I love keeping up with the celebrity moms of the moment. Where are they taking their kids? How did they come up with such an…interesting…name? Are they really using the same baby carrier that I am? They make motherhood seem so blissful, beautiful, and effortless.
And that’s exactly the problem. We mothers know that being a mother, while sometimes blissful and beautiful, is often frustrating, messy, and never, ever effortless. These mothers in the spotlight create an impossible ideal for realistic mothers to live up to. And just like their airbrushed magazine spreads, their mothering has often had a lot of help to make it seem so perfect.
So what are the biggest myths propagated by celebrity moms and the media that surrounds them?
Pregnancy is Easy
As most women meet their last weeks of pregnancy, they are uncomfortable, moody, and ready for the baby to make his or her arrival. Celebrities, on the other hand, are seen lounging on the beach, virgin cocktail in hand, laughing at something witty their significant other just told them. If I were on the beach at 8 months pregnant, my heavily-sweating self would not be laughing. Unless someone told me that I should be wearing a bikini like Gisele Bundchen did at 8 months pregnant. That, I would find hilarious.
You don’t need to gain weight while pregnant
Speaking of non-awesome, I (gasp!) gained weight when I was pregnant. And more than just a few pounds. Most celebrities only have a slight baby bump, but never seem to gain any weight in their thighs, hips, arms, or face. And, if they do, they are automatically labeled as “fat”. You could not check out at a grocery store in June without passing a tabloid headline demanding, “Is Kim Kardashian gaining too much weight?” I felt like screaming, “She’s pregnant! Back off!”
Women are supposed to gain weight when they are pregnant. Our bodies know that by gaining weight, we provide a safer environment for the baby. However, just because we know that it’s an important physiological function, it certainly doesn’t make us feel good when celebrities who are heavily pregnant still look like they could do a runway show.
Baby weight is easy to lose
Of course baby weight is easy to lose when you don’t gain any in the first place. But even if a celeb has put on a few extra pounds during pregnancy, you can bet that she will be back in her pre-pregnancy jeans before they can say, “Labor was such an AMAZING experience.” I honestly don’t know how they do it. Many claim that breastfeeding made them lose the weight, but I have a feeling that’s really code for a restrictive diet and exercise that only celebrities can do because they actually have the time and money to get enough sleep and then have someone care for their child while they can do things like Pilates or eat a decent healthy meal. But for average moms, it takes way longer because we are exhausted, busy, and overwhelmed caring for a newborn. And if we don’t want to focus on our weight and would rather focus on our tiny child while they are at their most vulnerable, we get disapproving looks or even comments because, well, if celebrities can do it then we should too.
The First Weeks Of Parenting Are Peaceful
Have you seen the photo spreads in magazines like People when celebrities have are showing off their newborns? I love flipping through the pictures of the happy family snuggling together, looking so peacefully happy.
Then I stop to think – I’ve never seen an actual mother of a newborn look so content and serene. Did she not just go though labor? Has she not been up every two hours each night since the birth? Is she not panicking that she might have the diaper on too tight or that the baby might not be getting enough to eat? Is she not going through the drastic drop in hormones that make all new moms feel a little off?
I remember the first weeks after my little gal was born, I was a wreck. She hardly slept, like a normal newborn, and so I never slept either. I was worried about doing everything “right” as a new mom. I was struggling with breastfeeding, trying to figure out the cloth diaper system we had chosen, and entertaining family and friends who came to visit. And all while recovering from a c-section. In the photos of us from that time, I would not describe my demeanor as “serene”. Definitely happy, but in kind of a sleep-deprived delirious way. Certainly nothing remotely People Magazine-worthy.
Going Back To Work Is Easy
When the stars return to movies or television or whatever Nicole Richie does, they always go on about how great it is to get back to work. They enjoyed the time with their children, but work is their passion. Besides, they want to be “good role models” to their children by being a working mom. And once they are back, they love the time to concentrate on their work.
I had heard this so often from celebrity moms that I actually thought that it would be easy to go back to work. I thought I would feel great that I was contributing my passion to the world again. But really, it tore me up every time I had to leave my little gal with the babysitter. She would cry, I would cry, I would leave, and the babysitter would call my cell a few minutes later to tell me that everything was fine. But I couldn’t help but wonder if everything really was fine.
It also didn’t help that I got many comments from others about my working. Didn’t I feel bad having to leave her, they would ask me. Wouldn’t I much rather stay at home?
You don’t really see people calling celebrities out on choosing to work after having children. A rock star may leave her young child for months while on tour and everyone says how empowered she is. I leave my daughter for 36 hours a week to work so that we can pay bills, and people question whether or not I’m doing the right thing.
Having been both a working and stay-at-home mom, I totally “get it” when moms choose to work to share what they have to offer with the world. But it is certainly not easy. Nor is a mother who chooses to stay home a “bad role model”, as many would have us believe.
Celebrities are becoming more open about pregnancy and motherhood every year, which is fantastic for all of us moms. I just wish that instead of propagating these myths, more would dispel them so that they public can see the truth.
As long as we make pregnancy and motherhood appear to be effortless, the majority of the country will be less likely to offer mothers support.
And as long as we make the body changes that a pregnant woman goes through undesirable and ugly, our country will devalue pregnant women and mothers.
Being a parent is hard and life changing and we need to admit it. And that’s no myth.
What other kid myths does the media spread? Learn about another one here.Photo courtesy of Margus Kulden on flickr.com