I just saw “I Don’t Know How She Does It” this weekend. I also read the book, and like a lot of chick-lit, the movie is better. For one thing, the movie makes an actual point, that you probably can’t have it all, but you can have most of it, if you are able to figure out what matters the most to you.
One big fallacy of “having it all” is the idea that “it all” needs to be perfect. Wrongo! One of the first things I learned on my surgical rotation is “the opposite of good is perfect.” Once you’ve gone in and done what you needed to do, close. Stop. Don’t keep looking. Don’t remove that little band of scar tissue that’s not causing problems. Two bands will grow back in its place. This is taught to men and women alike. We women just need to apply this to the rest of our lives. I am the woman who brought Norwegian crackers and Norwegian cheese to the Kindergarten Heritage Day. Some other moms brought homemade Polish sausage. Great! Let them! The cheese and crackers may have been lame, but they all got eaten, I’m just sayin’. Look, if it’s not your talent or your joy, don’t waste time on trying to look perfect. If you’re not interested enough in cupcakes to be good at them, it’s also not worth your time to fake it.
Another problem is the confusion of having it all with doing it all. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Here’s how it works. You pick out what you are willing to do. Your spouse picks out what he is willing to do. The rest will be some things that you both hate but must be done. Diapers and feeding the dog fall into this category. So whoever is around and sees the thing to be done, must do it. That’s called Fair Play. There will be other things that you can farm out. Do this as much as you can. For us, that’s cleaning. We both hate it. We go without other things in order to have someone clean the bathrooms and the floors. I once saw a marriage fall apart over cleaning. They both hated to clean so a) their house was always a stressful mess and b) they were always fighting about it. They said they couldn’t afford help, but their house was crammed with every humongous toddler toy and gadget available. If you can afford both, great. But if you have to choose, forgo the stuff and get the help. Trust me, it’s a lot cheaper than divorce.