I may be the only one who recommends this book as a great holiday read, but I think it is: Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink (not an affiliate link because Amazon closed my affiliate account for reasons I’m too weary to investigate…not that I ever made so much as one cent from affiliate links anyway). I happened to see it at the library and added it to my pile–a pile that, if you know me, often ends up going back to the library untouched and unread because I’m like Homer Simpson at an all-you-can-eat buffet at the library. At any rate, I did actually end up reading this one and I couldn’t put it down. Even though I no longer have young kids, as I read about the author’s chaotic life that ultimately took a toll on her physical and mental health, I couldn’t help but relate…and freak out slightly.
Here’s the description of the book from Amazon:
Katrina Alcorn was a 37-year-old mother with a happy marriage and a thriving career when one day, on the way to Target to buy diapers, she had a breakdown. Her carefully built career shuddered to a halt, and her journey through depression, anxiety, and insomnia—followed by medication, meditation, and therapy—began.
Alcorn wondered how a woman like herself, with a loving husband, a supportive boss, three healthy kids, and a good income, was unable to manage the demands of having a career and a family. Over time, she realized that she wasn’t alone; many women were struggling to do it all—and feeling as if they were somehow failing as a result.
Mothers are the breadwinners in two-thirds of American families, yet the American workplace is uniquely hostile to the needs of parents. Weaving in surprising research about the dysfunction between the careers and home lives of working mothers, as well as the consequences to women’s health, Alcorn tells a deeply personal story about “having it all,” failing miserably, and what comes after. Ultimately, she offers readers a vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to live and work.
So, not a holiday read, but, IMO, a very apropos read during what is, sadly, my least favorite time of year. I hate that I hate the holidays, but I do hate them because, at least in my case, they take what is already a tenuous balance of working, taking care of a home and family, finding time to exercise and write and just breathe and enjoy life and throw it into a tailspin when the season throws a bunch more must-dos into the equation: shopping for gifts. Ordering and sending holiday cards. Fluffing each and every branch of the tree then figuring out how to decorate it–knowing all the while that, in a few weeks, the whole thing will have to be dismantled and put away. Navigating a bunch of holiday parties and other stuff that’s fun but also adds another layer of complexity to the calendar. All while plowing through what, for me, is the busiest time of the year at work, juggling volunteer responsibilities that seemed like a good idea at the time but when added to the holiday frenzy just seem like too much. Then add in some health issues, which of course, I, the medical procrastinator, endure and stress about, willing them to just disappear magically rather than take the time to find a doctor, make the appointments and go. So here I am, a few weeks out from Christmas, Googling “vertigo home cure” while the world spins around me and I plow through work and gift-buying and presentation-preparing and all the other things that have to happen before the calendar turns over to a fresh new year.
It occurred to me as I thought about this in the shower the other day, Christmas or holiday-hating is kind of a shameful secret the same way dealing with mental health issues is. Admitting you hate this time of year is like admitting you have postpartum depression after the birth of a healthy baby or that you suffer from depression even though, to an outsider, your life looks pretty great. You’re a Scrooge and a Grinch if you hate Christmas and can’t just embrace the holiday spirit and feel dizzy with happiness over the frenzy of holiday cookie baking and decorating and gift wrapping and decorating and celebrating, of racking up bills for stuff you and your kids don’t really need, of stressing over just the right photos to include on your holiday card and getting the timing right so they actually arrive during the holidays…and on and on and on. If I had an elf who could magically take care of all these holiday things I might feel differently, but I don’t, so I guess it is what it is.
Sorry for the Christmas-ruining rant there…and back to books. The good news is that I’m almost going to meet my 2015 reading challenge of 50 books–I’m currently reading #47, and there were some good ones in there. Someday after the holiday crazy has passed I’ll get around to recommending some…but in the meantime, if you’re a parent, read Maxed Out and let me know what you think.