Gwyneth Paltrow and the Mommy Wars: Here We Go Again

Here's the thing. This is not so much about Paltrow. It's about the never ending mommy wars and the endless need for women to compare themselves, throw barraging comments at each other and defend their position about who has it worst.
03/31/2014 03:57pm ET | Updated May 31, 2014
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BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 01: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the Goldene Kamera 2014 at Tempelhof Airport on February 01, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images )

Oh Gwyneth. You certainly have a way of setting people off. Nothing quite inflames the "mommy wars" than someone who is perceived to have everything -- money, power, privilege and the real kicker, the luxury of time -- making a passing comment about how hard they have it, to get the shackles up of working mothers everywhere.

In case you have been asleep for the past few days and missed the furor, this is how it happened.

Paltrow gave an interview to E! recently, where she was sharing how challenging it was for her working on movie sets, and the difficulty of managing being a working actress with being a Mom.

"It's much harder for me," she said. "I feel like I set it up in a way that makes it difficult because ... for me, like if I miss a school run, they are like, 'Where were you?' I don't like to be the lead so I don't (have) to work every day, you know, I have little things that I like and obviously I want it to be good and challenging and interesting, and be with good people and that kind of thing."

Not too bad so far. But then the part that so many have gone crazy over:

"I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening," said Paltrow. "When you're shooting a movie, they're like, 'We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set."

The response to this has been as you would expect. Scorching. The most scathing response came in the form of an open letter from The New York Post features editor Mackenzie Dawson. Dawson literally went to town on Paltrow which elicited so many comments that she also wrote a follow up.

Paltrow is nothing if not polarizing. And she is not new to the controversy her seemingly innocent statements can make and how they can get people frothing and fuming. From her "I'm not perfect" statements, to being named the world's most beautiful woman, she seems to have a way of getting under people's skin, especially other working mothers, that puts her in a league all of her own.

But here's the thing. This is not so much about Paltrow. It's about the never ending mommy wars and the endless need for women to compare themselves, throw barraging comments at each other and defend their position about who has it worst. Stay-at-home moms against go-to-work moms; women against men; and perhaps the easiest to get all pent up over, "normal" moms against the celebrity set.

I am not going to bash Paltrow and I'm not going to say that I agree with Dawson's response either. Neither gets us anywhere. I would rather focus on a more constructive dialogue. As I wrote in my book Getting Real About Having It All, it's time we stop comparing ourselves and judging ourselves against what everyone else thinks is the "right way" to live our lives, make our income and manage our kids. So far beyond time one would think.

The only important thing is that we create the life we want to live, and we live it well. On our own terms. That doesn't always mean that it is easy. I get that. I worked 14 plus hour days for more than a decade. I've been a single parent for longer than that. I have also lost sleep over mortgage payments and school fees and been stressed and overworked to the point of burnout. It's not always rainbows and butterflies.

But it is time that we focus on ourselves, what we want to create for ourselves, and care less about the inane comments made my someone who perhaps should know better, but it is likely doing the best she can.

I like Gwyneth Paltrow. Do I always like the comments she makes that can make her seem like she is out of touch with the "real world"? No, I don't. But let's face it. She doesn't live in the "real world." She has a very different and rarified existence to most of us. And there's nothing wrong with that. The only thing that is wrong is when we project our frustration and dissatisfaction onto her, or to anyone else, instead of creating something different for ourselves. Could she be a little more aware of how tough it can be out there working the "9-to-5"? Sure she could. But let's not hold our breath. And let's not waste our time or energy on wishing it would be so.

Enough already. Let's leave Paltrow and her choices and comments where they belong -- in the 24 hours news cycle -- and move on to something much more important. Living our own lives.