As a mother, I constantly feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends and striving for perfection in all areas of my life. Perfection is a totally unrealistic expectation in motherhood. And I’m not even sure why I feel the need to make everything perfect anyway. There is nothing wrong with things being ok anyway. And even as many moms in the world would like to appear like they are doing it all with the greatest of ease, most of the time they are not. Yet, we still ask ourselves how does she do it? That’s exactly the premise of the new film, I Don’t Know How She Does It featuring Sarah Jessica Parker as a mother who appears to do it all.
I was invited to an advance screening of the film in New York City on Wednesday followed by a town hall style discussion with Sarah Jessica Parker and the author of the best selling book with the same title, Allison Pearson. I am a HUGE SJP fan and was thrilled to attend the screening. So I’ll just tell you now that any real unbiased judgement about the film is out the window! But the discussion afterwards was very comforting and honest.
SJP along with the author Allison Pearson were joined by Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein from Moms and the City . The discussion started out between the four women on stage and then turned to the audience at the request of SJP who wanted to hear what the other working moms in the crowd thought about the premise of ” doing it all”.
The questions and comments ranged from a working mom who was concerned that her children were spending too much time with their grandparents while she was at work. To a stay at home mother of five who felt like she was missing out on part of the career world while she raised her kids. Another single mother of two, Nichelle Pace of StyleMom, spoke of her upcoming 40th birthday celebration and her friends attempt to turn her all girls event into a bring-your-kids-along celebration. Obviously Pace was very upset that her friends were turning her one chance to get away without the kids into a family event.
When a recently married woman asked Pearson about the right time to start a family, Pearson commented that the book could be viewed as “birth control” for many women. As all mothers know, parenting is extremely challenging yet very rewarding. Trying to explain that to a woman who does not yet have children is a hard thing to get across sometimes. The film doesn’t sugar coat any of the things that mothers miss out on while the are at work or away on business. SJP added that while she was pregnant with her son James Wilkie that she constantly worried about screwing him up in some way while raising him. I had the same thought when I was preggers, too.
How the film is perceived outside of major urban areas will be of interest to me. I don’t know many women or have many friends who have the high stress, high intense, travel heavy job that Kate has in this film. I know lots of men with these types of jobs but they aren’t the ones who are typically trying to manage the family as well. Most of these women will relate to part of Kate’s struggle but not all of it. But I feel confident they will look at SJP and think back to Carrie Bradshaw and the Sex and the City days.
Now that I’ve had time to process getting to meet SJP, I have had time to reflect on the film itself. I enjoyed it and think you should go see it. I get caught up in schedules, chores, lists and dates just like SJP’s character, Kate. I often miss out on the in between and that is where life really happens. It’s not really lived checking text messages constantly, scanning news websites, managing three schedules, laundry, scheduling play time , date night and hurrying on the the next item on the to do list. In the film, SJP tells her on screen husband played by Greg Kinnear that their life is a total mess. But that it is their mess and they are the ones who have to live in it and manage it. I think that sort of sums up everyone’s life.
p.s. I can’t look at SJP and not take into consideration what she is wearing. SJP looked “Carrie Bradshaw” fabulous in a sleek taupe knit dress with a fabulous cropped jacket that looked a bit like Chanel. Her brown suede Manolo Blahnik heels completed the look along with her simple taupe handbag trimmed in black.