Monday, January 9, 2012

"I Don't Know How She Does It"

I finally saw "I Don't Know How She Does It." I was excited to watch it, because I loved the book by Alison Pearson, except for the ending where (SPOILER ALERT) she gives up everything to move to the country and be a SAHM (stay-at-home-Mom, in case you're unfamiliar with Mommy-lingo.) I was curious to see how they would handle the ending in the movie. I won't spoil it for you, but although it was satisfying in a movie-world kind of way, it wasn't real and completely skirted the issues raised by the story.

If you don't know the premise, the story is about a working-mom who loves her job and her kids and is constantly stressed-out by juggling the two. And it's funny. You can see why it would appeal to me. I love what I do. Who wouldn't? It has it all: low pay, long hours, constant rejection and humiliating pleas for money. (Click here to witness my own humiliating plea.) But at the end of it, if you're lucky, you have a movie. Something that, hopefully, will live on past you. Or at least until the next new innovation in technology renders your film/tape/USB drive obsolete. But I digress.

"I Don't Know How She Does It" spoke to me, in a way that a lot of films don't. I related to the main character's struggle - I live by my lists. I thought I lost my Droid yesterday and almost went into cardiac arrest because I couldn't figure out how I'd manage even 10 minutes without it. And there were funny send-ups of female stereotypes: the SAHM who has made her kids her career, the ambitious single woman who lives for her work and swears never to have children, and the male boss who doesn't want to hear about your kids, or that you have a life, and gets all tongue-tied at the mere mention of a mammogram. But there were some things the film got really wrong. For instance, Sarah Jessica Parker ends up working on a project with Pierce Brosnon and they start to really connect. So much so that (SPOILER ALERT), he asks her to run away with him to Aruba and she doesn't even blink before saying no. Really? I mean, I love my husband, but if Pierce Brosnan asked me to run away to Aruba, I'd be in Bloomie's buying a new bathing suit before you could say "Binge & Purge!" Maybe I'd come to my senses once ensconced on the plane and hearing the dulcet tones of a newborn crying right before take-off. (Or maybe not.) And, like a lot of popular present-day myths, the movie capitalizes on the perceived sharp-divide between working moms and stay-at-home moms. Yes, there are those who pursue child-rearing like an extreme sport and look down on those of us who don't, but most of us feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, no matter what choices we've made. Finally, there is the ending. The same boss who got tongue-tied at the mention of a mammogram takes a stand that is completely out of character. Yes, it was nice and made me feel good, but what I really wanted was a "Nine to Five" stringing up of the chauvinistic boss type of ending. (Now there's a funny, angry feminist comedy!) Still, despite it's flaws, I recommend the film. Especially if you're having one of those "too-tired-to-clean-the-puke/spaghetti sauce/chocolate-off-my-shirt" days.

2 comments:

Kathy Zeigerson said...

I think the greatest gift you can give to your children is demonstrating true happiness and self esteem. I think about this a lot, actually. Of course, it's easier to write it than live it, but it is truly a goal of mine. I've been both a SAHM (in the past) and now a working mom, fyi. Neither is easy, and I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all arrangement that would produce a world full of happy, fulfilled parents and kids. Gotta just figure it all out for yourself!

That said, I think I would enjoy the movie. Sounds funny! Oh - and I think Pierce Brosnan and Aruba sound like a lovely combination.

kimc said...

Definitely easier said than done! And of course, I didn't go into the different choices for the different ages of the kids' lives. I wish I'd spent less time working when they were babies - then again, I think I needed a certain amount of work to feel like myself.

Re Pierce and Aruba - right?