The perfect Mother's Day gift

when-did-coverMy big sister just published her first book, so I hope you will permit me a bit of boasting on her behalf. My obvious bias won't prevent me from saying that When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson is funny, insightful, and moving, and the perfect gift for the moms (or dads) in your life. The book is a collection of essays about Amy's experiences as a mother striving for perfection, in the face of ever more unreasonable standards (and the special pressures of Manhattan parenthood). I've been watching her work on it for the past year, and I was of course around to witness many of the stories contained therein. She's captured the personalities of my nephews and niece (and the rest of the family) perfectly. I'm even mentioned once or twice. But reading my copy of the finished product, I still found myself laughing as though it were a stranger's story -- something I could identify with apart from my familiarity with the main players (and non-parent status). So I'm very eager to recommend it to all of you. You can read more about Amy and the book here, and check the calendar to see whether she'll be in your area anytime soon.Amy also contributed an essay to Babble.com this week you might enjoy, called "All I Really Needed to Know: Life Lessons from My Son's Pre-K." A sample:

Its Not Nice to Say the S WordI know the S word, my son reported at dinner one night. I almost choked on my hamburger. Then, before I could stop him, he announced, Its stupid. I was, obviously, rather relieved. But my seven-year-old was horrified. Its not nice to say the S word! he hissed, looking at me with wide eyes, wondering if there was any punishment in existence cruel and unusual enough for this extraordinary crime. To me, saying stupid was a little deal. But for my two sons, who have not yet become acquainted with the real S word, its a pretty big one. And theyre right. Words like stupid and dumb and lame are not allowed in pre-K, and they shouldnt be allowed in my home either. They hurt feelings, plus, theyre stupid or at least not very creative. Since then, I have become much more aware of using any sort of put-down words either to or in front of my children. Ive been surprised by how often they want to spring to my lips.

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.

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