I Don’t Know How She Does It, the movie-version of Allison Pearson’s bestselling novel about the working-mom juggle, hits the big screen tomorrow. As a mama who’s lived several versions of the working-mama-drama (full-time, full-on working mom of an infant; part-time working mom in charge of a department; harried work-at-home mom of two) I’m looking forward to seeing it. I hope the movie is every bit as honest about the struggles of working motherhood as the book is.
When I first read the book, I was a childless working girl climbing the professional ladder. I enjoyed Pearson’s writing but I was disappointed by the book’s portrayal of the difficulties of balancing work and family. In fact, by the end, I practically threw it down in disgust. I was raised by a working mom and planned on being a working mom, and the book’s realities were just a little too real for me. And I was disappointed by the ending. I felt it gave a negative view of working motherhood with the ultimate message that women just can’t have it all. Not what I wanted to hear as an idealistic 20-something.
A few years later, when I was living the working-mom thing, I picked it up again, and read it with entirely new eyes. This time, the book’s message didn’t seem overly negative at all. It was simply the truth. Finally, I got it. Nearly five years after reading the book, some of the lines and anecdotes still dance in my head. I can’t say that about very many books.
I don’t want to give away too much about the book, so I'll just say this: if you’re a working mom or planning on being one, read it. Read it now. On second thought, maybe wait until you’ve got a year or so of working motherhood under your belt. Only then will you truly appreciate Pearson's wisdom and wit.