I Do Know How She Does It

(Hint: it just takes more money.)

The British novel I Don't Know How She Does It features a married Salary Mom named Kate who overcomes office politics, domestic chaos and sexual temptation to achieve a happier professional and family life.

You can see how this had a certain escapist appeal for some of us. The parallels between Fiction Kate and Patch Kate (that would be me) are pretty simple to draw.

We're both our families' primary breadwinners. We both have husbands who earn decent salaries in their own rights.

She has a nanny for her kids; I have the help of my live-in mother-in-law.

On the other hand, Fiction Kate wears designer duds and lingerie; I rock career wear from JC Penney and intimates that come in three-packs at the grocery store. And no one rich and powerful is making goo-goo eyes at me on intercontinental business trips.

How "she does it" seems to be that she and her husband both make buttloads of money.

They made the book into a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker, and it's playing in local theaters. But the odds of the five of us seeing a movie that doesn't feature transforming vehicles, scary epidemics or wounded dolphins are pretty slim.

Taking five people to the movies isn't cheap.

As we saw from , neither is living in Howard County.

When that other Kate gives up her salary at the end of the story, her
husband's income can support their family in a pleasant cottage.

According to the Association of Social Community Services, that's not how it would work if we tried to support our three kids and my mother-in-law on my husband's salary here in Columbia.

We probably wouldn't be poor enough on paper to qualify for assistance paying bills. But making ends meet would be a challenge, even though he earns a steady salary with good benefits.

People my age are the first generation in this country who will have a lower standard of living than their parents did. Fewer and fewer people in our community enjoy the same level of wealth Columbia's residents had 20 years ago.

I've already said my piece on . What will keep it from becoming one? We can start by not stigmatizing (or just ignoring) the poverty in our community.

Let's invest effort in building structures that will address some of the sources of poverty in community—say, effective public transportation and —instead of invective against the poor.

Christina Post September 27, 2011 at 04:10 PM
This is such a timely topic for our household. My husband and I have been discussing what our next move will be when we outgrow our current house. We love Columbia but to stay, both of us will not only have to continue to bring home paychecks but they will have to be larger than they are now!
Julia McCready September 27, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Wow, I love your writing!
bob moon September 28, 2011 at 04:36 PM
All of us need to work together to create a benefit for our grandchildren and their children that will make a higher quality of life for all. Columbia has the "star" power for that to happen. The future is now!


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