I haven’t been to see ‘I Don’t Know She Does It’ yet, but it’s on my list. Along with the 264 other things I need to do.
I did read the book, about how difficult it is for a working mother to find a work/ life balance when it first came out about 10 years ago and very much enjoyed it. Of course that was before I was trying to find that work/ life balance myself and it wasn’t just all so close to home.
The film seems to have provoked somewhat of a vitriolic reaction from some quarters. Working mums tend to read/watch the story and think: “Thank feck I’m not the only one who feels like I’m in danger of meeting myself coming backwards”.
There are others who say women who have it all (and by having it all, they mean women who are, in fact, doing it all) need to just stop expecting the world to either A) pat them on the back and say well done, aren’t you just class? or B) commiserate with them about how tough they have it.
Me? I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m one of those ‘doing it all’ mammies. I have two children, a house to look after, a full time job and a secondary career as an author.
There are times I find it an interminable struggle and I long to find the pause button. In fact if I had a pound for everytime someone said to me “I don’t know how you do it” I would have, well, around £57 by now (which would pay for a nice massage away from it all). I am very busy, and very tired.
There are times when I feel as if I’m wearing too many hats and I’d love to take one off for a while.
That said my house would always need looking after, I can’t just offload the kids (nor would I want to) and working my full time job is something I enjoy and which is also a financial necessity in these lean times.
The only thing, conceivably, that could give is my writing - but surely I’m allowed a little something for me?
Those who give out about us complaing women seem to think that no, actually, I’m not allowed something for myself. They say that we’ve all made our beds and we need to lie in them.
If we choose to combine motherhood with a career we have to expect to take the rough with the smooth, they say.
Many of those same people say women shouldn’t have children in the first place unless they are prepared to stay at home and rear them - as if that is a choice we can all just make freely without having to worry about the financial consequences.
Or they say you cannot expect to succeed in your chosen profession while combining motherhood. No, it just isn’t possible and more than that it is selfish for you to even want to try given that you have childless colleagues who are obviously more dedicated to the 9-5 than you are. The whole thing makes me want to sigh, and then maybe drink some, and then perhaps throw something.
Are we really still at a stage where we are arguing about this and where ostensibly grown and professional people (mostly women) are slinging mud at each other about who deserves to do what, and what decisions we should make and telling us all how we should live our lives?
I should put it on the record that I don’t take any particular joy or sense of achievement when someone says: “I don’t know how you do it” to me. (These days, I’m more likely to want to cry on their shoulder and say “neither do I”.)
I tend to try not to complain about my lot because, essentially, I live a good life and get to do great things and meet lovely people, even if sometimes I’m too tired to talk to them. I don’t expect people to congratulate me.
Nor do I expect people to commiserate with me. What I do expect, and which I believe I’m entitled to, is to have people respect my right to make decisions about my life and what I think would best suit me and my family.
It is my firm belief that the vast majority of women out there are doing what they feel is best for them, their children and their careers.
It isn’t easy for anyone in the modern world so why not just respect those who are doing their very best? There’s no room for judgement with mutual respect and everyone ends up feeling a little happier.