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The Matriarch of NJ: 'Real Housewife' Caroline Manzo

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Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Hoist your bubbies in salute: "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" is back this week with all-new episodes!

caroline manzo

We had the chance to powwow with the show's matriarch, Caroline Manzo, and pick her brain about the finer points of Jersey life, raising grown-up kids and the surprises that are in store for us this season ....

momlogic: What's your favorite thing about doing the show?

Caroline Manzo: There's a comfort level doing it with people who know and love you. My sister, my sister-in-law, my husband, my children, Teresa, who I've known forever -- it's kind of like a safety net knowing that they are there. It gives you license to be yourself, because you don't have to worry about hurting or insulting anybody. If you do, we're family -- you're forgiven.

ml: What do you like best about raising your family in Jersey?

CM: Having grown up in Queens, I remember getting on the city bus to go to school and walking 20 blocks to get home, whereas in New Jersey, you have to take your kids by car because there aren't many places you can walk to. But my kids come home and there's this big, beautiful backyard and trees -- the City is 25 minutes away, the Shore is 40 minutes away -- everything is at your fingertips. Whatever you are in the mood to do, it's right there for you. You don't have to trek. It's central to everything.

ml: How are Jersey moms different from other moms?

CM: I think a Jersey mom, at least in my little world, is not afraid to be who she is. That being said, if she wants to go out and be in the workforce and come home and be a mommy, we're like Superwoman -- we do it all. If you want to stay home, that's fine, too. But it's family first. We'll come to our kid's game in an Armani suit and sneakers and run up and down the football field, watching our kids play. We'll wear a baseball cap when we wake up to go food shopping, or just hang out in town. There is no putting an air on -- we have the audacity to be ourselves.

ml: You seem to have such a tight relationship with your kids. What's your secret?

CM: They always came first. When you make the decision to become a parent, you make the decision to dedicate your life to this person. I don't care if I haven't put heels on and gone out for a nice dinner in three weeks, my child comes first. I hear so many people say, "When I get home, it's my time." Well, guess what? Until those kids are sleeping in bed, it's not your time. The moment you decide to have a child, you have to be committed to it, because you cannot press rewind. You cannot say you wish you'd done this differently. If you choose to be a working mother -- that's fine, too. But dedicate yourself to this child for whatever time you have with them. Make them feel loved. Make them feel wanted. Make them feel special. That's what being a mother is. There's no rest for the weary when you are a mother.

My kids are now 21, 22 and 24, and they still come first in my world. Now, I can go on vacation without them, and certainly go to dinner without them, because they are adults. But if they pick up the phone and say, "Mom I need you," and I had this wonderful thing planned for six months, and I felt in my mind that I needed to be with that child, I'd drop everything to be with that child.

ml: What do you feel are some of the challenges of raising a young adult today?

CM: It's certainly a more competitive world. I think, at least in my children's lives, I have to step back and watch them either make mistakes or get hurt and deal with it themselves. You can only be the safety net that catches them and says, "OK, Mommy and Daddy are here. You have to go through this, you have to fix this, but we are here for you." So they have that shoulder to cry on, always. They have that cheerleader in the corner, always.

ml: Is it difficult for you to practice that restraint? It must be challenging at times to stand back and bite your tongue.

CM: It's heartbreaking at times. But you know what? The worst thing a parent can do is shelter a child. The worst thing a parent can do is not get them ready for the real world. The real world is an ugly place. You have to teach your children to come out swinging at times. You have to teach your children how to act in certain situations, and then sit back and say, "I did it, I did the best I could, let me see the person you've become. Make me proud." At times, you want to jump in and protect them, but you can't because that would be so wrong. How are they going to get through life? How are they going to teach their own children if they don't have the lessons and the strength within them?

ml: What challenges will you face as a mom this season?

CM: I can't tell you what, but it's unexpected.

ml: Describe each of your fellow housewives in a single word.

CM: OK .... Jacqueline is a free spirit. Teresa is hilarious. Dina is spiritual. Danielle is irritable.

ml: We're all dying to know what happens this season between you and Danielle ... can you give us a hint?

CM: Um, no ... I'm going to let you watch and see how that plays out!

next: How Will Halle's Kid Handle the Breakup?
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
Faith May 7, 2010, 5:13 PM

Caroline Manzo! Ugly is ugly is ugly…no other way to say it. Recent weight loss is not a facial or body improvement. She needs a bra and some Spanx that work to help gravity effects. Aged bubbies are saggy beyond belief! Stomach in need of serious exercise too.
Caroline should be very, very worried now that her husband has lost weight & looks great. It hurts my eyes just to look at her face. Ick, yuck, ahh—my eyes burn. Caroline confirms that NJ is a warped, truly bottom of sub-par, tacky, lowered physical attractiveness standards, Why would Bravo put this Frankenstein, horror show geek there for everyone to see? With all the recent NJ reality shows, it just confirms that there is a vacuum there. A warped sense of reality, if not total absence, of any good taste.
The NJ definition of fashion, or lack thereof, is the black-hole vortex of tackiness to the rest of the USA. With some money & family connections, Caroline may be fortunate enough to have some people act nice to her to her face-to=face in person. Caroline is a real bonafide eyesore—a witch with a glandular problem. Words cannot even describe, maybe she’s just not photogenic (trying to be kind!). Her speech is totally uneducated and this only adds to the sad overall picture. Don’t know how old she is, but I don’t think age or surgery will help mellow the awfulness of it all.
Too much ungrounded superior attitude without an education, poor grammar, bad taste, honest parental guidance, or even a ounce of any passable attractiveness are absent, No redeemable way to offset the horror of it all. Drag queens look way better & have more soul than this hot mess of a female.
Feel so sorry for her daughter—she does not have much to look forward to—given the way her mother looks. That’s always a sign of what will become of a female child’s future appearance. The daughter’s boyfriend should take serious notice of how Caroline looks. The daughter is unattractive and overweight now & will only decline with age.
No amount of plastic surgery, weight loss, emotional enlightenment, or divine intervention could help the monster facial qualities of this creature. Her high opinion of herself only adds to the creepiness of it all. Make it go away, please!

