Photo: REX USA/Everett Collection.
Is there any chance of a ceasefire in the ongoing "mommy wars"? Gwyneth Paltrow hopes so.
In her latest Goop newsletter, the actress defended her recent "out-of-context" comments about working mothers and argued for an end to judging other moms. In the midst of speaking up for herself, Paltrow makes a valid point: Isn't it time we stopping picking on parents?
"As the mommy wars rage on, I am constantly perplexed and amazed by how little slack we cut each other as women," the mother of two wrote. "We see disapproval in the eyes of other mothers when we say how long we breastfed (Too long? Not long enough?), or whether we have decided to go back to work versus stay home. Is it not hard enough to attempt to raise children thoughtfully, while contributing something, or bringing home some (or more) of the bacon? Why do we feel so entitled to opine, often so negatively, on the choices of other women? Perhaps because there is so much pressure to do it all, and do it all well all at the same time (impossible)."
She's speaking from experience. The Oscar winner was hit with backlash — including a searing open letter published in the New York Post — over an interview in which she seemed to suggest that celebrity moms had it harder than other working mothers. “I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as [difficult], of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set," she told E! News in March.
Paltrow now says her comments were taken out of context. "Film work takes one away from home and requires 12-14 hours a day, making it difficult to be the one to make the kids their lunch, drive them to school, and put them to bed," she told Goop readers this week. "So I have found it easier on my family life to make a film the exception, and my 9-5 job the rule. This somehow was taken to mean I had said a 9-5 job is easier, and a lot of heat was thrown my way, especially by other working mothers who somehow used my out-of-context quote as an opportunity to express feelings (perhaps projected) on the subject."
Whether or not you buy Paltrow's defense, her argument about the mommy wars is sound. A comment about parenting methods, however casually intended, can be completely loaded.
Just yesterday Mila Kunis talked to Ellen DeGeneres about her decision to have an all-natural, epidural-free birth, saying, "I did this [getting pregnant] to myself, I might as well do it right." Cue comments like author Kelly Oxford's — later favorited by Lena Dunham — saying, "SAD NEWS: Looks like some women have a baby wrong."
Or, take Alicia Silverstone's new parenting lifestyle tome, The Kind Mama. As our own Kelly Kasouf pointed out, the issue here isn't Silverstone's adoption of coddle-heavy parenting. It's that her title suggests that those mothers who don't do the same are somehow unkind.
Bottom line: It's fine to endorse something, but there's no need to shame detractors in the process. It's unlikely you'll find two mothers who agree on every single thing about raising a child. Why get all judgmental about it?