Claire Danes discusses the ‘resentment & anxiety’ of motherhood: ‘It’s tough’


I realized the other day that I didn’t know when Homeland’s Season 4 was coming on and I didn’t really care. That’s not a knock on Claire Danes, who I think does a great job with the material she’s given. It’s just that the writers completely screwed up the last two seasons and I’m not sure I’m still invested in these characters. Especially after (SPOILER) there will be no Brody in the Season 4. Maybe if they promise to have Rupert Friend in every episode? Even then, it would have to be Rupert Friend without pants. Anyway, Claire covers the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. You can read the full piece here – I enjoyed it, but then again, I’m a fan. Some highlights:

Doing Homeland without Damian Lewis: ‘I’m going to miss him. A lot of people, even my friends, were saying, “Is he really dead?” And it’s absurd, but I think there’s a part of me that is also a little unsure. I’ll really start to believe it when we’re filming and he’s not there. That’s going to be hard and sad. I loved working with him and he carried half the weight of the show. So I’m a little bit daunted about what that means for me.’

Motherhood challenges: ‘Being a mum is incredibly challenging but we still feel a pressure to talk about it in very romantic terms. And it’s not just that. We all have that resentment at times and anxiety about being trapped by the role, that responsibility. And then chemically it can run riot. Your mental state, the hormonal swings are so extraordinary and singular to the female experience and they haven’t been taken very seriously or considered very deeply… I mean, post-partum aside, even if you have the most healthy relationship with your child and have support and resources, it’s tough. It’s really tough. And there’s no “off” button. [For me] that was the hardest adjustment. You always feel beholden to somebody… And for so long they’re like koala bears, you just feel a physical responsibility to be there for them to cling to. It’s pretty primal.’

How her “cry-face” went viral: ‘I’m surprised it’s so surprising. I have my guy, who thinks I’m pretty enough in our life together, so I don’t need to be seducing the audience that way. I think it’s also just my style, what I like in creative work, what I’ve always been attracted to, even as a little girl… I liked the ugly even as a kid, and I think that has stayed with me now.’

Staying in Toronto in the winter while Hugh Dancy films Hannibal: ‘You’re just house-bound. I had to be strategic about how and when I took the garbage out. I mean, it was intense… I felt totally overwhelmed and displaced and I really didn’t have a sense of the city and was nursing all the time. Away from family and friends, it was quite extreme. Two months in, I accidentally found this mummy/baby yoga class where I met women who became best friends. I guess that’s common, you bond really fast…’

She’s very crafty: ‘It got to the point where the crew made a sewing station out of my director’s chair, one arm was a pincushion and I had this special light. It was ridiculous but, you know, delightfully so.’

On loving Hugh Dancy: ‘I’m genuinely in love with him. And I like hard things. You know, marriage is hard, but I’m up for it. I don’t do anything casually so dating is not for me. I would be marrying everyone I was with. When I met Hugh I was single for the first time and really looking forward to it, kind of bragging, “I’m going to rock this.” Then I met Hugh…’

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

She talks a lot about motherhood and crafting and her childhood too. She even talks about Cyrus, who she says is turning into a “ham.” Apparently he says “Ciao” to people and Claire thinks it’s ridiculous and she wants people to know that she did not teach him to say “Ciao.” He sings to himself and he throws tantrums. He sounds amazing.

As for Hugh… I always say that their body language seems so “off” whenever they’re on a red carpet, but maybe that’s not the best indicator (LIES!). I didn’t realize that he films Hannibal in Toronto and that she camps out there with him. Maybe their marriage is a lot stronger than I previously thought!


Photos courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK.

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84 Responses to “Claire Danes discusses the ‘resentment & anxiety’ of motherhood: ‘It’s tough’”

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  1. Lilacflowers says:

    I’m just here for “Rupert Friend without pants.” Carry on.

  2. Jess says:

    I had google her cry face, then it all came rushing back to me, lol. I like her since “my so called life” was big during high school, she’s grown up into a decent adult, she’s still so pretty!

  3. Kiddo says:

    I like the first and third photos very much. That gown is also better than 90% of what she wears to awards shows. The second photo’s accentuation of features, through poses and lenses is off, however, IMO.
    She seems pretty genuine in the interview. I don’t watch her show, though.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      I love these pictures of her.

