Photo Credit: C. Blankenhorn/The Weinstein Company
So don’t tell anyone, but we just snuck out of the office to see Sarah Jessica Parker as Kate Reddy in I Don’t Know How She Does It -- which is a movie about a working mom who tries to balance the school bake sale, her son’s delayed speech, pacifying the babysitter (so she won’t quit), her daughter’s resentment, lice, and, oh right, her high-powered banking job which requires a lot of travel.
We were a little nervous that watching SJP as a working mom might just be depressing -- even if they don’t show her having time to go to the gym, she still has that body, plus a lot more help in real life than we do. But it actually was comforting to see how universal some parenting struggles can be -- bickering with the hubs (played by supercute Greg Kinnear) or trying to find peace on days when you feel like you’re doing a half-baked job on the home front and the work front. Here, three quick lessons we learned from our midday escape.
Lower your expectations. In the opening scene, Kate realizes at 12am that the school bake sale is the next day and she’s determined to show up with something that at least appears homemade -- even if she has to fake it with a store-bought pie dressed up with powdered sugar and a glass dish. The alternatives suggested by her husband (pack up the Chips Ahoy and call it a day) or offered up by fellow working mom Allison (a plastic dish of unset Jello) are subpar for Kate. You’ve heard it a million times, but why don’t you actually try it: Let it go sometimes. Whether you need to bring Dunkin' Donuts for the bake sale (they'll sell out, just FYI), put the kids in front of Dora so you can get a break, or pack a Lunchable when you're pressed for time, just do it. Odds are, no one is judging you, even if you think they are.
Ask for help. When Kate forgets to leave work early so her husband can go to a work dinner, he calls Wendy Best, the stay at home “Momster,” for a babysitter rec. Rather than thank her husband for quick thinking, Kate can’t get over feeling that her working mom flaws might as well have been broadcast on national TV. In an interview after the movie, SJP said that she doesn't feel judgment from her stay-at-home mom friends, but rather that they’re her “fairy godmothers” who always have the scoop on what’s going on at school and can clue her in to what she needs to know. Working or not, many moms are willing to help if you’ll just ask. Find out what happened at the parent breakfast you couldn't make or what after-school classes the other kids are taking -- being in the loop will help you feel less stressed about what you're missing.
Trust that you’ll be there when it really matters. Sure, you might not be able to go on the class trip to the farm or create a DIY Halloween costume out of spun sugar, but those aren’t the make-or-break moments for your kids. When Kate promises to build a snowman with her daughter the next time weather permits (spoiler alert!), you know that she’s going to make it even as Greg Kinnear tries to run damage control at pickup, telling their daughter that Mommy isn’t going to be there. And we saw more than one mom wipe her eyes in the theater when Kate blows off work so she can hightail it to school. When it really counts, you’ll find a way to be there.