Celeb Vs. Reality: Single Working Mom Edition

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January JonesEarlier this week, Madonna spoke out about her challenges as a single mother. Madge said, ““I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work having four kids and doing all the work I do. Sometimes I cope with it very well; sometimes it’s a struggle.’’

Then, there is Charlize Theron, who recently adopted her own little boy. When asked about single motherhood before the adoption took place, Theron replied, “Why not? I’m open to everything in life.”

Now, January Jones is talking about her single mom experience. “I was back when the baby was only 6 or 7 weeks old so it was difficult,” the actress, 34, told Us Weekly. “It was difficult to be a working mom and just juggling all of that. But everyone made it work and it was great.”

I shouldn’t be surprised. Every day, celebrities talk about their lives to tabloids and reporters. And every day, these little tidbits are reported to the press. We all write stories (me included!) about single motherhood is hard and tons of work. We give gratitude that these celebrities are admitting the struggles that go along with being parents, instead of just smiling and saying how wonderful it all is. We appreciate them for their honesty and for keeping things realistic.

Except the truth is that Madonna’s situation is nothing even remotely resembling reality for most of us. Yes, she has four kids and a career. She also has a household staff to cook, clean and take care of all those children while she’s away at work. She has millions of dollars at her disposal to make sure that someone, anyone, takes care of those kids.

Of course Charlize Theron isn’t too concerned with single motherhood, it’s a lot easier when your job affords you serious flexibility and your income is in the top .01%.

Ms. Jones as well, might have been back to work, but I bet she could have a nanny on location. Hell, she could have three of them there to take care of little Xander whenever he fusses.

As much as I’m thankful that these women don’t paint a picture of unicorns and rainbows when they discuss single parenting, I’m also a little annoyed. Not because of anything these ladies are saying, but because there are a couple small details that are left out of these smiley PR pieces. Details like domestic help and serious financial stability.

I’ve been a single mother. It wasn’t for very long, but my daughter and I lived alone in our apartment right after she was born. I went back to work three weeks after her birth because I needed the income to take care of her. I had to depend on my parents and sister for help. I struggled with exhaustion and extreme stress.

Real single mothers deal with stigma and stereotyping. Outside of the glossy world of celebrity, many people assume that single parents are irresponsible and ignorant. I once had a colleague tell me that statistically speaking, children of single parents were doomed to a life of poverty and drug problems. That was nice to hear before going home to my adorable little girl who began her life with a single mom.

The more I see these headlines about single celebrity mothers who are struggling to balance their career and their kids, the more I want to yell, “Can we please acknowledge that their situations are different from those of average single parents?” Can we own up to the fact that there’s a serious double standard when it comes to single parenthood and its drawn strictly along socio-economic lines?

A celebrity single mother with plenty of money is brave and a hard-worker. The single mom who lives down the street spread her legs for the wrong man and just doesn’t have the ability to take care of her kids on her own.

Single parenthood is difficult. I’ll agree with the celebs on that point. It’s hard to be the only person responsible for your kids. It’s stressful to try to be in charge of everything all at once, and not have anyone there to support or comfort you. Single motherhood is also a lot like traditional motherhood. We go through a lot of the same things. And it’s not impossible to be a single mom and also be a happy, successful person who raises intelligent kids.

I’m happy that we’re talking about single moms. I’m happy that celebrities are talking about the difficulties they’ve experienced. But I think we need to own up to the fact that single parenthood in the celebrity world is a little different than raising a kid on your own in reality.

(Photo: Us Weekly)