My Ode to Jennifer Garner: Why Celebrity Motherhood Probably Sucks

First, let me just acknowledge that in the wake of all of the election hooplah and Hurricane Sandy turmoil, this post is going to seem trivial. But maybe we all need some triviality at the moment. So here it is.

I like to blog about what I’ve been thinking about, I’ve been thinking about Jennifer Garner way too much lately. Not in a stalkerish kind of way, but in an addicted-to-Alias kind of way. (Great show. Netflix it.)

When I told my dad we’ve been obsessively watching Alias (because there’s really no other way to watch that show), he said he’d just seen Jennifer Garner in an interview. Apparently she and Ben Affleck have three kids who are about the same age spread and genders as our three kids, but several years younger. She’s like my mom-twin, just a few years behind.

So that got me thinking.

Here I’ve been watching Alias, imagining what it would be like to be Sydney Bristow, a CIA agent living a dangerous double life. But it’s almost as interesting to try to put myself into Jennifer Garner’s real-life shoes, as a famous mom with three kids.

For the record, I’m not a celebrity-watcher. I don’t read People magazine. I try desperately to avert my eyes from the tabloids at the check-out counter. So thinking this much about a famous person’s real life is new to me.

Like many of you, my first thought about celebrity motherhood is how luxurious it would be to have the money to afford a housekeeper, a cook, a nanny, and whatever activities your children were interested in. The monetary aspect of celebrity motherhood would certainly be nice.

But in many ways, I imagine it would pretty much suck:

People expect you to be back to your pre-pregnancy shape in six weeks or less. Ridiculous, unrealistic, ridiculous, unfair, and ridiculous.

Every parenting decision you make is under the spotlight. Most moms feel a bit judged in their choices, anyway, but imagine having those choices plastered all over the media. People think they have the right to talk about celebrity moms as if they aren’t real people. Famous moms have the same insecurities, doubts, and questions about raising kids as everybody else – they just have to live them out with the whole world watching.

You worry about how your fame will affect your kids. Will people try to take advantage of your children, or befriend them just because their mom is famous? Will your kids see or hear about whatever scandal the tabloids have conjured up and question your character?

You can’t just go to the park or museum and enjoy a carefree day out with your kids. There’s always going to be someone who recognizes you and wants your autograph, or some paparazzi just waiting for you to sneeze and make an ugly face, or some creepy stalker who just likes to stare at you and your family. Ick.

More money, more problems. I know, break out the violins, right? But I think it’s a real thing. Having boatloads of money–while fabulous on the one hand–would make parenting more difficult in a lot of ways.

I was doing some research for Brilliant Star about wealth and happiness, and I came across a study of multi-millionaires. They were asked questions most people don’t ask them, such as what they worry about and what their wishes are for their children. The vast majority of them wanted what we all want for our kids – for them to lead happy, satisfying lives and make a contribution to the world – and worried about how their wealth might be an impediment to that.

Would people assume things about them because of their family’s money? How will they make sure their kids appreciate what they have and learn the value of hard work? Will people feign friendship with them hoping to get a piece of the pie? Certainly not worries that can compare to putting food on the table or affording healthcare, but worries nonetheless.

You worry your kids will feel pressured to live up to some impossible standard. It’s the same problem any highly successful parents face, but magnified by the fact so many people know who you are and the crazy notions people have about celebrities. Will people expect your kids to be famous, too? Will your kids feel like they should be actors, too? How do you help them develop an identity outside of “Famous Mother’s Kid?”

I’m sure Jennifer Garner’s got it all covered. Maybe she kickboxes all those worries away, Sydney Bristow-style. She still has a little of my sympathy, anyway.

There you go. Probably the first and last celebrity post you’ll ever see from me. Now you can happily return to your non-celebrity, non-trivial lives. I’m off to watch another episode of Alias. 🙂

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 2

  1. Plus, they always make fun of her kids clothes in Suri’s Burn Book – I know that they dress awkward, but kids are supposed to dress awkward. There’s nothing cuter than a little kid who picked out their own weird outfit. Tutus and cowboy boots are the best!

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