      Overall, I liked this interview and found her comments about motherhood to be pretty insightful and honest. I’ve followed her career since MSCL and she’s always been a really articulate woman, if a bit too serious at times.

      For example, her response to the question about her notorious crying face. Why can’t she just laugh at herself?
      Oh well, at least she’s smart.

  4. Abbott says:

    Wonder what she thinks of Jordan Catalano’s Oscar?

  5. INeedANap says:

    I want to see the play date between Cyrus and Prince George.

  6. in_theory says:

    I usually think of her as a little plain looking (a bit like Kirsten Dunst in that way), but the pictures are nice and I think she’s a good actress. And she’s married to Hugh Dancy, which is a plus.

  7. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I really like Claire and think she’s so pretty. I didn’t have children, but I could still relate to what she was saying about there being no Off button. That’s the one thing I always thought looked really hard about being a parent. There are a few days a year where I just don’t have anything else to give at the end of the day, and I always thought it would be so hard to have a child when you felt like that. You can hardly tell a three year old that Mommy just can’t fix dinner right now, she’s having a glass of wine and a hot bath and going to bed. Sorry, sweetie, you’re on your own. I guess you have to dig really deep, and I admire that.

    • Katttt says:

      I have a daughter and I found what she said to be very eloquent and fantastically well expressed. Many people (and social networking is one of the main problems in this) want to make out like being a parent, and particularly a mother, is the best thing ever and those who aren’t in an all encompassing bubble of love constantly are just awful parents. It is a wonderful thing but it isn’t easy and sometimes you just want to be on your own and I think Claire really hit the nail on the head. I love her and her cry face.

      • Clara says:

        I came here to comment on this. Sometimes being a parent has zero reward in it. Especially in the very beginning, it’s super difficult. I like it when celebrities break free of the romantic mother-child myth. It’s an amazing experience but some days are pure crap.

      • Ag says:

        agreed. i just said something similar down-thread. :) and social networking IS a huge part of this somehow. i know i should know better, but i still manage to feel like $hit for not making my son a play kitchen from a repurposed old wardrobe or cooking three-course meals on a weekday. :)

      • Clara says:

        LOL Ag.
        Such pressure, srsly.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Wow, you guys, please don’t let all the braggers get you down. You sound like awesome moms, and as I said, there are days when I just can’t imagine being able to meet one more demand. I don’t know how you find the strength. Whether they admit it or not, every mother surely goes through it. I remember my sweet cousin, who is a great person and mother, looking at me once when her little boy was screaming his head off for no apparent reason. She blew her hair out of her eyes and said, “no positive feedback from this little sh*t in 6 months. I hate his guts.” Then we both cracked up and I think she felt better, but it really brought home to me how hard it must be sometimes. So you guys are my heroes! Hang in there.

      • Ag says:

        @GNAT – lol your cousin, that’s awesome.

      • HH says:

        This is what’s so funny about the so called “mommy wars”. Everyone wants to continually remind people it’s the hardest job there is, but yet also put out this image that they are doing a magnificent job like it just easily comes to them (I’m thinking about the perceptions given through social media).

        Part of the reason I love my BFF is because of her approach to motherhood. She keeps it real. She recently just gave birth, but when she hit her 7 month mark she sent a text that said “I’m ready for this little parasite to be born.”

      • Mel M says:

        Agreed. She expresses it so well. That was what I think caused my baby blues with my first, the whole “this is your life 24/7 now” no off button, no more just you and your thoughts doing whatever you want when you want. I literally though “what have I done?”. I had to kind of mourn my childless life because it was gone forever.

      • Whatwhatnot says:

        Yes!! This!! This is exactly how I feel. I had one child and it’s always been a challenge with her for a few different reasons. But I feel exactly the same way.

    • Birdix says:

      A close friend is a caretaker of her husband (they are both elderly) who has dementia, and it has struck me how true this is for her as well. She can’t leave him alone, she has to make sure he’s fed and bathed (and shaved and given medication). And like a child he constantly needs to know where she is in their home. I have such respect for her dedication as well.

