Today I’m headed to New York City, for the first time in some twenty years, to be on The Katie Couric Show. I really can’t believe it, but I am. And I’m nervous. And anxious. And excited. And curious. And hopeful. And realistic that it really isn’t that big of a deal.
You see, the actual “stars” of the Tuesday, February 4, show are the real-life Philomena and Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, authors of a new book called The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (2014). The book will be released on Tuesday, and I’ve been invited, along with another woman, to talk about how we fit that “triple package” and how it has affected our success and our parenting. At least, that’s what I think we are being invited to talk about. I really won’t know for sure until I get there!
Well, Friday morning a producer from Katie’s show called just as I was about the leave the house to drive the kids to school. She explained who she was and said, “We found your blog post about tiger mothers.” Yes, that post has certainly gotten me some attention. Last year, a British magazine interviewed me over the phone about it and even sent a photographer to take pictures of me and my daughters. I never saw the resulting article, but I assume it is out there somewhere. Anyway, here’s the post: The Portrait of a Tiger Mother’s Daughter.
I wrote this post in response to Amy Chua’s controversial book about tiger mothering. I did so before I even had a blog. I wrote it because I had to respond to get out my feelings about her claims, and I shared it with my neighborhood book club. Then, through a wonderful second cousin of mine, I was introduced to Michele Kort, editor of Ms. Magazine. She ended up reading it and talking with me over the phone about improving it. I tried (not very hard) to get it published, to no avail. But because Michele had suggested that I start a blog, I did, and eventually posted it, giving up on publication.
Anyway, so that post is how Katie Couric found me. That first phone call from her producer began with a couple of questions. “Have you heard about Chua’s new book?”
Yes, I had. I saw a mention of it on the Today show. “What did I think of it?” Well, I dislike stereotyping, but because I hadn’t read it, I really didn’t know what to say.
“Do you fit any of the cultural groups mentioned in the book?”
Yes, I do. I’m a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And that began a sustained “interview” about me and my parenting and my thoughts on the three traits of the “triple package”: impulse control, insecurity, and superiority.
The producer told me that what I had said sounded promising, and she told me she would call back after a meeting.
Well, the entire day went by, and at 4:30 p.m., I was sure that there was no way they were going to call back. But I really wanted them to because I thought the opportunity would be amazing. Who doesn’t want to go to New York City, even if it is only for a day or two?
At 4:45, she called again, this time with another producer on the line. They interviewed me further, asking questions about my childhood and my background and how other parts of my life fit the “triple package.” I answered as best as I could, and then they said they would have another meeting and let me know the final answer that night or the next day.
Ten minutes later, the first producer called again and invited me to New York City!
And then, my excitement stopped and the overwhelming anxiety set in. This was scary! Could I really pull this off? Am I going to make a fool of myself on national television?
I still don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that I’m getting on a plane today and that I’m going to end up at Katie Couric’s studio tomorrow and after that, we’ll see how it goes. (I’m hoping that I’ll be able to eat and sleep again!) I’m pretty sure I’ll end up having about five minutes of actual attention on the show, so that relieves a little bit of the pressure. And I know that whatever I’m asked to talk about is something that I’m potentially an expert on, since it is about me and my experiences with the “triple package.” I also know that because I read a lot of books (and I’m currently reading Chua and Rubenfeld’s in preparation for the show; it was over-nighted to me after I was invited) and because I write about books on my blog, I have prepared for discussing a book, especially this one, on national television.
My sisters have been so great and supportive. They keep telling me how “proud” they are of me. One of them keeps saying, “Your whole life has prepared you for this. You are ready.” She’s right. If my “triple package,” tiger mother, high-achieving, pageant-interviewing, education-focused, and conference presentation–giving life hasn’t prepared me for this, I don’t know what has.
Wish me luck!