You know all the mushy, feel-good, self-help anecdotes that incessantly float around social media?
The ones that call you to an ideal standard of effortlessly perfect parenting, wife-ing, friending, or whatever other life role fits you.
The beautiful stories of flawless moms who have reared angelic beings.
The personal testimonies that promise you can have it all if you just adopt five very simple daily habits that anyone, and I mean anyone, can accomplish.
Do push-ups while you blow dry your hair. Just simply hold the dryer handle between your teeth. Easy peasy.
Struggling with domestic duties? Spend a mere three minutes on dirty dishes each night to maintain order. This is absolutely attainable if you’ll just serve air for dinner because air is pure, clean, organic, and calorie-free. I just love eating air, and who knew my kids would love it too!
Also, oil pull while you fix breakfast. It’s perfect; you can use the coconut oil residue in your mouth to grease your egg skillet. A two-for-one! My favorite.
OH, and here’s this homemade, edible play-dough recipe that will limit your kids’ device time, ensure they’re Rhodes Scholars, firm up your cellulite-ridden rump, and alleviate world hunger.
No, I’m not bitter.
But I did want to be a self-help success story.
And I’m here to tell you it’s a crock.
Instead, I humbly submit four very elementary, life-changing habits based on recent experiences.
1. More technology.
Were you thinking of restricting your child’s time spent on devices?
Maybe you considered conquering Target without your child being entertained by your iPhone.
They did this in the 1800s. Surely you can do it too.
I can see you now: you and your energetic toddler, wandering around Target’s home decor aisle.
Your curious toddler, intent on a challenging game of hide-and-seek, positions his beloved ninja turtle between one of thousands of 8×10 area rugs. You frantically search for the ninja turtle, selfishly concerned about the meltdown that ensues without that stupid turtle to comfort your toddler.
Maybe you’re over 30 weeks pregnant, very sweaty, and extremely winded from lifting each, individual area rug off the shelf.
Maybe you never find the turtle.
Maybe your toddler is unamused.
Maybe he looks like this:
From the moment they awake. While you get ready for work. Certainly if your child is in a vehicle. Definitely at the dinner table. And absolutely in their bed with them all night long. Always, always more technology.
2. Less Organization.
You weren’t thinking about organizing your closets this week, were you?
Because organization only creates more work.
As I was diligently sorting my closets last week, I hear my treasured and creative two-year-old exclaim, “Andy!”
It was news to me that Andy knew how to sign his name. And yet, there it was, numerous times, in large print, on our freshly painted guest bedroom wall.
Just think, this could have been avoided with less organization.
3. Never compliment.
Have you been reading a self-help book about encouraging others?
Maybe it preaches—if you think something nice about a person, tell them.
If you feel something positive, say it.
Well don’t do it.
My very pregnant self was recently the recipient of an unbridled compliment:
Anonymous: “Paige, you look like you’ve lost weight. You’re looking thinner than ever.”
Paige: “I’m more than six months pregnant.” [rubs unnaturally large, round, turgid abdomen.]
Anonymous: “It must be your face.”
Every swollen, 7-month pregnant woman, at the [hopefully] lifetime peak of her weight, wants to be told she looks trimmer than ever.
Do you have a compliment? Maybe don’t say it?
4. You be you.
All the self-help blogs encourage you to be true to yourself.
In fact, my mentor incessantly reminds me, you be you, Paige Pippin.
Some people vehemently disagree with this advice, especially if the mentor is affirming a mentee’s weirdness. But really, how else is my mentor going to encourage me in light of my idiosyncratic ways and ever humbling encounters?
So you be you, but not too you.
Because little eyes are watching, and we need to give them the best chance at normal.
Last week, I spastically knocked over my coffee on the living room couch for the hundredth time. I swiftly waddled to the kitchen for a bottled water and chaotically dumped it on the couch, in hopes of keeping the couch fabric from absorbing the coffee.
Later that day, Andy requested a bottled water. Within seconds, he returned to the kitchen, politely requesting another water. I was beaming with pride that my sweet two-year-old loves water and has manners.
And then it dawned on me that sweet Andy had flooded the living room couch with his bottled water, just like he saw his brilliant ma do that morning.
You can imagine what other embarrassing spectacles Andy has witnessed.
The poor child never had a chance at normal.
How can you make your life as easy and perfect as mine?
You be you. But not too you. 😉