Whether you loved or hated the last season, chances are you are still talking about Game of Thrones. The series was a cultural phenomenon, one that captivated viewers for more than eight years. But there was more to the show than winter, Winterfell, dragons and White Walkers, and behind the scenes of Game of Thrones, there were working parents — just like there are pretty much everywhere.
Of course, it’s easy to assume the moms and dads of GoT have a great gig: They work in Hollywood, they hold down a dream job on a dream show. But as Sunday’s documentary — Game of Thrones: The Last Watch — revealed, being part of such a large-scale production was no easy task. It involved long days, longer nights and lots of travel. Personal sacrifice was par for the course. And parents like Sarah Gower sacrificed the most; the co-department head of prosthetics spoke in the film about missing out on memories and family time.
“It’s hard,” Gower said. “It’s hard being a mom.”
Gower — a mother of one — has been with the show since its inception, alongside husband (and fellow designer) Barrie Gower. And while Game of Thrones only filmed a few months each year, Gower told documentarians being away from her daughter was tough. “I think it’s unfortunate that both her parents are here so she hasn’t even got one of us at home. This was never the plan.” Upon stating this, Gower got choked up and fought back tears.
Thankfully, Gower was able to video chat with her daughter between takes — asking her about swim classes, homework and her day — but the phone sessions only went so far.
“I’ve really struggled this year,” Gower said. “I missed her Mother’s Day assembly, and I missed her Easter bonnet parade. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long, but when you are living each day, it is a long time.” Um, yeah it is. (This writer just returned from maternity leave and making through an eight-hour workday is tough; I cannot imagine how Gower made it through three months.)
That said, while Gower’s experience may be unique, she is not alone. Plenty of working parents struggle with feelings of inadequacy and fight sadness, disappointment, anger, remorse, and the ever-present mom guilt — as working parents have done since, you know, the beginning of time. Of course, working mothers often feel an extra layer of that guilt; we feel the pressure, both societal and self-imposed, to be it all and do it all. We believe we can (and must) be “supermom.”
The good news for Gower is that her and Barrie’s unique positions gave their daughter a special experience; she was able to be an extra on the most-watched television program of all time. We imagine that, for their daughter, that moment will supersede all of the other moments — the “missed” moments we parents dwell on but our children often forget.