“Olive has a working mom,” begins Drew Barrymore’s essay on parenting, which she released on Friday on Instagram next to a picture of her daughter assiduously marking off days on a calendar when her mother will be out of town. Barrymore, who with her ex-husband Will Kopelman is raising her two daughters Olive, 5, and Frankie, 4, as religious Jews, opened her heart on the values of leaving children to go to work. In a tone both tranquil and determined, the famed actress and producer wrote, “I always explain to her that I love my Job. I don’t say “I have to go work” with a grimace on my face, because I fear it will make her feel negative about something a lot of moms must do to provide.” The 43 year-old actress and current star of the Netflix comedy “Santa Clarita Diet” wrote that she wants “to empower my daughters to think work is good and necessary,” she wrote. “And can even lead them to road of their dreams.”
Olive has a working mom. So, I came up with a couple of systems. One of which is “THE CALENDAR”. It has been very successful recently. I circle with sharpie every day I will be traveling. And I ask her to mark the day with an X once it’s done. That way she can see that I am gone at first, still away in the middle, and then coming back towards the end. She now has a good sense of my geographic place from the globe. She knows when I am leaving and coming home. I always explain to her that I love my Job. I don’t say “I have to go work” with a grimace on my face, because I fear it will make her feel negative about something a lot of moms must do to provide. My friend once said “never make your child feel like work is the bad thing taking you away from them” and I realized a lot of us tend to do that to try to make our kids feel better and that work is the yucky thing taking us away. It’s a good intention, but I am convinced I need to take a different approach. I want to empower my daughters to think work is good and necessary. And can even lead them to road of their dreams. I feel guilty as hell for being away (and what mother doesn’t?!) But i try a way to empower me and my kids into something more positive. I don’t blame work, i own the responsibility. I will be patient when she is upset if i am away. But i wanted to give her a tool, so she could understand and gage life when i am working. Like a hand made calendar. And watching my daughter follow through with as an exercise, is so rewarding. And calming to my concerns about teaching her to grasp life. I also send her a postcard everyday at Summer camp where she walks to a mailbox and pulls out my hand written card. She knows what stamps are. And snail mail. And then she carries them in her back pack. And has even started to write me back. And we save them all in a box. Like I said, I’m trying to balance life to make it as great as it can be, and we have to find ways that are authentic and true to who we are. I tried a few methods at first… and if you ever want to corespond with Olive, don’t face time with her. I learned that the hard way.
Barrymore wrote that developing a calendar with her daughter and communicating via mailed letters when she has gone has helped her daughter develop skills and gain a sense of time and place. But the actress doesn’t claim that the system is perfect. “I feel guilty as hell for being away (and what mother doesn’t?!)” she wrote. “But I try a way to empower me and my kids into something more positive.”
In case you’re not tired of being emotionally and ideologically moved by a celebrity who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Pink posted this picture of toting her two children around on tour, honoring their desire to dress up. Celebrity moms: They’re (a little bit) like us.
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny