allison pearson
Photograph: Getty Images

The author of the best-selling novel I Don't Know How She Does It—the current film version stars Sarah Jessica Parker—gets real about guilt, marriage, and loving what you do.

Men will never be women...
The software program for motherhood is impossible to fully download into the male brain. You give them two tasks and they're like, "I have to change the baby and get the dry cleaning?"

...But the right partner makes all the difference.
When you have kids, there's a tendency to put the marriage stew on the back burner and give it a quick stir now and then. But it's important to remember why you had children with this person. My husband is old-fashioned and kind, he does the greatest Sinatra impression, and I'd never have written anything if he hadn't read all those bedtime stories and unloaded the dishwasher while I slaved over chapters.

Your body is talking to you.
I've struggled with depression, and the signs that I was falling apart—having heart palpitations at 4 a.m.—were there for a long time before I paid attention. Even when my psychiatrist gave me a questionnaire, I found myself trying to circle the answers that made me seem like I wasn't a wreck. I've since learned to listen to my body.

Nothing beats having a job.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom until I was about 11, when she got a job—and it was like a light came on inside her. It's not wrong to be passionate about your career. When you love what you do, you bring that stimulation back to your family.

Exercise is the best escape.
I have an American trainer—a bubbly Californian. I tell her, "Welsh women don't run. We're congenitally incapable." But she's got me up to five kilometers. Sometimes it's a relief just to focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

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