Sunday, November 2, 2008

Will Somebody Please Write a Self-Help Book I Can Actually Use?!?

In my never ending quest for self-growth, inner peace, spiritual depth and overall emotional balance, I read books of the self help variety. I’m no self-help junkie mind you. I’m actually pretty discriminating in what I select, in the same way I am with my reality TV shows. If I’m going to devote the precious nanoseconds I have to actually read a grown up book, only the best will do. So when I found this best selling ‘Bible’ for women seeking domestic enlightenment and inner psychic stability, I almost trembled with enthusiasm and began devouring it whole. In this book, the author eloquently describes changes we women can make in our daily lives to become the picture of grace, love, and inner calm despite our chaotic world swirling around us. Okay, Baby, show me the light!

According to this author, busy women need to ‘carve out’ time each and every day for ourselves . Suggestions include taking “Creative Excursions’ alone to go antiquing; Engaging in “Creative Movement” like meditative walks; Picking up a hobby such as gardening, journaling, or cooking. Also on the “Must Do” list is taking a weekly ‘Sabbath Day' where you bid your family ado, sequester yourself in your bedroom for hours and do nothing but listen to Mozart , read, nap, soak in scented oils while rinsing your hair with collected rain water and sip tea from the chamomile you grow in your window box. You know, peacefully and serenely tapping into your creativity… your inner goddess… your… wait, hold on… someone’s yelling for me… my 4 year old needs her tush wiped after pooping, and the baby is knocking all my CDs on the floor, and my 2 ½ year old is relentlessly trying to obtain a seat on my lap to ‘do my hair’ which mostly involves ripping it out by the roots. This is so serene, I can’t stand it!

I confess, as much as I loved many things about this book, it seemed to me like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with neither oxygen nor gortex was a more realistic goal. I kept wondering what on earth this woman was smoking because, while many of her suggestions and insights sounded great in theory, I was quite vexed at how logistically she could manage to pull off all these hours of gourmet cooking, gardening, reading, napping and uninterrupted tea sipping. Then, I stumbled upon it in one of her self-disclosing paragraphs. The source of her inner balance was revealed. She had one child, who was, like, 12 years old!!

Oooohhhhh, I get it now. I get how she can take a regular, guiltless ‘Sabbath’ day to stay in her special silk pjs, lounge in bed with herbal tea and a book of poetry, take an uninterrupted bubble bath with vanilla candles and eat a piece of chocolate cake slowly, savoring every bite as an act of meditation. I see how she can clean the house and have it stay that way for more than 10 minutes. I understand how she can write, garden, and cook for enjoyment and eat an entire meal while sitting down and actually chewing, and dare I say enjoying her food. She doesn’t have an army of tiny rugrats nipping at her heels!

Despite my dissonance over this matter I finished the book, highlighted passages, and even tried several of her suggestions. But all the while, I’m ashamed to admit that I thought snidely: “Oh, yes, it must be nice to have a child who can bathe and dress herself, brush her own teeth, do her own hair, and buckle in her own seat belt. A child who doesn’t have an emotional meltdown if you didn’t let her open her own yogurt or if she’s not (gasp) wearing pink! A child who doesn’t say “Mom! Mom! Mom!” every 5 seconds (and every 2 seconds when your out of her sight) and doesn’t have to be bribed with lollipops to stop screaming bloody murder in the middle of the grocery store. You're not nursing, and you can actually sleep more than 3 hours uninterrupted every night. In fact, I might dare venture that you get 8 hours of sleep a night, you little hussy! If you luxuriate in your relaxing bath, your daughter’s not likely pounding on the door crying 'Mommy, open the door! ' So, to the author of this wonderful book that I can apply in theory better than in practice, I can see how you are so centered, serene, and smiling. I can also see how you found time to write it all down in a big ole best seller book (which you had the audacity to admit you wrote most of lounging IN BED!! ) But, tell me please, how can the rest of us, who can’t even manage the simple luxury of having an uninterrupted thought in our heads, reach the summit of serenity?"

So, I wanted to write a self help book for the rest of us who are still knee deep in bottles, dirty diapers, leaking boobs, clinging children, and the general mini-mayhem of 27-7 Kiddiepallooza. My book would start out something like this:

“Instead of beginning your day by getting up 30 minutes before everyone else to meditate, try to sleep in as late as possible. 5:10 am might be nice. Remember, an alarm is unnecessary since one of your children will surely be up then, as they were at midnight, 1:30 and 3 am. Caffeine wakes you up faster than meditation, and it smells nicer than the aromas of hand sanitizer and Desitin that seem to follow you around endlessly. If you get up before everyone else, don’t pin your aspirations on a shower because if you actually have 15 minutes of free time to spend on yourself surely your husband will need you to find something that only you can seem locate despite the fact that he has eyes and half a brain.

Keep yourself fashionable by trying to wear barf and poop colored clothing so the day’s stains just blend right in. Having a scrunchy around your wrist at all times is essential (if you haven't succumbed to the "Mom Haircut" yet) and helps hide the fact that your hair hasn't been washed in days, cut in months, or highlighted in years. Need a hobby? Gardening is always rejuvenating… pull a few nasty weeds and pick up the bikes off of your lawn. For “Creative Movement,” run up and down the stairs half a dozen times an hour, lift 4 kids in and out of the car all day and push a shopping cart with a bum wheel and zero turn radius filled with 2 tons of groceries, and 82 pounds of kids. For relaxation, nix the aspirations of a bubble bath but rather set your sights on actually being able to pee without the peanut gallery present.

To center yourself after a long day, forgo the herbal teas and settle down with a drink. Cocktail hour can safely begin at 5 pm as you’re working on something resembling dinner (though a particularly tough day can justify a 4:30 kick off). Red wine relaxes you and ensures that you won't be pegged a functional alcoholic. But, if you really want to forget about your day, wait until after the kids are down and knock yourself out with a few shots of tequila and it will all just disappear. Instead of going out antiquing on your "Creative Excursion," simply rummage through the playroom you haven’t cleaned in weeks where you’ll surely find fine antiquated food and sippy cups full of vintage milk that has morphed into rancid cottage cheese. Finally, if you want to indulge in a "Personal Sabbath Day," feign a nervous breakdown (which won’t be hard) and if your hubby is kindhearted he’ll get a sitter and take you out to dinner. If your fake breakdown ends up with real tears and hysteria, you might get lucky and he’ll ‘force’ you to go off to a day spa or to a girls weekend away. If not, a jaunt in the nut house is at least a break from cooking, cleaning and diaper changing!”

Chapter Two will be completed when the planets next align and I have another deliciously indulgent hour or two to sit at the computer uninterrupted.

This is an original post on by Alicia DiFabio.

1 comment:

mamaofthree said...

Amen sista! I'll be anxiously awaiting chapter 2! I laughed so hard reading this, and now I'm going to pour my second glass of red wine!

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