I was poking around on some news sites lately and came across an article delcaring that “Tina Fey feels Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pain” and I admit that I was intrigued. What I went on to read made me want to take the both of them and invite them over for a coffee and a hug. The article went on to quote an interview that Tina Fey did with InStyle magazine.
“Anytime you talk about being a working mother and you complain about it in any way, people eat your face.”
“I remember reading some interview where Gwyneth Paltrow said something like, ‘I missed my kids on the set one day and I was crying.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ve totally done that.'”
Not everyone is so empathetic.
“On the website where I read it there were these furious comments. ‘But you’re a movie star!’ Yes, it’s much worse for a mom serving in Afghanistan. Of course,” Fey said. “But there’s just no forgiveness.”
And isn’t that the truth. Why do we as women allow ourselves to buy into this new cultural standard of motherhood as some form of competition? Why are stay-at-home mums better than working ones or working mums more fulfilled than those of us who stay at home with our kids (or any permutation of the above)? Why do we criticize mums who have nannies or other caregivers for their children? Why are we all still supposed to take on the lion’s share of raising the perfect child, keeping the perfect house and making the perfect meal at the end of the day?
I am so very lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of wonderful women who support each other instead of dragging each other down. We babysit each other’s kids when we can, we feed the kids pizza while we share a bottle of wine, we swap information and advice and reassurance. Some of us work, some of us don’t but there is no judgement about who is leading the better life or who is more fulfilled. Sometimes I pine for the days when I would put on a nice skirt and heels and head out to the office, just like they pine for the days when they were able to go to the park in the morning with their kids. We share those thoughts and then pour another glass of wine, smiling.
Here is what I think about Tina and Gwyneth. Yes, they are celebrities and they have scads of money so that they can have a personal trainer, a nanny, a chef and so on and so on. But really, how many of us wouldn’t jump at the chance to have those things? Would I hire a caregiver who could look after my kids for an afternoon while I went for a mani/pedi? Hell yes. Would I get somebody to cook my meals for me so that I could take the kids to the park and not have to come home and scramble because I forgot to defrost the chicken? Ummm, duh.
I love my kids and I have been both a working and a stay-at-home mum. I couldn’t begin to judge which one was more difficult and each has its challenges and rewards. Gwyneth Paltrow is a working mum who has a job that sometimes takes her away from her kids for stretches at a time. Does she love her kids any less than my friend who has to take overnight business trips or any less than those of us who are often with our kids 24/7 and crave a break? Sounds kind of silly when you think about it that way, doesn’t it?
And really, in some ways, I feel sorry for celebrity mums because they get the double whammy. Not only are they supposed to be perfect mothers, doting on their children, but they are supposed to look perfect physically as well. They are supposed to be toned and coiffed and glowing no matter the circumstances or they will end up in the tabloids under a big headline reading “Is She Letting Herself Go?” They are supposed to appear in public with their children looking like the dutiful and caring mother with no nanny in sight or the headlines will read “So and So Parties While the Nanny Raises the Children.” That’s why celebrity mums are so often photographed lugging the two year old on their hip through the airport with the nanny skulking in the background. They would never hear the end of it if they actually passed the kid off for even a minute. And really, how many of us have breathed that sigh of relief when we have pawned our fussy kid off to our spouse or friend? Hell, I’ve been ready to hand them to perfect strangers at times to give my arms and brain a break. Does Gwyneth have that option? Of course not.
So, to Tina Fey I say “Kudos to you for sticking up for another mum.” I hear what you’re saying and I have a newfound respect and admiration for you for saying it. Any time you want to come over for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine so that we can compare notes, just let me know. And bring Gwyneth with you as well.