Work Life Balance

No, Celebrity Moms Such As Sarah Jessica Parker Are Not Just Like Us

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So I’m reading Parade magazine, a publication that’s more of an artifact I only think of with regard to the Onion’s regular parodies that I actually stumble across. Apparently it still comes in millions of papers every Sunday.

Anyway, the latest issue has a near classic example of the celebrity journalism genre that’s relevant for our purposes here at Mommyish. We’ve all seen a million variations on this: “Sarah Jessica Parker on the Challenges of Being a Working Mom.” The article is about as paint by numbers as it gets:

Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie based on the best-selling novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, will resonate with many hard-working professional moms like me. For some, it may even seem like a page taken directly from their busy lives. As a mother of three, Parker, can also relate to the film. She and husband Matthew Broderick grabble with the balance between work and family.

“We’ve had two occasions recently where both Matthew and I were working, and it was so hard on the kids,” Parker tells PARADE magazine. “Especially James Wilkie, because he can really articulate how he feels about our absence. On the other hand, there are big chunks of time when we’re home a lot more than conventionally working parents. So you hope to make up for it.”

Juggling a full-time job, motherhood, and maintaining a fulfilling marriage is no small feat – especially for women with multiple children. While Parker does employ babysitters, unlike other famous parents, there are no live-in nannies.

Forgive me, if I’m not really buying the “Celebrity moms — they’re just like us!” angle here. If it’s true that Parker and Broderick have no live-in nanny, good for them. (Though I tend not to put much faith in details that sound suspiciously like they were supplied by someone’s publicist.) And truthfully, most celebrities do work hard.

Beyond that, let’s talk about the advantages that Parker and Broderick enjoy that typical working moms don’t — millions of dollars, large houses, personal assistants, long stretches of time off from work etc. etc. When you think about it, the idea of empathizing with celebrity moms is laughable.

Now I’m not bagging on Parker for projecting some false image here. She’s only trying to promote a movie. Or even Parade magazine for propping up the fictions behind the most hoary and formulaic celebrity journalism.

The fault dear moms, lies not in the stars but in ourselves. Journalists keep going back to the well on these celebrities-as-working-moms stories because I suppose we have an innate desire to believe our aspirational figures are dealing with the same problems we face every day.

That thought may be comforting, and if it helps you get through the day, fine. But when all is said and done, let’s not kid ourselves. Sarah Jessica Parker can trade places with a typical working mom for a few weeks, and then we can wonder how she does it.