The media loves its working mothers. Last year it was actress Jennifer Garner. This year, it seems that all media eyes are focused on tennis star Lindsay Davenport and her amazing run up to the Australian Open last week.
True, her career “comeback” has been quite remarkable since the birth of her son, Jagger, last June. She was a stellar 19-1 until her recent loss to Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open. As a result, she’s now the highest-paid female athlete – in any sport – of all time, and she’s shown that for some mothers out there it’s not that hard to lose the baby weight and put on the muscle. (Full disclosure: I didn’t have a hard time losing the weight, but I definitely am lacking in the muscle category.)
And Lindsay seems calm and cool in the spotlight. She’s figured out a way to manage her global business travel schedule by only taking flights that are direct from Los Angeles, her home base. She does admit to having a nanny travel with her around the world, but in articles and interviews, she appears to be a hands-on mom with the same concerns any normal working mother would have. I love a story she told the New York Times recently, about an instance where she “looked over in the middle of a match and noticed that Jagger… had sun on his forehead.”
She said, “I was like freaking on the court… But then I was like, Lindsay, you have to let it go.”
I want to hate Lindsay Davenport for having it so easy in her post-baby return to work. But, as all working moms know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I remember coming back to work four months after my son was born. I idolized a woman who worked down the hall from me -- she was leading a huge part of the business, had two kids, a great nanny, and seemed happy all the time. Me? I was fretting every day about whether going back to work was the right decision for me, and I suffered through nanny drama after nanny drama.
So, while it looks like it must be fabulous to be Davenport, with her money and her ability to go back to work on her own terms, bring her baby to work with her, and cart around a nanny 24/7, the truth is that it might not be all that great. Take the recent media coverage of successful working mothers with a grain or two of salt; they're meant to inspire, but comparing yourself to these superstars -- and their above-average lifestyle -- may make the average mom feel like she’s on the losing end of a wicked Davenport forehand.