I have finally found common ground with Gwyneth Paltrow. This week on the Daily Mail, I read that she’s through with babies. She can’t go back to changing diapers, she says, and I get that. I totally get that.
Gwyneth Paltrow and I—we would not have made good science lab partners. Which is moot point, since my parents earned less money annually than a year of her secondary education at Spence cost.
We would have been an odd couple, our similarities ending at our height, blue eyes, and blond hair. Gwyneth grew up with money. Not just any money—the kind that sings and dances, the kind that serves as The Greatest Safety Net In All the World, the kind that opens mahogany doors. Me? I’m a scrapper who pretty much knew that if I fucked up, no one could help me pick up the pieces. We would have been the science experiment, Gwyneth and I, with Spence girls donning lab coats and jotting down notes on clipboards about whether social privilege influences a soon-to-be woman’s self-confidence, popularity among peers, anxiety level, clothing choices, pore size, and—ultimately—life.
I didn’t need to go to Spence to know the answer is yes. Yes, Gwynnie, you work very hard, but your “uncle” Steven Spielberg gave you a considerable career boost. Yes, you take good care of yourself with yoga and a macrobiotic diet, but you’ve also got Blythe Danner’s genes, a personal chef, and time. Yes, you had post-partum depression, but you had the money to get the help you needed, and you certainly weren’t worrying about how to make ends meet while you fell apart.
And, yes, probably a high percentage of your GOOP newsletter subscribers tune in only to gasp at how shockingly removed you are from the (pretty darn large) non-bidet-owning population.
There are worse problems than not being able to find common ground with Gwyneth Paltrow, but—oh, god—this is such a fun one to have. It’s endlessly entertaining, especially when her wannabe-British-ness collides with her thinking-she’s-normal-ness, as this gem in a 2011 interview illustrates: “I am just like any other regular mum….Mind you, I’m terrible at maths. I can’t even do my six-year-old’s maths homework with her.”
I totally know what you mean, Gwyneth. I also find that helping with maths is a tricky part of being a mum!
Speaking of maths being a bitch, it’s better if you don’t add up the cost of all the items she recommends packing for a GOOP Work Trip and City Break. Besides, I’ve done it for you. Rather than be weighted down with all the designer goop, however, I’d prefer the $3,495 duffel and $3,995 carry-on to be stuffed with the $71,497 plus tax.
Yes, she appears silly and misguided, unaware or unconcerned about people who don’t have her advantages, but here’s what really did it for me: the same person who gets on a plane with almost $100k-worth of gear felt compelled to answer a reader’s question about balancing work and home as a working mother. She invited a venture capitalist friend and Stella McCartney to chime in too. Some ideas: Have a personal trainer come to your house at 5:30 a.m. Treat your hair to a weekly blowout. Do your post-workout stretches while you condition your hair in the shower. Fit in your child’s foot massage during story time. See if your favorite fishmonger will deliver. Take calls while driving!
She is honest, though. I’ll give her that. When she said, “I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year,” I believe her, and I appreciate this candid, self-reflective assessment of her acting chops.
Or is she honest? She brags about not having drunk friends, but then passes on their hangover advice. She claims to be a sophisticated cook, but burns off her eyebrows during a simple duck rotisserie maneuver. She acts like she gives a fuck about needy kids by collecting things for a school drive, but then says, “I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-o-Soup.” And the person she thought was a simple twit for asking if she was wearing Juicy Couture jeans to a dinner party? Well, give the poor gal a break, Gwyneth, because you did care enough to buy and wear the damn designer jeans, so a part of you wanted people to notice. Good lord.
And remember the reason she gave last week for not having more kids? No more diapers (at least she didn’t call them “nappies”)? In April 2011, it was the fear of post-partum depression repeat. Earlier this year, she didn’t want more kids because she’s tired of driving Apple and Moses to and from school. Perhaps it’s really that she remembered saying, when she was 29, that she only had a few good years left.
Oh, Gwyneth. It’s okay to say, “Because,” and leave it at that. No one has to know your reasons. No one has to know anything at all about you. And really, that might be best. Because you keep pissing normal people off when we’ve really, really tried to like you.
And also because all your reasons are probably true, because the decision to have a baby is a fucking complicated thing, and you can have as many reasons as you want why you do or you don’t want it, and “Because,” encompasses all that.
So, yes, we have a couple things in common—fair Gwyneth and me: low levels of vitamin D, and being done with babies.
I love babies. But I give so much of myself to them that the commitment is overwhelming when I think of doing it all over again. My kid was a sleeper, too, and breastmilk poops aren’t so bad. The diapers, the sleep—that’s not the big deal for me. I think a part of me feels so lucky to have hit the Awesome Kid jackpot the first time around that I wonder how it could ever happen twice.
That, and having a baby isn’t something I can only half-ass do. I want to be there, my boob in its mouth all day, its breath on my cheek. And I’m a working fool these days, so my career would be put on hold…again? It’s not the same for a woman as it is for a man, and that’s a fact. Chris Martin can keep on being Coldplay dude for the gestational and lactational years—years!—but Gwyneth is physically locked into the deal.
So that’s one thing me and G-trow can chat about over a Shirley Temple, should she ever come back to Nashville to shoot another sub-par movie. Except I wouldn’t be able to go short notice. If we’re going to bond and all that, she’s going to need to understand that not everyone has a round-the-clock nanny.
Ben East’s “Guts,” is one of those stories where everything is subtly connected, novelistic in its depth, with spans of time and human experience. This powerhouse lands somewhere between Barry Hannah and Amy Hempel, and it stars a difficult baby.
Mylene Dressler’s flash, “The Occupation,” teeters at the brink of realism, with the reader wondering how fabulistically fantastic things might get, when a sea of babies invades the shore of an otherwise familiar Carolina coast.
Patricia Hanahoe-Dosch’s poem, “A Woman’s Middle-Age Crisis,” finds a lone woman at home and at war with the reproducing rodents who also share her nest, gestating in a womb that wants them out.
Photo courtesy of CelebrityFIX, ninemsn