What happens when a group of high profile moms, actresses, directors, producers and Public Relations experts get together to talk about what its really like being a mom in the spotlight?
Well you might think that the conversation would be all about the glamour and the excitement surrounding working on one of the longest running daytime dramas in history. You might think that the room would be full of egos, larger than life personalities, or disconnected women who rely on nannies and drivers. If that's what you were thinking, you would be wrong. What I found was a group of women, just like myself, trying to navigate a work-life balance, being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, all while giving 110 percent to their craft.
I had the opportunity to talk to these great women about being a mom who works outside the home, in a high stress business with crazy hours and public demands and you know what was different about them, their struggles and other moms not in the Hollywood spotlight? Absolutely nothing. In fact, when Laura Wright, who plays Carly Corinthos on GH first walked in, she was wondering if there was any way she could skip a red carpet event set for that evening.
Laura is recently divorced and really wanted to spend the night with her kids. Getting all dolled up in hair and make-up was not something she was looking forward too. She would much rather spend an evening with her kids, hearing about their day and watching their favorite program with them on TV.
Barbara Roy, head of public relations for the show, actually had her daughter at work that day. School was closed, but work still goes on. What better way for her daughter to get an idea of what her day is like than having her watch mom in action!
Emme Rylan, who plays Lulu Spencer on the show, talked about how difficult it is working and touring tens of schools to find really great childcare for her kids. She talked about finding a great house to settle down in that didn't cost millions of dollars (as the real estate market in most suburbs of LA is nuts) and about wanting to be a good role model for her kids. Laura Wright, who plays a very high profile characters on GH, said that she does everything she can to let her kids know that she is there for them. She will even make them a lunch every day and deliver it to their school at lunchtime to make sure they know that she is present in their lives and that she will always make time for them.
I asked both Emme and Laura how they felt about the pressure to be perfect in public and if that affects how they deal with issues at their children's school or with their friends. They both agreed that when they have their mom hats on, they aren't LuLu and Carly, they're real moms.
Laura said that she takes a pretty laid back approach to most issues and also tries to help her kids see the humor in things. However, if she feels that her child is in danger or not being treated fairly, she doesn't care what Facebook or Twitter might say about her, those are her children and their protection and safety always come first. She also doesn't feel like she has to be perfect or parent the way "other moms" might want her too. If she wants to bring lunch to her kids every day, that's what she does. If she thinks TV is a good way for her kids to learn about the world or even just be entertained, she's all for it. It's not about what every other mom wants you to be, it's about who you want your kids to see as their mom.
Mom guilt was something we all talked a lot about. We all have some level of it, said Christine Ucar, Editor and Director. "I often feel badly working 12 or 14 hours days and then not having the stamina to come home and cook a big meal for the family." We all chimed in on that one.
Laura Wright and Barbara Roy agreed that showing our kids that we work hard and also giving them responsibility to help with things around the house or even making one night their night to prepare dinner is not a bad thing. I added that I think it's been really good for my two girls to see how hard I work while trying to be there for them as well. I talk to them a lot about what I am doing during my workday and what challenges I might have. I think it's important for our kids to know what is happening in our world during the day as well as our wanting to know everything about their day at school. Often times, our kids only get an inkling of what we do if we happen to be the one parent asked in for career day!
We talked also about feeling judged by other moms who might not agree with a style of parenting, or how much time someone devotes to a career and it's that feeling of being judged that often makes us harder on ourselves when there isn't any good reason to do so. Both Chris Ucar, and Michelle Henry, producer of the show, felt that being a mom was a true gift, and that they can be fully committed to being a professional and a wonderful parent...but we have to give ourselves a little pat on the back sometimes. We can't let the actions of other people dictate our own, and we can't let mom guilt affect how we structure our day or our children's lives. And support...that's one of the most important things that we all felt strongly about. Working moms have to support other working moms.
As Michelle pointed out, even if we are the one's ruling the board room, at the same time it's the mom, for the most part, filling out the camp forms, taking our kids for their immunizations, booking all the dental appointments and getting the school supply shopping done. "As a mom, who is also a manager, I feel that I need to go above and beyond to help support the other mom's that work for me."
"Why would you need to take time off to attend your child's kindergarten play? Because that's what mom's do!" Michelle also said that it's a good idea for women to remind those amazing men in our lives about all that we do, aside from just our daily work at the office. A little perspective can go a long way in making the partnership between mom and dad and parenting even better.
I think one of the interesting comments came from Michelle Henry at the end of our conversation, when she said, "No one forced me to have a job. I am so lucky. I love what I do. I just want my children to see that I'm a good mom and do everything I possibly can to be a role model they can be proud of."
I think that pretty much sums it up for all of us.