Sandra Bullock on motherhood

I don’t know anything about the movie Gravity, but I liked a lot of the things Sandra Bullock had to say about motherhood and work, in this interview for NPR  Of course she is rich enough to be able to decide whether or not to work; but it was very, very good to hear a woman saying,

[M]y baby before was my work. That’s what I had. And then I was given the blessing of this extraordinary creature and human being, who’s turning into a good little man.

And you just, you just realize that, you know, unless it’s a great experience for myself and for him, or unless this experience that I’m being offered will benefit him down the road, I’m not leaving the house. Or I’m leaving the house, but I’m not going to go work.

And once he’s in school, you know, permanently in school, those moments for me to work will be very few and far between. And I’m so happy to embrace that. So yeah, I think it’s changed me a thousand percent. And I think it’s made me better. And I think it’s made me, you know, less worried about if this film doesn’t work, you know, “What do I have?” You know, I go, “I already have everything. And if this film doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Nothing you can do.”

She describes how hard it is to be away from her baby when she’s working on a movie — and, what you hear less often, how hard it is on him.  He didn’t like seeing her in the weird isolation suspension rig they had built to make it look like she was trapped in space.  The question of whether women can balance work and mothering is often put in terms of what is best for the woman — which is significant, but not the whole story!

Transcript and audio here.

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  • Emily

    I look forward to reading this. I have always loved Sandra Bullock- she seemed so much more down to earth than most stars. Her comments sound right on.
    (BTW, have you seen The Heat? I don’t shirk at some profanity, but there were a ridiculous amount of f bombs in that one. Still, she cracked me up and I was just happy there was a new movie out with her in it. Hilarious. )

  • LisaTwaronite

    Good for her, and I mean that.
    But (and you knew I was going to say “but!”) not every kid benefits from more time with his/her mother. Some kids are best left with more nurturing, attentive caregivers, while their mother devotes herself to the career she considers her true vocation. To each his/her own.

  • KarenJo12

    Being a parent is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Also, at least in my experience, most of the work-family conflict could be avoided and certainly significantly reduced by better workplace policies. Banning required overtime should happen, like, tomorrow. If a company really needs the work done, then hire more people, don’t abuse the ones you’ve got. Walmart is notorious for doing this, and for having unpredictable and irregular schedules designed to prevent employees from ever becoming full-time and consequently entitled to benefits, and which also make regular childcare arrangements impossible.

    For white-collar workers, encourage telecommuting, even if one day in the actual office is required. That would save on having to rent office space, parking, and break rooms as well as making the workers happier. I don’t know anyone, with kids or without, who adores commuting, and keeping cars off the road benefits the environment more than almost anything else we could do.

    Please note that both of these suggestions benefit men as much as women. Despite all the “men just lurrrrvvveee extra work, and take jobs to prove their supermanliness!!!” I’ve never actually met one who liked overtime or commuting, and wouldn’t appreciate a way to get some free time without irritating their bosses.

    • Eileen

      Oh my goodness – we must run in very different circles. My husband prefers commuting to working from home. (He’s basically self employed and can work however he wants). And I actually know lots of moms who prefer to go into the office rather than work from home. Some people, it seems, need to be away from their kids to be really productive.

      As far as OT, I’ve never met anyone, male or female, who didn’t L-O-V-E it, so long as they’re getting paid for it, that is. And I mean love it so much, they’re actually thanking God for it. I’m truly not trying to be argumentative, I am just really wowed at our very different experiences. I wonder if it’s our ages (I’m later 40′s), our geographic area (I’m in the urban northeastern US), or just our actual friends and acquaintances (I know plenty of people in healthcare and the trades who are paid hourly, but I don’t actually know any Walmart workers).

  • tster

    I feel really conflicted about the message that time away from mom is de facto hard on kids. On the one hand, I experienced this when I was in crappy daycare as a child. I would spend most of the day miserable, lonely and scared of the mean people who ran the daycares. In the last hour of the day I was just waiting for the distinctive jingle of my mother’s keys, and was heartbroken if she was late. On the other hand, I was happy as a clam when I was in a good daycare setting and would often ask my parents to wait when they came to pick me up while I played with my friends longer. With my own son, I started out working fewer hours so he could be with me most of the day, but as soon as he was in full-time daycare, he flourished. He just seems so much happier now — not to mention smarter, better mannered, and generally learning more. I hope it’s not because I am a subpar parent (I know that’s possible), but I think his personality is such that he likes to be around lots of people all the time, and I can’t provide that on my own at home. And for a while, he had a much harder time saying goodbye to Dada than to me, as he is generally the more “fun” parent.

    • MightyMighty11

      You’re funny. “I hope it’s not because I am a subpar parent (I know that’s possible), but I think his personality is such that he likes to be around lots of people all the time, and I can’t provide that on my own at home. ”

      I’m sure it’s not that!


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