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For Moms: When Did I Get Like This (a review)

November 17, 2010

When I saw the title, I knew it was a must-read.

When Did I Get Like This? The Screamer, The Worrier, The Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget Buyer & Other Mothers I Swore I’d Never Be

Can I get an AMEN?

Author Amy Wilson (who also has an off-Broadway hit called Motherload) is hilarious and honest. If you have ever worried if your pregnancy diet would harm your child, stressed about getting your child in a preschool,  succumbed to co-sleeping past the age it should matter,or feel like “a bold mommy” at  times,  than you will find a friend in these pages.

My favorite chapter is Penny the Pig, which recounts her attempts to provide her child with the best possible “Person of the Week” experience with the class “pet,” Penny the stuffed pig.  (You can read the full  excerpted chapter here.)

So there I was Friday night, doing a photo layout of our hastily arranged “Welcome Penny Pizza Party,” at which Connor and Penny shared an apple juice with two straws and fed each other pizza, like newlyweds enjoying forkfuls of buttercream frosting. Next was bathtime, requiring advanced trick photography to make it look like Penny was under the bubbles with Connor’s 1-year-old sister, Maggie. Then 4-year-old Seamus pretended to read Penny a bedtime story. Getting my three kids ready for bed is usually activity enough; making it Penny-worthy was exhausting.

I tossed and turned in bed that night, dreaming of Penny, fretting about how to make her weekend with us one she would always remember. I did not want her going back to kindergarten and oinking about what losers we all were.

The book lets those of us who have been sucked into the hyper-parenting worry world of modern motherhood take a step back and laugh at ourselves and the life we live. It also has tender moments such as when on a disaster (and vomit)-filled flight with three kids she realizes that being a good mother isn’t about preparing for every potential scenario but in taking things as they come and making the best of it.

In my hubris, I had thought I was ready for every conceivable thing that could happen on that plane, and I was still left unprepared. But holding on to that monorail pole, I realized: being a mother is like that. Again and again, motherhood will throw at me things for which I will feel, and may indeed be, completely unprepared. What will decide whether or not I am a good mother is not whether I am ready for such times, but how I move through the door.

Short essay chapters about very familiar situations to anyone who is a mother. Worth a few minutes of your “spare” time 🙂

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