Despite having two degrees in English, it’s rare that I find the time to read. Chasing after two boys and their messes; planning lessons, teaching and grading; and of course, commuting, all take up a great deal of my time. Thanks to Audible, I’m able to enjoy a good book every day while I’m tackling a few of those things (especially cleaning – which I hate!).
Audible is a web-based service through which you can download digital audiobooks to your cell phone or mp3 player. You may purchase books one at a time, paying anywhere from 5 to 30 dollars each, or subscribe as a member to one or two downloads a month for $14.95 and $22.95, respectively.
A wide range of titles are available, but I tend to stick with books that motivate me, make me laugh, or teach me something fascinating about human life. I particularly like to hear other people’s stories about parenthood. I just finished a fantastic book on that subject, Dad is Fat, by stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan.
I’d seen Dad is Fat on my Amazon home page and in Barnes and Noble several times, but I bypassed it in knowing that I seldom get to read books without pictures or curricular obligations. As soon as I found out it was available on Audible (and after my school librarian strongly recommended it – his kids are the same age as mine), I downloaded it to my iPhone. I plugged it in to the auxiliary jack on my car’s stereo system* and set off for a pleasant 40 minute ride to work.
I’ve been a Jim Gaffigan fan for awhile, but find his material especially appealing now that my family is growing almost as fast as his. In Dad is Fat, the Catholic father of five makes observations that only former or current parents of young children can appreciate, such as their innate urge to scream at nice restaurants (A-hem, Frank) or during Mass, or their refusal to go to the bathroom until you’re in the middle of a park with no suitable facilities to be found.
Unlike some of the “comedians” on Nick Mom, Nickelodeon’s late night show, Gaffigan never actually complains about his kids or makes it seem as though his life would be better off without them. He’s able to point out the everyday idiosyncrasies that turn parents’ faces red with embarrassment or anger in such a way that we sigh with relief in knowing that we are not alone. And in the tradition of Bill Cosby, every joke or story is punctuated with a subtle note of, “But, we love them no matter what.”
Laughing out loud during my commute to and from work is a great way to start my morning and transition back home to my family. Sometimes I’ll listen to Zig Ziglar or Stephen Covey when I need a dose of positivity or organization. One of these days I’ll find a story to lose myself in – as long as I’m still focused on the road.
For now, at my most stressful time of the year, Gaffigan’s ultimate message – stop worrying about what everyone else thinks and appreciate every moment (no matter how frustrating or humiliating) you have with your children just the way they are– was just what I needed to hear during my lonely sojourns in our toy, sock (so that’s where they went!) and sippy cup-laden SUV.
*You may have an auxiliary jack without even knowing it. It’s a hole the size of a pencil eraser, usually somewhere near your radio. You can get an auxiliary cord at Radio Shack or WalMart for super cheap and hook up your phone or mp3 player right to your car’s sound system!