Book Excerpt: 'Motherhood and Hollywood'

Patricia Heaton, the Emmy-winning actress who plays sassy suburban wife and mom Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond touts the importance of friends and family in her new book, Motherhood & Hollywood.

Heaton plays the wife of Long Island sportswriter Ray Barone on the CBS sitcom, in which the couple comically contend with overbearing in-laws, and sibling rivalry with Ray's brother, as they try to raise three children in the suburbs.

The Emmy-award winning actress, a mother of four who grew up in the suburbs, understands her part well.

Here is an excerpt from Motherhood and Hollywood: How to Get A Job Like Mine, a collection of essays on family and friendship, by Patricia Heaton:


My Childhood: Where Did it All Go Right?

I suffer from an early childhood malady that is more common than you've been led to believe. I call it Way Too Normal and Happy Upbringing Syndrome. Or, as you probably know it, WTNHUS. It's easier to say if you hold your nose closed really tight with your thumb and forefinger. Go ahead, I'll wait.

See, the problem is that I grew up in an average west-side Cleveland suburb, in an average, fairly functional, devout Catholic family, two parents, different sexes, five kids, no divorce, suicide, sexual abuse, drug addiction, or jail time. We didn't have a lot of money but we weren't poor. We got to do cool stuff because our dad was a sportswriter, but we weren't rich either.

We lived in a tree-laden five-miles-long-by-two-miles-wide village on Lake Erie that was like Andy Griffith's fictional Mayberry. Minus the Barneys, Gomers, and Floyds. We did have a few Aunt Bees. It was the mid-sixties, and we were close enough to Cleveland to have cool music, professional sports, and tons of movie theaters. The Beatles, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Barbra Streisand all made stops there. And we were far enough away from downtown to be able to read about local poverty and race riots like they were happening somewhere else.

Bay Village was such a soft, gentle community that the kids from the suburbs closer to Cleveland called it Gay Village. We could walk to the beach, ride bikes to our friends' houses, buy penny candy and lucky rabbits' feet from the five-and-dime. Every Fourth of July there were fireworks, a carnival, and a parade where we displayed the bikes we had decorated with red, white, and blue crepe paper in the spokes and pinwheels on the handlebars. My best friend across the street, Sally Greene, discovered that if you soaked the crepe paper in water it would color it, and suggested that we could make a killing if we put the colored water in jars and sold it-you know, colored-crepe-paper water. Oddly enough, no takers.

We picked elderberries by the railroad tracks, which permanently stained our moms' Formica countertops when we made them into pies. Four cups of sugar on those berries. (Count 'em, four.) We played Tag, Capture the Flag, Hide and Seek, Four Square, Red Light/Green Light, Hopscotch, Statues, Running Bases, and the ever-popular Whack the Lightning Bug (or fireflies, or whatever you call them where you live) with the Whiffle-Ball Bat. They were the only animals harmed in the writing of this book, by the way. Except when my cousin Art accidentally whacked me on the back in pursuit of a lightning-bug whacking record.

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