Listen, I’m a fan of Ashton Kutcher, OK?
I was a fan when I giggled through episodes of Punked, I was a fan watching him light up the screen with the adorable Brittany Murphy, I went along with the Demi thing because who am I to judge and I tipped my hat to the cutesy grunge thing he and Mila got going on.
But I can’t help but shake my head a little at how clueless Ashton is as a new parent — and how insulting some of his comments during his appearance on The Ellen Show are to parents living a much more down-to-earth reality.
At first glance, most of his views on parenting seem sweet and harmless, like how he calls Mila “the greatest mom.” Cute, right? But then in the next breath, he says it’s because he comes home and she looks perfect and it seems like everything all day “went perfect.” He concedes that most likely, her day was certainly not perfect, but she never complains.
“She’s unbelievable,” he sums up.
Unbelievable is definitely the word — because I can pretty much guarantee that such a blissful scene is definitely not reality. Motherhood is incredible, but any first-time mom who is spending days alone at home with a newborn baby needs to have the freedom to talk to a partner without the pressure of making everything look hunky-dory. Even mothers who complain — ahem — need that outlet to be heard and to share some emotional responsibilities with their partners.
Next, Kutcher goes on to say that he and his partner have eschewed a nanny so they can be “emotionally in touch” with their daughter, a feat only possible by being the ones to actually care for her. “I think that’s only possible by being the one who’s there,” he explains.
Let’s pause here. Because by this statement, what Ashton actually means is Mila being the one who’s there, as he just got done explaining how he goes off to work every day and comes home to his coiffed partner and cooing baby. I’m sure that Ashton gets more time off and more flexibility than most dads, but still, statements like this rub me the wrong way. Dads, even the best “hands-on” dads get a free pass when it comes to child rearing — sure, they are pitching in more than ever, but the real stuff of childhood, the weighty emotional and developmental health of a child, still rests heavily on Mom’s shoulders.
And the whole aren’t-we-great-because-we-can-afford-nannies-but-don’t-have-them attitude always makes me laugh. Granted, Hollywood is a different reality than most, where the absence of a nanny is even something that is remarked upon by a talk show host, but are you kidding me? We are lauding parents for what exactly? Parenting?
What was missing from Ashton’s pep talk with Ellen that I was grateful to see skipped was any discussion about Mila “bouncing back” from pregnancy, a la People magazine’s feature on her. When she appeared on The Late, Late Show, the mag reported, she of course attributed her still-sexy body to breastfeeding, calling it a “great workout.”
I don’t know what world these celebrities are living in, but first of all, we need to get rid of the term “bouncing back” from pregnancy — there’s nothing to “bounce back” from. Pregnancy changes your body, period, and that’s a beautiful and completely normal thing, not to mention the intense pressure to get one’s body back ruins the intense bonding time of those first few short months. There’s moving forward in a new normal, there’s learning to love your body for more than just what it looks like and there’s staying healthy, but there’s bouncing back from anything. Second of all, can we let the lie die that breastfeeding makes you lose weight already? No celebrity mother on earth loses weight solely by gazing at her baby all day and watching pounds melt off her body with blissful periods of breastfeeding.
It’s all well and good that Ashton and Mila love being parents so much, I’m sure the kid will be pretty cool and I’m genuinely happy breastfeeding is working for them, but come on, can you be a little more honest about parenthood? The real reason all is so hunky-dory is that they do have plenty of help — and that’s not something to gloss over. They may not have a nanny, but I guarantee they have housekeepers, cooks, trainers and occasional babysitters aplenty.
“I look at this as the greatest opportunity of my life,” Ashton says of becoming a father.
And it can be, Ashton, it really can be. If you come off that high horse of parenting just a teensy bit and step into the real world, where mothers are a wreck at the end of the day, parents get creative about staying emotionally in touch because they have to work to make ends meet, housekeepers are a luxury and breastfeeding does not magically make fat melt away.