Last week, Gwyneth Paltrow responded on her GOOP site to mother's who reacted negativity to her
botched attempt last month on E! to identify with the trials of being a working mother.
First, let me say I don't have an opinion about Gwyneth Paltrow as person or celebrity. I'm too busy focusing on my own life to make judgments about other people's lives. That being said, here's my take on her comments regarding work-life balance...
She rather inarticulately expressed her frustration at the way her unpredictable work life impacted her family life and her parenting ability and confidence. She said, "It's much harder for me."
"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 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," said Paltrow. "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."
It's never good to compare your hardships with another's because every individual responds to life differently. (Remember what happened when Tom Cruise compared his acting schedule to a soldier's tour in Afghanistan?)
I interpreted the sentiment behind her statements as being along the lines of the unpredictable nature of being an actor and in the movie business is more challenging for her kids, not so much for her, but her kids and therefore, for her as their mother. For example, she doesn't know when she's coming home when she's working; maybe she's told one time and it's often another time.
Yes, it's true that all working and non-working parents disappoint their children. However, a set schedule, even with long hours, allows for a routine that kids can adjust to. Lack of routine sets children up to be let down when they expect one thing and another thing happens instead and they don't know why. Sometimes they believe it's because they're not important enough.
So I wonder if she had said something like the following whether she would have received the same reaction:
Being an actress, I'm in an unpredictable business where I don't have control over how long my days are when I'm on the movie set. Therefore, my children are challenged by this lack of routine. Quite frankly they don't like it, and I feel overwhelmed and I don't know how to parent in those situations. Sometimes I wonder if I had a more predictable schedule -- such as in a more typical 9-5 schedule -- and they at least knew which days I was going to be there to pick them up at school and which days I wasn't, even if it was no days, they wouldn't be disappointed so much. I'm not complaining because I could always give this up but then it would feel like I'm giving up my profession completely and I'm not really sure I want to do that. So I guess I just need to work on how to parent them better given the unpredictable nature of my profession when I am working, but it's hard for me.
Regardless, it would have been wiser for her to talk about ONLY her situation-- not compare it to anyone else's-- because don't we all have those long days in the office, those extra weekend shifts, that project that seems like it'll never end. Sometimes we enjoy our work, sometimes we don't. Many of us dislike not being able to be in two places at once; for example working AND with our kids. Not even GP can pull off that magic, and my guess is that's what she was really complaining about and I can relate to that.
Follow Dr. Kate Roberts on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrKateParenting