Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kate Reddy: How Does She Do It?

Last weekend the Hubster and I went to see Sarah Jessica Parker's new movie, "I Don't Know How She Does It." I read the book by Allison Pearson when it came out in 2002.

I remember being enthralled and telling anyone that would listen what a good book it is/was. The main character is Kate Reddy, a successful working mother.  I wanted all of my friends to read it. --I thought it spoke to women in the career world regardless of the parental status.

Kate works as a manager of a hedge fund for an Investment Firm.  She is also happily married and the mother of two children. The first scene of the book shows Kate trying to wear her "Perfect Mother" hat. That's who Kate is, really. Perfect. Or at least striving for perfect. She is, at the very least, very very competent.

I hesitate to capsulize the "what the book is about" because it the book is so well done it surpasses the cliché. If I were to give a capsule, it would be: "Kate tries to balance her roles of wife, mother and career woman. She struggles with competing priorities as she tries to be successful in each of her roles. The goal? Be successful at everything at the same time".

I, too, am a wife, mother and career woman. --Surprise, right? My day job is banking. When my daughter was in 4th grade, I tried to balance being a good mother (and wife) while working full time at a large Commercial/Investment bank. I was also in MBA school full time. My Hubby had a high-stress job that required him to travel across the country a couple of weeks each month. It was wonderfully crazy.

Someone once said to me, "The key to 'balance' is to recognize that you must balance your roles over time". There is no such thing as perfect balance at any one point in time. I carried this like a mantra while I was going to school.

For me, the most important thing to keep in balance ALL OF THE TIME was my daughter. I wanted to make sure that she did not feel she was missing out on having her mother's attention. I wanted to make sure I DIDN'T MISS OUT on having my daughter's attention.  These are special moments that we don't get back.

I combined activities so that that D and I could have parallel time together as well as *Quality Time*. My nights were spent at the kitchen table doing homework while D was also at the kitchen table doing homework.  When D needed my help, my homework waited until she was in bed.  Weekends were about balancing play dates and activities with D and her friends while I continued to squeeze in study time.

One of my more creative combinations was taking D and her friend to the movies. While they watched "Babe" or "Toy Story" I was using my pocket flashlight to read my textbook assignments. --Yep, I carried a book bag everywhere. I'm pretty sure that D's memories are simply that "Mom took me and my friend to the movies".  I don't think she was aware that I wasn't watching the movie.

There's a line in the "I Don't Know How She Does It" movie that I really love.  I think it's also in the book. The line is something like: "I love you. I love our life and our kids. But I also love my work. I know you want more time with me. But, me without my work isn't me."

That is how I felt when I was working on the "fast track". (Side note: It turned out it wasn't so fast.)  This is what spoke to me when I read this book. Allison Pearson was able to create a world that I could point to and say: "See...this is what it's like".  And I pointed to it not to say, "Woe is me", but to say "These feelings are all genuine".

The movie? Well, some of the critics didn't like it so much. I think they saw it as Carrie Bradshaw does "Married with Kids and a REAL job". I liked it. Not love...but like. I actually didn't see Carrie Bradshaw.  But I did see someone that sort of stressed me out. I may have identified too closely when I watched it on the screen (versus reading). You know, when Kate is running from appointment to appointment and moving from crisis to my heart racing. 

The only down side of the movie:  I was feeling so much kinship to book Kate. But seeing movie Kate with her big lovely home? Not so much. And movie Kate's part time nanny crises...also annoying. (Although, in fairness, book Kate had a part time nanny too.) I guess I was ticked off because THIS "working to have it all mother" was also responsible for getting child to school on time and NOT being late for pickup from after school care. --If you've ever dealt with after school care, you know the threat of expulsion due to excessive tardiness is just as scary as the $1/minute charge for being late.  So, while I did not see movie Kate as a Carrie Bradshaw. I did see Kate, "I'm a working mother 'just like you'. Only I have Charlotte's house. You know, Carrie Bradshaw's friend Charlotte".

I'd love to hear what you think. I'd love to hear if anyone has pulled a "Kate Reddy" similar to the opening scene of the movie and book.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Starbucks on a Rainy Afternoon

So it's been like a week since my last post. That doesn't seem right...does it?