Sven May 9, 2010, 2:30 PM

Caroline’s son wants to own a stripper and lap dance club, so he can find someone to bring home to his Mama Caroline that she will relate to. Daughter wants to own a hair salon but won’t take the courses or apply for the licenses cuz she aint got the smarts or the desire to study and pass the tests required. He will probably succeed in owning a strip club and bringing his babe home to Mama and daughter will have to hire someone to run her hair shop while she ends up serving coffee and sharing gossip, like her mom. And the one son who managed to get out from under this mafia mess, the attorney-to-be will probably be black-balled from most firms because of his family’s associations and public disparaging. Oh, Well, Caroline, as you say, you’re most important job was being a good mother. Well, kudos to you. “Ya did a helluva a job, Brownie”

laughingatsven May 11, 2010, 12:21 PM

@ Sven: Very well written and you “nailed” Caroline for what she is and has produced for society. Thanks again Brownie!

Let's keep it 100 please! May 22, 2010, 5:09 PM

If you are not the baddest thing walking it leaves no room to talk about anybody! And as far as Caroline being ugly she is far from it; can any of you say the same? Caroline is a classy, respectable, intelligent,& very wise woman that some women should sit down & take some notes from!

njhousewivejunkie June 1, 2010, 6:51 AM

I know that I don’t even have to say this, but please, please do not let these people making these “television tainted” comments about you and your family. I have watched your show and all the rest of them as well, and I gotta tell you, you are one of the best mom’s I have seen overall! Everyone has their own idea of how to parent and what should and should not be done, but that’s just it, it’s their own opinion. If everyone raised their kids the same, then everyone would be the same! Duh!! So yeah there should be some differences. I love the fact that you are not afraid to speak your mind, you love hard, and you fight hard!Your’e protective of your family, but know when to stand back. On a side note, your patience with “you know who” is awesome, ‘cuz me, (yeah I said ‘cuz)I would have already lost all coolness and lady ness! By the way, I sooooo love Theresa, she is HILARIOUS! You have to love her! I am also glad that Jacquline has gotten a backbone this year, bout’ time, I was wondering if she was ever gonna see the light….maybe your’e rubbing off on her! Good! Well can’t wait to see the show next week!

JDE June 5, 2010, 7:05 PM

Real Housewives is a show! It is for entertainment~no viewer KNOWS them personally! OMG PEOPLE!

This woman is the biggest bloviating, obnoxious, self-righteous and overblown character on television! She loves to hear herself talk and prides herself on all her “wisdom”…and I use that term loosely. Any grown woman with any class doesn’t bully people like a 5th grade girl. PLUS she appears to be a cross between Gunsmoke’s Kitty/the matriarchal version of “The Godfather”/She-Man Nation!! YUCK!

Faith June 7, 2010, 12:34 PM

Caroline admitted on the show that she shaves her face in the shower every day! Need I say more about her? Except yes, she is a real bully.
Then there is momma of 4 Teresa, who gets a monthly CASH five-figure allowance from “relatives”. Teresa & Joe (her long-time cheating husband) only make about $7,000 a month (including the money from BRAVO), before taxes. They spend CASH for everything—sounds very questionable, shall we say? They even rolled out $100,000+ CASH for furniture for their tacky new McMansion. Teresa has a total caveman forehead. Low IQ and stupid statements go along with “the low-brow look”—intellectually speaking! The Guidice daughters are not cute,they are freaky frog-eyed alien looking little brats. These girls are the definition of spoiled & very destructive both at home and out in public. Oh, and by the way Teresa, your last name Guidice is not pronounced as “good-ice” but “jew-dee-chee”.

Faith June 7, 2010, 12:46 PM

Ooops, sorry—my typing error…Teresa last name is spelled Giudice (not Guidice).

geo June 23, 2010, 4:50 PM

To ‘Faith’…you are a horrible person. Get a life !

dottie November 3, 2010, 6:49 PM

I also grew up in maspeth and went to ps 71 and ps 93 ,i was wondering what school you attended,I love you on the show.

Sandra January 8, 2011, 10:09 AM

I totally agree with everything Faith
said. Caroline is a troublemaker, too.

mona April 14, 2011, 5:22 AM

Faith is an empty human being. Who would say such horrible things? People like you are so shallow. You must not have very many friends…and those you do have are probably as hateful and ugly as you are on the inside.

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