Sunday, September 20, 2009

Operating Instructions: Anne Lamott Speaks The Truth

When I found out I was pregnant, I had little idea of what I was getting into. I mean, I knew babies cried and pooped a lot and sometimes did cute things like laugh and drool. But that was about it. Needless to say, I was in for a rude awakening. The truth is, nobody really tells you how hard it is to have a baby.

Except for Anne Lamott, in her book Operating Instructions A Journal of My Son's First Year.

Lamott is a well-known author published several times over. She is also a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Her book chronicles her brutally honest journey into motherhood. When she becomes pregnant, the father of the baby wants nothing to do with her or the child. Nevertheless, Lamott presses on and decides to have the baby with tremendous support from her variety of eccentric friends and family.

Her prose is candid, hilarious and irreverent. Here is one of my favorite passages where she describes her son at five months old:

He is lying beside me now, reading his plastic Beatrix Potter bath book, very absorbed. I
try to get his attention, but I can see that I am just annoying the shit out of him. (Lamott, p. 138)

It was great reading Operating Instructions at this time in my son's life, because I have just been through the same experience. I could reflect and relate to Lamott's thought processes. Her feelings of joy and intermittent resentment and anger.

I just can't get over how much babies cry. I really had no idea what I was getting into. To
tell you the truth, I thought it would be more like getting a cat. (Lamott, p. 66)

One interesting thing about her is that although she has this biting cynical wit, she is also quite religious. She speaks a lot about her church and her faith throughout the book.

Lamott lets us into her brain for one whole year. The book is written in a journal style and is a very easy read. I am a perpetually slow reader and I finished it in three days!

If you have an infant and you are questioning your sanity, read Lamott's book. You'll feel a lot better about yourself.

For more information about Anne Lamott click here.

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