Thanks Gwyneth. I was having a bad day ANYWAY, until you made me feel even worse. Guilt rears its ugly head enough for us full time working mums, without you wading in to the fray telling us we need to "compromise" to be a mother and run a successful family.
In a recent Harpers's Bazaar interview, Gwynnie's 'highlights' include being at home when her husband gets back from work as a way of "maintaining her marriage and family"; and "this may not be feminist, but you have to compromise". Meaning what, Gwynnie?
The best bit: "Gloria Steinem may string me up by my toes, but all I can do is my best, and I can do only what works for me and my family."
No shit about Steinem, Sherlock. Are you saying that in order to run a successful family you can't work full time?
I'd love to stay at home in the day with my three daughters, baking organic recipes from your twee lifestyle website and getting my nose hairs detoxed with sea purslane or whatever.
Waiting sweetly in a pretty dress for my husband (if I had one) to return from work, so I can rub his shoulders and fetch him his pipe and slippers as his organic butternut squash and quinoa supper cooks....
Let me tell you about MY life. I know enough about your perfect one, thanks...
I'm a single self-employed full time working mum of three girls aged 15, 11 and nearly three. I won't moan, I consider myself very privileged. I juggle my successful business with organising myself, the girls, the logistics of two ex husbands, the housework, the cooking, the... holy crap, please no one drop in and notice my kitchen floor...
My life is a whirl of missing school letters, frantic washing of school tights at 11pm when we've run out, trying not to shout at kids for missing homework left to the last minute, painting walls, potty training, nursery pick ups...
Mixed with... (deep breath) preparation of PowerPoints and booking trains so I can go speak on stage to business audiences, as I try to look immaculate, professional and as if I have it all together behind the scenes, perfectly, like Gwyneth does.
I HAVE to work full time to put bread on the table and pay the mortgage, because no one else will. I love my kids AND I love my job. I try and make the best of the situation I've got. I am generally very happy, but the working mum guilt thing is my Achilles heel. As it is for every other full time working mum I speak to. We don't need you making us feel worse, Gwyneth.
I'm still haunted by the psychologist Oliver James and his insistence that 'working mothers are to blame if their children misbehave'. Every time my girls behave as normal kids do and squabble, I think of the article I once read, and blame myself. I'm getting better at being realistic, guilt doesn't help anyone. I'm sure psychologists would have a lot MORE to say about single working Mums.
I know there's plenty of evidence to back up psychologists like Oliver James, and I'm sure Gwyneth is very blissfully happy and sorted. I'd much prefer not to be working full time.
But what can I do about this? Not a lot. I'm a breadwinner. I have to work, and even if I didn't, I'd probably want to work at least part time.
So I have enough in my head without my guilt being made just that little bit worse.
So cheers, Gwyneth. I'll raise an evening glass of pinot to any other working mums who feel guilty as I do as I sit at home. (Sit? What's that?)
Just keep swimming, girls, as Dory says in Finding Nemo. All we can do is our best, as Gwyneth said. Except her world looks very different from ours.