The movie, ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It‘ is a comedy about a working mum, who tries to juggle it all. I finally found time to watch it (the irony of it all) during a recent break in Bangkok, where I did nothing much except to catch up on sleep, eat good food, drink great wine, watch an insane amount of shows on my iPad, center myself and re-connect with my partner.
For those of you who have not watched it, and intend to, please skip this blog entry.
The premise of the show centers around Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Kate Reddy, who is a financial executive in Boston. She recently landed a big account that has her flying to New York weekly, which significantly increases her flying time, not without protest from her family, especially her children. She does get support from her husband, who also lands an attractive job, and the show trails her difficulties in trying to balance it all — particularly, work and family.
This show is almost the story of my life.
We see humourous scenes of working mothers being belittled by what I affectionately call ‘Nazi Mothers’ — stay-at-home-mums who are nothing short of perfection and parent with very strict rules with little or no room for deviation. I always feel that Clare’s teachers go out of their way to make me feel less of a mum whenever I speak to them and they talk about my work and how it impacts on Clare’s education and well-being. Particularly with raised eyebrows and the whole ‘Oh yes, you haven’t really been around’ routine.
We see Kate having to keep up with work doubly as hard because the singletons judge her otherwise and others are ready to pounce on her weakness. I always feel that the working world can be quite unforgiving to mums because we are seen less than capable, especially when we have to attend to a family emergency. Or we have less time to commit to work, even when it’s after work.
We see Kate having to deal with her children being upset that mummy is not always there. Sometimes, she misses out on the ‘firsts’, such as her son’s first hair cut. I haven’t been able to send Clare to ballet class, since she started it about a month ago, and when I come back from a long work trip, she lets me know about her unhappiness for a day or two. Can’t blame her.
But the very heart of it all, Kate loves her job and is unapologetic about it. She understands the difficulties that comes with it, but it is who she is. What I really like about the show, is that it kept away from fairytale endings, which would probably have Kate quitting her job and everybody live happily ever after. But she didn’t. In fact, she told her husband that she understands the limitations, but does not want to give up and want to make things work. She promises to try even harder, work even harder, be a better mum and wife.
That’s what I strive to be too. To always be a better person, better mum, better everything and to excel in all areas, as much as I struggle with bits of it. Sometimes, I wonder what my life would be like, if I chose a different path. I could do things differently, but will I be fulfilled? I don’t want Clare to learn that life should be lived in mediocrity. Instead, it should be lived to the fullest!
Most days, I wake up feeling very lucky for having the life that I have – great job (super stressful most times!), great kid (super cute and super wonderful, but can also be super trying), great life experiences (some super painful). But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.