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Sarah Jessica Parker stars in I Don't Know How She Does It.

Jacqueline Szeto, mother of one, investment banker, Toronto

I work long hours but I book off time for non-negotiable events that are important to our daughter, like piano recitals and arts and crafts day at school – once a year, a parent goes in to teach. It was my turn to teach when my daughter was in kindergarten, so I booked an hour and a half off before a 2 p.m. meeting with investors.

The session ran late and I had to call the nanny to the classroom halfway through to take over. Then I drove like a mad woman back to work.

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I dumped my coat and handbag at reception and walked into the room for my presentation. I was thinking that I'd made it when my colleague looked at me and asked why my hair and face were all sparkly. Turns out that I was covered in glitter glue. So I turned around and confidently told them I'd just come back from getting a makeover at MAC, and this was the latest trend for spring.

Jill Amery, mother of two, publisher and editor Urban Mommies, Vancouver

As if motherhood isn't complicated enough, our family lives on a small island with no cars, 40 feet from the mainland. Every morning there's a bit of a walk to the dock, the donning of life jackets, a ride across on a barge, and a hike to the car. On this particular rainy morning, I finally rounded up the kids and our barge wouldn't start. I was wearing high heels (you have to retain some semblance of style, right?) and had to get the kids across in our rowboat that was filled with water.

Unfortunately, my purse slipped from my hands and landed in the ocean, frying my BlackBerry, iPod and USB key. Trying to appreciate the moment for the disaster that it was, I fished out my purse, docked the boat and we walked to the car. Then the shocker: I'd forgotten the car keys at the house. On the island. And thus the kids were introduced to playing hooky from school, and knowing when to take a "mental health day." And they watched Mommy ditch the high heels too

Andrea Kennedy, mother of two, pediatric nursing professor, Calgary

It's 7 a.m. and my insatiably curious son puts a bead in his ear to see what would happen (agghh!). He wants to keep this news from me, so he asks his sister to help (she tried to fish it out with a pencil and succeeded in pushing it in further). He's crying hysterically, she's implicated in the crime scene, and I have to give a lecture at 2 p.m. I am single mom on a mission. I can do this.

I get daughter on the school bus on time, we go to the medi clinic (bead too far in – sorry, he needs anesthetic), then to the Children's Hospital Emergency where my son has a frequent flyer card despite my vigilance as a pediatric nurse. My son is sedated, the bead successfully removed, his favourite uncle arrives to help, and I fly off to the university in the nick of time to give my lecture on (no kidding) "Stress, Crisis, and Coping." Of course the chair of our department was there to evaluate my teaching that day. I presented my case to the students for their consideration – they thought it was good to learn from a real-life experience.

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Marlene Puffer, mother of three, investment industry executive, Toronto

My worst moment happened when I was a fixed-income portfolio manager, working mostly from home after the birth of my third child (I took my first two into the trading floor at RBC where they slept happily in the midst of all the noise and chaos – I thought my eldest's first words were going to be swear words since he heard so many in utero and in early infancy)

After my third was a few months old I started bringing him into the office a few days a week (Everyone loved him, including the CEO.)

I started out taking him into a side office to nurse, and eventually found I was losing too much productivity, so I started nursing him at my desk on the open-plan trading pod, with my three young colleagues nearby, and changing his diaper on top of the radiator in the windowsill behind my desk. The guys got used to it.

But then there was a meeting with two young audit guys from head office ... The baby had been happily handed off to a receptionist, but suddenly started shrieking. I quickly brought him in and nursed him – in front of two men in their late twenties with very shocked looks on their faces.

Maureen Dennis, mother of three with one on the way, founder of, Toronto

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This spring, I had just found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, surprise! I was sick as a dog for seven weeks, the same seven weeks my nanny was in the Philippines visiting her family, my husband was travelling for work all week, every week, I had to travel to baby shows across Canada, finding childcare for my kids during the week at night and pretending I didn't feel like death warmed over and not barf on the lovely expectant parents at the shows. I had to put together my very first segments for national TV and actually do them... also without barfing. I dragged myself out of bed to get the kids to school, myself to meetings and somehow remembered to feed us all, when really all I wanted to do was curl up in bed.

People ask me all the time "how do you do it?" and my answer always is "you just do." I chose to have my own business, I chose to have four kids, I chose to take on everything that comes with those, so I try not to complain when a day doesn't go well.

As told to Tralee Pearce

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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