I would equate reading this book to sitting down with one of my girlfriends for a good long talk.
Written as a series of topical short chapters, some might think Anna is lecturing them about life from the perspective of an older and wiser girlfriend. And sometimes that is just what you need.
Here is Anna on marriage:
“It’s great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. We’re part of a mixed marriage he’s male, I’m female. It’s not personal, it’s gender based.” How funny since for years my husband has called me “Oying” as part of a spin off of my name Anne. (Anne – oyying for those of you keeping track at home).
Anna compares petty marital disagreements to hothouse tomatoes, “they get way bigger than they ought to and bear little resemblence to the real thing.” So true.
And then she moves on to parenting which is an area of my life that has preoccupied me much.
As a working mom I sometimes feel guilty (and often in the same moment righteous) about my hands off approach to my children’s homework. Anna writes about how difficult this was for her as well. She had a hard time not helping with homework and yet she held off because she knows that it is hard to feel pride of ownership if your mother is micromanaging you. Kids need to have some success as well as failure and it is impossible to experience failure if your childhood is so well engineered that you never experience it. I often want to jump in and help avert some of the train wrecks I see about to happen and yet I know that it’s better for some of these to happen while my children are safe in my own home.
She skips from parenting to girlfriends. Long gone are the days she is looking for a friend who is super critical, who tells you things just for your own good. She wants her friends now to be more cheerleader than critic. They can advise and judge, but just not too harshly. I have found that lately all I am looking for is my friends to nod and look at me with understanding as I relate the woes of raising teenagers. No need to be critical, trust me: I have that one covered.
And finally she talks about the physical changes that come with getting older. Her hairdresser describes hair as having a “resting hair rate” akin to your resting heart rate. No matter how much coloring, curling or straightening you do, this is the way your hair naturally falls. She talks about coming to terms with this along with your body’s “resting weight rate”.
At this moment I really needed a wise older girlfriend to give some advice and just listen. Thanks, Anna.