Dear Gwyneth, I really enjoyed your recent comments to E! about how easy an office job is for parents compared to the gruelling circumstances of being on a movie set. “I think it’s different when you have an office job because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening,” you said. “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mum is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.” As a mother of a toddler, I couldn’t agree more! ‘Thank god I don’t make millions filming one movie per year’ is what I say to myself pretty much every morning as I wait on a windy Metro-North platform, about to begin my 45-minute commute into the city. Whenever things get rough, all I have to do is keep reminding myself of that fact. It is my mantra. And I know all my fellow working-mum friends feel the same. Am I right, ladies?
We’re always gabbing about how easy it is to balance work and home life. Whenever I meet with them at one of our weekly get-togethers — a breeze to schedule, because reliable baby sitters often roam my neighborhood in packs, holding up signs peddling their services — we have a competition to see who has it easier. Is it the female breadwinners who work around the clock to make sure their mortgages get paid, lying awake at night, wracked with anxiety over the idea of losing their jobs? Or is it the mothers who get mummy-tracked and denied promotions? What about the mums with “regular” 9-to-5 jobs, who are penalized when their kids are sick and they don’t have backup child care? Those women are living the dream, I tell you! Which reminds me, child care. As you know, Gwynnie, having a staff can be a real drag. It’s so hard to find good help these days! That’s why it’s a good thing there’s all this nationally subsidized, high-quality day care lying around for the taking. It just makes things easier knowing you have such a strong support network and don’t have to pay someone anywhere from $30K to $65K annually to take care of your child full-time. You mentioned in your E! interview that when someone has an office job, “you know you can do all the stuff in the morning” and that hit the nail on the head. As someone with an office job, my mornings are obviously pretty leisurely. Sometimes I even have time to drink half of my coffee before it gets cold! After my 6am wake-up, I have a lot of time to loll around, hopping in the shower and then throwing makeup on my face, hoping that I’ll have enough time to put my tights on before my son starts crying in his crib. Then, when he does start crying, I have to make the decision: Do I get fully dressed, or do I go tend to him with my hair still dripping wet? Talk about being spoilt for choice!
Then I have a few Bellinis and adjust my 401(k) contributions. After I get home from work, I’m full of energy and ready to cook dinner using one of the recipes you post on your lifestyle Web site, Goop: slow-cooked kale, pancetta and bread crumbs, anyone? After that, I’ll go to yoga, spend a few hours meditating and maybe do some online shopping, picking up a pair of $350 white leopard-printed short-shorts via Goop in preparation for the “spring break” I’ll take with my husband and son. If there’s one thing I look good in after having a child, it’s short-shorts. So Gwyneth, you’ve figured out the secret of working parents everywhere: Livin’ la vida desk job is a breeze compared to the 14-hour days of a film set. Fourteen hours? Who in New York — especially those in the finance, law and tech professions — could possibly work 14 whole hours? Luckily, those 9-to-5 “ordinary job” hours grow on trees here. And if you lose one, all you have to do is find another. Yours, Mackenzie This piece was originally published in The New York Post and has been republished with full permission. You can read the original here.
Mackenzie Dawson is a contributing editor at The New York Post. She lives in the NYC suburbs with her husband and toddler son, and enjoys holding forth on numerous topics, including motherhood, TV, pop culture, and pretty much everything else. Follow her on Twitter at @msullivandawson.