March 2, 2010

I Don't Know How She Does It

I just finished this novel by Allison Pearson.  Reading it was quite an experience for this overscheduled, overworked and overwhelmed mom.  I read it mostly in the middle of the night when the house was quiet and my mind was not.  I also snuck in a chapter or two during lunch duty in our noisy cafeteria.
Although the protagonist works in corporate finance and is married, I was able to laugh and cry along with her because our lives are similiar.  In fact, there were several times when I had to put the book down because it too intensely mirrored my current struggles to balance work and motherhood.  Reading this book in the wee hours, there were times my mind would confuse Kate Reddy's juggling act with my own.  But finish the book I did.  Aside from the rather predictable last chapters, I enjoyed the pace, humor, and biting realism.

Although it is fiction, I found myself tagging pages and underlining passages just as I do in how-to books.  Here are a few of the lines that rang true with me.  (I do not know the correct citation method, nor do I have time or inclination to research it...please forgive and don't report me for any copyright violations.)

Suddenly I realize that a family needs a lot of care, a lubricant to keep it running smoothly, whearas my little family is just about bumping along and the brakes are starting to squeal.  Page 47

They're [children] the best thing and the most impossible thing, but there's nothing else....Life is a riddle and they are the answer.  If there's any answer, it has to be them.  Page 160

Day of Rest, otherwise kown as day of ceaseless manual labor.  Page 189

...Ben keeps rock-climbing up my legs, using uncut nails as crampons  Every time I put him down, he gives a car-alarm wail.  Page 190

She was there all day and never really around for the three of us.  Don't go romanticizing the stay-home parent--you can screw up whether you're near or far.  Page 199

For my generation, coming to it later and sometimes too late, motherhood was a shock.  Page 281

and lastly, this exchange in which Kate struggles to answer an emergency room doctor's questions about her toddler:

      "And the eighteen-month check, his weight was?"

      "As I said, I'm not sure, but Paula said he was absolutely fine."

      "And Benjamin's date of birth--you are familiar with that, I presume."

     The insult is so biting that the tears jump to my eyes as if I had walked out into snow...

     Ben was born on the twenty-fifth of January.  He is very strong and very happy and he never cries.  Only if he is tired or if his teeth hurt.  And his favorite book is Owl Babies and his favorite song is The Wheels on the Bus and he is my dearest sweetest only son and if anything happens to him I will kill you and then I will burn down your hospital and then I will kill myself.    "The twenty-fifth of January."


  1. Thank you for sharing, wonderful passages. They indeed ring a bell in my mind as a busy mom of two toddlers.

  2. I am impressed you have time to read something that isn't aimed at the preschool and under set.