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am 8. April 2000
As I write this, I am around 33 weeks pregnant with my first child -- a child who is also an "accident" and also a boy. Especially because I didn't plan to have kids at this particular moment in my life, as soon as I found out I was pregnant I raced to the bookstore (typical response for me) and started buying books -- on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, anything I could get my hands on that would make up for what I didn't know. A friend recommended this book along with a pile of others, and eventually I picked it up on one of my innumerable trips to the pregnancy/parenting section of a local bookstore. By then I knew a lot of the basics on all that pregnancy and childbirth stuff, but this was the first and remains the only book that really helped me imagine what it will be like to have a child. A lot of men and women I know have a hard time imagining interesting, intelligent, dynamic people like themselves and those they know as parents. It was wonderful and emotional to hear from an interesting, intelligent, dynamic woman about her own experiences with parenting as a surprise life choice. The woman has GUTS. Particularly in terms of admitting her own struggles and failures in parenting and it is a tremendous relief to feel like you can screw up and move beyond it as a parent. She had a lot of hard times, but her story of Sam's first year made me connect to my soon to be born child in a way that nothing else did -- finally, I could really imagine what I, with all my failings and closet skeletons, could be like as a parent, and how much I might love it. I can't wait to find out now, and her book (which I have read and reread during the course of my pregnancy) has helped that feeling along immensely.
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am 17. Dezember 1999
I really appreciate this lady's intelligent bluntness about religion, early motherhood and getting over big mistakes, and God, she writes so lyrically when she wants to--but she whines and whines and WHINES about how damaged and insecure she is, and the impression of self-absorption this leaves mars the book. We don't get the pleasure of inferring who the author is from how she reads her beloved son and others (and with a writer this good, what a pleasure that would be!); instead, we get to hear all about the author, all the time. There's no fun or subtlety in that, and the attention-seeking involved is a little sad.
The wonderful parts of this book come when she runs into things that are too big for her and her need for attention, and she just makes a song of it all--just plays that honest voice and that big heart, which are really such amazingly fine instruments when she lets them be. The very worst parts are when she gets tired and very clearly settles for just blathering out something that she thinks might amuse and sound confessional at the same time. That is NOT so very honest. Where was the editor?
It's perfectly obvious that Lamott is way bright, strong enough to sober up, a loving mother who provides her child with shelter, love, family and faith, a genius at friendship, and an honest-to-God literary success. If she ever realizes that she is, in fact, highly competent, maybe she'll shut up about it and do some more of her really great writing. Then she'd almost certainly be among the best we've got.
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am 24. September 1999
This book is a pleasure to read. Fast, nervous, searching--it's a great reassurance to any woman experiencing the very real demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering.
Lamott is a self-confessed non-superwoman--preoccupied with Sam in the early months of his life, it is as much as she can do to brush her teeth, let alone get out of bed. Writing, her life's work? She obviously misses it, but for a few difficult months, even as she is sole-breadwinner for her little family--she just can't get up the energy to do it. The reader knows that she finished this book, that she kept on writing--but the reader also understands that for a certain time period Lamott was paralyzed by her new experience.
The book is very obviously adapted from a real journal--prior to Sam's birth, she worries about the fact that he is male. She worries about his alien genitals, and goes for circumcision because it's obviously what she likes in a man, as much as it is for any health reasons. These worries fade once Sam is born, replaced by the reality of colic, poop, and struggle for a balance between "Sam-time" and "Mom-time." It shows Lamott's talent as a writer that this sequential experience of changes in her baby's life comes as a strength, not a weakness.
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am 14. Februar 2000
Anne Lamott is truly one of the most gifted writers of our time. She is funny, true blue, strong, and opinionated, poignant, and totally, disarmingly honest. In Operating Instructions, she chronicles the first year of her son, Sam's life. This is much, much more than a journal. It's the unfolding of real, true life.
Three years after giving up her addictions to drugs and alcohol, Lamott found herself pregnant-and single-at 35. The struggles she encountered with her new baby are so real and honest. She describes her love for him one day as being a feeling larger than anything she can describe-then the next day, being overwhelmed with the urge to leave him on the porch all night where his colicky cries won't reach her ears. All the while, she struggles to keep on top of her addictions, struggles with her spirituality, with the fact that Sam has no father in his life, with the loss of her own father to brain cancer, with money, and with her strong and conflicting emotions about motherhood. Finally, her best friend of over 20 years falls gravely ill, something that nearly shatters Lamott's faith. But through it all, she stays true, beyond all else. She is an amazing writer and person.
If you are a mother or want to be a mother, this is a must-read.
