I don’t know how she does it……..

I do.

She doesn’t do it.

I enjoyed the book – I will see the movie – and whether or not you think it has a happy ending depends on your point of view. But just like “Eat, Pray, Love” or “Bridget Jones’ Diary” those other manifestos of women and love – it IS a fantasy.

The protagonist in the book is wealthy, lives glamorously, has a hot, moderately patient husband, and an engaging, remunerative, albeit demanding career. She has a fabulous body, amazing wardrobe, lovely home, and other than some nagging bouts of lice and other comically perverse moments – has a nice life. And the punchline is all about compromise and love.

The reality version of this story is a lot uglier – I lived it yesterday. Ironically I am sitting in meetings in Washington DC meant to forward the cause of women. In the midst of the meeting, phone silently rings, school calls, child in trouble – general implication – “we know you are out of town …….and your child screwed up again”. While women sit and attempt to craft policy about how to champion women’s issues, we are often our own worst enemy. The rest of my afternoon consisted of intense conversation with the ex-husband, school administration, teacher, tears, and subsequently feelings of inadequacy. Watching my female colleagues without kids getting frustrated because I had to keep stepping out of the meeting, outpublishing me, kicking my ass, and subsequently feelings of inadequacy. Today I am attempting to surreptitiously IM with my kids to make sure they have what they need today for their music lessons, keeping them glued together, while simultaneously engaging in discourse about women’s health policy.

We are selling women a bad bill of goods.

Raising kids requires resources, patience, luck, support, and endurance. And a THICK skin.

The poster children have to stop being the moms who gush about how easy it is to balance growing organic produce and a career as an entrepreneur while jetting off to Paris as their handsome husbands change cloth diapers. The poster children in my field can’t just be senior professors who chose to never have children. Honestly, I would find it refreshing to hear stories of failure, of mistakes, of messes – honestly – of raw footage, of reality.

You cannot have it all. You cannot do it. Something has to give. I am the patron saint of coming up short. In my case, I am no longer married, I made some real compromises in my career, I am not there every day for my kids. I come up short as a woman, a mother and a professional. Every single day.

And I wouldn’t trade for a minute. Yesterday was a nightmare – I cried my eyes out, I felt like I let my daughter down, like I let my colleagues down, like I let my children’s school down, like I let myself down. Most days I feel like McGyver – putting life together with safety pins and duct tape. But we learn from those days. My girls are the light of my life. My career is engaging. Every day brings something new. I am in love. Each day is full of messes and miracles. And I rarely get it right.

And that’s how she does it.


This entry was posted on Sunday, September 18th, 2011 at 11:07 am and is filed under Media and Mental Health, Parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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