When do I get to go out and find myself? That’s the question that’s been troubling me lately. I’m just about finished with Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and I’d already read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. These memoirs are about two women who each get to spend close to a year out exploring the world on their own in search of, well, I don’t know what. Happiness? Themselves?
It got me to thinking, Hey, why don’t I just drop everything and take a year off and go find myself? I can see it now. ““Bye kids! Off to find myself! Back in a year! Bye Honey! Don’t forget to feed the dog while I’m out hiking the Adirondack Trail!” (And I know it’s the Appalachian Trail, but I didn’t want to name that one, not because “hiking the Appalachian Trail” is now a euphemism for having an extramarital affair, but because if I went on a hike in any mountain range, I would want it to have furniture along the way where I could sit down and rest.)
I realize the only chance I have of finding myself is if I’m hiding under a bed in my house next to all the dust bunnies and missing socks. And why is that? Because I’ve been very busy working. I’ve been busy working and working and working—at both real jobs and the day-to-day of my actual, real life, doing everything in my power to not fuck up. So no, it’s not in the stars for people like me to go off and find ourselves.
Instead, I’ve decided I’m going to write a manifesto: “The Good Mommy Manifesto: How to find yourself in your every day life.” No gorp or airfare required. Here are some excerpts:
Cook pasta for dinner. Italian food is supposed to have restorative powers. Don’t waste your time trying to repair your bad relationship! That’s too hard. But you say you can’t up and leave and go to Italy? Some Barilla penne and Paul Newman Alfredo sauce are just the thing.
Lock yourself in a closet. No, it’s not an ashram in India, but it is about the only place in your house you can enjoy some solitude, because if you have kids, you can’t even enjoy that in the bathroom. The best part is, you can exercise your vow of silence! When everyone in your family is screaming, “Mom! Mom! I can’t find my shoes!” or “Honey, where are the car keys?” Just don’t answer. Be silent. Very restful for you and enlightening—for them. Find your own damn shoes.
Hike up and down the stairs. If you can’t afford a big “Monster” backpack from REI, A City Mom is here to help and inspire. Just carry your laundry! The aches and pains in your back and arms, the blisters on your toes from your fluffy houseslippers, they will toughen you up and make you into the woman you were meant to be!
These two finding-myself memoirs are, quite frankly, two amazing books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading, but… But. Who are the people who get to take that kind of time off? I know, I know. It's that sort of "courage" we're supposed to admire. That they took the time and made the leap and went off into the world on their big adventures. Well, you know what? I think it takes more courage to find yourself in your own life, without running away. By doing the day-to-day-to-day and trying really hard to not screw it up. That's what makes you who you are. That's where you'll find your real self. Anyone can be all philosophical when they're out alone in nature, but when you can find happiness washing dirty dishes, then you are the one with the real strength, for the simple fact you didn't have to run away to do it.