Patricia Clarkson on Why She Didn’t Marry or Have Kids: ‘I’ve Had a Sexy-Ass Life’

“My mother said, ‘Patty, I just don’t want you to wake up at 50 and be unhappy,’" the actor said on Table for Two. "I woke up at 50 in stilettos and a thong."

Patricia Clarkson on Why She Didn’t Marry or Have Kids: ‘I’ve Had a Sexy-Ass Life’
Photo:Gabriel Kuchta (Getty Images)

The always iconic Patricia Clarkson appeared on Bruce Bozzi’s Table for Two podcast on Tuesday and treated us all to a profound explanation of her choice to be a “single, straight Southern woman who never married and never had children”—put in some very colorful terms.

“I love being an aunt, I love it more than, probably more than acting, which is odd. They’re on par. But I’m telling you, these are gorgeous children, but that doesn’t have to define every woman,” the actor said. She added that she “made a big choice” early on to not get married and procreate: At 38, she “had a window to have a child,” when she considered marrying and starting a family with a man she was dating at the time, but ultimately decided against that.

“[At] the end of the day, I loved working, and I grew up with great parents who sacrificed everything for me,” Clarkson told Bozzi. “And you have to really be committed to having children. You have to be a great parent, and I was afraid I couldn’t be.” She added, “I’m fine failing as an actor. I didn’t want to fail at being a parent.”

Clarkson now looks back on the advice she received from her mother with amusement. “My mother said, ‘Patty, I just don’t want you to wake up at 50 and be unhappy.’ I woke up at 50 in stilettos and a thong,” she told Bozzi. “I’ve had a great, sexy-ass life.”

Kudos to this woman. It’s really not said enough that choosing singledom and a child-free life is a perfectly valid option for women, when we’re told since childhood that our existential purpose is to breed and orient our lives around motherhood and domestic sacrifice.

As for that tidbit about waking up at 50 “in stilettos and a thong,” in a world that wants women above 40 to either shrivel up and die or raise grandchildren, I cannot emphasize this enough: Good for her!! The legendary one-liner now joins a hall of fame of equally iconic quotes in the vein of Kim Cattrall declaring, “I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I’m not enjoying myself,” and Whoopi Goldberg saying of her opposition to marriage, “I don’t want somebody in my house.”

Clarkson’s comments to Bozzi this week come after, in a 2013 interview with The Guardian, Clarkson—then 53—reflected on relationships with numerous “beautiful, extraordinary men in my life” and said she “wouldn’t change any of that.” But, she concluded, “I’ve never wanted to marry, I’ve never wanted children. I was born without that gene.”

Older women living their best lives, not giving a fuck, and saying the darndest—yet radically, profoundly wise—things will always be my favorite celebrity interview genre.

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