Mar. 1st, 2011

coffeesnob318: (Default)
I love this book. Go and buy it immediately. She's hilarious. I have laughed loudly and often, sometimes with snorting. It's that funny.

A couple of things annoyed me, though.

First, she says things like, "Yeah, I said that [insert supposedly outlandish thing], and I'm a mom!" a lot. And while I get that the purpose of the book is to combat the stereotypical Mom image propagated by parenting books, what she doesn't seem to realize is that the particular audience who is reading the book probably chose it for exactly that reason. They're moms who already know the stereotype isn't true because it doesn't apply to them, or they're people like me who prefer writers who approach their experience with honesty and humor rather than generalization and sugarcoating. So there was a lot of preaching to the choir going on.

Second, the chapter on making time for your single friends? It started out strong but then quickly deteriorated into the typical (yes, typical - so much for myth-busting) complaint that, once a woman has a child, her single, childless friends selfishly cut her off and quit wanting to hang out with her. In fact, it went beyond complaint. It was possibly the most obnoxious and condescending (albeit mercifully succinct) portrayal of the childless I have ever read. Apparently, we're selfish people, living meaningless lives, who will not understand what it is to really relate to another human being until we have a child ourselves.

Allow me to offer a different perspective (slight spoilers ahead).

I am just as interested in my friends' lives after they have children as I have ever been. That especially includes the new important people in their lives. I am just as interested in Baby's first word, first step, first solid poop (okay, maybe not the poop, but to be fair, I'm not a big fan of grownup poop as a topic of conversation either) as I was to hear about the fourteen times the Jerk Ex cheated on her, and I am just as happy to celebrate new milestones with my friend as I was to celebrate the fifteenth time when she finally dumped him and stuck to it. Anyone who isn't a complete crap of a friend will be interested in her friend's child. I just don't want any one topic - even a very important one - to be the sole subject of our conversations. Perhaps the reason friends of new mothers tend to shy away from the baby topic is not because they don't care but because they have had so many other mutually satisfying friendships turn into Mommy's Filibuster Regarding What My Baby Did Today. The author even supplied the perfect example of this herself. She asked a friend how she was doing, to which her friend replied, "I got stood up last night." Instead of responding with some sort of sympathy (you know, like human beings do), she completely ignored her friend's statement by saying, "Well, speaking of stood up..." and launching into a page-long monologue about her daughter pulling up on the side of the tub. I mean, that is clearly a big developmental step and a story worth telling, but would it have killed her to throw in a "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. He's an unwashed idiot," before she shared it? It's not that we don't want to hear about our friends' lives; we just want to talk about ours occasionally, too. It's called reciprocity.

And for the record, I've never dropped a friend because she had a child. I have, however, stopped calling after being told "no" fifty times. Anyone with the smallest fraction of dignity would. It's not being "extremely selfish." It's taking the hint that her life is too hectic to make time to hang out with me, as evidenced by her repeated refusal to make time to hang out with me. The bottom line is this - regardless of what is going on in their lives, people find time for the things and relationships that are important to them. Perhaps she should call that babysitter that she seemed so fond of a few chapters ago so she'll have an hour to grab a latte and cultivate this friendship she claims to miss so much. Or here's a thought - it's her kid, not a bag of nuclear waste - so bring the cherub along. Or just call, and I'll come to her. She won't have to shower, and I'll even spring for the lattes. But she's got to give me something. Again, it's called reciprocity.

Anyway, I'm glad that chapter was in the latter half of the book. By the time I got to it, I already loved her, so I was committed to our author-reader relationship. If it had been one of the first few chapters, I might not have kept reading. In fact, if I was in any of the groups against whom she ranted (and there were quite a few), I might not have kept reading. This is not a feel-good book for the easily offended.

But have I mentioned - HILARIOUS?

I imagine that my reaction to this book is very similar to the reaction that my married, parental friends would have to my work-in-progress What Not to Say. I can accept that. Just as long as they laugh through their fury.

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May 2013

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