You have to feel a little sorry for Gwyneth Paltrow. For a woman trying to peddle recipes and yoga tips to the everyday mom, she sure doesn’t seem to get it.
Paltrow, if you missed the hubbub, made the celebrity faux pas of the week. Just before announcing her “conscious uncoupling,” she gave an interview to E! in which she whined about how hard it is to be an actress and a mom.
“When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ ” Paltrow said. “And then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult.”
That does sound tough to juggle with motherhood. But it was her less-than-eloquent comments about those with office jobs that set off the Twitterverse: “I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as – of course there are challenges – but it’s not like being on a set,” Paltrow said.
I was going to write about something serious, but after reading Paltrow’s comments, I just couldn’t resist. What glamorous life does she think the rest of us working mothers live?
Maybe she envies the part about having no stylist to warn you when you show up to work with smashed pears on your sweater and baby drool in your hair? Or perhaps she wishes she could wade through spreadsheets after a sleepless night of teething with no help from a nanny? Or maybe she thinks it’s easy to rush home just in time to salvage the last few precious minutes of bath time with your baby?
There are endless ways that women rip each other apart and undermine the tremendous progress that has been made in our lives. It’s been happening since the days of the Suffrage movement. Today, the so-called “mommy wars” have been endlessly discussed – working moms versus stay-at-home mothers, those who breastfeed versus those who don’t, those who build nurseries next to their offices and those who don’t have that option.
But celebrity moms versus the rest of us schleps? You’d think someone who makes good money selling an airbrushed dream of beauty and domesticity to the masses ought to have the good sense not to weigh in on the having-it-all debate.
New York Post’s Mackenzie Dawson put it perfectly in her open letter that went viral last week: “ ‘Thank God I don’t make millions filming one movie per year’ ... It is my mantra.”
There’s nothing emotionally easy about being a working parent. It’s heart-wrenching to drop your baby off at day care – no matter how great the care – and miss the trips to the zoo, the afternoon naps, the spontaneous giggles. It’s tough whether you’re a mom or a dad. It’s tough whether you work a day job at a desk or third shift at a hospital. And yes, it’s probably even tough if you’re a wealthy actress working long hours.
When I returned from maternity leave, a colleague told me: Don’t ever feel guilty about working; you’ve got to work to make a better life for your child. I think about that often when I feel the pangs of motherhood in the middle of the workday.
Everyone loves a cat fight, and unfortunately, these sorts of stoked firestorms about working moms only distract from real workplace issues affecting many types of jobs – pay inequality, inadequate family leave and too few women in leadership roles.
I do feel sorry for Gwyneth. She’ll never know what the real world is like.