How do you balance family and career?
It’s the question every celebrity mom and senior executive woman is asked these days. It is posed to the cover models in women’s magazines. The morning shows explore the topic. And reality TV gives us our dose with the Kardashian sisters, Tori Spelling and all of our “Real Housewives.”
After all, motherhood is cool. We watch baby bumps grow on “E News.” We swoon over celeb newborn reveals and await birth announcements and names. We love inside views into ultra-luxe nurseries, first birthday party extravaganzas and holiday moments. In short, we are voyeurs, and the paparazzi, mainstream media and talk show hosts aim to deliver.
I admit, I too am drawn to read about celebrity motherhood and the elite senior executives who have found a way to rise to the top and also reproduce. But when it comes to listening to their responses on, “How do you balance work and family?” I can’t help but scream.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Marissa Mayer.
How do you balance it all?
What is your secret?
As if their responses will somehow offer valuable insights into the impossible quest for balance the average working mom seeks.
Seriously, these women’s realities are so different from the vast majority of working women. They sport multiple nannies, personal assistants and tap into services I can only dream of affording. Personal chefs. Tutors. Individuals to dash their kids from school to karate to dance. Must be nice.
The average working mom wakes at ungodly hours to work out or make lunches or organize the household chaos before her kids rise. She jets her kids to school or daycare and then peels off to work. She squeezes in trips to Target on her lunch break for birthday gifts or forgotten grocery items. She lacks flexibility – to care for a sick child or fit in a personal appointment. She brings work home, so she can feed her family, help with homework, spend a few hours with the kids before they go to bed. She cleans and does laundry and shops online. She manages her home, her kids’ permission slips, the bank statement and the meals. She juggles much more than career and family. She juggles it all.
In the real world, balancing career and parenthood is messy, tiring and extreme. The workload is intense on all fronts.
I have no doubt these celebrities and esteemed executives are loving, doting mothers. And of course you can’t cast them all into one parenting box. Each mom has her own style, approach, values.
But while we may love seeing how these famous women dress their tots and feed their kids, I just don’t think the majority of working moms will benefit from or relate to their commentary on balance. So why do we keep asking?
If we really want to understand the demands and balancing acts of working moms, we need to showcase the average, everyday working mom. We need to see carpool and chaos and office life and traffic and tantrums and maddening drop-offs and piles of laundry. We need to see reality, and then we can ask that mom how she juggles career and kids.
How does she respond? And how can we help her achieve “balance?”