview. We all have dreams. Her's started in an upstate supermarket and turned into a multi-million dollar empire. She admits she's not a chef, and that her voice is annoying, and so on and so on. Just watch the interview and you'll see a strong woman, thankful and grateful for the success she worked hard to gain. My girls have permission to call her a role model (but no, they still can't have donuts before dinner and we'll discuss those FHM pictures when they get older).

This is an original post to NYC Moms Blog. When Jennifer Perillo isn't dodging the Dunkin Donuts at the corner of her daughter's elementary school, she's testing recipes for her blogs In Jennie's Kitchen and The Mama Chronicles.

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