TODAY | April 03, 2013
>>> julia sweeney , best known for a certain person she played on "saturday night live."
>> it's all coming back to me! i'm pat riley !
>> pat, was just one of sweeney's characters during her four seasons on "snl" she's had stage shows and explaining the facts of life to her adopted daughter, that became a popular video online and julia retells that story and a whole lot more "if it's not one thing it's your mother ." good morning to you. i can't believe i messed up your name because i'm a huge fan you and pat, i love her or him, or it, whatever. you wrote this book when you had something very rare, a month of solitude.
>> yes it was exciting and i realized my daughter went to camp for a month, my husband was out of town on business and i had spent so much time assembling this family, a dotted my daughter on my own as a single mother and married later and i found myself wishing they'd disappear. i spent so much time assembling them and wanted to be away from them.
>> the human condition .
>> you know you have a fan in matt lauer , "if it's not one thing it's your mother ."
>> my mother gave me the phrase on the pillow after i left "saturday night live," i hated it. when i adopted my daughter mulan i immediately thought it was funny. when my daughter was 6 or 7 she said "this is not funny." so i used that to tee up the characters in the book.
>> you write a lot about your unconventional path to motherhood, you created this family "like a golden retriever running after a ball. how much does the dog think about what he's doing?" when did you decide i want to become a mother right now.
>> well, i don't know if it's just my own personality but i had cancer many years ago and i can't have biological children myself, and i didn't really want to have a kid that much until then, but once i couldn't have a kid, i had to have a kid. so that's when it really started this big desire to be a parent.
>> and you adopted mulan from a chinese orphanage, and clear this up, you didn't name her mun.
>> my whole life is saying that was her name at the orphanage. i would not name my daughter after a disney character.
>> you tried to rename her tara .
>> so her name is mulan . what should i do? it's a beautiful name because it means strong and beautiful. she is strong and beautiful but it is mulan and i live in l.a. and i'm in show business so i named her tara mulan and we were in a park and the guy asked her name and she would never respond. i'd be going tara , she looked up and said muan and looked at me like you can call me tara but i answer to mulan so she's mun.
>> the orphanage did not name her after a hollywood movie .
>> they said it's an ancient chinese name and i was like really the movie came out six months ago.
>> you have mulan and trying to find a man.
>> trying to find a man!
>> joe 1 through 12 or 13 to protect the innocent?
>> in some ways to honor my husband, i feel like once i met him all the guys were just numbers.
>> and as i understand it's a great story, you have to read the book to hear how you met him but to cut it short you kind of fell in love with your future mother -in-law first.
>> well, i did. i got a fan letter from my husband's brother proposing to me on behalf of his brother who had no idea that this was happening. he thought i was the perfect girl for his brother, and then i didn't respond to the letter but over the course of a year, i met a few people who knew them and then i did a show and after the show, the brother was there, and then he introduced me to the mother , and she was really funny and so i went home and found the original e-mail, wrote to this guy michael, with he started corresponding and then as fate would have it, we ended up getting married.
>> not about strategy, because if you love the mother -in-law, it bodes well, right?
>> julia sweeney , always great to see you. thank you so much.
>> thank you, you're so sweet.
>> if you want to read an excerpt from "if it's not one thing it's your mother " head to our website