Working moms are often pulled too thin as they try to do it all, balancing motherhood and a career. Turns out, Hollywood moms are no different. Scarlett Johansson, who recently separated from her husband, told Entertainment Tonight this week that she’s “barely holding it together” as she tries to balance motherhood with her job as an actress.
Mom to 2-year-old Rose Dorothy, Johansson stepped out Wednesday to attend the amfAR gala in New York, bringing her mother Melanie Sloan as her date. Speaking to ET, the actress credited her mother with raising her to be socially active, something that no doubt made her the perfect date for the event, which raises money for AIDS research.
Johansson also spoke about the great examples her mom and dad set for her, as busy parents of two who both managed to maintain careers:
“A night out on the town was a rare luxury for my parents who were probably trying to connect with one another and themselves. No small feat for parents of four living in New York City.”
Commenting on the struggle that most working moms feel, Johansson shared that she too often feels the inevitable twinge of guilt that comes with it:
“Being a working mom is an incredible challenge, [and] it’s an incredible gift. I think you always feel a little bit of guilt … If you’re at work, you feel like you’re missing out on those special moments with your kid. If you’re with your kid, you feel like you’re not giving enough to your job. It’s a balance.”
Ain’t that the truth.
Working moms may look longingly at stay-at-home moms who have hours upon hours with their kids every day. However, they also simultaneously see their careers, teetering on a ledge, so they are fighting every day to maintain a job they’ve devoted years to. It’s a struggle of balance and guilt that moms — yes, even famous ones — will continue to battle, as there are only 24 hours in a day.
How can moms do it all? Turns out, we can’t. Even if you’re wealthy and can afford nannies and assistants as Johansson likely can, quality time with your child is irreplaceable. But putting your career on the back burner could mean you never recover. And it’s this struggle between motherhood and a career that likely causes the disparity between the percentage of working moms (70%) and working dads (92%). That’s not to say that dads aren’t devoted parents too, but the cultural traditions of moms handling more day-to-day tasks of childrearing (and harboring guilt when they can’t) have carried over into the 21st century.
In 2014, Indra Nooyi, Pepsico CEO, made headlines by shattering the false dream of women “having it all” by reflecting this same sentiment. Guilt. Exhaustion. Depression. Hanging on by a thread. Hillary Clinton, however, has been known to retort that no one asks men how they are managing the stress of fatherhood with their careers.
So the question remains: Does society force us into this unrealistic balancing act, or is it our own self-imposed guilt? Dr. Linda Palmer of BabyReference.com says we mothers are genetically programmed to be attached to our kids, which helps explain the guilt we may feel more than men — as well as why that guilt gets in the way of our careers.
So maybe it’s time we redefine “having it all.” In order to achieve this, though, we might need to let go of some guilt, or adjust our work schedule, or take a break. The truth is, “having it all” looks different for each mom; and that’s okay.
In the end, we are moms. Despite the struggle, and the guilt, and the exhaustion, we trudge on. We fight for our careers because we deserve our careers. And we try our hardest to be the best we can be for our kids.
Thank you, Scarlett Johansson, for keeping it real and saying what we are all feeling. We might be barely holding it together, but we ARE holding it together, and we will continue to do so.