I’ve never done a book review before and I’m having a little trouble with the intro. Everything I write sounds very formal and stuffy and I immediately delete it – because if there is one thing that Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? is NOT, it’s formal and stuffy.
So I think I’ll just dive right in and say that I really, really like Laura Bennett (of Project Runway fame). The title of her book immediately made me smile because that is exactly how I feel about meal time around here.
Based on an inside joke between her and one of her sons, “didn’t I feed you yesterday?” truly captures my shoulder sagging, sigh inducing exasperation upon noticing that another three hours have passed and it’s yet again time for me to prepare a meal for children who either don’t like anything or only like ONE thing. A thankless task in my book. I can’t count how many times I’ve looked at the clock in the evening, only to start with the realization, “oh crap – I forgot to feed the kids.”
But I’m not a bad mother. In fact, some might even say that I’m pretty good at this. Not the cooking of course – but the caring, nurturing, laughing, encouraging, not sweating the small stuff side of parenting? THAT I can do. And I do it well.
And this is really what Laura’s book communicates. Part humor book, part memoir, part manual for keeping a sense of self in mommy land – Laura encourages other mothers to parent their own way. To find what works best for them and their own family and ignore what “how to” books and gurus out there profess to be the best and only way to mother. And do it with style. Preferably in great shoes.
I won’t give away too much of the story, but here are some highlights.
First – it really does read like a story, and this definitely appealed to me. One of the reasons that I started reading blogs is that I love to hear personal stories. All of my friends are interesting people with excellent story telling talent. If I lived in NYC and met Laura, I would absolutely try to make her my new best friend (lucky you Laura – those few driving hours that separate us will save you from my attentions).
And a woman who is in the process of raising five wild boys in a two bedroom loft in Manhattan is bound to have some good stories. In this book they begin with Laura as a single mom with a five year old daughter arriving in New York as a grad student, working two jobs to pay the bills. It continues with her introduction to a man literally destined to become her husband and then spirals into a whirlwind of babies and boys and the various and sundry characters picked up along the way to help keep track of the chaos. I can’t imagine that there is ever a boring moment in Laura Bennett’s world.
One of my favorite chapters of course was Laura’s Got a Gunn, recounting her adventures on Project Runway. I won’t write anything about this since I won’t be able to help myself and might end up giving away the whole thing. BUT tomorrow I’ll post an interview with her on The Big Piece of Cake, and she does answer a few of my PR-related questions.
And all of you Project Runway fans will remember Laura’s exceptional style. She didn’t just dress up for runway day – she wore her stilettos in the workroom. Her meticulously self-sewn plunging necklines were worn with pride from morning to evening, without any discernible shifting or wrinkling. Laura has effortless style down to a science and her Fabulously Glamorous chapter details just how easy it can be. A must read for any mom who feels more frumpy than fabulous – this chapter provides a simple wardrobe formula that anyone can master.
One surprising part of Laura’s story (at least for me) was that she has a special needs child – one with speech and communication challenges. She writes about Larson with such humor and appreciation for his own talents and individuality that you barely perceive his delays as being problematic as much as they’re just “Larson.” As another mother of a special needs boy with speech and communication issues, I recognized so much of myself in that. Sure I want Oliver to “catch up” – or at least enough to participate with his peers – but I love him for exactly who he is right now, sensory-seeking mess and mischief included. When I wrote Special Needs, this was exactly the point I wanted to make: that we should love our children for who they are – not in spite of it.
Disagree if you will with Laura’s choice of footwear or her choice to hire a few brave souls to help raise her battalion of boys…she delights in her family and each one of their separate personalities. She knows what’s really important in raising children who feel cherished – and she embraces that daily.
Many people would criticize a mother for prioritizing her career, her appearance and her footwear. But in my opinion, Laura has achieved balance in life that most alpha moms will never enjoy as the result of their own perfect house, perfect children, perfectly cut carrot sticks priorities. This stiletto wearing mom enjoys herself. She enjoys her kids. She enjoys her life. And in the end, that’s really what it’s all about.
So now that you know what I loved about this book, I suggest you get your own copy. OR better yet – win one! I’ll be posting an interview with Laura and a Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? giveaway tomorrow, so don’t miss those.
In the meantime, you can find out more about Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? on the book’s website AND read more of Laura’s writing on The Daily Beast.