I’m sure you were amazed by the outrage at your statement that working motherhood is so much harder for you than it is for us regular folks. I just want you to know that I wasn’t ticked off. I was more surprised that people couldn’t see that you have no concept of the real world. I mean, how could you? Both your parents were actors, making millions, with the same kinds of staff that you take for granted now. It’s not like having a personal assistant, nanny or nannies, cleaning staff, cook, personal trainer and whatever other staff you have at your disposal 24/7, whether working a movie or not, could possibly make your life any easier than it is for the rest of us. I mean, I was saying to my assistant just the other… oh wait, I don’t have a personal assistant… or any other staff.
I’m a working mother of two children. My children are in college and high school, so I’ve been in all the stages of child rearing. A New York mother with kids in the same age range as yours responded to you about dealing with infancy and toddlerhood best. My children are quite past that point in life, so I’m going to pick up where she left off with school age kids forward. I work as a paralegal, both part time when my children were babies, and full time. Once they were both in school, I have worked full time in a “regular office job” you so roundly dismissed.
My “leisurely” mornings where I could “get stuff done” were spent getting two kids up and dressed, showering, dressing, packing lunches, making sure everything was in backpacks, getting kids to bus stops, running back home to get what they inevitably forgot, and running to an office by 8 not 9 am. And when I say “running” I meant sitting in traffic, since DC is the 10th worst and Baltimore has the 18th worst traffic in the nation – time that had to be added into my “leisurely” mornings. That “home in the evening” thing? Sometimes those were nights, not evenings, and late ones at that. Law offices are always so very respectful of family time! Things can always wait until the next day. Legal deadlines are seriously just guidelines, you know. But I could always rely on the nanny and staff to pick up the slack, do the cleaning, laundry, check on homework, cook… oh, wait…
Oh, and kids activities? My son played baseball, my daughter took ballet. They each also played an instrument. My daughter plays three. So having to figure out who had practice when and where, attending games or recitals, well that was no problem for me… I just had my staff… damn, there’s that pesky staff thing again.
You see, normal people just can’t tell the housekeeper or nanny to run the kids where they have to go. No, we have to get them ourselves, or rely on friends or extended family to help when we are stuck at the office, or when practices are before 5pm. God help me if one of the kids got sick or there was a snow day. Daycare centers close on snow days and don’t take sick kids. We working moms get limited paid time off, if any at all. That’s where we fit in doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments, meetings with teachers or taking care of sick kids.
High school changed things with my son’s participating in indoor and outdoor track and other activities. Then there’s my daughter’s participation in marching band, indoor color guard, literary magazine and chorus. Between running to track meets, and running to band/guard competitions, it’s amazing I have time to work, but work I do. I also added an extra part time into my schedule to help make ends meet, not to mention this column (not paid, but an amazing opportunity).
So, Gwen, you’re right, we don’t understand how awful it is to work just a few weeks a year, to have tons of staff available whether working or not, to make millions of dollars, to jet off to follow our rock star husbands, or have all that “me time.” We couldn’t possibly. We live in a world where our jobs and our kids rule our time, and we don’t have staff to lessen the load. We have to make ends meet by working 40+ hours a week, clipping coupons, doing our own shopping, cleaning and chores. We agonize that we are taking too much time at work and not enough time with our kids. We worry that those “regular office jobs” might just disappear in this crap economy regardless of how impressively we do them. Nor do we have rich actor parents with millions to fall back on if those jobs disappear.
Being a mom is a hard job no matter who does it, but please, don’t disdainfully tell us you have it harder than we do. You wouldn’t last a second in our collective, non-designer shoes.
One last bit of advice, Gwen… since you have now announced your split from your husband, please don’t even begin to think you can tell single moms everywhere how hard it is to be a single actress mom. You think you got hammered with this one? You ain’t heard nothing yet!
Real World Working Moms
Image: Courtesy of: http://tavernamasti.blogspot.com/2011/10/actores-y-directores-que-tambien-cantan.html