Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott is hands down one of my favorite books of all time. Anne shares her remarkably honest account of suddenly finding herself pregnant and facing single parenthood. No matter how terrible you think you have been as a parent, how ill-equipped, this book will convince you that you absolutely are not alone and that you are doing a-ok.
I’m learning to call people all the time and ask for help, which is about the hardest thing I can think of doing. I’m always suggesting that other people do it, but it really is awful at first. I tell my writing students to get into the habit of calling one another, because writing is such a lonely, scary business, and if you’re not careful you can trip off into this Edgar Allan Poe feeling of otherness. It turns out that motherhood is much the same. I’m beginning to believe what I always tell my students, which is that someone, somewhere, is always well if you’re just willing to make enough phone calls.
I kept trying to convey to Orville how wasted I am by the baby’s needs, while the whole time Sam lay there doing his baby Jesus routine. He’s so beautiful you can’t take your eyes off him. But Orville, who raised a baby son fifteen years ago, says he remembers clearly how insane things get with an infant around. He said that even with a mate, it’s like having a clock radio in your room that goes off erratically every few hours, always tuned to heavy metal.
KP, this is for you.
You really must read it after you’ve had little Mr. Green for a month or two. Or, if you’ve already read it, re-read it on the other side and see if it speaks different things to you.
Anna, this is for you.
Because I cannot imagine how doubly challenging, yet doubly wonderful, it will be to suddenly find yourself the mother of two. I’m here if you need me. And I’m not just saying that.
If you don’t call me, I’ll probably just show up.
So you should really just tell me when to show up so that you’re not surprised.
I’m kidding, but lots of love and prayers are coming your way in the next month or two.
And let me know if there’s anything else I can do to ease your transition (aka keep you from going crazy, which I very nearly did myself.)
p.s. Happy birthday to my beautiful sister-in-law, Noemi, who is experiencing the aforementioned “erratic clock radio” for the third time.