I have a love/hate relationship with celebrities talking about work life balance. On the one hand, I appreciate anyone furthering the discussion about the difficult struggles most parents go through to raise a family and climb the career ladder. It is exceedingly challenging to build a successful professional life and raise young kids simultaneously. Any time we can talk about that, and how to make that easier for average parents, I’m thrilled. So when celebrities like Taylor Swift tell interviewers that they want to become “full-time parents” one day, they’re bringing up an important parenting choice that I think is worth discussing.
But there’s another part of this celebrity speak that I think we all need to be aware of. When it comes to work life balance, celebrity issues are not real people issues. Taylor Swift becoming a SAHM has absolutely nothing in common with a woman down the street deciding to stay home after the birth of her third child. So while a part of me is happy that the conversation is being broached at all, another wants to make sure that these cute little quotes from celebrities don’t skew the real issues that face moms and dads pulling in less than seven-figures.
To be fair, Swift was not trying to speak out about a big, national problem and offer her advice to all the working and stay-at-home parents out there. She was simply talking about her future plans. When asked what she wanted to do after music, Taylor told Cosmopolitan, “Being a mom full time, doing everything for my kids, having a bunch of them. One day. But that’s the only other thing that could be as thrilling for me as doing this.”
It’s an innocuous quote. Many celebrities before her have said the same thing, from Ryan Gosling to Rosario Dawson. Yet, the media takeaway will be that Taylor Swift wants to be a full-time mom. The headlines will be that she’ll give up her career to have kids. Blogs all over the internet will use the quote as a catalyst to talk about the OG Mommy War, working vs. SAHM. I don’t fault the celebrities because they can’t handle how their quotes are used.
At the same time, those random statements seem distracting from real people issues. I wish we didn’t just report on Madonna‘s quotes about “single working motherhood.” Let’s talk to real people who don’t have nannies or endless bank accounts to buy their teenagers Upper East Side apartments.
Instead of Swift, let’s hear from a woman who works as an office manager and is deciding whether her paycheck is worth the cost of daycare. Let’s talk about the discussions between partners over who will stay home. Taylor Swift will have royalties and a household staff. She’ll always have endorsements and business opportunities, even if she takes time off from recording music. Her experience simply won’t be anything like the stay-at-home motherhood we all have in our heads.
When it comes to work life balance, no matter which side of the situation they fall on, celebrities simply shouldn’t be our role models. Their situation will never be like our’s. So as more and more celebrities begin to incorporate motherhood into their brands, just keep that in mind during their next round of interviews. Yes, Taylor Swift wants to “do everything for her kids” some day. So do all of us. But the similarities probably end there.
(Photo: HRC/ WENN.com)