Relatable, funny, and easy to read – Kristin van Ogtrop’s essay collections should be on every mom’s bookshelf (and/or Kindle).
Kristin van Ogtrop has raised three sons in the suburbs while working high-powered jobs in publishing over the past twenty years. She calls the youngest her mid-life crisis baby – she had him at age forty-three – ten years and two miscarriages after her first two boys were born. She’s also a UVA graduate.
I first noticed Kristin when she was the editor of Real Simple and immediately fell in love with her personal and powerful writing.
When I received her first book, Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom, as a gift in 2010, my kids were ten, twelve, and fourteen. I was in it up to my eyebrows, working from home (more than full-time most days) and hearing questions like, “Why aren’t you more involved in the PTA?” from people who hardly knew me. This book perfectly captures the joys and frustrations of working motherhood. Using experiences from her own life, Kristen presents terms and concepts in alphabetical order: from absentee parenthood to musical beds to Zuzu’s petals phenomenon – you’ll have to read the book to find out what this is. Reviewing it again to recommend it here, it has aged well. Plus, there isn’t a single mention of social media in it (a good thing, if you ask me).
A little over ten years later, Kristin published Did I Say That Out Loud? Midlife Indignities and How to Survive Them. The follow-up is just as warm and wise as the first, and in my opinion, even wittier. Kristin’s collection of essays proves that moms can come out on the other side, maybe still half-insane and with any luck, still not taking ourselves so seriously that we can’t laugh at our saggy boobs, 30-year-old co-workers who are worried they’re getting old, or the perma-frown caused by the two parallel wrinkle lines in between our eyebrows.
You can pick up the newer title at local booksellers or check it out from the library. The older title is available at thriftbooks.com and both books are on Amazon. And remember, good people of Richmond, books make great gifts!