The film “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” an adaptation of the terrifically funny and true book of the same name by Allison Pearson, is due to emerge on screens nationwide this weekend. The film is meant to pose the dilemma of those who work out of the home and simultaneously parent – specifically if you have a vagina, since tons of men do this every day and seldom do we hear the admiring query, “Wow, he’s a dad and has a job – how does he DO it?”
In my book, you don’t need to have a job outside the home for me to wonder how you do it. Basically, if you’re a mother and show up in public with your hair combed, I wonder how you do it. If you are a parent and you shower every day, I wonder how you do it. If you’re a mother and you’re on time for picking up your kids when school lets out, I think you should get a bronze star. Silver is for you making it to the nurse’s office at school in under 10 minutes. Gold is for having a kid who doesn’t go to the nurse’s office. These things usually go unsung, and they shouldn’t. Because it’s really hard to make this whole operation work, much less to make it look as seamless as you do, and you should be proud of yourself for doing it.
Whether you have help or not, as I’ve made clear, doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me: if you’re a parent, you have a huge job that is more challenging and time-consuming than anything anyone without kids can ever imagine. You remember to put your kid’s lunch in his backpack every day? If you think no one is clapping for you, you’re wrong. I am. I’m proud of you, little soldier!
So I’m writing this now because I find the opening date of this movie’s timing suspect – because I, newly-minted parent of three, also work outside the home, and next week is about to be the biggest week of my professional year. And I Don’t Know How I’m Going To Do It.
I’m the New York correspondent/bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post, the largest English-language daily newspaper in Israel. I went back to work when my baby girl was six weeks old, which is okay because the time difference necessitates that I get my work done before the two boys are home from school. Already, this has lent itself to ridiculous moments, including interviewing newly-elected Congressman Bob Turner (the guy who just replaced Anthony Weiner in the special election) from the front seat of my car in the parking lot of the pediatrician, hoping the baby wouldn’t wake up mid-call. Good times.
But next week is the chaos apex of my generally chaotic job, because it’s the United Nations General Assembly. The UN generally has plenty to say on the subject of Israel, putting me on the front lines. This year’s UN will be even more insane, due to the fact that the Palestinians may seek UN recognition as a state AND there is Durban III, a conference commemorating Durban I, a veritable festival of anti-Israel sentiment. Plus there’s Ahmadinejad (read here for when I attempted to sneak into his Iranian-only press conference last year but was thrown out by UN security), Obama, and perhaps Bibi. Ahmadinejad, Obama, and Bibi — oh my! I am probably one of the only kindergarten class mothers whose son told his teacher, “My mommy can’t come to our class party tomorrow because she is having breakfast with the Israeli prime minister.”
Traffic barricades galore will prevent me from getting off the East Side, much less going home on time (though stay tuned for my attempts to get home in time for Back To School Night on Tuesday – yikes!). My amazing husband will be helping me out by working from home all next week and will be in charge of all three kids, including school drop-offs/pick-ups, diaper changing, etc. ..but this will be his first time flying solo with all three of them.
It should be a lot of fun. And I will be blogging for you so that you can give me tips on how to be best organized and make this work, as well as encouraging comments every now and then (feel free to start now, please!).
And somewhere in there, I will hopefully get my head examined.