      • Wilma says:

        That’s actually the reason I put of motherhood for a lot longer than I thought I would. My husband has had this pretty serious health problem for years, eventually needing a liver transplant and I was constantly living for him and so tired and frustrated with it. I kept seeing older couples in the hospital and wondering how they managed it. When he got a little better after the transplant, we put habing children off for at least five years. I just couldn’t do it again right away, to be completely there for someone else and never really to be able to really be there for yourself.

      • Jaded says:

        So true Birdix – I don’t have children, siblings or husband and take care of my 92 year old mom who has a host of health issues. Sometimes it feels like I
        have a child as I’m pretty much unable to work outside of the home or travel. If I socialize I have to arrange a “mommy-sitter”. I get sad and frustrated sometimes but I can’t bear the thought of putting her into a long-term care facility so this is the way it shall be for the foreseeable future. You do it for love.

    • Green Eyes says:

      I’m with you GNAT – I am also child-free and cannot comprehend not being able to just chill out and be alone at the end of the day. Plus all that worrying you do for your kids (and it never stops!!!)

      I’m 51 and everybody thinks I am in my mid-30s. When they ask me my secret, I tell them never get married and never have children!

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        LOL! ;)

      • alexc says:

        I’m the same age and feel the same way. I can barely deal with my neurotic, needy, aging dog. I can’t imagine 24/7 mom duty. Once you pass mid 40s without kids you realize the freedom is pretty awesome.

    • Diana B says:

      That’s SO my take on it. I just think I can barely take care of myself, I could not take care of another tiny human. Sometimes you just wanna be, you know? and a child is a responsability for the rest of your life. That seems too inmense for me to handle.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Yep. That’s exactly how I feel right now at 35. Maybe I’ll change my mind but….

      • Diana B says:

        OKitt, I’m 26 but I’ve pretty much felt this way since I can remember. I don’t know if I’ll change my mind buy I would not bet on it.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        @OKitt: superficial comment of the day….

        If you ever have kids (and just imagine how much thought I’ve put into this, ha!), I imagine that you’ll be like my Great Aunt Roxy (we all call her Dirty Red)…..SHE’S the one who took my mom clubbing when she was a teenager, who taught her how to roll a blunt, and smoked it with her. Basically I think you’d be awesome. And teach your kid how to roll cigarettes and weed.

    • MG says:

      @Goodnamesalltaken I love that story. I can only imagine what it’s like to be responsible for a kid. We just adopted a 2-year old dog whose owner could no longer care for her a week ago. Already I’ve had a few moments when I felt despair at the thought of caring for her for the next 10 years. Thank God she’s already house-trained! But we’ve fallen in love with our sweet pup and will find a way to fix or deal with the stink, fur, vomiting, skin allergies, and occasionally stubborn behavior. But I cannot imagine doing all this and much more for a little human who needs constant care and supervision.

  8. Sabrina says:

    This was a good interview and I’m definitely looking forward to the next season of Homeland. Based on the trailers it seems like it will be a lot better than season 3.

  9. norah says:

    always like claire and hugh – they rock and their kid is so cute

    • Erinn says:

      I love them both. I didn’t realize they had a baby.

      Oh no. Made the mistake of googling this adorable child. And pictures of Hugh holding him. swoooon.

  10. Kristen says:

    I love everything she said about motherhood. Not enough celebrity moms talk about parenting that way. It’s relentless and unending. Yes, of course there are the lovey, wonderful, romantic aspects. But there’s also a difficulty that people seem to gloss over. I’ve adored Claire since MSCL days (unfortunate Billy Crudup situation notwithstanding) and this just makes me admire her more.

    • Ag says:

      i totally agree with everything she said too. that has been exactly my experience (i have a 2-year old). as crazy as i am about him, there is no “off” button. i’m “on” all the time. motherhood for me has been simultaneously wonderful, amazing, and exhausting in so many ways. your body and mind are no longer your own. it feels so primal, but also like you have no agency sometimes. it’s a huge change. not only do celebrities not talk about it, but “regular” mothers don’t really either. i feel like i am the only one out of my friends who is continuously overwhelmed – all of them seem to have their $hit together, or at least refuse to show any chinks in their armor, and don’t understand why i’m not on pinterest in the evening planning crafts and elegant meals, when all i want to do is have a glass of wine and be in bed with my husband by 10. :)

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        They are total fakers, Ag. You’re amazing.

