My mom called me (many months ago) on her way out of the movie theater to tell me that I HAD to see the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”. She told me that the main character (played by the great SJP) is a working Mom trying to juggle it all, but still thought of me (a SAHM) all the way through the movie, knowing that I would love it.
Fast forward 6 months.
Sunday afternoon: Overcast and super windy with ominous clouds looming. One of those rare days where we actually had free time at the house. My wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband had a late lunch with friends and then they were going to the local NFL franchise’s stadium to choose their season ticket seats*, so I was at home with the kids by myself for a few hours. They were occupied (I use the term VERY lightly) with the electronic babysitting squad. I mistakenly thought this would be a perfect time for a movie that no one else in my house would particularly love seeing, and I purchased ”I Don’t Know How She Does It” ON DEMAND. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did this.. I should have known that as soon as I was engaged in something enjoyable for myself, their superpowers would turn on and they would instinctively know… converging on me and circling like vultures.
I did it though. I finally watched it. Although, the one hour and 29 minute movie took me roughly 4 hours to watch beginning to end. I’m not kidding.
I have no idea how many times I had to pause it, because… let’s face it, I can’t count that high, but I do know that I had to restart the movie no less than 5 times, because those pauses lasted so long that On Demand timed out and went back to its menu. It took me so long to get through the movie that the WAPI husband had time to eat, pick out seats and get home before I finished it. He then loaded up one of the 3 little birds (who all definitely felt like Woodpeckers this day) and went to the nursery to buy mulch, returning before I was more than half way through the movie.
In a moment of frustration, I actually told the Pelican (middle child, older daughter) – with a big sigh, “It’s going to take me 14 days to watch this movie!” This was triggered by the 643rd interruption, when she came in to tell me that she and her Dad were back and they “GOT 25 BAGS OF MULCH FOR THE YARD!” – She loves to narrate life to me. Every minute (as in, every tiny, infinitesimal, minuscule) detail of it. And yes, dear wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband, I do realize this is a trait that she got directly from me. I love her little self and admire her passion for living a lot. Although I can’t quite comprehend the reason for her passionate excitement over how many bags of mulch they bought, and frankly I wish she would have toned the passion down for the afternoon, because it was driving me nuts. (Dear goodness, I must drive my husband nuts, too!)
Anyway, my children walked into the room to ask me a question no less than 50 times, really. It felt more like a thousand. I had to pause the movie for all sorts of things. Door bell ringing (multiple times). Phone ringing. At least 9 “I’m hungry”s. One ball kicked hard into the window right next to my ear – which of course required me to stomp outside. Opening and closing of the back door 1200 times.. each time the blinds (that are broken and not attached to the door on the bottom) swinging back and forth, banging the door multiple times.. loud enough that I had to rewind to hear the dialogue… and on and on.
Is this the appropriate use of the word Irony? Watching a movie that is all about the struggles and challenges of motherhood (titled “I Don’t Know How She DOES It?”) – all while my children purposefully (I’m certain) try to drive me nuts. I think so.
When the yard work was finished and my husband came in and sat down next to me.. still 20 minutes left in the movie.. he comments “Why aren’t you watching this in HD?!” – I may have let an expletive slip at this point. HD?!?! What the hell? I’m just trying to hear the next line before I forget what the last one was. HD?!?! The only thing High Definition about this scenario was the constant noise that my children were making to prevent me from being able to hear the movie.. forget seeing it more clearly. (What is it about men’s obsession with high-definition? Quite frankly I’d rather him not see my wrinkles, etc. in high-definition.)
At the end of the movie, I literally stood up and did a little celebration dance – throwing my hands in the air in triumph, because quite frankly I didn’t think I was going to see the end of it. Not because I didn’t want to or because the movie was bad.. quite the contrary.. but more because I didn’t think the little Woodpeckers were going to allow me to finish it.
When I started the movie, you know, 14 days ago… I intended on writing a blog about it that concentrated only on my thoughts about the movie’s topic. What I ended up with was a blog on one of my own great motherhood struggles. Although, I’m pretty certain this topic resonates with most moms. Sometimes it feels like Woodpeckers are pecking at your head.. like you’ll never get a moment’s peace. (BATHROOM!)
