There she is, Sarah Jessica Parker in the role of a high-octane working mom, about to meet with a suave financial executive, played by the ever-disarming Pierce Brosnan, when a text arrives from her nanny: “KIDS SENT HOME WITH LICE. GET CHECKED.”
That’s just one of the stress-provoking scenarios that plenty of working moms — and increasingly dads — may relate to in the new comedy opening Friday, “I Don’t Know How She Does It.”
From lying awake at night compiling a to-do list, to wailing over having missed her son’s first haircut, we see main character Kate Reddy struggle — in that slapsticky kind of way — with the stress that comes of bouncing between work and family demands and the guilt that comes of cutting corners. Indeed, “Let the Multitasking Begin,” is the film’s tagline.
“I don’t know how she does it, but I do it with humor,” says Fran Capo, a comedian and motivational speaker in upstate Putnam Valley. She’s to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Work/Life Conference, planned for Nov. 4 in Woodbury by the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, a support and advocacy group. Her topic — “Humor in the Workplace and Everyday Life.”
In its 16th year, the conference was started to help employers see the value of and techniques for supporting integration of employees' work and lives. This year’s focus is on technology, with one session called, “The Perfect Work-Life Balance: Is There an App for That?”
While juggling work and life is serious business, Capo says that humor, such as that found in the escapades of film characters, can be a good “release valve.” Think of it as comparable to changing a baby’s diaper. “It doesn’t fix things permanently, but in the meantime it works really well,” says Capo, a single mom with a 22-year-old son.
The film is based on a book of the same name by Allison Pearson.
Linda Lisi Juergens, executive director of the Jericho-based Mothers’ Centers organization, says she’s hoping her favorite part hasn’t been edited out of the movie. It finds the Reddy character up at 1:37 a.m. hitting store-bought mince pies for her child’s school event.
Make that “distressing mince pies,” the character says, to give them a “pleasing homemade appearance.”
That conflict over excelling both at work and the school bake sale is a common stressor for many moms, says Juergens. Her advice? Let up on yourself and opt for Dunkin’ Donut Munchkins, which you can even get at the drive-through window.
Photo: Actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan in a scene from "I Dont Know How She Does It."
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