It's about: Essentially Anne LaMott. It's another journal to continue the one she started eighteen years ago when she had her only child, Sam, and began life with him as a single mother withdrawing from substance abuse. Her first journal is called Operating Instructions, A Journal of My Son's First Year. You may want to read this short little journal first before picking up Some Assembly Required. On the other hand, not perfectly necessary as she does do some recapping in the second journal. Sam becomes a father at the age of 19 with his girlfriend, Amy. This journal is shared between Sam and Anne, but the parts I found most relevant were Anne's struggles with letting Sam and Amy raise this child, Jax, as their own. She was there to support them - financially and emotionally - but needed a lot of guidance from her good friends to learn that process of support without suffocation. She must learn to grow past her frozen fear that Amy will take Jax away to live in Chicago.
Have you read any of Anne Lamott's books?
Anne is a modern day philosopher. She has her own unique take on life and it is refreshingly honest and candid. She can give an opinion that would seem hurtful if not for her kind, non-judgmental way of saying it. She has struggled a lot with finding religion. She credits her church, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church of Marin City, as being her soft place to fall. She pokes fun at all religions in her book at the same time as making 100% clear that she is a follower of Christ.
Whenever I read a Lamott book I take away some clarity on my own life and a renewed sense of living a life that makes sense to me with no excuses.
A letter to her Grandson (and all of us):
Yesterday was your first Thanksgiving and it is time for me to impart to you the secret of life. You will go through your life thinking there was a day in second grade that you must have missed, when the grown ups came in and explained everything important to the other kids. They said: "Look you're human. You're going to feel isolated and afraid a lot of the time, and have bad self esteem, and feel uniquely ruined, but here's the magic phrase that will take this feeling away. It will be like a feather that will lift you out of that fear and self-consciousness every single time all through your life." And then they told the children who were there that day the magic phrase that everyone else in the world knows about and uses when feeling blue, which only you don't know, because you were home sick the day the grown ups told the children the way the whole world works. But there was not such a day in school. No one got the instructions. That is the secret of life. Everyone is flailing around winging it most the time, trying to find the way out, or through, or up, without a map. This lack of instruction manual is how most people develop compassion, and how they figure out how to show up, care, help and serve, as the only way of filling up and being free. Otherwise you grow up to be someone who needs to dominate and shame others, so no one will know that you weren't there they day the instructions were passed out.
I know exactly one other thing that I hope will be useful: That when the electrical things stop working properly, 90% of the time you can fix them by unplugging the cord for two or three minutes. I'm sure there is a useful metaphor there.
What I found most helpful:
Amy and Sam seemed to be in a good place when I got back, but demented with jet lag, I had to grip myself by the wrist not to pitch one good idea after another at them. I didn't say, "Let's find some great daycare for Jax so Amy can work part-time," but I writhed with the effort to stay silent. I almost offered to babysit twice a week to this end, but didn't. Since Jax's birth, my ideas about what would be best for everyone usually got in the way. Life is already an obstacle course, and when you're adding your impediments (thinking they're helping), you really crazy it up. You make it harder to even just cross the room. You should not bring more items and hurdles to the obstacle course.
And so I am going to proclaim this book a most perfect read for this Holy Week that is upon us.
Blessings to you.