You Can't Have it All, Said Emma Thompson to Maggie Gyllenhaal

A while ago I read this interview with Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Maggie Gyllenhaal is still thinking about it.

These two fabulous ladies are talking about “having it all.”

I’m super into this conversation, but I’m just not sure Maggie Gyllenhaal and I are on the same page because she is talking about “carving out me time” by doing 2 1/2 hours of yoga every day.  I don’t relate.

I mean, maybe I would take 1 hour at the most on a treadmill but it’s more likely that my “me time” will take place behind a locked door in the bathroom or hiding in the pantry to eat chocolate chips. I’m not genteel like these Hollywood types.

Maggie Gyllenhaal describes how when she was playing the role of a frazzled mother driving a car with 5 kids and pets in Nanny McPhee 2, she “cracked.” Granted I ONLY have 4 kids but it’s my real life and I haven’t cracked. I mean, not clinically.  I wish I were Maggie’s acting coach because I would tell her, “Since these aren’t your real kids and you aren’t really driving them but only acting like they are your real kids and acting like you are driving them why don’t you pull a Robert Dinero and ACT LIKE YOU AREN’T CRACKED.” Actors–they act, right? Am I not getting it?

Nevertheless, Maggie Gyllenhaal is smart to take advice from Emma Thompson. She tells Maggie Gyllenhaal that you can’t have it all. It’s the post-feminist truth. I speculated about the types of jobs women can reasonably have here, along with Anne-Marie Slaughter. I still think Slaughter’s point about creating a more family-friendly work environment is totally valid.

But it has led a lot of people to pipe in on a separate (but equal!) point about how much a person can reasonably expect to have. All? Prolly not.

Because certain choices (4 kids) exclude other choices (2 1/2 hour yoga sessions).  You don’t need it all and you can’t have it. I don’t. But I have enough. You might think that I’m a fantastic blogger and my children are charming but I have a really fat stomach and I have to suck in all the time and it is very tiring. I might think you have a great life and shapely legs but your blog is really boring. See? None of us have it all. Anyways. I like what Emma Thompson says about this:

I don’t want [women] ever to think they have to have it all. I think that’s a revolting concept. It’s so false! Sometimes you’ll have some things, and sometimes you’ll have other things. And you do not need it all at once; it’s not good for you. You can’t be a great mom and work the whole time necessarily; those two things aren’t ideal. We have an awful lot to work on and to debate about in relation to our working lives, because it isn’t working for a lot of people, particularly for a lot of women….

The only way you can have it all is by delegating all the running of the home to other people — which I don’t ever want to do, nor does Mags. So you do it yourself, and it takes time and energy and effort. And if you give it the time, it’s profoundly enjoyable. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson Interview – Good Housekeeping

That being said, I think there is an interesting feminist backlash going on right now in the form of people who are really into homemaking. I happen to not be very naturally talented at homemaking. But I think a lot of people my age are “rebelling” or asserting their individuality by embracing the 50s because maybe they grew up in the 70s and 80s with a working mom and Claire Huxtabel so now baking bread in heels and an apron seems quaintly retro and awesome.

And their moms are going, “Red lipstick and homemade cupcakes? Yeah–we remember Donna Reed just a little too well for it to be awesome to us.” Kind of like how I remember fluorescent leggings and stinky plastic flats just a little too well for the 80s to be awesome to me.

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Read more from Kacy at Every Day I Write the Book.
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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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