Friday, March 28, 2014

An Open Letter to an Open Letter

Here is my opinion on the open letter to Gwyneth Paltrow posted by the New York Post yesterday written by Mackenzie Dawson: Mackenzie, do you just need a friend? 

My goodness. I will admit that I am a pretty big GP fan, and I'm sorry she's having a rough time right now. I can't imagine what it would be like to announce my divorce on Monday and then get slammed by one of the most hostile, sarcastic and mocking letters imaginable on Thursday. Movie stars don't need my defense, but I think Mackenzie did women everywhere a huge disservice by rallying troops around someone who is obviously not having a great week as it is. "Oh, your family is falling apart? Well you also stink at your job, at being a mom and being a being a person, too!"

What bugs me even more than the letter's cattiness is the underlying theme that being a mom is a hardship. Mackenzie didn't invent this idea, but she perpetuates it, and it would be nice if everyone dialed this back a little. I think... once upon a time when our mothers and grandmothers were raising families...there was not this big huge forum for people to go on and on about the challenges of being a mother. And then the Internet, self publishing and social media came along and changed all that. This is/was kind of a positive thing because a lot of people use/d it as a space to relate to one another, share experiences and generally feel less isolated. But somewhere in all this sharing emerged the idea that being a mom is soooooooo hard. And that stay at home moms should get in one camp and talk about how hard it is for them and working moms should get on the other side and prove how hard it is for them. And moms with one child do not have it hard and moms with five children have it really hard, and let's also put a hardship value on boys, girls, income, climate and a whole bunch of other random crap too.

So, after being a mom for nearly 6 years I reject this idea. Being a mom is not hard! Tragedies are hard, cancer is hard, sometimes crossword puzzles are hard, but being a mom is about as hard as you make it. Being a mom is fantastic! Newborns are tricky and I imagine that teenagers are even trickier, but this woe-is-me "6am-no time for a shower- no money for childcare" attitude has gotten a little bananas. Especially when women are using it to have a contest about who has it harder and pitting women who do things one way against women who do things another way. Being good at being a mom can take some hard work as being good at anything typically does, but it's certainly not the drag that the open letter makes it out to be. 

GP was talking about the challenges in her life. Maybe she could have been a little politically correct-er about it- but she was just using a public forum to say "these are my challenges, here's what I do about them." This is the theme of probably one hundred billion blogs, tweets and Facebook status updates. So we are all allowed to use this shared space for support but she isn't? 
It's a slippery slope. 

What do you think?


PS: this TED talk on emotional correctness vs. political correctness rocks.


  1. Agree with you, Elizabeth Letter! We need more people to celebrate the joys of raising children. xo

  2. You are 100% right, m'friend! Crosswords are really hard! ;)

  3. Yes! Thanks for posting this.