In spite of the unplanned direction the blog ended up going, I do still feel like the subject matter of the movie is worth talking about. A lot.
I’ve already established that I am waaaay behind on the viewing of this movie. Which also probably means I waaaay behind the curve in reviewing this movie and writing about its subject matter. There are probably about a thousand other mom-bloggers out there that have done this already. Here’s my two cents on it, anyway:
If you’re a stay at home mom and haven’t seen it yet, watch it (even if you have to drink espresso at 5 pm and stay up til 1 am, so you can watch it in peace after they’ve gone to sleep. Which is what I’ll do next time.).. you’ll get a glimpse into some of the issues that are different for a Working Mom than for us SAHMs. And you’ll be able to appreciate the battle that a working mom fights in the working world among men. Or at least, I did. It made me want to go put on my kids’ karate hand-pads and start swinging at certain characters in the movie.
In watching this movie, I confirmed my notion that there are a lot more similarities than differences between the struggles of a working mom and that which I struggle with as a SAHM. Maybe more than a lot of people in this “great debate” realize, even. Seriously, who among us doesn’t relate to the quote, “300 presentations last year, and I never messed up once.. It’s not my fault! The pregnancy did something to my brain!” It may not be a work presentation for us SAHMs, but the mess ups are just as present in our daily lives. And I don’t know which is worse: dropping the ball while trying to prove yourself in the world of men or dropping the ball while trying to prove your intelligence and worth among the world who sees you as nothing more than a Stepford Wife. I’d say they are both equally frustrating and humiliating. See.. same, but different. Different, but the same. And that scene where Kate (SJP’s character) is lying in bed mentally writing her crazy child-induced-ADD-brain-List in sharpie on the ceiling?! Priceless. And so VERY me — and probably every one of you, as well. I would bet that’s common among us all.
I felt some sort of solace in the fact that this stay at home mom could relate exactly to SJP’s character and not at all to the SAHM characters. They were stereotypical and harsh. And while I know they were only characters, behind their judgment, I recognized something of their struggle. I wish, however, that more SAHMs in real life dealt with their mom-struggles better than these SAHM characters did. I’m happy to say that the SAHMs here in my circle of friends are not at all like that. Whew!
If you’re a working mom and you watch (or have watched) the movie, know this – I know VERY few, if any, stay at home moms who are judgemental like these stereotypical ones in the film. Most that I know keep themselves so busy with projects and volunteer work that they are, in fact, just trying to juggle it all.. much like you. Most of the SAHMs I know struggle more with their peer’s perceptions of them (and probably our self-perceptions) than they do judging other moms.. But I do know that those judgmental moms are out there. On both sides of this debate. And that’s a shame. Maybe talking openly and honestly more will help lessen that divide that many experience between the two.
Far too often women turn their own self-doubt and guilt – or struggles – into defensive feelings that come out as anger, judgment, and even an attack on other moms. But we never really make ourselves feel better by judging others or making them feel bad. Modern-day society makes it hard enough on women, we have to practice understanding and supporting each other more, instead of piling on. SAME TEAM!**
To quote myself in previous posts: “Just because my family’s circumstances, needs, and personalities lend themselves better to me being “at home”, doesn’t mean that is, or should be, true for every mom. I know that for a lot of women, working makes them an even better Mom (this was true of my grandmother – even back in the 1950’s and 60’s!), and I love that we all thrive in different environments. — All Moms struggle. It doesn’t matter what your particular “motherhood” circumstances look like: 1 kid or 10 kids. Working outside of the home or stay-at-home. Married or single. With a house keeper or a house full of dust. It doesn’t matter what your situation; if you’re a mom and you’re being honest, you struggle. With different things, maybe. But struggle still.”
And yes, Mom, you were right! I did love it!
* See?! We’re both doing a pretty good job of having friends and making time for ourselves.. so that we “both have something to bring to the relationship” as my mom says.
** I’ve said it before, but really.. we should be a united force – all Moms, no matter or work status – coming together to defeat the real enemy. The kids. (I’m kidding.. don’t freak out!)