The discussion around balancing work and motherhood is almost always relevant because it’s a daily reality for moms globally. In 2021, the labor force participation rate for mothers with children under 18 was 71.2 percent. That’s a relatively high number of working mommas.
Celebrity moms are included in the workforce and they have to balance life and parenting just like your everyday mother does. While they may have access to more resources to help along the way, the struggle can still be real. Many Black celeb moms have been open about the ways in which they try to balance motherhood and work—making them relatable to everyday people like you and me.
Working life can be so hard on moms in particular, because we tend to take on the bulk of the load. A Pew Research survey on working moms in the U.S. found that only 43% of mothers say being an involved parent is equally shared between them and their partner.
While it is difficult, we’re learning that work-life-balance may be a myth. Maybe, it’s about giving both your best and accepting that your best won’t always be perfect. On that note, here are a handful of powerful Black women who have been candid about how difficult finding balance can be.
The former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, often talks about what it’s like raising her daughters Malia and Sasha. In 2016, the Princeton graduate and author, 59, spoke at the Let Girls Learn Event in Madrid and was blunt about the double standard people have for working moms.
“When a father puts in long hours at work, he’s praised for being dedicated and ambitious. But when a mother stays late at the office, she’s sometimes accused of being selfish, neglecting her kids,” she said.
Despise the double standard, Obama has made it clear that nothing comes before motherhood–not even the White House.
“When I got into the White House, when people asked me what was gonna be my agenda, I said, ‘Well, my first focus is gonna be ‘Mom-in-Chief’…And I got criticized by feminists about that, like ‘Mom-in-Chief?’” she said on Conan O’Brien’s podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.
“I brought these two kids in the world. I have to be a good mother to them before I can help anybody,” she added.
Queen Bey, who is now officially the top Grammy award winner of all time, is a devoted mother of three while entertaining the world and running businesses. The 41-year-old has shared the challenges of being a working mom in interviews over the years.
“I think the most stressful thing for me is balancing work and life,” the Grammy winner, 38, told Elle in a 2020 issue. “Making sure I am present for my kids — dropping Blue off at school, taking Rumi and Sir to their activities, making time for date nights with my husband, and being home in time to have dinner with my family — all while running a company can be challenging.”
Rihanna, 34, recently opened up about how hard it can be to balance work and motherhood, especially as a first time-mom. She had her son in February 2022 and has been in the public eye less and less as she cares for her child. That’s set to change as she performs for this year’s Halftime Show.
“The balance is almost impossible because no matter how you look at it, work is always something that’s going to rob you of time with your child,” she said during her recent Halftime Show interview. “That’s the currency now. That’s where it goes. The magnitude of how much it weighs.”
Actress Halle Berry has given us decades of good movies, and when she’s not on set, she’s a devoted mother. The 56-year-old is a mom of two children, a daughter named Nahla and son Maceo. Her schedule is assumedly chaotic as we can imagine she spends a notable amount of time on set or dazzling on red carpets. From time to time, Berry has said that she’s experienced guilt over it all.
“I do find it’s sometimes hard to leave them and go away and do my job,” she said. “And there’s this thing called mom guilt. I’m not so sure men feel it as quite deeply as we feel it as women, but I fight against that because I want my children to grow and know that they can be parents and they can have careers that they love at the same time.”
The GOAT of tennis is a mother to one child, Olympia Ohanian, and has made it clear that motherhood is the top priority for her. Despite being a reigning tennis champion for decades, when it came time to choose, the 41-year-old decided to focus on expanding and being present for her family.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity,” she wrote in Vogue while announcing her retirement from tennis in 2022. “Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those annoying women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital — although things got super complicated on the other side. And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.”
Kelly Rowland had a buzzing career before kids and it hasn’t let up now that she’s a mom. The former Destiny’s Child member, 41, doesn’t shy away from talking about how hard it can be to parent and be on the road frequently. She is a boy mom to two young children named Noah and Titan. She told Essence though that there is a benefit to all of it.
“The truth is that when we’re at work, and I hope that people are in occupational spaces to where they’re enjoying what they’re doing, then our kids actually get the best version, sometimes a little tired version, but the best versions of us, because we’re out doing what we love,” she said. “We also get an opportunity to have a job, allow them to see us work towards something, and then bring it home to them. Just the fact that they have a home, the fact that they have food on the table, the fact that they have clothes on their back.”