Babies don’t come with instruction manuals. It’s the number one joke made by labor and delivery nurses. It’s the thing that makes parents want to tear their hair out in the middle of the night when the baby has been crying for three hours, they’ve tried everything they can think of, and none of it has worked.
Now, even if there were an instruction manual, it would probably include tidbits about bottles, about burping, about diaper changing, about how to put on a onesie without getting the buttons wrong… it wouldn’t tell you why you want to weep at the sight of a baby’s smile or explain how lonely you’ll be all day home alone with your baby. A manual might tell you the how of things, but definitely not the why.
Anne Lamott inadvertently filled that void years ago when she penned Operating Instructions, a Journal of My Son’s First Year
. It’s a raw, honest look at that first year of parenting. It’s the memoir we could all have written if we had been awake enough in the middle of the night to feed the baby and
write down how we felt about it.
I read this book when Little L was a baby and I was crying myself to sleep every night, not because of postpartum depression, but because the people at my office were hell bent on making my life bad enough that I would quit, because Little L never slept more than two hours at a time, because my husband was in more pain than he had ever encountered and it never let up. In the middle of all that I was desperately trying to soak in what was sure to be my last baby, to enjoy her, to know her, to remember each and every moment.
Reading Anne Lamott’s truths gave me the courage to journal my own way through that year, to make note of all of it, the horror, the struggles, and the glimmers of magic in between. For that I’ll always be grateful.
Read this if: You have an infant or know someone who does, so you can know that you’re not alone in the trenches. You have bigger children, so you can remember how hard it was; it’ll make the current times even sweeter.
Would this make a good book club book? Yes, if your group is made of of moms, especially moms very much still in the trenches. You’ll talk about parenting and the challenges it brings for single parents and couples, about friends, about the bitter-sweetness and fleeting nature of infancy.
Want to read the other books on this list? Here they are!
Note: Links to books are affiliate links. If you purchase something on Amazon after clicking the links you’ll be helping to fund my book buying habit. My husband will be very grateful.