I have things I've wanted to explore here...but when I got ready to write about them they felt too heavy for the time I wanted to spend. So, instead, I will tell you about my nice Saturday. The Hubster has a class this weekend, so he had to leave before I felt like getting up. Yep, I slept in!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September Walk-a-Thon

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Danielle signed up to participate in the Ovarian Cancer Walk to raise money for research and to raise awareness. (I signed up with D.)
Daughter is quite good at organizing.  She organized me by sending me a schedule so that we were on time to the event. 
This is what she sent: 
Wake-up: 7am
Leave your house: 7:45am
Be at my place to pick me up at: 8am
Breakfast at Ricks: 8:20-9:20am (should be plenty of time to relax and enjoy a nice breakfast)
Leave for Raleigh (40min drive): 9:20am
Arrive: 10am
Sign in: 10:15am
Walk Starts: 10:30am
We followed her timeline to a "T" and were quite pleased to actually show up early to the event. The light drizzle did not dampen our spirits.
The DJ played some great music which helped keep our energy up.
**Awareness Raising Info**: Ovarian Cancer symptoms are easily mistaken for benign conditions. The symptoms can be a subtle as heartburn. The most universal symptom is bloating. --But as women, feeling bloated is rarely something that would cause us to raise an eyebrow. 
Early detection and treatment is the only way to beat this. I recommend that you know your body and pay attention to symptoms that are unusual for you or that last more than 2 weeks. 

Ovarian Cancer Alliance
My biggest recommendation: 
**Keep your annual exams with your gynecologist**
Talk to your doctor about:
1. Having an annual blood test for serum CA-125. This can be an earlier indicator of a problem.
2. Getting tested for the genetic mutations that increase your risks. Knowing your results gives you the opportunity to work proactively with your doctor to decide preventative measures. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday Recap

Football has begun! And I say: "Yay!" Now that we've moved to NC, where the ACC abounds, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Duke play against Stanford.  We sat with some friends...all of whom actually went to Stanford, which made for an interesting time. The people we sat with were great! They were good sports and made the game enjoyable for us to watch.

I got us the tickets to see Stanford with my daughter's husband in mind. He had made a special request to see the Stanford game because it was an opportunity to see Andrew Luck on the field in person.

The game did not disappoint. Of course, I was pulling for Duke...I mean that's the "home" team. That's where my daughter works. But, Duke is not known for its football.  In fact, neither is NC State or UNC. These are BASKETball schools.

Our Stanford friends were very fun. There were a few of us locals that were in the group too.  We taunted them a little by asking: "What's with the tree?"  It's their MASCOT!? Ohhhhh "Fear the Tree".  --That's actually their motto! I saw several people with their red shirts on with this motto.  I gotta tell you, the Tree just looked like a Muppet. --Nothing to fear.  But their team?  That's another story.

Stanford won 44-14. BUT, the score wasn't reflective of how surprisingly well Duke played against them.

The game started at 3:30. Parking was not close. And the walk to the stadium was uphill all the way. And it was hot. It's not Fall yet (BTW).  Once we made it to the stadium I felt spent. I was able to find a "mist" tent that I stood under for a minute or twenty. That helped so much. The sun was brutal.

The visitor section is on east side of the field and the sun bearing down from the west was intense. The sun was to the back of the home team patrons and the building with the club suites also blocked the sun for them. So, to recap: Duke Patrons=shade and sun to their back; Visitors=sun in their eyes with no relief from the sun's heat.  Coincidence? I think not.

Sadly, we saw two Stanford patrons being carried out on stretchers.  They were taken to ambulances, presumably for heat exhaustion.

What I learned: 1) I should have worn sunscreen; 2) I should have brought an ice cold wet bandanna to wrap around my neck to help with the heat; 3) If you do get sick from heat exhaustion, Duke is also a help is not far.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Labor Day Mini Vacation

Hubby and I used this three day weekend to go to the beach! Yay! I haven't been to the beach since July 2010.  Before that, I hadn't been to the beach in years. YEARS!

In my childhood, going to the beach was at least an annual event. If we were lucky, we got to go several times in a summer.

I have so many wonderful beach memories it seems wrong to try to list them. It would be like I'm choosing one memory over another. When we were kids, Mom and Dad got my sisters and me up in the wee hours of the morning before sunrise. For Dad, the time of arrival was half the fun. If we were going to "go to the beach" we were going to be there "all day". Getting in the car before sunrise got us to the beach before lunch.

My favorite times to go the the beach were the "off season". The beaches were less crowded and the weather more breezy and comfortable. This summer was so hot I couldn't bear the thought of a visit to a place without shade. But this weekend, the weather was perfect. So Hubs and I made a spontaneous trip east.