How Do They Do It?

I've always wondered how they do it, those women. You know the ones, the women who are on the board of this organization and the fundraising committee of that, who have two children and a dog and a full-time job. The women who do it all. How?

For example, the president of our School Council (PTA to you) is a full-time lawyer, and she has two little kids. How does she manage? Where does she find the time? So I asked her. I did, I just asked her. And for one thing, she doesn't clean. She has a giant house and she gets someone in every weekend to clean. That's a whole day of cleaning, probably $200 a week or so. Of course she has childcare: she has a nice young woman who looks after the kids and probably does light housekeeping too. I don't know what else she doesn't do, but she's not averse to spending money so I bet she pays people to do quite a lot of mundane crap. I know I would if I could manage it.

I know dozens of these women with full-time jobs and children who none-the-less manage to take on huge volunteer roles in the school, or in other organizations. They don't all have money, so it can't be that they all outsource all that time-consuming everyday crap. And yet here I am, with my two kids and not much else on my plate, barely making it through each day. Why? There's nothing in particular wrong with me, that I know of. What do these other women have that I lack? Time? Ambition? Passion? Amphetamines?

Finally I decided that rather than try and work this out deductively I would just run an experiment. I would go ahead and sign myself up for a bunch of stuff and see what broke.

So this year, I'm chair of the school's Eco-Committee. (So far we've had one meeting, submitted a grant proposal, and sent a lot of email.) I'm working on the Crafts booth for our school Winter Fair. I'm class parent for Delphine's class, I help out in the library for two hours every two weeks, and I get to school at 8 am on Thursdays to help with Junior Choir. I run twice a week. I have choir, and book club, and that whole "writing career" thing I said I would get started on. I still have two children and a cat to look after, and a house to run. Oh, and I have friends who sometimes I like to hang out with, and a husband who, frankly, I barely ever talk to about anything other than household administrivia. And I like to watch TV. And read—a lot. And there's this blog. And the eight hours of sleep that I really, really enjoy.

Under all that weight, something's bound to break. Perhaps it will be sleep. Perhaps it will be housework. Perhaps it will be one of my new responsibilities. Perhaps it will be my mental health. Or perhaps it will turn out that I'm one of those women who can do it all. Perhaps all I needed to do was try.

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