Emma Thompson Weighs In On Balancing Work With Motherhood: “You Don’t Need It All At Once”
“You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time. … I wanted to spend more time with my family. A year off was my birthday present to myself. I didn’t actually act or write. I was just a mum. I taught drama at my daughter’s school, cooked meals and had fun. I highly recommend others to do the same if they can afford it. … Sometimes in life you’ll have some things, at other times you will have other things. You don’t need it all at once, it’s not good for you. Motherhood is a full-time job. The only way I could have continued working would have been by delegating the running of the home to other people. I never wanted to do this as I find motherhood profoundly enjoyable.”
Because a celebrity hasn’t weighed in on working moms in, oh, a couple of days, here is Emma Thompson in the UK’s Daily Mail on her decision to take a year off from acting to stay at home with her 14-year-old daughter, Gaia, who is pictured. (Thompson also has a 26-year-old adopted son, Tindyebwa.) Recently, millionaire-with-nannies Gwyneth Paltrow complained that working as an actress is harder for her than for moms on a 9-to-5 schedule. Angelina Jolie responded that she has “much more support than most people” and “women in my position … shouldn’t complain.” Sort of in the middle of both points of view, Thompson explained to the Daily Mail how she just didn’t feel like she could juggle parenthood and work without a lot of help, which made her feel like she was missing out. The only way not to miss out was to put work on hold for a year.
Some people could read these comments and think she’s out of touch with middle-class parents who can’t just “take a year off” and expect to have their jobs waiting for them when they get back. (Need I remind you of the difficulties women face when they reenter the workforce after staying home?) But I think Thompson is actually speaking to an emotional reality that a lot of parents, especially mothers, feel. Women today pride themselves on their careers, as well as their children. They want to give 100 percent to all areas of their life and find it impossible. But as Thompson, I think wisely notes, “You don’t need it all at once” — and thinking we need everything at once just puts more pressure on working moms to be superhuman. Folks may not agree with her opinions here, but I admire her for speaking up nonetheless. Instead of complaining about something, she put her beliefs into practice. Thompson seems to have come out the other end happy she did so.
[Image via Getty]