Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Some Assembly Required
I just finished listening to Anne Lamott's new book SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. The audio version is read by Anne Lamott and her son, with whom she also wrote the book. It was great to hear Sam's participation in the book; Sam, whom we met in OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS as an infant.
I devoured OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS years ago, even though my children were both past babyhood when I read it.
Being a mom with a baby (and then having another baby and a toddler) was hard for me. My tendency was to dissolve into the role of mother and caretaker. When my children were infants, they needed my body (and it felt like my soul) so completely. It was hard for me to extricate my Self from the role of mother and keep track of who I was.
But then they got older. And more independent. (yay!) I taught school. My kids went to school. (yay!) And now they are in their 20's, and my son is engaged to his wonderful fiance.
Anne Lamott didn't sugarcoat the realities of having an infant, which I greatly appreciated. Though she has struggles with how best to be present in Sam and Amy and Jax's lives, as she did with how to be a good mom to Sam, what comes through loud and clear is her love for Sam and Amy and Jax.
Anne Lamott starts SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED being surprised and concerned to find out that her 19 year old son, Sam, is going to be a father with his girlfriend, Amy. At the same time she is excited to welcome this new being into her world.
...having a child ends any feelings of complacency one might ever have and I knew what Sam was in for. It was like having a terminal illness, but in a good way.
I love how she puts things.
One of the things she struggles with is finding the balance between wanting to tell Sam and Amy what to do in any given situation, at the same time realizing that she can't control a situation, that Sam and Amy have to figure it out for themselves...
Amy and Sam seemed to be in a good place when I got back, but demented with jet lag, I had to grip myself by the wrist not to pitch one good idea after another at them. I didn't say, 'Let's find some great day care for Jax so Amy can work part-time', but I writhed with the effort to stay silent. I almost offered to babysit twice a week to this end, but didn't. Since Jax's birth, my ideas about what would be best for everyone usually got in the way. Life is already an obstacle course, and when you're adding your own impediments (thinking they're helping), you really crazy it up. You make it harder to even just cross the room. You should not bring more items and hurdles to the obstacle course.
Having children is messy and hard. And wonderful.
Lamott talks about how grandparenthood allows her to not be so caught up in the 24/7 intensity of the survival and well-being of a child that one has to be as a parent. She says that being a grandmother allows her to see her grandson, Jax, and his growth in softer focus. I think I will like this grandmother gig when it comes.
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