Earlier this week, I found myself nearly bursting with excitement. Back in October I preordered Glennon Doyle’s new book Untamed and it was released on Tuesday. Yes, I realize that makes me sound like a total nerd, to be that excited for a book, but I was not alone. Over the last few weeks, my Instagram stories were filled with clips from famous people who had received an early copy and were raving about the book. Actress Kristen Bell posted from her bathroom floor that she couldn’t stop reading (her kids were asleep in the other room and she had snuck away to read). I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and experience it for myself.
I picked the book up at lunch and it was all I could do to restrain myself from reading it in the parking lot of our local indie bookstore. I hurried through the rest of my workday, knowing my reward was waiting. Hours later, after the drive home, dinner was made, dishes were done, I was finally able to settle in. The smell of freshly printed pages pulled me in as her words described concepts so simple, yet so groundbreaking. I found myself wanting to read the entire book in one sitting and at the same time wanting to go slowly, to soak in each word and make it last.
The book jacket describes Untamed as “the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live.” I’m only about half-way through, but I want to share some of my favorite quotes to this point:
“I burned the memo presenting responsible motherhood as martyrdom. I decided that the call of motherhood is to become a model not a martyr.” (p.75)
“Brave does not mean feeling afraid and doing it anyway. Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment, turning inward, feeling for the Knowing, and speaking it out loud.” (p.105)
“Women who are best at this disappearing act earn the highest praise: She is so selfless. Can you imagine? The epitome of womanhood is to lose one’s self completely.” (p.116)
“I quit spending my life trying to control myself and began to trust myself. We only control what we don’t trust.” (p.116)
“Every time she looks at me, she is seeing herself, too. And she is asking: Mom, how does a woman wear her hair? Mom, how does a woman love and be loved? Mom, how does a woman live?” (p.126)
“Mothers have martyred themselves in their children’s names since the beginning of time. We have lived as if she who disappears the most, loves the most. We have been conditioned to prove our love by slowly ceasing to exist…….. When we call martyrdom love we teach our children that when love begins, life ends…….. What if love is not the process of disappearing for the beloved but of emerging for the beloved?......What if the call of motherhood is not to be a martyr but to be a model?” (p.128)
Each time I open the book to read a new chapter, I am on the edge of my seat, wondering what she is going to say next. Similar feelings draw us to binge watch shows, we’re excited to dive in, eagerly anticipating what’s to come. It reminds me of a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, that found the planning and anticipating of a trip can bring more happiness than the trip itself.
Anticipation can be paired with words like excitement, joy, hope, trust, eagerness and enthusiasm.
At the same time, anticipation can also be paired with words like apprehension, foreboding, dread, impatience and fear.
It is a fine line. Words matter.
This week has been unprecedented. None of us have ever lived through anything like this. There is no history reflecting to us the best way to react. With no blueprint to guide us, we are in a unique position where we get to choose the words we associate with our anticipation - will they be from the first list or the second list?
One word we can all agree on is uncertain. There is no way to predict the outcome, our only option is to ride it out and see what happens.
In this uncertainty, we have been given a unique opportunity to slow down. In one of the quotes above, you may have noticed one of the themes in Untamed, “Knowing”. Inspired by a friend’s note which read, “Be still and know”, Glennon describes how she stopped doing and spent ten minutes each day just sitting. She comically explains how she would review her grocery list and suddenly feel hungry or itchy early in the process, but over time she was able to still her thoughts. In those still moments, she sensed a Knowing nudge that helped guide her to the next right thing. Throughout the book she shares her stories and teaches her kids how to tap into their own Knowing when it comes to getting their ears pierced or using their phone. Of course, we all have a Knowing, but most of the time we are too busy to listen to it.
So, the last question is – how will you spend this time? Whether you choose to self-quarantine or not, your routine this week will look different. You’ll spend more time with your family under your roof. Sure, it may raise tensions, but it also presents an opportunity for connection, with your family and with yourself. And while we may be physically apart, do not hesitate to reach out and support each other. If there is anything I can do to help you maintain your sanity, please reach out. We will all get through this together.
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Photo by Andy Brunner on Unsplash
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.