Family life

Catherine Reitman: “At the end of the day, do I like who’s looking back at me?”

The creator and star of the hilarious comedy series Workin’ Moms on maternal insecurity and parenting wins.

Call her the anti-Anne Geddes: Catherine Reitman channelled her own experience as the mother of two sons—Jackson, 4, and Liam, 1—into her proudly un-cutesy hit series Workin’ Moms, which she stars in opposite her husband and production partner, Philip Sternberg. With season two on the horizon, the creator, writer, executive producer, director and star talks about finding the funny in family.

Growing up, we lived in a very creative household. Both my parents (Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and actor Geneviève Robert) are creative types. We were educated in film, and we were always watching a lot of things at a very young age, so my brother (director Jason Reitman) and I really took to it.

I wasn’t obsessed with dolls or becoming a mom and having 2.5 kids; I really wanted to be an actress. Later, I fell in love with writing. Those were the obvious loves to me. And I loved being in relationships—I knew I would probably get married. But as for the kid thing, I said, “If it fits, I’ll do it.” It was very important to my husband, and I’m so glad I did. Kids have changed my life 99.9 percent for the better. I would never go back to not having kids, although I fantasize about it all the time.

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When I’m working 80-hour production weeks, I fantasize that the boys and I will bake something together over the weekend and we’ll giggle and get powdered sugar on our faces and it will turn into a wrestling romp. Then cut to the weekend and I’m screaming my head off and hiding in the closet to get five minutes of time to myself. I’m being woken up at 5 a.m. and nothing is getting made because we order all the food. The second I’m with them in person, I’m like, “Goddammit!”

When we were making season one of Workin’ Moms, I had a three-year-old, but I also had a three-month-old. For season two, I have two actual kids. They both have their own personalities and their own demands. The series became more about how the relationships I have in my life have become more complicated. In season two, we follow these women on this new voyage of “OK, you’ve had the kid and you’re back at work. Now how do your friendships change? Now that you have less time and energy and beauty to give, how do your relationships change?”

This sounds so corny, but you have to fall in love with yourself at the end of this process. I don’t kill it at everything. I miss things all the time for my kids. I miss things at work, and I disappoint my husband, my parents and my friends. But I do have these small victories—I have little wins. At the end of the day, when I get to the bathroom and brush my teeth and wash my face, do I like who’s looking back at me? For better or for worse, I do. I have a much deeper understanding of myself since becoming a mother.

Workin’ Moms, season two, premieres January 9 on CBC.

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