Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I Don't Know How She Does It

Have you heard of this movie? "I Don't Know How She Does It" stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, and Greg Kinnear in a film about a working mom who drives herself into madness by trying to be the perfect mom, perfect employee, and perfect wife. Parker works at a large investment firm where she scores a big project and has to travel a lot, leaving her kids in the hands of her husband and nanny. At the same time, her husband lands a big gig so he's working more as well. Their kids have school functions and speech development issues, birthday parties and bake sales. Their love life falls to the wayside as Parker tries to keep up with everything.

The movie deals with all the guilt that working moms feel when trying to grow their careers and be involved in their children's lives. It really got me thinking though, how realistic is this? Is it possible to really have it all?

I think the answer is yes and no. I don't think it's possible to be the super mom who bakes, exercises, makes wholesome meals three times a day, checks homework, provides stimulating crafts on weekends, cleans, does laundry, and works outside the home in a challenging career. At least not all alone. It definitely takes two parents these days, and two actively participating parents at that. 

Travis does his fair share of chores around the house, plus cooks dinner almost every night, and takes his fair share of one-on-one time with Emily. I think in this century, it is unfair for a Dad not to do these things. It shouldn't be placed all on Mom's shoulders to do everything. But times are turning and we are starting to see more of a balance when it comes to parenting. 

However, I found this in a study through a quick Google search: 

Among mothers with children under age 18, the share saying they would prefer to work full time has increased from 20% in 2007 to 32% in 2012...Among all adults, only 16% say the ideal situation for a young child is to have a mother who works full time. A plurality of adults (42%) say mothers working part time is ideal, and one-third say it’s best for young children if their mothers do not work at all outside of the home.
How is that fair? Why does the mother have to stay at home? Why should either parent have to stay at home? Emily goes to daycare 5 days out of the week, and she has flourished. She has wonderful social skills, verbal skills, and motor skills. I attribute this largely to the fact that she goes to daycare with a mixed-aged group. She wants to keep up with the older kids, so she tries harder to do so. I know that staying at home is good for plenty of children, but daycare was the right decision for our child.

The pressure these days on moms to do it all is enormous, and frankly I think it's ridiculous.  Movies like "I Don't Know How She Does It" really aren't helping. In the end, Parker has to tell her boss that she's going to work more on her own schedule so that she can spend more time with her family, but I don't think that is realistic either. How many people can say that to their bosses? I think fewer than most think. 

I think the key to having a happy balance is letting go. Let go of the things that are not necessary or urgent. Focus on the activities you and your child like best. Kid hates piano but loves soccer? Drop piano. You like to clean and hubby likes to cook? Split it up! In a world where we feel like we have to do and be more just because social media says so, I think the better choice is to choose what is best for our families and to let the rest go. We don't have to do everything to be perfect. You're already perfect, just the way you are :o)

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