There are two obvious reasons we have been nonstop fascinated with the birth of Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden’s daughter Raddix: 1) It’s the first real concrete news we’ve had about Diaz in years; and 2) stories of 47-year-old women becoming mothers fill us with awe. I’d also like to float a third reason: Diaz offers an example of a woman “having it all” that so many of us wish we had the money and means to follow.
First, a caveat: I’m basing this theory on rumors and hearsay, because the only official communication we’ve had from the Madden-Diaz family has been their January 3 Instagram post announcing Raddix’s arrival. This week, People reported that an insider said Diaz plans to stay home with her baby and won’t be hiring a nanny. Then Us Weekly came up with a report that Raddix was delivered via surrogate. And the latest story from People is that the couple has been focused since their marriage in 2015 on having a baby. A source said they were “getting healthy, lowering stress levels and doing everything to be positive” for all those years. Based on Diaz’s age, we might also assume that the past four-plus years involved all the many method modern and traditional medicine have come up with to treat infertility, before arriving at surrogacy, if that story is true.
If all this is true, I can’t be the only woman who wishes this path were open to everyone. By “this path,” I mean having all of our 20s and 30s to devote to launching our careers, and then waiting until we’ve become successful and satisfied with the goals we’ve attained to press pause, get married, and start a family. Leaving out the factor of sexism (this is my fantasy scenario, after all), this would significantly level the playing field between men and women in the workplace.
You might sense that I’m speaking a bit from personal experience here. Two days before I had my son, a younger, much more junior male colleague of mine was interviewing stars on the red carpet of the Oscars — exactly where I would have been if I weren’t on my sofa enduring Braxton Hicks contractions. It was clear that even when I returned from maternity leave, I’d be playing career catch-up from that point on. All around me, I saw friends and family members who were deciding not to play that game and staying home instead, even when it meant financial hardship.
Years ago, Diaz knew that’s what was happening to her peers too.
“It’s so much more work to have children,” she told Esquire in 2014. “To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for—I didn’t take that on. … Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn’t make it an easy decision. I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother. I have it much easier than any of them.”
Again, I don’t know what was going on in Diaz’s head or heart during any of this time. We all saw her as a free spirit that didn’t want to be tied down until she met Madden. We didn’t see whether she was going through heartbreak, or whether part of her did want to be a mother sooner.
But if this timeline was her choice, I’m jealous.
There. I said it. As happy as I am with my life, my son, and my new job here at SheKnows (hi, everyone!), I wonder every day where I’d be if I had spent my entire 30s child-free and ambitious.
The many women who made that choice and are now struggling with infertility might also be jealous. Not only is fertility treatment super expensive, it’s also physically and emotionally hard. From freezing your eggs to doing IVF, the hormonal toll is steep. Then there’s dealing with potential failures at each step. Who wouldn’t want the luxury of semi-retirement from our jobs while going through all of that? Having the cash to do so would also be very nice.
“At this point, I’ve done so much, I feel fulfilled with the adventures I’ve sought out in my life,” Diaz told InStyle last August. Hollywood isn’t too kind to actresses over 40, so I truly hope her decision not to make another movie after 2014 has been completely voluntary. Either way, she was saying this while also knowing that she was about to embark on the very big adventure of motherhood.
Yes, I’m writing this from the privileged perch of the 21st century first world middle class, of course. I did have birth control, a living wage, health, a partner and freedom of choice — things many women are still without. But for just a few days this week, I succumbed to my pettier human nature and allowed myself to wish we could all have even more than that.
Cameron Diaz, I wish you the best of luck with baby Raddix. And if you decide to come out of retirement or start a third act, I’ll be so excited to see how you do that too. Motherhood is too hard for any of us to let jealousy get in the way of supporting each other!
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