I’m an unlikely ally to Australian celebrity mom Rachael Finch who's getting backlash for revealing that she gets every weekend to herself, while her 2-year-old daughter stays with her grandmother.
“We get our weekend to ourselves,” Finch revealed to Sunday Style magazine. “I think that's incredibly healthy for the relationship. And on Sunday, when we pick her up, we have 100 percent energy back.”
Did I read that right? Did she mean every single weekend? Wait, EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND!?!
I just wrote about the struggle and loneliness of being a mom without a village and, in my post, I shared feeling envious of a mom who got an entire weekend to herself each month. The notion of getting every weekend leaves me flabbergasted.
The story has caused quite the stir in response to her story. Comments on social media range from, “Pathetic!” to “She's selfish!” to “I feel sorry for their child.”
Ouch. Here’s why I think these reactions are unwarranted.
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You have to admit that when we hear about the freedom this mom gets every weekend, we’re just a little envious. That’s understandable. Along with things like night nannies and in-office nurseries, getting weekends to ourselves is simply not happening for most of us. But it’s wrong to call Rachael a bad mom because she has a fantastic and involved family. Grandparents are key figures in the lives of many people. If this couple has grandparents that can play a major role in their family's life, that’s a wonderful thing.
Let’s not make motherhood a competition about who has it hardest; who sacrifices more.
No one gets to determine what the ideal family structure is for anyone beyond our own family. And family looks different for different people. Having grandparents involved in raising and caring for kids is common across the world. Isolated families who don’t have the help of extended family might, in fact, be more of a cultural outlier.
At our home, there's no such thing as sleeping in on Saturdays. I’ve only been a mom for a few years, but I’ve adjusted to the reality of weekend life when you’re a parent. That might be why Rachael’s experience is hard to imagine. Nights alone together? Being able to go out as we please? Weekend getaways being a recurring thing? Starting the week with your kids feeling refreshed?
Rachael is sort of living the dream, you have to admit.
Do the math: Rachael’s kid spends less time with her grandmother than many kids spend in full-time daycare.
In defense of her actions, Finch said, “A mother should never be made to feel they are not good enough for their child when they are doing everything they can to keep them safe, happy and loved. Only the parents of a child truly know what is best and should always have faith in their decisions. I value dearly the relationship Violet has with her grandmother, and I believe this is one of the most important and influential relationships growing up.”
I've only had a few child-free weekends myself and relished them. I don’t have the kind of family support that would enable me to get considerable time to myself on a regular basis, but I can’t begrudge another mom for her having it. Let’s not make motherhood a competition about who has it hardest; who sacrifices more.
Do the math: Rachael’s kid spends less time with her grandmother than many kids spend in full-time daycare. I applaud her for her candor in revealing how she's able to manage it all. A quick perusal of her Instagram reveals a stylish, jet-setting lifestyle that looks effortless. The truth is quite the opposite—such a life involves quite a bit of hard work. Building a career in television and media is hard, and you need support. She could have pretended to do it all herself, but instead she was honest. She has help. Just about every celebrity mom can attest to the same.
Rather than bash this mom for having an excellent support system, we should reframe the issue on helping mothers who need support the most, like single moms, working-class moms and military families. What can we do individually and collectively to support these moms and kids? That's the conversation we need to be having.