In an emotional interview with TODAY’s Willie Geist this week, Drew Barrymore opens up about her divorce and how she “took it really hard.” Why? Because she felt she was betraying her kids. To which I say: Oh, girl. I’ve been there. (Do you ever want to screen-hug a celebrity? No? Just me then.)
“I know from not growing up with any family whatsoever that that was the last thing I wanted to do for my daughters,” Barrymore explained to Geist of why she felt so guilty about getting divorced from her ex-husband and co-parent, Will Kopelman, back in 2016. “I think that’s why I took it so hard. It was like, ugh, the ultimate promise I wanted to make with you and for you was to have this amazing family,” she said of her daughters Frankie and Olive. “…And there’s something not working that isn’t livable. How tragic is that?”
Plenty of us parents — particularly us mothers, let’s be real, who are queens of the #momguilt — who have been through divorce with kids have felt exactly the same. And while the science shows eight out of 10 kids would rather their parents divorce than stay together amid conflict, it’s still difficult for parents not to blame themselves or feel like we’re somehow giving our kids the short straw by being unable to create (and keep) that one-big-happy-family ideal.
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The following is a dialogue between me and my daughter… ME: Olive will you take pictures for the @theststyle photoshoot. Its for a magazine people work for years to shoot for! OLIVE: Why are you asking me to shoot you mom? And who normally shoots you? ME: A photographer. But right now, the world is in a crazy place. Everything is an opportunity to do things differently! So what do you say? Do you want to be my photographer? OLIVE:I’m honored to be your photographer. I like taking pictures, so thank you. ME: Do you promise not to shoot me from below? OLIVE: Yes. And then you won’t look like you have a very big chin ME: Oh no, I’m worried about looking like I have NO chin! When @theststyle and I talked about doing this piece, months ago, it was supposed to be about the fact that @flowerbeauty was expanding @superdrug and then it became an even more involved and personal piece …. and wait til you see what it evolved into… ready … wait for it…
But guess what: Blended families can be big and happy too, and divorce can absolutely be the right choice — for parents and kids alike. And that’s true, Jo Edwards of family law organization Resolution told SheKnows, “despite the common myth that it’s better to stay together ‘for the sake of the kids… Being exposed to conflict and uncertainty about the future are what’s most damaging for children, not the fact of divorce itself. This means it is essential that parents act responsibly, to shelter their children from adult disagreements and take appropriate action to communicate with their children throughout this process.”
And from what we know about Barrymore and Kopelman’s divorce, the co-parents did everything right.
“It took me five years to be able to speak with strength, articulation, perspective, hindsight, and see everything we did right,” Barrymore told TODAY. “Because when we were getting divorced, it felt like everything was just wrong. I think it applies to everyone who thinks that something will be forever and it’s not.”
And even though Barrymore admits to Geist that she “really did not take divorce well. I took it really hard,” she acknowledges the “good news,” which “is that [Kopelman’s] family and I sort of made the most important choice to be so together and united and connected.”
Barrymore’s ongoing perspective — and both her and Kopelman’s shared commitment to their kids’ wellbeing above all — is something every co-parent can take a page from. As Barrymore wrote on her Instagram in 2018: “Like many times in life for all of us, our plans change and our dreams are adjusted. But that doesn’t mean that every second wasn’t worth it. And if that DeLorean time machine pulled up every day, I would do it all over again. After all, I did get my dream. 2 healthy girls… Will and I continue to marvel at what we made and try to be the best co parents we can be. It’s not always easy and the point is…nothing in life is. But it doesn’t mean that any bitter outweighs the sweet!”
Drew Barrymore is just one of many queer celeb moms we love.