The Glamorous Life?
Moms inevitably compare themselves to other moms. What happens when that comparison pits us against celebrity moms who publicize parenting as an ever-rosy prospect or use their high profile as a (potentially perilous) soapbox? MomSpeaker Brie Latini takes on celeb mommyhood head-on — and we agree with her sentiments 100 percent.
There has been much talk lately about what kind of mother one should be. Funnily enough, the voices of dissent are coming from the smallest population of mothers on the planet: celebrity mothers.
To be fair, there are celebrity mothers I worship (Gwen Stefani), celebrity mothers I roll my eyes at (Jenny McCarthy) and celebrity mothers who make me vomit at the very mention of their name (Gwyneth Paltrow). As a parent, I take what's out there and I pick and choose what I will or will not take with a grain of salt. The majority of the mothering advice that I accept from celebrities revolves around fashion (for PJ, not me, since I usually look like a bag lady), but if Mama Gwen said that she feeds little Kingston an all-quinoa diet that makes his mohawk lustrous and has him reading at college level, I might be tempted to switch out PJ's Zebra Cakes for some fancy grains.
It's a bit of a weird sell — we have women who aren't really any more or less knowledgeable than the common folk but have the means and the soapbox to appear as if they do. And just like the advice we get from moms on Facebook, around the sandbox or from our own family members, some of the advice is perfect for us, some is not and some is insanity all around.
The voice of the celeb mom is a powerful one. Jenny McCarthy was able to strike fear in the hearts of thousands of mothers who have children with autism and moms who search for a way to prevent it. I am one of those moms now, and I took her words to heart. I sometimes have to think hard to remember that PJ was showing signs of autism long before he had his MMR vaccine. I think every mother sometimes has to break free of the norm to find the right path of her child, but I take issue with the mother who trumpets her story as one that fits every other child. I admire Jenny McCarthy for setting fire to it all and blazing a path that worked for her gorgeous son, but I want to shake her for allowing her platform of fame to put so many children in danger. There's also a part of me who wants to shake the moms who took her word as gospel, but I know how hard it is to want an answer and have the one you want right in front of you.
Even though I fall prey to comparisons (we all do, let's not lie), I do my best to avoid them because the fact is . . .
It is hard enough to keep from comparing my life to the Facebook selfies and cheery updates of so many of my friends. If I let myself wonder why I don't look like Halle Berry when I wake up in the morning, I'll end up knifing myself in the eyeballs. And that, right there, is what makes the advice of the celebrity mom so heady — how can someone who looks so pretty and seems so perfect be wrong?
The truth is this: If you are doing parenting right, it's a little bit hard. It will be hard in different ways — let's not pretend that a mom who makes millions making a movie has the same hard as a mom who works 14-hour days at a "regular" job (and thank you, Angelina, for realizing that). But hard is hard, and it does not do anybody any good to draw comparisons. Don't beat yourself up for not looking like Jessica Alba when you drop your kid off at school and don't fall into the temptation of trying out a textile cleanse or homeade acai berry, gluten-free fruit snacks unless you honestly feel that this is the right choice for your family. What "works" for Gwyneth may not work for you — in fact, I'd wager she would be the first to tell you that.
Here's the thing. You're doing fine. There's bound to be comparison and mommy guilt and second-guessing, which makes us human, not poor parents. And Heidi Klum is doing it, too. Money and affluence and privilege don't change that. So please. Be easy on yourself, Mama.
Brie Latini is a South Jersey writer and mom. This post is adapted from her blog ( . . . a breezy life).