There's no such thing as being able to give your children the perfect life—no matter how much love, attention or stuff you can give them.
In fact, the more you have, presumably the more pressure you feel to do everything justexactlyright for your little one. And if you're a famous mom, compound that pressure with the weight of a thousand armchair critics judging, as we've witnessed, just about everything, from how much time you spend with your baby to how you hold your baby to what you feed your baby to what your child wears to how often—or not often enough—you post photos of them on social media.
The only solution to that problem is to completely tune out the noise, which most celebrities become pretty adept at long before they become parents, only to be shocked all over again by how much perfect strangers are at the ready to poke holes in their lives.
But aside from all that unnecessary excitement, there's actual life. Life as a working mom, life on the road, being away from your kids, parenting as part of a couple or as a single parent, making the tough decisions, the joys, trials and tribulations of raising children. Some famous moms don't talk much about their personal lives, but just like anyone sharing with a friend, sometimes talking it out helps booster one's own convictions that maybe, just maybe, you're not entirely screwing this whole parenting thing up.
"Sometimes I feel guilty that this is my son's life: We live on a bus and we're in a hotel room and sometimes we're in the middle of nowhere and it's not so great. It's not all glamorous," the country artist revealed her reservations about having her toddler on the road—which he probably loves, or has otherwise readily adapted to.
She used the g-word again when talking about having a nanny to help out with Isaiah, particularly when she's on tour, but she feels "guilty asking someone to watch him at home while I run to the grocery store."
So Underwood, who certainly seems to be giving her son a blessed a life so far, struggles with the same niggling feelings of inadequacy that mere mortals are faced with constantly. She might want to chat with Kate Hudson, mom of 12-year-old Ryder and 5-year-old Bingham, who knows from feeling terrible while figuring out how to balance her own needs with those of her sons, and who recently shared her hard-fought philosophy with the rest of us.
"Some days I feel like I should win best mom of the day award, and some days I find myself doing strange things that don't have any real purpose, in faraway corners in my house, and I realize I am literally and deliberately hiding from my children," Hudson wrote in an essay called "Sometimes I Feel Like a Bad Mom" for the May 2016 issue of InStyle.
That piece, and the headline in particular, understandably got a lot of attention and sparked more than a few conversations among those who totally related to the feelings she expressed, those who took major issue with Hudson seemingly accepting of her frailties as a mom and whether or not she was even qualified (as a rich and famous person) to be complaining about any type of hardship.
But what Hudson really revealed, whether you're a fan or not, is that she's quite human underneath the layer of stardom, and she brought up feelings that can't be so unusual, but rather may be an uncomfortable subject to think about for women or men who still think that they should have all of a sudden turned into different people with entirely different interests and priorities altogether once they became parents. (There's probably a discrepancy for most people between doing something because you know it's the right thing and doing it because you really, really love doing it.)
Because, as she more or less noted, parents—and moms in particular—are often made to feel guilty (whether it's by other mothers, society or whoever) if they aren't all-mom, all the time.
"If I have extra time, I want to be with my kids. I still have that mom guilt," Sarah Michelle Gellar said back in 2013 when her children were 4 and 1. "I haven't had a facial since my first child was born."
Not that there's anything wrong, on the flip side, with moms truly wanting to spend every second possible with their kids—they grow up so fast, after all. But it is unfortunate that a word that evokes such a crappy feeling (guilt can cause all sorts of physical ills: fact) is the alternative.
Kerry Washington, whose second child is due any day now, discussed those very expectations earlier this year and, understandably, takes issue with the stigma that women should feel kinda bad about taking time just for themselves.
"Women use this 'guilt' word a lot, but I'm not sure how I feel about it," the Scandal star said in the March issue of InStyle, a precursor—unintentional or otherwise—to Hudson coming clean about the struggle to get to a place where you aren't beating yourself up all the time for not finding every single thing your kids do interesting. (As a mom of slightly older kids, Hudson has had more years to work on this, of course.)
"I know why it's the word that keeps coming up, but I can't co-sign on it yet," Washington added. "There has got to be a better way. You can't be all things to all people all the time. You have to experience your humanity, you have to know you are a limited vessel and can only do so much."
See, all the resources in the world that help to ensure your child is always cared for don't make any difference when it comes to a mom's inherent feeling that, if she's not constantly spending every spare moment she has with her kid, then there's something wrong with her.
And this seems to be a big year for hashing this issue out, with the summer film Bad Moms starting a new round of conversation about what it means if you're whoever you are first and a mom second.
"I put so much pressure on myself to figure out, 'How am I going to balance work and life?'" soon to be mother of two Mila Kunis, who starred in the film along with fellow real-life moms Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn, said on Today in July. "And I realized it's impossible. It literally ate me alive. No one put the pressure on me. I just did it fully to myself, and I think this character is the same way, and so I related to that."
"There is a healthy dose of teaching your children, though, in that mom guilt," Hahn offered during an interview with Merlot Mommy while promoting the film. "Yes. Now that they're a little bit older, I'm lucky. I feel so blessed that I have a job that I really, really dig, and that when I'm not with them, it's somewhere where I'm excited and inspired, and hopefully they'll be able to see their mommy, you know, that she's doing something she loves and...but, yes, of course. Of course. It sucks."
At least it's universal—and seems to dissipate a bit as the kids get older. (Besides, by then you'll have all new things to feel guilty about.)
Hahn made a rather fabulous point about how being your own woman with a full sense of self sets a good example for your kids—not that it makes it any easier to carve out time, or to feel comfortable wanting to carve out time, to do that.
Then, as the family grows, there's the concern that you're not giving each kid the proper amount of time, let alone the luxury of worrying about time for yourself.
"As a mom it's hard because I don't feel like I'm ever giving either one of them 100 percent of my attention or 100 percent of myself, so I carry a lot of guilt,'' Megan Fox, who has since become a mother of three, mused in 2014. "Do they each understand how special they are and how much I love them? And are they understanding that they're unique? It's hard to make each one feel like an individual when you have to raise them together and manage them together all of the time. So that's the most difficult part."
But Fox too continued to figure it out along the way, telling E! News in 2015, "It's tough. You feel like a lot of mother's guilt, having to leave [your children] all the time, and then at a certain point, I had to just release that and go, 'There are my kids, these souls came through me for a reason, they're gonna be bonded to me no matter what and this is a part of life. I have a job, I have to have a job.'"
In the meantime, here's hoping Sarah Michelle Gellar finally found time for that facial.