Books Made of Paper

Michelle Cove: ‘I Love Mondays’

Gigglers: I’m not going to seek out the newest hardcovers and tell you whether or not to buy them. And while not the Sunday Review, this Sunday blog will explore my brilliant and fascinating thoughts about books. Please use the comments section to share your own thoughts on this book, or whatever you’re reading.

We all know there’s a stigma around self -help books. This idea that if you’re reading one, you’re unstable, you’re weird, you can’t manage your own life. These stereotypes are probably true. Of all of us, whether or not we’re reading a self-help book! Full disclosure, I didn’t open I Love Mondays about being a working mom because I’m a working mom, or a mom at all. So I can’t tell you whether the book helped me. In fact, if anything it made me thankful that I’m not a working mom (though I hope to someday be), cause damn girl, it sounds tough.

I came to reading the book because it’s written by someone I’m very fond of. A friend who’s been there for me throughout the years and has always had great advice, and a snarky joke to go along with it.

The author, Michelle Cove, is a working mom, and her inspiration for the book came from her struggles with sticky situations that arise when your job and your kid need you at the same time (which is most of the time). It was clear to Michelle that no one had written anything useful on the subject that went further than saying, “don’t feel guilty,” or “give yourself a break,” when stressing about this intangible “balance” between work and family. What Michelle wanted was practical advice on how to handle the types of situations that most moms encounter.

Michelle recently gave a reading at a Boston-area bookstore, and the Q&A could have gone all night. Women had questions. Women wanted to talk about this stuff. I was trying not to have a panic attack.

After talking to many different types of women around the country, Michelle nailed the toughest sitches into 11 categories, including: the idea that we’re supposed to be good at multitasking, involvement in your kid’s school, friend neglect, colleague neglect and working from home boundaries.

I opened the book imagining I was a woman who needed its counsel. After reading about the first issue—the “sorry loop”—when you end up apologizing to everyone all day long to try to smooth over any lack of attention, I was fully planted in that impossible spot and was curious to see how Michelle would give me any practical advice on the subject. And the beautiful thing? There was step-by-step guidance after every scenario throughout the book filled with quotes from real women about things they’ve tried that have helped. There’s no “fix” here, just ideas of ways to make life more manageable.

There are also these “Try This” sidebars where Michelle inserts her down to earth, relatable voice with things to avoid doing, and other solutions she likes. The book doesn’t preach and it doesn’t claim to lead to anything resembling “balance.” Michelle will tell you balance doesn’t exist, but guilt does and work and family will always be complicated. She also believes we can learn from one another’s experiences and maybe make a potentially exasperating situation—like when you’re trying to get out the door to a meeting and your kid’s hanging on your leg—well, a little less exasperating. If you want to know how, you’ll have to buy the book!

Michelle was featured on Katie on Thursday, and you can find the clips on her website.

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