Can women really have it all? That seems to be the central question raised whenever the topic of working mothers comes up. Of course it’s absurd because no one ever asks the same of men who have children, and yet, as women it’s also one we tend to ask ourselves as well. Is it truly possible to work, achieve success on a professional level and still raise our children? That question is at the core of the Season 1 finale of CBC’s Workin’ Moms, written and directed by creator/star Catherine Reitman. The finale episode, and really the entire season of Workin’ Moms, has explored various ways and struggles each of the core four characters have as they try to balance life, marriage, work and motherhood.
Kate has been struggling all season trying to find the balance between what is right for her professionally and what is right for her family. She is a woman who refused to believe that having a baby was going to stop her from achieving all the goals she had set for herself professionally. She’s always been aware that because of that, there are sacrifices that are going to need to be made, but mothers need fulfillment in areas outside of just their children. The question becomes for her, and for many of us mothers, how much do we allow for that fulfillment even when it’s taking us away from our kids? The struggle to find that happy medium is one that is constant and never easy.
I’ve been in the exact same spot as Kate is when the finale opened, busy, trying to focus on work and what needs to be done when life interrupts. I’ve sat there just like Kate thinking ‘Really? Am I the only one who can handle this? You’ve got to be capable enough to deal with this on your own.’ Charlie’s illness couldn’t have came at a worse time for her. Often it can feel like just when things are getting good and looking really great that life has a way of slapping us back to reality and it certainly did that for Kate this week.
In the middle of what’s quite possibly the biggest meeting of her professional life, Kate is interrupted by her husband calling from the hospital. She’s finally reached the level at work she always thought she wanted, trying to land a big deal and gets interrupted by Nathan’s call. While she tries to calm him and play things off like Charlie having the measles is no big deal, she’s clearly shaken by the weight of the news and not being able to be with her son. Thinking she has an ally in her boss, Victoria Stromanger (the always brilliant Wendy Crewson), it’s clear she doesn’t when when Victoria warns her that she’s on a slippery slope.
Confused at first, thinking that being a working mother herself Victoria would understand what she’s feeling, Kate quickly realizes that Victoria is right, it’s just her slippery slope is different than the one Kate is afraid of. Kate realized quickly that if she were to start missing moments like this with her son that it’ll only get easier and easier for her to do so. Soon she’ll end up like Victoria, not caring what major events in her son’s life she’s missing because of work, and that what she’s feeling is much more than just guilt over not being present.
When Kate finally did get to the hospital she understandably wanted nothing more than to hold her baby and comfort him, but also herself. It was a little hard to watch as all the judgement she had been putting on herself as a mother was on display for others to join in on as she tried to put the bandaid on her crying baby. As harsh as that judgement felt for her, something tells me no one was judging her harder than she was herself in that moment.
“So I’m sorry. I know I do a lot of things for me and that you need more. I hope you can forgive me. I hope I can forgive me.”
Forgiving ourselves is really the key for us mothers too. We tend to take the weight of the world on our shoulders and hold ourselves to an incredibly high standard. It’s one we’d never hold others to or that anyone else is expecting us to meet. When we then fail to meet it it’s not others or our children who are disappointed with us, but it’s ourselves. It’s very easy to feel ashamed and like we aren’t good enough, but it’s a good reminder to know that really the trying is what counts. Trying, showing up and being present, and that’s exactly what Kate did, so something tells me she, Nathan and Charlie are going to be just fine.
The other storyline in the finale that really hit home for me was Anne’s. All season long she’s struggled with her relationship with oldest daughter Alice. She’s constantly felt disconnected from her and like she was in a competition to prove that she’s a good mom in comparison to “Mean Nanny.” In fact, one of the big factors in Anne’s decision to have the abortion last week was to improve her relationship with Alice. She must be doing something right though because even though Anne thought she was set up and purposefully made to look bad in her daughter’s documentary, it turned out to be quite the opposite.
“I’m proud to be my mom’s daughter. She takes great care of all of us. She’s probably the best mom I’ve had. She can’t build anything and she doesn’t know how to sew, but she’s strong and smart and I love her. I love you mom.” – Alice
Catherine Reitman, get out of my head. Between Kate’s fears of not being there when her son truly needed her and Anne’s story here it really felt as though Reitman had read my diary, knew all my deep seeded fears and guilt I hold as a mother. Will my girls hate me because I don’t like pink like them? I am horrible at doing hair and makeup. What will they think when they need help getting ready for spring formal and I’m useless? I’m going to fail at some point and what will they think of me then? Will they still think I’m so great when their world isn’t so small?
These are questions we all have and fears all mothers let seep in now and then, but I truly believe, just like Anne, that I’m going to be OK because the answer is “yes.” I’m here and I’m trying and that’s the best thing we can give our kids. They don’t expect perfection and neither should we. Seeing Alice’s video really reinforced to Anne that she had made the right decision. She wanted what was best for her children and to strengthen relationships and seeing that video was proof she did the right thing for her family. It felt right to then see Anne end the season on such a nice note with her family right by her side.
So just like that Season 1 of Workin’ Moms has come to a close. It was consistently one of the funniest, most touching, truly honest and relatable shows on my screen each and every one of these past 13 weeks. I’m so glad that Reitman and company had the guts to put such realistic portrayals of women on screen every week. They were women I wanted to be friends with, women I felt like I knew in my everyday life, and women I sometimes didn’t like so much. But above all, they were women who were real and for that I say thank you Workin’ Moms. I’m going to miss having my weekly “therapy” with you all each week.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic work Juno Rinaldi has done all season long portraying Frankie’s struggles with postpartum depression. It’s so nice to see her getting help and that she and Giselle share a genuine love. Postpartum is something people don’t like to talk about and it’s great to see Workin’ Moms once again not shy away from the tough topics.
I think we all feel for Ian and aren’t quite sure what Jenny is going through. Jenny is a prime example where Workin’ Moms knows it’s OK for us to not like her, but it is important to keep her grounded and feeling real. The writers and Jessalyn Wanlim have done great showing the battle going on inside as Jenny tries to figure out what’s happening with her. Watching Jenny I’m reminded of many women who think getting married and having a baby is going to fix a lot of things they aren’t happy about in their lives. What happens when it doesn’t and what’s next?
The music has been absolutely stellar all season long but “You Are My Sunshine” to close out the season was an A+ song selection from music supervisor Andrea Higgins. She truly is the best in the business!
What did you think of the Workin’ Moms finale? Sound off in the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.