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am 8. Juli 1998
I wish I had read this book in my post-partum depression year -- it might not have cheered me up permanently (actually I would probably have laughed hysterically while dissolving in tears), but I would at least not have been worried that I was the only mother ever to have such horrible thoughts while still loving her baby so desperately. Society tends to portray the new mother in soft-focus as always happy and serene (in a Stepford Wife sort of way). I really admire Anne Lamott for capturing the wild mood swings and sleep deprivation so accurately. I don't think I have ever before encountered such a three-dimensional character in non-fiction, especially autobiography. Part of her secret is to tell us EVERYTHING (or at least, appear to), and that includes her rants about George Bush, Republicans, circumcision, penises, religion, you name it. I can understand that if you feel strongly about any of these, you would have a hard time seeing through her opinions to the rest of the book, but it's because she conveys her strong feelings that her book is so alive. This would make a great gift for new mothers who have a sense of humor, and aren't expecting it to be a how-to manual, unless you're counting "how to survive".
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am 11. Juli 1999
I wanted to read this book so I could get a better understanding of what many of my friends are going through, and so I could begin to get some idea what I am in for when I have kids. This book offers excellent insight onto just how big of an impact having a child has on your life. It sounds like having a kid is about the most dramatic lifestyle change possible. I was also pleasantly suprised by the spirituality in the book. I may not share all of her beliefs, but it is always interesting to read how other Christians deal with the onslaught of the world around them. I would have given the book five stars, but the animosity towards George Bush, and conservatives in general, was a little much. I do understand that everyone is entitled to their own points of view, so, rather than putting down her beliefs, I will just relish the prospect of another George Bush taking up residence in the White House in the near future. Very funny, very touching, and a very good book. Highly recommended.
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am 7. April 1999
I am in love with Annie Lamott. Thanks to my best friend for turning me on to her! My daughter is 8 now, but when she was a baby she did NOT have colic and I DID have a husband to help. All that said, I still found this book to be right on the money in describing the highs and lows of the first year of motherhood.
For those of you who have been upset at Annie's comments on circumcision and George Bush - lighten up. Those are her OPINIONS and the last time I looked, this was the United States wherein everyone had the right to express their opinion. Annie has a right and a parental duty to express her political opinions to her son - we are doing the same with our daughter. If you ask her about Bill Clinton she will tell you the truth; that he is a lying, sexual preditor. That is my opinion.
Regardless of your politics or your views on circumcision, please read this book. It is the perfect baby shower gift.
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am 16. August 1999
I read this book about three months after my son was born, and it was a great comfort for a number of reasons. First, it really made me laugh, and we all know there is nothing like a good belly laugh to relieve that new-parent stress! Second, many times my experiences were the same as hers, so the book provided me with a wonderful sense of validation and camraderie. Third, because I felt she was so accurate about the first three months, I was confident that her tales of the rest of the year were indeed realistic. It was nice to have that kind of "heads up," so to speak! This book is for anyone who has ever had moments of doubt, craziness, frustration, wonder and rapture about their child! It is not another "motherhood is the greatest thing on earth" book, but instead is a realistic portrait of the ups and downs you go through when trying to grow into the role of MOM.
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am 19. Juni 2000
In "Operating Instructions," Anne Lamott gives a day-by-day, hysterically funny, portrait of her son's first year. Her difficulties with sleep deprivation, colic, struggles to stay free from her various addictions, grief at her own father's death and her son's father's disappearance are conveyed with self-deprecating humor and wit. Especially poignant are the entries in which she mentions the enormous love and support she receives from her friends, her discussion of her faith, and her close friend's illness.
As a veteran nanny, all I can say is that this book ought to be required reading for any teenager, male or female, or anyone else who might think that raising a baby is all sweetness and light and moonbeams. Ms. Lamott offers a wonderful, funny, and realistic look at the challenges, difficulties and rewards of parenting. A very good, well-written, and interesting book.
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am 12. Oktober 1998
I read this book at the end of my son's first year. He was the third child and I thought we had this "kid thing" down pat. Anne LaMott gently showed me that each little boy or girl is not just a little bundle of fun to add to life's blessings, but the foundation of a life rededicated to accepting sorrow, looking for hope and bringing joy. She drags herself forward, out of a less than perfect past, with a soft, radiant humor that almost belies the pain and regret she has struggled to overcome. I was completely charmed...enchanted by the wonder she felt and so richly, beautifully shares....and laughing my self silly at trials and tribulations offered up with her trademark sweet sensitivity and self-deprecation. Hey! she told me, there's nothing routine about your baby! Not this little life...nor mine, I learned. Thanks, Anne...
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