Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"This Little Mommy Stayed Home"

A graduate of Smith College and Yale Divinity School, Samantha Wilde is a yoga teacher, a minister, and mother of two children born within twenty months of each other.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to her new book, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, and reported the following:
Is it just me or does “69” have vaguely sexual undertones? I can’t say that about my book. The immediate post partum period isn’t the sexiest of times, as any parent knows, and yet protagonist Joy McGuire still manages to find time to fall back in love with her old beau and fall in lust with her yoga teacher while missing her work absorbed husband and changing a lot of cloth diapers.

The book is actually a hilarious tale and the best feedback I get is this: I really did laugh out loud. That said, page 69 isn’t a particularly funny page. Joy is having one of her more reflective moments thinking about her father’s parents and how naturally they bickered. Joy, in her new mom stupor of exhaustion and anger (sometimes at everything), ponders whether “hating your spouse is the stuff marriages are made of.” By the end of the page she is in the presence of her college boyfriend and self-consciously touches her chin only to find “one short, spiky hair,” which begins an unfolding rueful, honest, drama on the mothering of the female body. (She wonders if she will become an old lady with white whiskers, sitting in a nursing home looking “like a half-plucked chicken” and frightening small children.)

How about page 70? That one is much funnier, but then I suppose Joy does have her more serious moments. You can imagine what she thinks when she actually has enough time to pluck her offensive chin hair. Erotic? Not so much. But very true.

My grandfather would sit me down beside him and teach me card games. He was a mean poker player. My grandmother still thought of gambling as sinful. I don’t think she made her way into the modern world. She wore two braids twisted and knotted high on the top of her head. She called my grandfather Pop and he called her Ma and they would shout at each other across the dinner table.

What did you put in this, Ma?

Not good enough for you, then?

They bickered about food, too much salt, too little, not enough meat, not enough vegetables. I don’t think my father thought any thing of it. I asked him once. ‘That’s just how they are. They love each other; they drive each other crazy.’ They apparently also drover their children crazy because my father’s sister, Hilda, lives in some kind of a special group home for crazy people. I’ve never met her in my life. She’s more a legend than a person. I once saw a picture of her as a girl, and she was mystically beautiful staring out at the camera with a shy smile.

It is Aunt Hilda who eventually shows up and changes Joy’s life.
Preview This Little Mommy Stayed Home, and learn more about the book and author at Samantha Wilde's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue