by Meredith O'Brien
I feel as though I’ve been on a reality show binge lately, what with all the Jon & Kate and Raising Sextuplets  madness. And for some reason, the Tori & Dean Home Sweet Hollywood’s  fourth season called out to me and made me watch it . . . against my better judgment.
Last year, my Mommy Track’d editor, the lovely Amy, asked me to write about Tori Spelling’s reality show  and, in true journalistic form, I felt as though I had to study up on my subject. I gorged on a marathon viewing of Tori & Dean episodes and then plowed through Spelling’s book sTori Telling  fully expecting to find it as odious as other reality show fare like, say, The Cougar . Funny thing though, I didn’t hate Tori & Dean. This former 90210 fan found myself actually admiring Spelling’s work ethic as a member of a dual-career couple with two kids, even though she did seem a wee bit obsessed with throwing parties and dressing up her dog.
So when season four of Tori & Dean premiered this spring and Spelling’s new book Mommywood  came out, I found myself unable to resist. While watching the latest episodes, I realized that even though Spelling is being pulled in myriad directions by work (as is her husband), there’s something distinctly different about the working parent mania that they experience. That something different can be summed up in two words: Hollywood and celebrity.
When my three kids were babies and toddlers, I could look like the sleep-deprived hell that I felt and bring my diapered trio to a public playground without worrying that I’d be followed, photographed and videotaped. I could buy copious amounts of the legalized controlled substance known as java at the drive-up window and not worry about the Red Sox hat I’d jammed over my unkempt coif, or the T-shirt and sweatpants I was wearing. When I worked on my articles, columns and blogs at my house, I could do so without worrying about my appearance.
Not so for Hollywood mommies like Spelling who are ruthlessly tracked down by paparazzi, with the results published and disseminated on the internet so that snarky writers in pop magazines and bloggers could mock her. Oh, and regular moms don’t have their lives chronicled by the hot lens of a reality show, unless you’ve had sextuplets. The pressures on celeb moms are more intense. Take for example, postpartum body issues. After giving birth to her second baby via C-section at the end of last season, Spelling’s body was issue number one for the celebrity press. “Postbaby bodies are what they are,” Spelling wrote in Mommywood, about criticism of her figure after having her second child Stella. “The newborn is the priority, and it’s all we moms can do to try to get enough sleep. It’s natural to want your former body back, but whether or how you can do anything about it is different for everyone. In the world of news magazines, however, Hollywood is supposedly full of celebrities who are back in tip-top shape minutes after the baby lets out its first cry.”
Body issues aside, on this season of Tori & Dean work-life juggling has become THE main issue facing both parents. They’ve doubled the number of kids they have while they’ve been fortunate enough to be offered acting gigs which, unfortunately send them all over the place, including Canada. Simultaneously. Amidst all of this, Spelling was coping with moving into a new home, selling her old home in a challenging real estate market, finishing her book, getting photos taken for her book cover, attending wardrobe fittings for her roles, learning her lines for her acting jobs and dealing with a tot who’s in the throes of his terrible twos. By the fourth episode of the show, her husband Dean headed out to Calgary for a five-week film shoot leaving Spelling home with the two kids and the baby nurse, who cares for the kids when Spelling’s at work. Watching Spelling complain repeatedly of a nervous stomach and her insecurities about returning to the 90210 set, made me realize that she is, at her essence, a harried working mother like many of us. Even amid the glamour of the photo session for her book, where she was in couture I could only dream of wearing while looking fabulous, her reality show told the real story: During that session, her 2-year-old son Liam was toddling around, eating half a bagel, getting crumbs everywhere and grabbing at her legs.
In Mommywood , Spelling went on at length about her internal conflicts over working while parenting: “I wish I could afford to be a stay-at-home mom. I fantasize about taking Liam to a Gymboree class or going to Mommy and Me groups with the new baby every single week instead of just when I can fit in . . . [However] I’m constantly working. I work seven days a week. It’s not just the TV show. I have fifty million other projects and obligations . . . My prime earning years are their prime growing years. It gives me grief and guilt every single day.”
Sounds very similar to something many of us mere mortal moms who’re trying to work and raise kids might say . . . except that Spelling’s famous, is being followed around by a reality show film crew and paparazzi.
read Mommy Trackd's interview with Tori Spelling