Okay, first of all, Molly Grantham’s job is probably not like your job. She’s an Emmy award winning anchor and investigative reporter who has been named one of the most influential women in her large metropolitan county. Like a lot of people who thrive in corporate settings, she describes herself as a driven multitasker with control issues. She overachieves. She’s a solver. She eats pressure for lunch.
And she missed all that about herself when she was home on maternity leave.
Grantham is open about her initial ambivalence about becoming a parent in her new book based on a popular series of Facebook posts about motherhood. In Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom, she chronicles the first few years of her children’s lives, weaving humor and charm and sweetness into her stories so deftly you almost miss the surprising message underneath.
It seems a little unfair that a person so genetically gifted with talent and beauty and wit is also able to write, but after having read her debut book, I have to admit she is, in fact, a terrific writer. By now you might be thinking Grantham is one of those people overly burdened with accomplishments. You’re right. However, she balances all this achievement with a personality so genuinely nice and goofy it’s hard not to think of her as regular person. She’s like the best friend who tries to comfort you after a bad breakup by bringing over a bottle of wine and spilling it all over both of you.
But you get my point. Molly Grantham is real. And her authenticity as a mom and a fallible human being shines through every one of her pages in this compelling collection of parenting essays. She takes no special measures to burnish her telegenic image or promote the seeming perfection of her life. Instead, the stuff she writes is raw and honest. Sure, most of it is funny-honest, or lovable-honest, but some of it is straight-up embarrassing-honest. Take this passage, for instance:
Hutch added a new food group to his diet this week: sand.
He must be the only child on the face of the earth who not only likes to eat sand, but LOVES to eat sand. He loves sand more than any food he has ever tried, which is saying a lot. (Parker nick-named him “the Refrigerator” for a reason.) At first I worried. Would he choke on small shells? Is sand digestible? I did a finger sweep of his mouth and pulled out wet hunks. Instead of being grateful the gritty grains were gone, he went berserk. He was all-out pissed I’d taken away his new delicacy.
I quickly put some back in.
It took me a good thirty seconds to quit laughing as I read that last sentence. That’s right; she let her baby eat a handful of sand so he’d quit yelling. Who admits to that? And, let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to do that? I know I have. But am I brave enough to admit my mothering-fail moments to the world, especially a world in which people are viciously judgmental about other people’s parenting? And even more: would I be willing to do that if I worked in an industry where a polished, perfect appearance is part of the job description?
Grantham’s book is chock-full of things you don’t often hear new mothers saying about themselves. We are supposed to wax poetic about the opiate-like bliss of breast-feeding, the indescribable ferocity we feel at protecting the helpless little being we created, the fathomless depths of love that envelop us when our baby meets our eyes for the first time. It’s permissible to commiserate about the sleep deprivation and the memory lapses and the disappearance of anything remotely resembling hygiene. It’s not permissible to say how much you miss working.
Or is it? Grantham’s essays encompass all of these feelings, describing them in such sympathetic terms you’ll be convinced you too are missing your high-powered media job even when you’ve always been a SAHM. But the street also runs the other way: the most hard-hearted childless executive in America couldn’t read these pages without yearning to hold a baby or to watch the wheels turn behind a toddler’s eyes as he imitates your every move. Grantham’s love and delight and endless fascination at the development of her beautiful children is evident in every word she writes, whether it’s about Hutch staging a potty-training revolt, or Parker manipulating the system to ensure some extra nighttime cuddles, or the inevitable barf-fest that happens to every family sooner or later during virus season. It’s all so relatable.
I hope this is the first book in a series. I can’t wait to see how Parker and Hutch change, how Grantham’s career evolves, and what insights she chooses to share in the future. Now, though, I’d recommend reading this book somewhere private, since you’ll look like a lunatic to anyone observing you as you react to the quotable lines on nearly every page. You’ll nod emphatically or LOL or gasp or fling the book down to call your best friend. You’ll probably cry near the end, as Grantham realizes she is going to lose her beloved mother to cancer:
I was writing this book about being a mom as I watched mine die. It felt very full circle.
If you are one of those people who cherishes the thought of your own circle of life but haven’t quite gotten around to penning a book about it, this is the perfect read for you.
You can read more about Molly Grantham and Small Victories: The Off-Camera Life of an On-Camera Mom HERE