On the cover of this book is a picture of a melting orange popsicle, which seems to accurately resemble what my brain feels like as a Stay-At-Home-Mom some days. Frozen, melting, sticky. This is exactly the kind of cranial (and emotional!) atmosphere Scheibe is trying to capture in her debut novel What Do You Do All Day?.
Touted as “an American answer to Alison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It” (from the book jacket…and I can’t attest to it’s veracity, since I haven’t read the referenced book!), Scheibe simultaneously won me over with her wit and annoyed me with her characters and their “other half” lives. It took some time for me to care about people named Portia and Health and Thom and people who lived in NYC, sent their kids to private school, worked at Christie’s. How’s that for reverse snobbery? But I hung on, because the book is about a woman named – simply – Jennifer, and I could at least relate to her.
Jennifer is a SAHM, having left her career as an antiques specialist at Christie’s in order to stay at home with Georgia (5) and Max (1). Although the particulars of her life are unlike mine – she’s trying to write a book on Hannibal, she has a famous child-actor star for an ex – the emotional struggles she has as she examines every decision she’s ever made as a wife and mother did resonate with me. From a passage in the book: “I fear I’m unconsciously making deliberate choices that run me off the friendship road. My love for Georgia and Max is frequently so all-consuming that I simply don’t have anything left to give anyone else…My long days of laundry folding and bottle washing give me a kind of peace that is hard to explain, even to myself. And yet I fear the day when the children move away and I am left to mend all the fences I’ve let fall.”
This book certainly qualifies as chick-lit. And it has WAY too much language in it for me to recommend to truly discriminating audiences. But it is well-written, funny in parts, and offers many poignant and truthful passages about the difficulties and delights of mothering.
*Disclosure: Amazon affiliate link included.