The finale of my time at New York Fashion Week, turned out to be a momentous occasion. I attended a screening of “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, opening in theaters this weekend. Adapted from award-winning journalist, Allison Pearson‘s book, the movie tells the story of the stressful, chaotic, and joyful trials and tribulations of being a working mother. Sarah Jessica Parker plays finance executive, Kate Reddy, and does a wonderful job of portraying those moments when a busy working mom’s life becomes a hilarious (and sometimes not so hilarious) “hot mess”. From sleepless nights (spoil alert), when a mom goes over “the list” of things to do for the kids, school, home, etc. in her head, to getting home late from a business trip, and forgetting to bake a cake for the school bake sale. “Been there, done that” consistently ran through my mind as the movie unfolded, almost to a point of distraction, as I found myself internalizing and feeling tinges of anguish over my own messy mommy moments, while being reminded of my own “list” ….
Focused back on the movie, I found these manic moments of hilarity were amplified through a brilliant supporting cast, including: Greg Kinnear as Kate Reddy’s “house-husband” Richard, Christina Hendricks as the BFF Allison, Kelsey Grammer as the demanding boss, Seth Meyers as the jerk-off co-worker, Busy Phillips as the condescending stay-at-home mom, Pierce Brosnan as the extremely handsome client/business partner Jack Abelhammer, and my favorite of the characters, Olivia Munn, as Kate’s junior associate, Momo, the anti-emotion, work-a-holic, loather of children and all things humanly cute, sappy, and cuddly.
After the screening, sponsored by American Express and the Weinstein Group, Moms and The City hosted a town hall Q&A with IDK author, Allison Pearson, and leading lady, Sarah Jessica Parker.
( From L to R: Moms and the City’s Denise Albert, Sarah Jessica Parker, Author, Allison Pearson, and Moms and the City’s Melissa Gerstein)
The reigning question of “how does she do it?” was posed to Sarah Jessica Parker. Watch as Parker and Pearson share their own experiences of navigating work and family.
Fully aware that she was in a room full of working mother’s and women (and a handful of men), Sarah Jessica Parker posed the question back to the audience stating: “I don’t want to sit here and have you ask me questions on how I do it, I want to here from you and have you tell me how you do it!” This unleashed the flood gates of a full-throttle vent session covering topics from the roles of women in the office, pressure by family to have children, choosing not to have children, to the statistically equal envy of stay-at-home moms versus working moms, and how working moms put the most judgement on themselves, not other mothers.
When the topic of managing relationships with friends who have different family dynamics, or don’t have children at all came up, it struck a chord with me. Relationships….friends……my birthday trip! I jumped into the discussion with my own story of how the planning of my 40th birthday girls’ trip to some tropical island next year, had just been infringed upon, only two days prior to the screening, with a friend suggesting that we make it a “family” trip complete with kids and grandparents. Was I wrong for wanting to take a girls’ trip I haven’t had in over a decade since my youngest was born (he’s 8 years old now), for my 40th birthday? Am I not a good mother for wanting a trip without my children? “No-no-no-no-nooo!” Sarah Jessica responds as many in the audience sighed no’s in agreement. “You just may have to take a trip with another group of friends, it’s YOUR 40th birthday.”, she goes on to say. That’s exactly how I felt, but still was not able to avoid some feelings of guilt and judgement for wanting my girls trip without my family, until a room full of women, many of whom I do not know, moms and non-moms, assured me that it was “OK” to feel that way. Just being “ok” and not always keeping up the “perfect mother” persona was the biggest take away from the discussion. The “S” on your chest will not always shine bright, the house will sometimes be a mess, and you may have to cancel a play date to work late…..but it’s ok! Your kids love an accept you more than you know and more than they may show you or be able to articulate.
Life is a continuum of choices we make for ourselves and our family, with the biggest choice of choosing to be “ok” with your choice of not having children, choosing motherhood as a single working mom, or a married stay at home mom. As well as realizing that not having children, and working or staying at home with your children, is not always a choice. All women do not get to choose when finances, and health issues dictate their decisions. Nancy Colasurdo, a writer and life coach, shared her choice not to become a mother, as well as her thoughts on this particular point of view’s portrayal in the movie. I wish I had a chance to speak to Nancy after the screening, to tell her as a life coach, she has essentially mothered many, and I may be calling her soon! lol ;). You see, I’m a firm believer that once women reach a certain age, we all become maternal figures within our family, communities, at the workplace, etc., even if you have not physically gave birth to or adopted children. What makes a mother is a combination of inherent instincts of being a women, including loving and nurturing people with a warmth that is uniquely female. Mothering is something that many women, without children, do on a daily basis, often without acknowledgement. Caring for and contributing to the growth and development of others, are basic attributes of being a mother, whether you do it as auntie, baby sitter, soccer coach, or teacher.
As we wrapped up the Q&A discussion, it hadn’t even dawned on me during my semi-emotional rant about my birthday trip, that screening sponsor, American Express, was giving away a trip to Turks & Caicos. Which just so happened to be one of my top three destination picks for my own trip. All of the attending editors, bloggers, writers, press, etc. had dropped their business cards in a bowl at check-in, and as the bowl was brought to the stage, Sarah Jessica Parker insisted that author, Allison Pearson do the honors. Allison chose the winner, who happened to be one of the handful of men in attendance. They announced his name once, twice, and then a voice from the back yells out: “he’s gone, he left already!”. So back to the bowl they go, and it is Sarah Jessica’s turn to pick the winning card, and she does so in epic fashion. I squint and zoom in on the colors next card chosen and think “that looks like my card. Nah, that can’t be my card….”. Then I hear Sarah Jessica Parker, one of my favorite fashionistas, THE Carrie Bradshaw whose closet I covet, friend in my head since Square Pegs, screech: “OMG! Nichelle! It’s YOU!” — shut the front door….
TO TURKS & CAICOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy ending in the movie, and happy ending to my day before I left NYC. Not quite. As I walked out onto Park Ave., I was jolted back into reality with a proverbial “Carrie Bradshaw” moment of tripping after getting my heel caught, and sweating like a stuffed pig in the afternoon heat from trying to profusely wave down and catch a cab while one person after another jumped in front of me a half a block up the street, hijacking each cab heading my way. And life goes on….it’s ok ;).
Event Photos by Andy Gropa – Getty Images
Photo by Nicole Feliciano of Momtrends.com (Thanks Nicole!)