Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"I Just Want To Be a Mother Now"

Just about a year ago, Entertainment Weekly ran a piece by Karen Valby that was such a throw-back to the era of "the little woman" you'd have sworn you were reading an issue of Ladies Home Journal, circa 1954.

It was called "The Lady Vanishes" and the headline read:

"Gwyneth: mom or movie star? -- Just as she draws attention for two upcoming films, Gwyneth Paltrow is stepping out of the spotlight to focus on a different sort of drama: motherhood."

The accompanying photos featured an incredibly ethereal-looking Paltrow (who isn't the earthiest of creatures in the first place) looking as though she hadn't had a baby, but a lobotomy.

In the article, Gwynny claimed that she was so madly in love with her daughter and her new maternal status that she was going to leave movie-making behind -- leave it! Leave it, I tell you! Leave the mad hustle of Hollywood and just be a mother to Apple.

Paltrow went back to work ten months after her daughter's birth. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Julia Roberts did the same exact thing after the birth of her twins, Phinneus and Alligator, or whatever their names are. She gave quotes to the press within which she "vowed" to take five years off to raise her twins. One article read:

"Her trainer, Kathy Kaehler, added at the time: 'Julia says she's taking at least five years off from movie-making to raise her twins. 'She's waited so long to be a mother, and fought so hard to be one, that she wants to devote all her time to her babies.'"

The babies in question were born in November of 2004. Mother Julia appeared at the Oscars about 16 weeks later (arguably just a nice night out for a tired new mama) and returned to work soon thereafter. She is starting rehearsals for a major Broadway bow in March, 2006, and has even put a film or two in the can in the meanwhile.

You know what, girls?

It's okay if you want to work.

It's okay if you find interesting work with the best in the business and great roles more rewarding than spending all day changing diapers and wiping up spittle from your shoulder. It's okay if you enjoy being super famous, glamorous and sought-after in one of the most competitive industries in the world.

But at least have the good grace to publicly retract your earlier statements and speak frankly to the millions of mothers who don't have the choices you have; many of whom greatly admired you for stepping away from the spotlight in order to devote your energies to those little people you claim to be so "in love" with.

Have the good grace to speak to the millions of women who understand why you love work so much, because they love it too, and they are often taken to task for leaving their children in the care of others... or for not having children at all.

Meanwhile, when Apple and Alligator are old enough to become mothers, hopefully we'll have worked some of this stuff out so that they'll be able to frankly say, "I'm blown away by how much I love this baby, and I'm so grateful I have the means to have both family and a rewarding work life."

You can madly love your babies and still want to work. And plenty of women HAVE to.


Blogger Chalicechick said...

Ok, goodness knows I'm not a kid person but it seems to me that if I were a kid person and I had a kid, I would be in love with it, too.

I'm seeing it this way:

People I well and truly connect with are pretty rare. When I make a new good friend, I want to hang out with them all the time for awhile. Going out to dinner with them and the CSO (or even just them if the CSO is less enamoured) and talking all night is ideal. Their opinions on everything are fascinating.

After awhile, though, the newness wears off. I still really like them, but I want to integrate them into the rest of my life.

I think my pattern of friendship is a REALLY REALLY mild version of what happened here. I don't think Gwenyth Paltrow "thought" she was in love with her baby. I think she was and still is. But eventually, love means not making your life stop for someone, but working them into the life you had.

Does announcing one's newfound passion for motherhood to the world and making brave declarations like that then going back on them suggest a certain immaturity?

Well, yeah, but we're talking about movie stars here.


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