Scarlett Johansson On Being A Working Mom: 'I'm Barely Holding It Together'

by Julie Scagell
Image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Scarlett Johansson opens up about the struggles of balancing work and family

Every mother feels guilty over time spent away from their kids but look no further than the working mother if you want a raw, unadulterated version of mom guilt on steroids. Although actors like Scarlett Johansson are perceived to have more help than us “regular” parents, they are not immune to the difficulties of balancing work and family. As she recently admitted, she is just as susceptible to feeling conflicted with her time as the rest of us.

Johansson was the guest of honor at the amfAR New York Gala last week, a gala which benefits the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting HIV/AIDS research, awareness and prevention. After her speech, the activist and actress opened up to ET about the struggle she faces as a working mom of a two-year-old daughter.

“I think you always feel a little bit of guilt… If you’re at work, you feel like you’re missing out on those special moments with your kid. If you’re with your kid, you feel like you’re not giving enough to your job. It’s a balance,” Johansson noted. “I have a lot of huge admiration for working moms. I’m barely, barely holding it together.”

Society sets working mothers up to fail because of one primary assumption made of all mothers-we must participate constantly in our children’s lives. That is the expectation. But not all women want to stay home with their children or are able to financially. Women are complex creatures. We can want to be mothers and want to be a million others things at the same time. Just like men.

So the guilt takes over. Guilt over sending our children to daycare because we get told we had a child for “someone else to raise.” Sometimes we miss soccer games and volunteer opportunities in classrooms. We aren’t always there when our children get home from school. We juggle and rearrange and rationalize. We feel like we aren’t doing enough, at work or at home. The notion of “having it all” sometimes seems like a distant fantasy.

A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that kids’ academic and emotional well-being is not necessarily dependent on the amount of time they spend with their mothers. It would seem at some point mothers should just let the guilt go. But as a society, mothers are still expected to bear the burden of child rearing and until that changes, the guilt over balancing the two will likely remain.

“I don’t profess to know anything about parenting, anything more than anybody else,” says Johansson. “Being a working mom is an incredible challenge, [and] it’s an incredible gift.”