Friday, June 25, 2010

in style

Cameron Diaz and I were born the same year, she in Long Beach, California, I in Oslo, Norway. We were children in the seventies, went to school in the eighties.

In 1981, Norway's first female prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, was elected. Before serving as prime minister, she had worked as a physician, first at the Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet), after that as a doctor in Oslo's public school health service. In 1989, after her third term as prime minister, she was elected Director-General of the World Health Organization. In 2004, the Financial Times listed Brundtland the 4th most influential European over the last 25 years, behind Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher.

"Gro" was also the mother of four and she looked a whole lot like my mom. And she told us that it was "best to be Norwegian."

(Photo of Gro Harlem Brundtland, courtsey nrk)

So though my mom was a stay-at-home mom with some part-time office gigs, I never questioned my opportunity to be just like "Gro" when I grew up; to have a career, and be a mom.

Diaz has another perspective. In InStyle's July issue, she explains, "I grew up in the '80s, when women who were powerful wore men's suits and couldn't have families and were tough as nails. Then in the '90s, women decided, Wait, I want to have kids and a career, I want it all. And now we're discovering in our first decade of the new century that you can't do all of it--not well--all at once. Sometimes you have to pick and choose. And that has to be good enough, having faith that you're doing the best that you can." (183)

Frankly, I am amazed and impressed by Diaz' perspective. I entered motherhood naively thinking I could continue to have a full-fledged career while being a full-fledged (as in fully present and attached) mom.

How wrong I was.

I guess, had I never left Norway, I might have stayed at home the first year of my child's life, on fully paid parental leave (established in 1946, it has grown steadily from 12 weeks in 1946 to 42 weeks, with no salary reduction, by 1993, or 52 weeks with a 20% reduction), and then gone back to work with my child in state subsidized daycare as almost all other moms in Norway do. And then I probably would have returned to a full-time career while perceiving myself a very well-attached and present mom for my child.


  1. I wonder how Cameron Diaz got so wise about motherhood when she's not (yet?) a mother! Smary lady.

  2. Maybe from watching her siblings with their kids? Apparently, she's a much loved aunt, but, as she notes, the role of an aunt "is a very different one from that of the mother" (InStyle July 2010, p. 183). When asked if she would like to have her own children, she responds: "Having children changes your life drastically, and I really love my life. Children aren't the only things that can bring you gratification and happiness, and it's easier to give life than to give love" (p. 182).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...