      • Ag says:

        @GNAT – haha, i don’t think i am. you’re too kind. i just aim for “ok.” it’s just sometimes nice to get stuff off your chest. :)

      • Wilma says:

        I’m a freaking mess. Inbetween having a demanding job and a demanding kid (and really, I shouldn’t complain, because the kid is extremely well behaved and compared to other kids such a patient, non-screaming little thing that I feel bad even for writing that I’m a mess), there are so many days I just want to get home and go straight to bed and sleep for a week.

      • Mel M says:

        For real AG. People always ask me, especially my family, if I’ve heard the latest news or gossip on FB or if I saw this or that on FB and I’m like, I barely have time to go to the bathroom by myself how do you expect me to be on FB all of the time! There are those mothers though that post a pic of thier kid(s) every hour and I wonder how they manage that. When I have free time at the end of the day I either want to go straight to bed, drink, catch up on some shows, or just sit in silence. I do not want to go on FB!

      • Ctkat1 says:

        Real truth about motherhood from a celebrity is always appreciated! I will always appreciate the famous women who admit the truth: that they can’t do it all (Shonda Rimes admitting that when she’s succeeding at work it means she’s failing at home and vice versa, because she can’t do it all at all times), that they have oodles of help (Amy Poehler acknowledging her nannies in a speech about being a successful woman at one of those “Women in Film” type brunches), and are very, very lucky not to have to worry or stress about money (Angelina Jolie pointing out how fortunate she is to raise her children without that stress) or that it is really hard, relentless, and not always blissful.

        It’s already so hard- adding guilt that everyone else is rocking it while you’re failing doesn’t make it easier.

      • sigh((s)) says:

        Girl, they are lying! I have a little one, and some days my goals for the day are to get him to school on time and remember to pick him up! I have this FB friend who is constantly knitting something/cooking something/cleaning something and it’s all over FB like she needs massive amounts of validation.
        My friend and I are convinced she’s on large amounts of aderall or crack. She has to be. It’s simply not possible to be that perfect.
        Some days I think I must be the worst parent in the world, but then I look at my kid, and he’s happy, healthy and smart, so I must be doing something right. And I’m sure all of you are as well!

    • Clara says:

      Ag, it could be me writing your words. I too have a 2yo and I keep my shit together most of the time but some days I can’t handle it. He stayed at home, both with me and my mom, but now I’m going back to work outside the house and he’s going to school. NO ONE around me understands why I’m so happy to get a little bit of my time back. He is an amazing child, I love him like I have never loved another human being before. AND he’s a good boy. I can only imagine if he was a dick.

      In our case it all comes from him not sleeping a full night and that WILL drive you crazy. We are super sleep deprived ever since he was born. That’s one of the things no one tells you. :/

      • Ag says:

        Cara – ha! you nailed it. i had no idea either, i thought that babies just sleep like adults do. haha. you WILL get there sleep-wise. as will we. last night was the 5th night ever that my son has slept through the entire night. and, like your son, mine is a chill, awesome, sweet, loving toddler, whom i love more than anything. i can’t imagine how i would feel if he was an a$$. :)

  11. Victoria 1 says:

    Well this post didn’t make me roll my eyes like the other one, good job Claire for being normal.

  12. Asra says:

    What a great explanation of motherhood! What a honest woman

  13. Size Does Matter says:

    I’m wondering if baby Cyrus refers to her as mum? Or does Harper’s Bazaar UK change mom to mum? I’ve liked her very much since My So Called Life, and I really like this interview. My 17 month old is very much a koala bear.

  14. Marigold says:

    She is spot on when it comes to motherhood. I always say the hardest part for me was having to come to terms with the loss of freedom. There are so many things pre motherhood that I just took for granted-just walking out the door anytime, just popping out to buy gum. It sounds so silly but when I realized it was going to be years before I could say, “yeah, I’m going to up and grab a beer with friends” again, I had a moment of resentment. Everything involves a plan. Spontaneity is sort of dead. And all that is kind of hushed up for moms, like we’re selfish for pining a bit for the past even though it doesn’t mean we don’t love and want our child. Then the guilt sets in. Motherhood is either glorified or vilified. There’s no middle ground.

