So after all these years, moms still don't understand we're all in this work life balance struggle together.
All moms, I repeat, all moms, live with stress, worry, guilt and self doubt when they try to be the best moms they can be and hold a job.
The latest to stir up controversy: Gwyneth Paltrow who struck a nerve when in an interview with E! News, the 41-year-old talked about needing a break from acting so she could spend more time with her children, Apple, 9, and Moses,7,
"It’s much harder for me,” she said. “I feel like I set it up in a way that makes it difficult because … for me, like if I miss a school run, they are like, ‘Where were you?’ I don’t like to be the lead so I don’t [have] to work every day, you know, I have little things that I like and obviously I want it to be good and challenging and interesting and be with good people and that kind of thing.”
She also pointed out that things are more difficult for her than other moms, because of the demanding nature and unpredictable schedule of her acting career.
“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 set,” Paltrow said.
Ouch! That stung working moms like Mackenzie Dawson who responded with an open letter to Gwyneth in the New York Post. Here's an excerpt from her well written letter:
I really enjoyed your recent comments to E! about how easy an office job is for parents, compared to the grueling circumstances of being on a movie set. “I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening,” you said. “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. 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 set.”
As a mother of a toddler, I couldn’t agree more!
“Thank God I don’t make millions filming one movie per year” is what I say to myself pretty much every morning as I wait on a windy Metro-North platform, about to begin my 45-minute commute into the city. Whenever things get rough, all I have to do is keep reminding myself of that fact. It is my mantra.
And I know all my fellow working-mom friends feel the same. Am I right, ladies?
We’re always gabbing about how easy it is to balance work and home life. Whenever I meet with them at one of our weekly get-togethers — a breeze to schedule, because reliable baby sitters often roam my neighborhood in packs, holding up signs peddling their services — we have a competition to see who has it easier. Is it the female breadwinners who work around the clock to make sure their mortgages get paid, lying awake at night, wracked with anxiety over the idea of losing their jobs? Or is it the mothers who get mommy-tracked and denied promotions? What about the moms with “regular” 9-to-5 jobs, who are penalized when their kids are sick and they don’t have backup child care?
Those women are living the dream, I tell you!
To both women I say: No one balances work and family without feeling some pain.
Being a working mom is a challenge, regardless of what career you pursue or job you hold.
I can personally argue that any time you spend away from your kids for work, you will be racked with guilt and self doubt over something you miss out on. I get it Gwyneth, missing the daily routine of your kids' lives for a period of time can be emotionally difficult.
The difference, Gwyneth, is the logistics of work life balance are easier for you. You can hire good child care to handle the logistics while you're gone. Can you really compare your struggles as a Hollywood actress to those with desk jobs or even that of a low wage single mothers who juggle work and family? These women live day to day with guilt, and self doubt and fear that they won't be able to pay the bills if their child gets sick and they need a day off work.
So, Gwyneth and Mackenzie and all other working mothers, let's all recognize that most of us want success in our careers and to "be there" for our kids when they need us. Let's rally behind policies that will make it easier for all working mothers to juggle work and family. It's not us vs. them. It's just us!