Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Class Mom

I have to tell you, I saw Laurie Gelman on some morning show a few weeks ago promoting her new book, Class Mom, and I knew right then and there I had to order the book immediately. I ordered one for me and one for Jackson's teacher as part of her back to school teacher gift. I knew this book would resonate with me because I was the PTO President of the elementary school my kids went to way back when Olivia was in Kindergarten. I was a newbie mom and made the absolute rookie move by emailing the school to say, "I'm new and I can't make the PTO meeting but I'd really like to help out!".

You know what happened?

I got roped into the role of Vice President because "I would hardly have to do anything, maybe lead a meeting once in awhile" and I figured no big deal. Little did I know the President had some kind of midlife crisis, left her husband, and sailed out of town leaving me, the rookie newbie parent, to lead the way.

And lead I did for five years. Yes, FIVE YEARS. Why five years? Oh, because I couldn't get out, lambs. I was sucked in. I couldn't find a replacement, people thought I was doing an OK job, I turned the sinking PTO ship around, but I was not loving it. I could write my own book someday on what it's like to really be the PTO President.


So you see why I needed this book. And lord alive, it was like someone was looking in on my life.

Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom--or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it's her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max--this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the-wisest-candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

From recording parents' response times to her emails about helping in the classroom, to requesting contributions of-special-brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen's methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen's past, a hyper-sensitive -allergy mom,-a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.

Relatable, irreverent, and hilarious in the spirit of Maria Semple this is a fresh, welcome voice in fiction--the kind of novel that real moms clamor for, and a vicarious thrill-read for all mothers, who will be laughing as they are liberated by Gelman's acerbic truths.

I absolutely adored this book. I honestly don't think you can appreciate it fully if you aren't a parent and have never been through the school system with a kid. You just can't understand the greatness of this book until you've been in those trenches- looking at the other parents, silently judging, hoping to find an ally in the class, preferably one that doesn't mind that you swear and who would be open to lunch dates where you gossip about the other moms. You have the working moms who you almost never see, the stay at home moms who know everyone and come to school in their yoga pants complaining about how they need to lose weight and you roll your eyes because that bitch can shop at every store in the mall except Lane Bryant, and then you have the parents who never show up. You hear about them but you never see them and you start to wonder if they are even parenting their children at all because they come to school in pajamas every day and steal your kid's snack.

This book covers it all.

You even get the new teacher who is kind of bizarre and you wonder if she maybe has a mental illness but you aren't trying to rock the boat because you have zero interest in home schooling, you're standards are to just keep your kid alive and you figure your child will learn along the way. Probably.

I loved this book because Jen Dixon, the class mom and main character, is what we all want to be. She's saying and thinking what we're all thinking. You have the lack of volunteers, the allergy mom, the lesbian moms, the financially well off-too-good-for-the-rest-of-us mom and of course her tag-a-long friend, the hunk of a single dad that you don't mind sitting next to on the field trip bus.

In the middle of organizing classroom parties, Jen is training for a mud run, getting too flirty with an old classmate and questioning why she feels so unsettled in her life (mid life crisis?).

Jen is all of us. She just is.

I loved this book. So much. On page 255 there is this line, part of a conversation between Jen and her husband:

"I think about how I look just a little less attractive every day. I think that when I'm sixty, Max will just be finishing high school. I wonder if I should have had a career instead of a bunch of jobs. I wonder why you love me and when you might stop. I worry that I'm not a good enough wife, daughter, mother, and friend. And I worry that if this is it, this is my whole life, will it be enough?"

Cue gut punch because THAT IS MY LIFE. It's all of our lives, isn't it? I just so highly recommend this back to school read because you need this. You need a funny book with a story line we've all had play out in our own lives in some way, and you need to feel like someone gets you. Laurie Gelman gets you, lambs. She does. I do, too. Treat yourself.


middlechild said...

Ok girl. This was the best book review EVER!

middlechild said...

Ok girl. This was the best book review EVER!