Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

The best parts of Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott:

Little by little I think I’m letting go of believing that I’m in charge, that I’m God’s assistant football coach. It’s so incredibly hard to let go of one’s passion for control. It seems like if you stop managing and controlling, everything will spin off into total pandemonium and it will be all your fault.

…there is always something to fix or do. It is so fucking excruciating just to be. Just to be still.

I have listened so attentively to the most boring, narcissistic men so that they would like me or need me. I’d sit there with my head cocked sweetly like the puppy on the RCA logo… It was like those men held me hostage. I’d think about chewing my arm off to get out of the trap so I could rush home and hang myself, but at the same time I’d need them to think well of me.

Orville, who raised an infant son fifteen years ago, says he remembers clearly how insane things get with an infant around. He said even with a mate, it’s like having a clock radio in your room that goes off erratically every few hours, always tuned to heavy metal.

On her infant son:

He’s so pretty that it’s sort of nuts. I’m sure he will be as gay as an Easter bonnet. My friend Larry gave him a naked Ken doll that Sam took a shine to one evening when my reading group met at Larry’s, and it’s totally Fire Island around here now. Sam licks and chews the naked Ken doll at every opportunity. I called Larry and said, “You’re trying to recruit my son,” and he said, “Look at it this way — in twenty years you won’t be losing a son, you’ll be gaining a son.”

No one ever tells you about the tedium. (A friend of mine says it’s because of the age difference.)

He has this beautiful hand gesture where, when he’s nursing, he reaches back with his free hand to touch and lightly pat the crown of his head, and it looks exactly like he’s checking to see if his bald spot is exposed.

6 thoughts on “Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

  1. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself
    or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.
    thanks a lot


  2. I just finished tearing through Operating Instructions for the first time as a result of being reminded it existed because of a picture you took recently. It was impeccable timing, given that I am a new mother with a 3 week old son. After starting to read, I realized a beautiful coincidence: Anne Lamott’s son has my son’s exact birthday! It was so validating to read about Anne’s mood swings and Sam’s baby acne, and to know that I have a kindred spirit who can normalize my mothering anxieties in this first year.


  3. When I was pregnant and scared of falling apart as a new parent, Anne Lamott helped me know that falling apart is totally normal and okay, and that we just have to remember to ask for help when it’s happening. I LOVE this book.


  4. Absolutely, positively, the best book about having a baby. Eight years in, I still think about it all the time. Thanks for reminding me of the bald spot and the naked Ken. Brilliant.


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