I almost spit out my coffee watching a scene from an episode of Catherine Reitman’s new mom-com series Workin’ Moms, airing Tuesdays on the CBC at 9:30 p.m.
The scene features Reitman, playing Kate, a sweaty, cursing, frustrated new mother, as she tries to kick box her cumbersome stroller into her SUV. (Once or twice, I’ve seriously debated leaving a stroller behind. Even four years later, I’m still trying to figure how out how to fold and jam a stroller in my trunk in under ten minutes or less.)
It’s these little realistic and seemingly small slices of mom life, with all the ups and downs, from the mundane to the absurd, that makes Workin’ Moms so very sippy-cup laugh aloud funny. And, oh, so relatable.
The series follows the lives of four women as they juggle love, careers, parenthood, the realities of being working moms, in an unlikely formed Mommies Group. ‘All the stories in the show feature humiliating, flawed aspects of motherhood. One you have your kid, you’re not supposed to be vain or selfish. All of a sudden, you’re supposed to be completely selfless, and I’m not sure I abide to that way to that way of thinking. We are still humans,’ says Reitman, who is the type of outgoing funny woman that you would actually want in your Mommy Group, even – or especially – if you hate or think you’d hate them. (Reitman says she’s never joined a Mommies Group.)
Workin’ Moms could be compared to the movie Bad Moms – because it’s easy to do so – but it’s nittier, grittier, more candid and realistic. (I loved seeing Kate with the ubiquitous modern mommy hair, with a messy, low-slung half-bun-half- ponytail. Now if that ain’t motherhood…)
Ironically, the idea of Workin’ Moms came after Reitman, who starred in Black-ish and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, had a mommy meltdown at work.
‘I went back to work after six weeks,’ Reitman says the mother of two. ‘I was surrounded by very important people. I had just realized I missed my first Mother’s Day. I kept going and was trying to laugh, but I don’t know what happened. I just started bawling. It was so awkward for everyone. But, at those moments, it’s real and it’s true pain,’ says the mother of two, who suffered Postpartum Depression and speaks openly about it. (PPD, too, is featured in the show.)
With Workin’ Moms, Reitman successfully attempts to also show us mothers who work that we’re not alone either, in our quest to find the balance between work and family. (Us seasoned mothers would probably say, ‘You can have it all, but not just all at once.’ But it’s fun to watch other moms figure this out in Workin’ Moms!) Basically, if you have ever wanted to pull your hair out over an unexpected pressure of parenthood, but then you realize you might as well laugh or else you’ll just cry and not be able to stop, then Workin’ Moms is for you.
From the puke-soaked ‘baby pass,’ (handing over a baby covered in vomit to the other parent) to answering your work phone while you’re pumping, to even dressing so painfully carefully to make sure you have no baby gunk on you, only to see you have deodorant stains everywhere, to bigger issues, like working with disdainful colleagues, nanny guilt, to even a friend with an unwanted pregnancy, Workin’ Moms covers a wide range of often judgmental (FUN!) parenting territory.
‘It wasn’t just that I was crying. I felt myself change in that moment,’ says Reitman of missing her first Mother’s Day. ‘I felt like I was having an identity crises. I called my husband and told him how I broke down and he said, ‘You know? How many other women are in your position? This is a really good story.’
Reitman says the series is based to reflect real-life struggles and ‘anxieties’ of women as they become working mothers, who find the transition to motherhood difficult to say the least.
Workin’ Moms tries to answer questions like, What if I don’t know who I am anymore? And, What if I don’t know what I know anymore? What new, baby-brained, mother doesn’t have some sort of identity crises? In one scene, Kate is asked by the leader of the Mommy Group how she felt about going back to work. ‘What’s the trick?,’ Kate responds. ‘I’m trying to stay positive about having it all but it seems a little…impossible,’ Kate responds. I found myself with chills on my arms, thinking, ‘Kate is me!’ I think a lot of viewers will also feel that, ‘Kate is me!’
Reitman’s hope is that both men and women will enjoy this show, as they did Sex and the City. ‘The majority of families are dual income an aren’t parent can’t afford to not be working . That’s part of the changing landscape,’ she says.
In one scene, we see Kate holding her baby by the front door, while the nanny watches. There’s an uncomfortable silence between them. Why? Mommy didn’t want to leave and felt horrible guilty about going back to work. But nanny is ready to get mommy out the door. ‘I have very strong views on nannies,’ Reitman laughs. ‘I remember a time when my son ran to my nanny for comfort instead of me. I have so much jealousy. I’ll never get over it.’ (Again, what working mother hasn’t felt this way?)
Reitman, the daughter of director Ivan Reitman and brother of Jason Reitman is, for the first time, working alongside husband, Philip Sternberg, who will also star in the show. At home, their roles are equal. ‘I’m lucky. Phil witnesses when I hit a wall. And he’ll jump in. But we pretty much parent 50/50.’
Did her famous dad have any advice for her? Well, yes, but more relationship advice than parenting. ‘My dad told me the most important thing working with your husband is that it can and will be challenging,’ he told me. ‘You know Catherine, if you want something to work, you have to want it. Everyone works hard, but you have to want it,’ he says of his 45 year marriage and work.
Reitman has not seen the movie Bad Moms. ‘No, I haven’t seen it. The last movie I think I saw was Finding Nemo.’ she laughs. Thankfully, for us mothers, 9:30 p.m. is the perfect time to air Workin’ Moms. Because for us mommies who have to be at the office tomorrow, it’s a school night.