I Don’t Know How She Does It

Are you practicing your juggling act?

The film, I Don’t Know How She Does It opened this weekend.  It’s about Kate Reddy, a woman juggling a high-power career and a firm commitment to husband and family.  I read the book years ago and really enjoyed it, because even though it’s not a faith-based book, it gave voice to much of what I felt as I sought to balance faith, work, husband, and kids.

Every morning at 7:45 was the “moment of truth” for my husband Chris and me.  If we could get in a work out, get all four kids up, fed, and ready for school; the dog and cat fed; get ourselves ready for work, and everyone out the door by 7:45, I felt like I had accomplished ½ day before I got to the office.  We are always up by 5:15-5:45 to make this happen, and even then the mornings seemed to go at a frenetic pace.   As I drove to work I would pray, either thanking God for a smooth morning or—more likely—asking forgiveness or begging for comfort.

Last week I caught part of a radio interview with Allison Pearson, the author of I Don’t Know How She Does It, and something she said caught my attention.  When Ms. Pearson was describing what motivated her to write the book, she said:

I felt amongst my friends this both kind of comic madness, really. And beneath the comic madness of sharing all those things you've forgotten to do or you weren't on the right list for some school trip or something, beneath that was a real yell of pain.

The movie certainly reflects the kind of comic madness that Pearson describes.  At times it’s exhausting just watching Kate run from place to place, switching gears between investment broker and child’s party-planner, or picking remnants of a two-year-old’s breakfast off of her suit seconds before a morning meeting.   You feel the pain too, as Kate is forced at times to disappoint her family in order to meet her work obligations.

Underlying that pain are questions we can all relate to:

Am I doing the right thing?

Is it worth it?

Ultimately, in the movie, we see Kate pursue a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity at work, and although she fights frantically to maintain the family balance, her relationships with her husband and her kids suffer as she devotes more and more time to work.   Kate eventually has to draw the line, knowing that it means disappointing her boss and possibly risking her job.

We all have to figure out where and how to draw these lines in our lives, sometimes, like Kate, through trial and error.  Happily, unlike Kate, we are not alone.  God is with us at work and home and—sometimes most crucially—in navigating the “in-between.”  He will provide rest and refuge if we let Him!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28