Anne Lamott on 'Some Assembly Required'

The author talks about parenthood, grandparenthood and watching her family grow up.


Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott's latest book Some Assembly Required , which she co-authored with her son Sam, chronicles the unexpected birth of his first child, Jax. Beliefnet spoke with the author about what it's like to be a grandmother and what she's learned from being thrust into a new season of parenting.

You’ve said that this book is a collaborative gift from you and Sam to Jax. What do you want your readers to experience from this book?

I want to share my sense of life with my readers–that it is beautiful and hard, sometimes as funny as clowns, sometimes barely survivable, and sometimes breathtaking in its complexity and mysterious beauty and capacity to leave us scratching our heads with amazement.  I love to make people laugh.  I love to get people to slow down and pay attention to the moments that are the mosaics of our lives.

Grandparents often see a new side to their own children by watching them raise children of their own. What did you learn about Sam through this experience that you didn’t know before?

Well, of course it's amazing to watch your smashing, bashing, exasperating boy grow into fatherhood–into being someone who can make sacrifices, and put someone else's needs ahead of his own.  But one thing I really loved was reading and hearing his descriptions of his spirituality, which is so different from mine–thank God.  Otherwise I would wonder if it was authentic, or if he was trying to please me. For him–at 19 and 20–to be able to articulate his dependence on God, side by side with fierce independence AND his sense of being shackled to his new, permanent identity of a father–pleased and continually surprised me.   I was very moved by his descriptions of the depth of his love for Jax, and his frustrations with me when I tried old controlling behavior with him–in general, his hero's journey fits and starts, breakthrough, and doldrums.


In the same vein, what did you learn about yourself as you stepped into the new role of grandmother?

I think I keep learning the same things–how both beautiful and pathological I am, and we as a species are. What I am capable in terms of huge new feelings, and a growing ability to bear being in the present, the now.  How afraid I still am fairly often.  How touching I am and what a pain in the neck I can be. 

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