    • Diana says:

      YES. There’s this real guilt around admitting that, for a while after you actually have that first baby, you are in mourning for your old life. Because your life is not your own anymore. I was having a conversation with one of my friends last Friday, and she asked what I was doing — going out? Want to join us downtown? I jokingly said that I had a baby, therefore I have no plans and my life is basically over for the next 5 years. We both laughed, but something inside of me kind of died a little.

      And you’re right — no ever talks about that. For a lot of people, they don’t consider it to be acceptable to resent or complain about motherhood. And that’s exhausting and damaging because it forces a lot of people to bottle stuff up, never a good thing psychologically.

      • sigh((s)) says:

        It gets better and better as they get older. Trust me. You slowly get more and more of your time back. The first 2 or 3 years are rough!

    • sweetpotato says:

      I remember feeling “off” the first 6 months of my kiddo’s life. I knew I didn’t have postpartum, it was something else. I kept waiting to feel normal again. Finally, I stumbled upon this, and had my “aha” moment. It didn’t necessarily make the day-to-day stuff any easier, but it helped me feel less guilty about my feelings.

  15. Lucky says:

    I love Claire Danes even more! I needed to read this today, I hate being a parent today. There is never an off button for me and my youngest is 17! To be fair he is low functioning autistic so I’ll always have to treat him like a 2 year old. So refreshing not to hear a celeb mom saying motherhood is “amazing”. Yes there are amazing times but few and far between in my experience

  16. Diana B says:

    That cover picture freaks me out. Her eyes look weird. It makes me feel uneasy. Great interview, though.

  17. ShazBot says:

    As someone who lives in Toronto, winters aren’t THAT bad, though last year was brutal.

    • Tania says:

      Agreed! They’re really not that bad! Buy a warm jacket, bundle up your baby and get out there! There’s so much to see and do! Ok the ice storm was super scary but that was a one off. I hope…

  18. Dari says:

    This is nuts, is she feeling remorse now, did she care when she got involved with Billy Crudup and he walked away from a very pregnant Mary Louise Parker. She at least has help. .. so sing your sad song someplace else.

  19. Maya Dragunova says:

    So honest and well expressed. Unlike some celebrities who make rearing kids out to be a fairy tail.

  20. Cupcake says:

    What I miss the most about pre-motherhood is spontaneity. I can honestly say I’ve never had a moment of resentment towards my child for that though, I tend to take my resentment out on my husband! Like he should volunteer to take care of our toddler should a spontaneous whim hit me! So I’ve got my own complexes – Lol! I do have tremendous, overwhelming anxiety about my child though and I’m tired ALL THE TIME.

  21. smcollins says:

    Hello, everyone! This is my first time posting. I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and I just love all of the funny, witty, and often times, spot-on observations & comments that everyone makes. This particular story kind of hit home for me. I’m also a mom (my son is 10 1/2 months) and I can totally relate to what CD was saying. Especially the koala bear part. If my son could remain attached to my hip permanently, well, life would be just perfect…for him. I also agree about the over romanticized picture of parenthood. Yes, it’s wonderful, but there’s also days where I just want to punt him across the room like a football (he’s going through some major teething at the moment). I love him more than life itself, but yeah….it can really test your patience & sanity! Sorry, didnt mean to turn this into a “mommy-needs-to-rant” forum. I love all of the celeb gossip, so I’m looking forward to tossing in my 2 cents on those topics. Until then… :)

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Haha, I bet he’s glad you don’t use him as a football, but I bet it’s tempting at times! I wanted to have kids but didn’t manage to, and I think it looks very rewarding, but very, very hard, and not many people talk about the hard part.
      Did you ever see this you-tube video a man did about why his son is crying now? It had titles like, “because he asked for some Fruit Loops and we gave him some Fruit Loops.” It was really funny.

