A few months ago I joined a book club. Our first book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” traced the author’s journey toward self realization. Her book decribes her visits to Italy, India and Indonesia. Apparently she’s energized a lot of women to step out of their comfort zone and do things they never thought they could. Many of her readers describe how this book opened the door for them to a fuller and more satisfying life.
Did this book cause an epiphany for me? Yeah, not so much. I enjoyed the “voice” of the book and read page after page about the author’s visit to Italy. I smiled as she described how she gorged herself on pasta and gelato gaining 22 pounds in just four months. In my own moment of self realization I thought:
“Give me some Chunky Monkey and a couple of bags of Doritos and I can do that on a Saturday.”
As I moved with her to India and read about her praying in silence, reaching new heights of self awareness and finding her spiritual awakening: I realized I’m just not deep. All I kept thinking as she poured her heart out describing another crying fit she’d had on a bathroom floor in some foreign country was:
“I could never put this woman in charge of a PTO event.”
Don’t get me wrong. I think self exploration and stepping beyond your comfort zone is terrific. Time moves fast and you have to stay ahead of that sweep hand to get the most out of life.
Most of us however, don’t have the luxury of stepping outside our lives for a year to pursue a solitary journey. If I had written that book when the boys were toddlers it would have been titled “Eat without putting together a Happy Meal toy, Pray that I get more than three hours of sleep tonight, and Love to go to the bathroom by myself”. My own book title “There’s a booger on my lampshade” may be a far cry from the descriptions of Sanskrit meditation techniques but will probably be more pertinent to women as we muddle through balancing families, work and raising our children.
Here’s the challenge for most real women. Real women have to reach our potential and achieve our aspirations in the time that is tucked between flossing someone’s teeth and filling the van’s gas tank. Real women self actualize and look to make a difference between 10:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon. Real women have to be so much more in touch with our emotions, our reality and our needs because somehow we have to fit our lives into the reality of our lives. We can’t just pick up and indulge in a one year search for our destiny.
On the upside, maybe during the course of the year we will get the chance to enjoy some pasta and some gelato. If we are smart we will pray for strength and leadership to guide our families. And when those critters get off the bus, or come bounding out of the school with their coats flying and their backpacks bouncing, we will love. We will love until we’re ready to burst. And if by chance we find ourselves needing a good cry on the bathroom floor, we’ll have one and then we’ll get up and get moving. Because that’s what real women do.
Parent Tip of the Day: Teach your children to use the word “I” when they describe their successes and their failures. (For example: “I” studied hard and earned an “A” on the test, or conversely “I” didn’t follow the rules so I’ve lost the computer for the day.) Kids need to feel empowered in both their successes and their failures and will learn they have the ability to make a difference.