The most honest, wildly enjoyable book written about motherhood is surely Anne Lamott's account of her son Sam's first year. A gifted writer and teacher, Lamott (Crooked Little Heart) is a single mother and ex-alcoholic with a pleasingly warped social circle and a remarkably tolerant religion to lean on. She responds to the changes, exhaustion, and love Sam brings with aplomb or outright insanity. The book rocks from hilarious to unbearably poignant when Sam's burgeoning life is played out against a very close friend's illness. No saccharine paean to becoming a parent, this touches on the rage and befuddlement that dog sweeter emotions during this sea change in one's life
Pages: 251 (paperback)
Rating: 10 out of 10
Source: Checked out from the library multiple times
The first night I was with my daughter in her room during one of her sleepless nights, I felt so lonely. I could not figure out what she needed or why she was upset. Partner and I had decided to take turns, so that everyone could sleep at some point. Not to brag too much, but I have three degrees. I have worked with people for whom communicating clearly is a work in progress. Our house was flooded and infected with mold three weeks before my daughter arrived. I was laboring for over 24 hours. None of that compares to the feeling of inadequacy that comes from trying to determine why your infant is upset.
I was so lucky to have family and friend support. People stayed with us and supported us by cooking, cleaning, and snuggling with our baby so that we could rest and be nourished. From the day she was born, my daughter (and my Partner and I) have been surrounded by love. In the middle of the night, the world looks different. All these feelings of self-doubt creep in-- am I good enough? What am I doing? Am I the only parent EVER to not know what to do?!?!? The confidence that the crying will pass is replaced with tremendous fear-- will she ever stop crying? Will I ever sleep?
I started to long for companionship--in the form a best friend who would cheer me on, share her story to make me feel better. However, I did not want to worry about the fact that I looked like crap or have to make a polite exit when the baby finally fell asleep and I could go nap. Operating Instructions by Anne Lammott was just what I needed. On the surface, I wondered if I would be able to relate to anything she wrote given the differences in our circumstances. I soon learned that love, struggling to do right by your child, and marveling at the mess parenthood has made of your sanity are universal.
The book is divided into easy to read chapters. I kept the book in the nursery and read a few sentences when I had a chance or needed a pep talk. I felt like I made a new friend. The book made the experience of being a new mom less lonely and much more bearable.
I am counting the book for the following challenges:
- What's in a Name Five: a journal is something I would carry in my backpack or purse.
- What's in a Name Four: the first year is certainly a life stage