      • smcollins says:

        That YouTube video sounds hilarious, and fairly accurate.
        Annika, your story sounds a lot like mine. For the longest time my husband & I didn’t want kids…until we did. I was 38 when I got pregnant, and he was 43! I couldn’t even tell you what changed our minds. Funny how things work out sometimes. ;)

    • sigh((s)) says:

      Lol. I have a great kid, but sometimes when he’s on our last nerves, my husband and I turn to each other and say, “I really want to punch him in the face”. Obviously we don’t, but it’s nice to have the shared sentiment and release of frustration.

  22. Racer says:

    I’m always genuinely amazed when people want to be parents. I find it absolutely incredible how people think being indefinitely responsible for another human being is remotely appealing.

    • Annika says:

      I love your comment so much! You said what I’d struggled to express for a long time.
      And I admit this even as I am pregnant (and chose to be). We are having a child b/c we feel ready & really want to do this. But your comment is how we felt up until we were ready. I just turned 34 & people hounded us for so long about why we didn’t wanna get pregnant right away, Dugger-style. We just needed some time to fully think about what having a child would do to our immediate & long term future. So what if it took 9 years?

  23. bettyrose says:

    I came her to be sarcastic and say that Danes needs a lesson from the Duggars in how to not have complex feelings about motherhood, but all the heartfelt posts from moms on here were so real I got caught up in them.

  24. katie says:

    Seriously, hiding from winter in Toronto? It’s not that bad. Give me a break. Get over yourself bee-atch

  25. Gia says:

    I think the couples that smootch and cuddle PDA aren’t necessarily super in love. They are perhaps trying to convince people they are? I think it’s perfectly natural to not grope your husband all the time.

  26. Lux says:

    I will never like her (or Billy Crudup) after the Mary Louise Parker situation.

    • lexili says:

      Thank you! That was all I could think of when reading this…how much harder motherhood must have been for MLP.

  27. Morgan says:

    I love the “ciao” story. My daughter used to love her bike helmet and wear it all the time when playing outside and I felt like I needed to tell everyone it was all her and I was not so overprotective as to make her wear a helmet all the time.

  28. Bucky says:

    I like Claire a lot.

    And yes, I will watch Homeland again if they put a lot of Rupert Friend in there, and I mean that in terms of screen time and square footage.

  29. Trillion says:

    Somewhere, a Duggar female is outwardly outraged and inwardly jealous that someone can just come right out and say that out loud.

  30. jjj says:

    So I am a mother to a 4 yr old and currently preggo again. I am one of those mothers that gets overwhelmed, I am one of those mothers that hates being pregnant. I am lucky to have a husband who lets me travel solo. One week every year, I take a nice solo trip to recharge, to just be me, to not belong to anyone for those 7 days. It is a shame though that other mothers have called me selfish to leave my husband and child…..At first I was hurt, then ….it dawned on me – they be trippin’ with jealousy. My point is do what u need to do to be a good mother, if you choose to be one in the first place. :)

  31. Scarlett says:

    I used to LOVE that show! The effed it up! WAHHHHHHH :( ‘ Without Brody = not the same.

  32. brownkid says:

    Poor girl. Bet it’s tougher when you’re 7 months prego and some skank man steals your babydaddy… Oh, wait, sorry, wrong person.

  33. Sumodo1 says:

    She’s wearing the fricken bathroom shower curtain!

  34. Amy says:

    This sounds like a very realistic depiction of motherhood. I don’t have kids, not sure if I really want them. I like them alright but not sure if I want to be responsible for one for the rest of my life. All the comments here have sort of convinced me that kids are not the key to happiness. I sometimes wonder how my mom and dad did it with two full-time jobs and no babysitters. My mom never stayed at home, only got the maternity leave, and that was it. Never heard my parents complain though I KNOW there had to be frustration especially when babysitters kept dropping the ball and the family we carpooled with was bat$hit crazy. So many sacrifices when you have kids! Respect to all the great mothers everywhere!

    • Ange says:

      I’m committed to being child free as is my husband and we are absolutely happy with our lives as is and we were happy with our lives before we met each other. I think the second you start outsourcing your happiness whether it be to kids, or a partner, or a job you’re doomed to fail.