Like many women, Anne Lamott looked forward to becoming a grandmother someday, but she was not exactly enthralled with the idea of being called "grandma." She also assumed this role might occur some time in her mid-sixties or beyond. But in 2009, her then-nineteen-year-old son, Sam, and his girlfriend, Amy, informed the fifty-seven-year-old author that they were having a baby. Initially, she was disappointed, but then she realized that her only option was to give up control and be supportive. "They're both a little young," she writes, "but who asked me?"
"Some Assembly Required" is all about her grandson, Jax, and his first year in the world, and it makes for an interesting sequel to "Operating Instructions," her 1993 bestseller about Sam's first year. Although being a single mother was overwhelming and chaotic, Lamott finds more contentment and ease in being a grandmother -- though she often struggles to stand back and let Sam make his own parenting mistakes (and endure various challenges in his relationship with Amy). The highly anxious Lamott still worries a lot, yet she tries her best to minimize her neuroses. She even gives Sam (living in San Francisco and attending art school) plenty of space to speak up for himself -- whether sharing his expectations for the book, or offering his observations on fatherhood. As usual, Lamott displays a self-deprecating sense of humor as she describes her ongoing efforts to accept things as they are.
Life is mostly okay right now, sometimes lovely and peaceful," she writes, "and when it's not, it's hard and weird for my nineteen-year-old son to have a baby, and the scary parts feel like they could break you. But then those parts pass, against all odds, and things are mostly okay again, temporarily. Until they get hard and weird again and break your heart.
The Essential Anne Lamott
"Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year" (1993)
"Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life"(1994)
"Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith" (1999)
On Twitter (@AnneLamott)
"Vital to writers; carry pens. Insights, images are gifts. Or God will say I'll give that idea to cute old Anne Lamott --s he ALWAYS has a pen."
"Hell in handbag; comparing SAR's sales # hourly at Amazon w/ great Marilynne Robinson. Maybe not as bad as year I got into it w/ Dalai Lama"