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Reese Witherspoon  on being a working mom—and what it feels like to miss those school pickups

In a perfect world, we mamas would just clone ourselves. One clone could be at the office; another could be carpooling the kids. But the world’s not perfect and, unfortunately, we just can’t be everywhere at once.


Reese Witherspoon knows how it is. The 41-year-old mom of three (daughter Ava, 18, and sons Deacon, 14 and Tennessee, 5) has been balancing a busy career and motherhood since she was 23, and, notes that sometimes it’s the little things can get a mom down.

“I was driving my son to preschool two days ago, and he said, ‘Mommy, I know you work, but the other moms work, and they do drop-off, but they ALSO do pickup,'” she recently told USA Today.

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“And it hurts, you know?”

Yeah, we know, Reese.

Balancing career and family can be such a challenge, and every working mom has moments or days when you’d rather be with your kids than at the office, but research shows that while missing pickups may make us wince when moms work their children’s development isn’t impacted.

There are definite benefits to growing up with a working mom. Studies have shown that interactions between working moms and their kids are cognitively stimulating and that working mothers read to their kids more. The research suggests parents who are aware of the time they spend away from their kids make an effort to make the time that they do have quality time.

For Witherspoon, this means being as present as possible when not at work. She tells USA Today as soon as she gets home, she puts her phone down to focus on family time. “We have family dinner. Weekends, I usually don’t work,” she says.

Keeping her weekends for family (something Ashton Kutcher does, too, by the way) means Witherspoon’s kids get the best of her and still get the benefits of having a working mom.

Witherspoon herself was raised by a working mother (her mom was both a nurse and a teacher), and it shows. Research suggests that when women are raised by moms who instill strong career aspirations in their kids, they feel better about working as a parent in adulthood and that boys raised by working moms do more around the house as adults.

Some moms work, some stay home, some do both, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Witherspoon has made the right choice for her family, and while her youngest would prefer her to be present for both school runs, her oldest son brought her to tears recently for another reason.

“When they saw me on stage with Oprah at the Golden Globes, my son who’s 14 texted me: ‘Mom, that was really amazing, and I’m really proud of who you are as a mom.’ That one got me. I’m going to cry," she said.

Sometimes it hurts not to be the carpool mom. And sometimes it’s so worth it. You do you, mama.

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