Wednesday, 7 September 2011

No, I don't know how she does it either

Miraculously I got to read the Sunday papers this week - and there was an interesting column by Eleanor Mills titled 'the truth we hide from career women.' In it, referencing the new film out this week called 'I don't know how she does it' based on the book by Alison Pearson, Mills concluded that no woman can indeed 'have it all' and that many women are down grading their careers or compromising their ambitions in order to raise a family. That women are forced to choose and in doing so negate their positions in the boardroom - leaving men to hold the powerful jobs while they fumble around not achieving their potential. Such a sorry state of affairs. We fought for equality, we fought to have a voice and when push comes to shove it is us who have to take a back seat once we sprog.

I found it remarkably comforting when Mills described women who wished that someone had spilled the beans earlier - who had guided them when making their career choices - which lets face it start at 14 when we pick our GCSEs. Pick and be damned. From there the path of A levels and then uni choice is set. Not in stone, but pretty solidified. No one told me that TV was an insane career to compliment motherhood - in fact I never even gave it a second thought. I clearly remember telling a friend's parents this in a restaurant in west hampstead in 200 when I was a kids tv presenter: 'I want my own film show - like Johnathan Ross, to be working in telly still, kids - two, and a fab life.' They said that probably wouldn't achieve all of that - they were right. Claudia Winkleman has though and she is brilliant - so there is hope I guess. But for the majority of women it is either work all hours god sends, never really see your kids, or go flexible, take a pay cut and tough it out trying to have the best of both worlds. Or simply stay at home and try not to go out of your mind - insist that you love it, after all, you gave up everything to have it - so you sure as shit better enjoy it.

Why did no-one have word in my shell like? I didn't marry a rich man so I could swan around with vanity projects or mumble something about 'in development with an idea' or the like - I want to work - I really do, but I'd also like to see my kids for more than an hour every day. A friend has recently agreed to go full time, but she will leave every day before 3pm to collect her kids - so she is effectively doing 4 days spread over five. I've got 3 meetings lined up - all potential to get work which is great. But my big fear is that they will say 'yes, we are filming in Scotland for 3 months' in which case my meeting will be in vain. Still, I'm keeping positive - something will turn up. It will work out and all these mantras. I have my health, blah blah.

But, as Mills said - why do I have to compromise on my job to be a mother - isn't there a way of trying at least to keep a foot in both camps - without coming across as SJP does in the movie as a slightly scatterbrained, exhausted, balls in the air falling all the time harassed stressed mother who still wants to work? And don't get me started on the expense and difficulty of finding good childcare. We fought to make choices when in reality we are still so limited.

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