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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It!

(this article appears in the 9/20 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series) ~ I’m expecting a royalty check any day now! As soon as I saw the trailer for Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” I just knew that it was based on my life. I’m preparing now for the paparazzi who will be knocking down my door any minute now for an exclusive interview.

Ok, truth is that movie isn’t based on me or my life but it should be! Instead it’s Allison Pearson’s book of the same title that is the inspiration behind this mommy-can-do-it-all movie released last weekend.

While the movie takes a comedic approach at exploring the ongoing embattlement in every woman who works outside the home, I think in reality a bigger issue needs to be addressed.

Can mommy do it all? I don’t think so nor do I think that we should have to. Allow me to explain.




Before I was a mommy planning birthday parties, volunteering for room parent or supervising field trips I was a person, a person with a sense of humor, with likes and dislikes, with a small sense of fashion and a great hairstyle.

But since plopping out five kids, I’ve mastered the ponytail, consider blue jeans my “nice” clothes and can slap on makeup in 30 seconds flat. I also know how many cupcakes it takes to make a class full of kindergartners happy and can change a diaper with one hand behind my back.

Some days I look at myself in the mirror and hardly recognize the woman staring back at me. How did I get here? And who bought these mom-jeans?

But as I’ve navigated the jungle of parenting over the last sixteen years, I’ve learned a few very important things along the way that have allowed me to hang on to my sanity when permission slips and overdue library books threaten to take over my life.

First, I remember that before I was somebody’s mommy I was a person. I believe it is very important for women to not get lost in the identity of being somebody’s mother. You are an individual first, a mommy or wife or sister or friend second! This can be very hard for some women because our families demand so much of our time. We needn’t feel guilty when we allow ourselves the luxury of taking the time to be ourselves.

I believe that a women’s health and well being can be directly related to her ability to be true to herself. While I am an integral part of my family unit, I recognize that I am simultaneously a separate being. And I need to be me. And won’t a happier me makes for a more pleasant mommy?

Secondly, I reject this notion of juggling. I carpool, I volunteer, I cook dinner, I schedule appointments, I’m team mother, I have a job, I do the cooking and almost always all at the same time. But I think no matter how skilled of a juggler you are something will get dropped. When we miss an appointment, forget a kid or run out of groceries we feel like failures. Why? We successful managed ten simultaneous tasks. Why should perfection be the only way we feel satisfied? Who’s that perfect? Baseball players get paid millions for batting .330. That’s only hitting three out of ten balls. I think the pressure we put on ourselves to be super mom is ridiculous!

Finally, we all must remember all things come in seasons. When my twins were infants it was all I could do to get my teeth brushed everyday. Now they’re older and I have time for essentials like personal hygiene. When the kids are little date night is that ever elusive hour but now that the oldest can babysit I actually get out to the theater every once in awhile. Whatever I can’t do now because I’m a parent will not always last. They do get potty trained. You can throw away the diapers eventually and move the crib out of your room. It is possible to go out on a date and have real grownup relationships. It will happen eventually. Hang on.

While no one has turned my life into a movie, I believe I could star in my own version of “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” In fact, we all could. Mothers everywhere do more than their fair share in the load of life. My advice? Hang on moms. Stay true to yourself in whatever role you play and remember in your heart that even the most challenging days of parenting won’t last forever. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!


Stephanie Sikorski is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District and a working mother of five who blogs at www.stephaniesikorski.blogspot.com








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