Book Review: When Did I Get Like This?
You cruise along in your life, making decisions, getting things done, kicking life’s ass. And then one day you find yourself in a full-on panic because Chuck E. Cheese’s is booked on the day you planned your son’s birthday party and you don’t quite understand why you care so much. Amy Wilson‘s memoir, When Did I Get Like This? asks the very question that will inevitably go through your mind more times than you’ll care to admit once you’ve given birth. Or even thought that maybe it would fun to have a baby. Possibly.
For me it began when, after getting pregnant with scientific precision, I had a miscarriage. For Amy it began when she couldn’t accomplish what seems like a natural, easy thing: actually getting pregnant. Nothing makes you feel more like a failure than being unable to accomplish something 15-year-olds manage by accident in the back of some senior’s Mustang on a boring Saturday night. Except maybe actually having that baby.
I immediately bonded with Amy when I discovered she had the same distaste (pun intended) for What To Expect When You’re Expecting‘s now-defunct Best Odds Diet as I did. All through this book I found myself nodding my head along with her, from breastfeeding hysteria to knowing that something’s wrong with your child and everyone thinking you’re nuts to doing a really good job on something and having it go completely unnoticed and unremarked on (This, I believe, is the essence of motherhood: No one notices when you’re doing it right, but one bad moment and the whole world’s judging you).
The book is totally relatable; I can’t imagine a contemporary mother who hasn’t questioned both her maternal skills and her sanity after being assaulted with as much information and pressure to be “perfect” as we are subjected to on a daily basis. It’s about questioning every decision you make regarding your children and wondering frequently how in the hell your mother managed to get through your entire childhood without a stack of parenting books by her side (Hint: it’s because she didn’t have a stack of parenting books by her side). It’s about wanting to do what’s best for your kids and never really being sure exactly what that is. It’s the recognition that insanity has become the new sanity and none of us seems to be immune.
But what saves Amy, I think, is her sense of humor, her ability to see the insanity and identify it even while indulging in it. It’s the only sane thing to do, really.
Knowing you’re not alone is half the battle. If you’re a mom, go get this book. If you want to be a mom, go get this book.
You won’t be sorry.