Why Gwyneth Has A Point

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s smug smirk, flat stomach, and shiny keratin-straight hair all make my stomach twist.  Even before last week’s “I’m the actress who is more clueless than George H.W. Bush” gaffe about working vs. starlet moms, we all had plenty of reason to despise her.  

For God’s sake, she was engaged to Brad Pitt before his scruffy goatee days.  She got to wake up next to THAT back in his Thelma and Louise, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive run. You know, when it was hard to breathe and look at him simultaneously?

Gwyneth Paltrow is that Queen Bee from high school who laughed at pimples and cellulite. The b*tch at the office who got promoted instead of you. The skinny yoga mom at the back-to-school potluck who announces to everyone that she wears the same jeans that fit before her three kids were born.  

She is blonde, impossibly skinny, talented and rich.  She has a pretentious name and gave her kids even stupider names. She allows her son and daughter a Coke once a week and makes them watch TV only in foreign languages. Until a few days ago, she was happily married to a famous rock star.  

What’s not to hate?

But when it comes to her latest Mommy Wars comments — that wealthy A-list movie star moms have it harder in some ways than us 24/7 working moms — wasn’t Gwyneth Paltrow kinda…umm…a little bit…right?

Not on the surface, of course.  Few of us schlubs would trade GP’s glam life — jetting from her $14 million Malibu beach house to her haute London townhome, surrounded by nannies and rock stars, Tweeting organic food recipes that she never actually cooks herself — for our breast pumps, Neanderthal bosses, vomit-filled nights, and daycare late fees.  

But here is what Gwyneth actually 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 don’t like to be the lead so I don’t (have) to work every day.


“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. 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.”

Hey, truth is every mom has it hard, no matter the particulars.  Housekeepers, agents, personal trainers and nannies make some parts easier, sure. But being a good mom, no matter how much money and fame you have, is the hardest job on earth.  

We all feel judged by the very same amorphous “they” people Gwyneth refers to.  We all feel other moms have it easier.  Most of us have a few “I Hate Everybody” days. Maybe more than a few.

But I don’t know any mother who says, yeah, I want a job that requires weeks of 14-hour days away from my kids. I don’t care if GP is kissing George Clooney, working a killer intensive-care nursing shift, or out in the Pacific Ocean on an oil rig – being apart from your children is hell.  Like so many moms, the first thing I did when I got pregnant with kid #1 was to look for a job with minimal travel and reasonable hours. 

I love the humdrum but delicious daily grind, with me at the center of my kids’ lives. The look on their faces when I rush into the daycare center or school to pick them up (late, always late!) as if they were personally witnessing the second coming of Christ.  The way they smell at 2 am when they crawl into bed with me.  The glare my teenaged daughter gives me when I laugh too loudly.  

You only get that good stuff when you are with your children every single day.  The love-hate relationship we moms have with our stressful, kid-centered lives? It’s priceless. 

I don’t know any mom who would give it all up – especially for the emptiness of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ultra swank movie star life.

There is a whiff of desperation and control-freakishness about GP these days. I gagged when I saw her on the cover of People Magazine as 2013’s World’s Most Beautiful Woman, and then my first snarky thought was: who the heck did she bribe?  Because, simply, put: NFW.  

Like an aging Prom Queen who wears too much makeup to her 30th high school reunion, she’s a self-centered, privileged female facing life’s inevitable cruelties. No amount of ice water dunks or brown rice stir-fry dinners are gonna prevent sagging boobs, wrinkles on her gullet, a marriage ending.  

At some point, even Gwyneth Paltrow has to accept that she’s not a perfect mother, no matter how many vegan cupcakes she bakes. Because when it comes to parenthood, perfection doesn’t exist.  

Maybe she has yet to appreciate the joy of motherhood that comes when you realize wide hips make a good spot to park a crying toddler, or when you feel pretty, even when you haven’t washed your hair in three days, because your baby smiled at you. This bliss comes when you accept the Velveteen Rabbit reality: in order to be truly loved by a child, you have to get all your nice fuzz rubbed off.  

 

Let’s enjoy it: Gwyneth is jealous of us more normal moms, climbing into our pacifier-strewn minivans wearing an old Gap T-shirt with spit-up stains instead of slipping into a stretch limo wearing Prada, about to jet off to Tahiti alone. 

As she should be. 


Image credit: Andrea Raffin, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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