Monday, September 13, 2010

Just Let Me Lie Down - Kristin van Ogtrop

Summary:  Finally!  A charming, hilarious antidote to the madness of working motherhood, from the editor of Real Simple magazine.

Kristin van Ogtrop has a nice career, a dependable husband, and three healthy kids who occasionally make their beds.  You could say she is average, but lucky.  You could also say that she is half-insane--but just try to name one working mom who isn't.  Like all of us, van Ogtrop needs a bit of guidance from time to time.  Yet when she searched the bookshelves for something to help put a little order into her average/lucky/chaotic life, she came up short.  And so she had an idea.

In Just Let Me Lie Down, van Ogtrop provides a new lexicon for the half-insane working mom.  Using experiences and insights from her life, she presents terms and concepts to illustrate the highs (children who know where their soccer cleats are, coworkers who never hit "Reply to All," dogs who helpfully eat whatever falls from the table) and the lows (getting out of the house in the morning, getting along with everyone at work, getting dinner made before everyone starves, getting willful kids into bed) of trying to combine work and family in the same life.

Fill with essays, lists, poignant observations, and more than a few embarrassing stories, Just Let Me Lie Down shows that if you can't laugh at the nonsense that is daily life for the working mom, then you might need to reconsider your entire existence, or at least take a nap.  (Image from and summary from book jacket.)

My Review:  Overall, Just Let Me Lie Down was an enjoyable read.  van Ogtrop is a witty and likable person, therefore her take on working-motherhood is also endearing.  The aspects to this book that slowed me down and made me drop the rating was the format.  I don't mind lists.  I write them everyday.  Reading a book that is semi-list format is annoying.  At times I was reading little vignettes.  Other times I was reading only a sentence or two under a heading.  I enjoyed figuring out van Ogtrop's headings and why she labeled things as such, but the disjointedness of the writing really slowed me down and the constantly changing gears made me less interested.  I forced myself to finish quickly because I knew as I went through the alphabetical categories I'd have lost serious interest by X, Y, and Z.

All that said, there were a couple headings and the following insights I found hilarious, relatable, or clever in her thinking.  One of those was Decision Saturation.  I know I can relate to feeling burnt out by the end of the day when it comes to disciplining my children.  I've just spent eight hours disciplining 8th graders and now I've got another 4 hours disciplining my two children.  I can relate to the feeling that "if I have to make one more judgment call on whether or not to fight this battle or let it slide I'll go into a coma" she talks about.  I can also relate to Midconversation Screen Saver.  By the end of the day...wait.  I need to retract that.  Depending on who I am speaking with, I inadvertently go into screen saver mode while I'm 'supposed' to be listening.  I can't help myself.  Either I'm so tired, worn out, preoccupied with things that actually matter, or simply don't like the person I'm talking with, that I completely zone out what they're saying and start thinking about something I find important.  It's a daily occurrence with 8th graders and their excuses.  The last that I'll elaborate on is the title of the book: Just Let Me Lie Down.  There have been so many times I've just wished, craved, hoped, and prayed for a couch or bed somewhere nearby that had my name on it in the middle of my work day.  Life would be so much better if everyone had a decent nights sleep.

There are two others I found hilarious, which I fear mentioning because I know how it makes me look.  One is the Dudley Do-Everything section and the other is Women Not On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.  I'm going to leave that hanging so that you'll have to read the book in order to judge me (and enjoy my folly) or enjoy a laugh at yourself.

I can't say this is a fast, devour-able read, but it is a good one.  I enjoyed her insights and can relate to much of what she writes.  If you're a working mom, stressed out of your gourd and barely making it from day to day on time, this is an enjoyable read.

My Rating:  3.75 Stars

Sum it up: A very disjointed book, despite its easily understood organization, about the crazy that is a working mom's life.


MindySue said...

This has to be the perfect book for me!

Shauna said...

I am new here! Just wanted to say hi :)
Shauna from


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