Single Parenting, Reese Witherspoon and Charting My Course

I’ve had a girl crush on Reese Witherspoon for quite a while.

Of course I would love someone who named their company Type A Productions.  There are a few similarities between us, including that we are both short and known for working a lot. There are even more differences, including that she is blonde and skinny and rich.

Despite these differences, I’ve felt a connection to some of her earlier characters. I’m a little more like Tracy Flick in Election than I would care to admit. Legally Blonde came out while I was in law school and I wanted to be Elle Woods.

Reese’s real life journey, though, is what has made me feel what I know is a nonexistent bond with her. We were born in the same year. Reese and I both had our first child when we were quite young.  We finalized our divorces around the same time.   Last spring we were married within weeks of each other. I was the first of my friends to have a baby, and I didn’t have any friends to share their recovery from a failed marriage. She spoke about the challenges of single parenting when I didn’t have anyone else to confirm that what I was doing was in fact crazy hard. I felt very alone, but somehow knowing that Reese was going through similar events was comforting to me.  It felt like life’s curveballs were not aimed solely at me and that sometimes life isn’t what we expected, regardless of fame or fortune.

News of Reese’s pregnancy with her third child broke recently, and I was surprised that, in addition to feeling happy for her, I also felt a twinge of betrayal. I know that I had no reason to feel that way. It’s just that I don’t think I’m ready for another baby.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be.  And that means Reese is heading in a different direction on a path that no longer parallels my own. My feelings about Reese’s baby news were more about wanting to know that someone was walking the same line (sorry couldn’t resist) than it was about my ambivalence toward having a child.

That said, I think Reese and I have both found our way through dark days and come out on the other side stronger and more capable of appreciating the happy places we worked to create for ourselves. We can find great joy in the new families we have forged with partners, and the ability of those partners to parent a preteen means more to us than anything. If these new families take on different shapes and we embark on different paths, I will be just fine.

I don’t need Reese to make me feel less alone. I’m learning that I need to comfortable charting my own course and I’m working on that. I’m  capable of finding my own way without a celebrity co-pilot.