I can’t say that this is my normal thing. I don’t usually spend too much time thinking about celebrities and the things they say. I also don’t spend a lot of time writing “open letters.” I think the epistolary form is sort of lazy writing (unless you’re writing an actual, closed letter), but I don’t know, it felt right here.
I believe the middle-class mothers of America owe you a bit of an apology. The other day you said that you thought it might be easier to have a 9-5 job instead of your glamorous job and my fellow mothers went ballistic. Actually, I don’t think it was that stupid a thing to say. Well, it was a stupid thing to say because you are a celebrity who cares about public opinion, but it wasn’t really a wrong thing to say.
Like you, I’ve always been very lucky. I’ve always been able to find work that I love that I can fit around an unusual schedule. But, sometimes when the juggling and the expectations get too much I think, “It would be easier to just have a 9-5 schedule, then I’d have everything in place all the time and it would be easier.” Sometimes I even think, “It would be easier to have a job I didn’t care about, a time card job that I didn’t have to think about once I clocked out.”
Now, I know that isn’t really true. I know that while my work stress would be less with less fulfilling work, other stresses, including financial, would be higher. Like you, I get paid pretty well for doing something I love. I know that a 9-5 schedule seems easier, but all it would take is one case of a kid with Strep Throat to show me that wasn’t true.
You may not know that, because although I’ve worked 9-5 jobs, you haven’t. You were raised in Hollywood royalty and you have stayed there, and that isn’t your fault. You don’t know much about “regular” life. Here’s the thing though, my fellow middle class American moms and I don’t know much about your life either. We’re yelling at you for not knowing about our lives, but we don’t know about the lives of the millions of mothers who have it harder than us, and we don’t know about yours.
We don’t know what it’s like to be gone for weeks at a time and then wake up one morning and be expected to act like you know what’s going on at home. I go away on a three-day business trip and come back and all hell has broken loose. Sometimes the hardest part is actually going back in to “mom” mode. I mean I’ve had 3-4 days where I can just be “Marta.” Usually, if I’m away I get to be an expert and efficient and get my work done. I get a full night’s sleep in a comfy hotel room. I love that woman, and when I’m in my day to day life I don’t see much of her. You go away and you get to be fun and glamorous and petted and admired. You probably like that woman a lot and have a hard time moving back to mom, just like I do.
Then there are the other women. The women who spend weeks, months, and years away from their children. Not because they’re being paid well to sleep in mid level hotel rooms like me or play dress up on movie sets like you but because they’re being paid crap to take care of other people’s children or clean those hotel rooms. Can you imagine what it’s like to try and shift between being nanny and mom? Or what about those moms who spend years away because they’re in the military or in jail? How do they make that transition?
I just spent way too much time trying to hire a new part-time sitter to fit with my weird schedule. I can’t imagine wondering what it would be like to just trust that the people I’m leaving my children with while I go fight a war or try and earn money in a different country are trustworthy. I also can’t imagine being like you and having to do that and also have to wonder if that wonderful nanny was actually planning to write a tell-all book about me one day. Or, see if she could steal my rock star husband.
By the way, I’m sorry about your upcoming conscious uncoupling. Like most people, I think it’s a stupid thing to call a divorce, but you know, when my husband and I fight, no one reports on it. At one point in his life my husband would have loved to be a rock star, the money would be nice, but I have to think it would be pretty hard to be married to one. I know a lot of women who have gotten divorced. Some because they cheated on their husbands, some because their husbands cheated on them. I even know some who got divorced because they’re husbands were drug addicts or criminals. You know what, no one has ever written articles about how happy they were to see the marriages of those women fail. You on the other hand, you’re getting a lot of grief just for trying to find a decent way to face your future.
Speaking of stupid stuff, Gwyneth, you say a lot of stupid things about food and beauty in your GOOP magazine. But, I don’t know, if every single bite I ever ate was analyzed by the media, I might have some screwed up ideas about food as well. Also, I wear yoga pants pretty much all day, every day. My husband and I joke about how infrequently I shower. You won an Oscar and all anyone could talk about was how you were so flat chested your dress didn’t fit right. They are still talking about it. Seriously, I just read some women online calling you flat chested. By the way, these are women who think it’s wrong to judge people for being overweight. I think looking like you must actually be harder than looking like me.
We middle class American moms, those of us who work outside of the home and those who don’t, spend a lot of time complaining about hard moms have it. We spend a lot of time inventing things to be angry about and blaming each other for it. We call it the “Mommy Wars” and thankfully, we fight them mainly online. I think you were sort of a casualty of that.
I know a lot of people reading this don’t feel sorry for you. They don’t feel sorry that you have to deal with paparazzi or take drastic measures to never appear to age or gain weight. They don’t feel sorry that your very livelihood depends on things over which you have no control. They feel you’ve chosen this life, and you have. But what they seem to forget is that for the most part, they too have been lucky enough to be able to choose their lives, too.
I would guess that any woman who has time to go online and complain about you dear Gwyneth is a pretty lucky woman. It may seem harmless to them to cut on you, a celebrity. But in my mind, cutting on you, judging you for how you look, judging you for saying something stupid, judging you for how you choose to be a parent, how you choose to survive a divorce, how you choose to get through life isn’t that different than judging their next door neighbor for the same. It’s not actually that different than judging someone else whose life they don’t understand. Someone who appears to be less fortunate, not more fortunate.
Celebrity culture has done a lot of harm in our world today. But I think one of the worst things it has done is made us feel that shaming and criticizing each other is ok. If it’s not ok to go up to a random 21-year-old and call her a slut for the way she dresses or dances, why is it ok to do that to Miley Cyrus?
If it’s ok to call you a stupid skinny bitch for the choices you’ve made, how far away is that from calling another woman a stupid fat bitch for the choices she’s made?
In short Gwyneth, I’m sorry you’ve had a rough week. I hope it gets better for you. I hope the next time a celebrity says something or does something or wears something my fellow moms and I don’t like that we realize that talking about it, yelling about it and complaining about it is not harmless.
When we start judging and criticizing, where do we stop?
Take care Gwyneth. I’m rooting for you. Not because I’m some big fan or I think you have all the answers but because you’re a fellow human being on this Earth, doing the best you can with the hand you’ve been dealt.