Twenty years ago, Anne Lamott wrote in brutal honesty about the first year of her son Sam's life. "Operating Instructions" was a groundbreaking memoir sharing what many parents felt and experienced, but were afraid to say aloud.
In those years Lamott said, "I had no idea that a human being could be that tired and still live." Now she's just published a new memoir, this time on the struggles of being a grandparent for the first time. It's called "Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son."
Lamott talked with Madeleine about what it was like to hear that her 19-year-old son and his 20-year-old girlfriend were pregnant. They were in school, unmarried, their relationship was on the rocks and they had no money — the odds were stacked against them. Lamott describes how she coped with the news and how immediately attached she became when her grandson Jax was born.
Her first thoughts upon seeing baby Jax: "It's mine, mine, mine — all mine," and then, "fifteen minutes later I realized it was their baby." Lamott learned she had to grow into her new role as grandmother and pseudo mother-in-law (the couple remained unmarried).
She found herself caught between either intruding or getting her feelings hurt for not being included.
Lamott's new mantra became, "Wait!," which also doubled as the acronym, "Why am I talking?" Instead of butting in with her ideas, she'd grip herself by the wrist and phone a friend.
"Some Assembly Required" takes the form of a journal, chronicling what Lamott calls the "paradox of real life," both the beautiful and difficult moments.
Anne Lamott is the author of several memoirs and a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Her new book, "Some Assembly Required" is just out.