When it comes to celebrity moms, it’s hard to find a more accomplished example than Oscar-winning actress/producer/designer/author/lifestyle guru Reese Witherspoon. The star of “Big Little Lies” juggles a loaded work schedule with the responsibilities of being a mother to her 3 kids: 19-year-old Ava, 14-year-old Deacon, and 5-year-old Tennessee. Even as a massively famous celeb with plenty of financial resources and family support, Reese’s effort to balancing her home life and her career comes with stresses, struggles, and victories that working moms of all backgrounds will recognize.
Here, you’ll find 10 moments when Reese opened up and allowed us all to see her down-to-earth working mom experiences.
During the press tour for “A Wrinkle in Time”, USA Today asked Reese how she makes time for both work and family, and Reese revealed a candid example of how challenging it can be to reconcile those two major sides of her life.
“‘I was driving my son to preschool two days ago, and he said, ‘Mommy, I know you work, but the other moms work and they do drop-off but they ALSO do pickup,' ‘ she recalls, noting that Tennessee has a friend whose mom is a therapist. ‘He goes, 'Why doesn’t she become a producer and you become a therapist?' And it hurts, you know?’”
Reese’s honesty gave a genuine glimpse into the tough choices facing working moms on a regular basis. Plus, it made this gorgeous and successful superstar seem relatable AF.
“I’m just trying to hold on, trying to make it through. My older kids help with the little one. It’s nice to have a big family … My mom worked, and I think it’s good for kids to see women working and being successful. I think it’s going to make them hard workers because they see that I don’t get much sleep. But I love what I do. I want them to grow up with passion. This is the one life you get, and you have to live it to the very end.”
Speaking of setting an example, Reese clearly places value on hard work. And she wants to instill a sense of independence and productivity in her kids, regardless of their privilege. Therefore, she encouraged daughter Ava to get a part-time job as a hostess at an L.A. pizza joint and make her own money over the summer. While most teenage children of Hollywood stars rely entirely on their parents’ cash, Reese’s move will likely yield positive results for Ava down the road, according to NYC career coach Maggie Mistal.
“I love being around my mom, and this shoot was an opportunity to have fun and support her work as a female entrepreneur. She also brings a lot of comfort and positive energy with her to work, and I think it’s inspiring to see her personal relationships with everybody on set. I had a great time being a part of the shoot with the bonus of having even more mother/daughter pictures!”
Not every working mom has the ability to travel less frequently during her children’s early childhood, but if you do have that flexibility, Reese recommends taking advantage of it.
She told Working Mother that “when my kids were little, I definitely traveled less and did fewer films. Now that they are older, I find it a bit easier to travel. But I try and balance every busy time with a period of no work and just dedicate that time to my kids.”
Unfortunately, several commenters decided to take the opportunity to criticize Reese’s parenting, accusing her of serving a breakfast with “too much sugar”. Plenty of other moms jumped into the comment section to defend Reese’s choice- and Reese herself wisely chose to stay out of the fray entirely. But the fact that the dissenting comments happened at all is a calling card of “sanctimommies." Lots of non-famous moms can relate to the experience of having their parenting choices questioned by others.
In another interview with Working Mother, Reese declared her belief that parents shouldn’t shy away from career ambition, directly refuting the commonly-held opinion that mothers should only focus on their children and should push their working lives to the side.
“[Ava and Deacon] will pull me aside and say, 'I’m really proud of you, Mom.' It means a lot to me to have two kids who support my ambition to change perceptions of women. As moms, we have a unique opportunity to keep changing this attitude that ambition is an ugly quality in women. That it makes you unlikeable. What is likable anyway? I’m allergic to that word. We have to do our part to change the idea that a woman with passion and ambition is out only for herself,” Reese explained.