What do you call the people you pay to take care of your children?
Julie Bowen calls then "sister wives." That is the term she used from the stage last night as she accepted the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy and thanked "Alba and Amelia" who are taking care of our children when I'm not around to do it."
The term struck some as out of place. "I like that Julie Bowen acknowledged that she has nannies and thanking them. Although the sister wives reference was a bit ... odd," Sarah Hughes wrote on The Guardian's Emmy liveblog.
Emily Nussbaum, the TV critic for The New Yorker, agreed, tweeting:
Did she just call her nannies Sister Wives? It might be an okay personal joke, but it rang REALLY odd as a public remark.— emilynussbaum (@emilynussbaum) September 24, 2012
Me? I loved it.
Putting aside for the moment the fact that Bowen has TWO such women on her payroll, and also sidestepping its origins in polygamy, as used by Bowen last night it describes the relationship between a parent and a caregiver at its best. The confidence, trust and joined sense of responsibility for a child. The feeling of family and of mutual dependence and respect.
The world would be a better place if all women felt more of that toward each other, rather than parsing and squabbling, but that is another topic for another day. This morning, let's focus on how rarely celebrities thank their caregivers from the podium. On the list of people who make their victory possible are always agents, managers, assistants, parents, spouses and often God. But almost never the women who care for their homes and families all day.
Amy Poehler is a famous exception. At last year's gala for those named to TIME magazine's list of most influential people she said:
who besides Madam Secretary Clinton and Lorne Michaels have influenced me? And it was the women who helped me take care of my children. It is Jackie Johnson from Trinidad and it is Dawa Chodon from Tibet, who come to my house and help me raise my children. And for you working women who are out there tonight who get to do what you get to do because there are wonderful people who help you at home, I would like to take a moment to thank those people, some of whom are watching your children right now, while you're at this event. Those are people who love your children as much as you do, and who inspire them and influence them. So on behalf of every sister and mother and person who stands in your kitchen and helps you love your child, I say thank you and I celebrate you tonight.
Since odds are I will never give an Emmy speech or be one of the Time100, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my own sister wives over all these years: Bernice, Marielle, Debbie, Chrissy, Luann, Monique, Oksana and Vicky.
I'd give you a golden statue too, if I could.
Is there anyone you would like to thank? Feel free to use the comments as your microphone. We promise not to "play you off" the stage.
Follow Lisa Belkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisabelkin