Self Made Mom features an exclusive interview with former "Growing Pains" child star Tracey Gold!
I remember Tracey Gold most from her days as Carol Seaver on the ’80s hit “Growing Pains.” But Tracey, with her long career in acting, is much more than just a teenage superstar. Mother of three (with one on the way in 3 1/2 weeks!), Tracey has been through more ups and downs as a woman than anyone I know. Tonight, she’s starting a new chapter of her career as host of TLC’s new show, “The Secret Life of Soccer Moms.” (The show airs Mondays at 10/9 Central on TLC.) I got the amazing opportunity to talk to Tracey today from my “home office” (who says I’m not working!). As a mom who just quit her job, I’m selfishly curious about this topic. Read on for my interview and tune back tomorrow for my commentary about the show.
SMM: How did you get involved in “The Secret Life of Soccer Moms”?
TG: I met the head executive of TLC back in June on another project and when he took over TLC he brought me in for this show, and pitched it. He didn’t know I was pregnant, though, so it threw him for a curveball, but I assured him that I could do it being pregnant and that I really relate to all the conflict and guilt of working moms. Even though it’s a hosting job, I’m a woman and a mom too and I can share in these experiences. I really thought the show was a great idea, and I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done before.
SMM: Have you always been a working mom? Or did you take time off yourself?
TG: I have always worked. My job is such that I can work some and then take time to be a stay at home mom. I absolutely love to work and for me it’s a good balance. I’ve never felt like it’s been too much. The good thing about my job is that it’s conducive to being a mom. I know how lucky I am.
SMM: How was it starting a new job while pregnant?
TG: I was ok with it. If it was my first I would have thought differently, I think. But it’s my fourth child and I have had great pregnancies. At the end of the day, people were generally really accepting of it and I think in my industry it’s more acceptable to be pregnant. It’s become the hot new thing! We finished eight episodes, now I’m working to promote it and hopefully it will et picked up.
SMM: Was it hard to find the stay-at-home mom jobs? Were the jobs typically in the same field from ones they had left?
TG: It wasn’t hard to find the jobs, and in terms of the kind of jobs they worked in, it was mixed. It’s not hard to find moms who wonder ‘what could have been if I took a different path?’ People were receptive and threw themselves into it. All the families were so different in terms of whether or not the moms took the job - some did and some didn’t. Some moms were crying because they would have liked to have gone back, but there were logistical issues of day care, etc. This was real life, not just a reality show. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are a ton of opportunities for moms who’ve been out of the workforce for 10 years.
SMM: Can you tell me a little bit about how the show works?
TG: In the beginning, the moms really don’t know what they’re getting into. The moms go back, they leave and then they are sequestered for three nights doing their jobs. The dads think they are out doing the spa thing! Then on the last day, we bring the dad in and tell him what’s really going on. You get a mixed kind of reaction from the dads and the families. Some are good and some aren’t. Having the husband there adds a different dimension. And having the dad there changed the wife’s perspective too. The mom could be loving the job, but the dad isn’t loving the idea of the mom working so much and then the mom decides she wants to stay home. No matter what, though, working brought the moms a new-found confidence to stay at home. Being a stay-at-home mom is one of the most under-appreciated jobs around, but it’s the most important one. Once the moms saw themselves being successful at something else it gave them extra confidence once they went home.
SMM: How did the employers treat the moms who went back to work? Did they need to be re-trained?
TG: The employers were hugely supportive and very receptive to helping them. Some moms fit right in and others needed to be caught up. They’d go into the job really excited but realize how hard it was and want to go home where they were loved and appreciated. They liked the safety of being at home.
SMM: What advice did you give to moms on the show? What kind of advice can you give to stay-at-home moms who want to go back to work when their kids are older?
TG: I always feel like I’m going through the same situation other moms are going through. I’m trying to figure it out too as I go and I’m not going to tell anyone what to do. I think having a good support team is really important. I’m really lucky, as I have my mom and don’t need to have a nanny - it’s a real blessing. What I learned is that these women don’t necessarily ask what’s good for them all the time. They need to start asking what’s good for them and not fall into a trap of being a marytr at home.