Monday, September 19, 2011


I consider myself a fairly literate person.   I own The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  I love Charles Dickens.  Jane Austen.  Gone With the Wind is my favorite all-time novel.  I've read Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby.  Antigone.  Candide.  I have read, although hated, Walden, and I have suffered the great pains of two Steinbeck novels.  (I HATE STEINBECK.  I mean, not him personally, I don't know him personally.  But I hate Hate HATE Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.)  I read great American novels, biographies, old classics, modern classics, classics of all varieties.  I am a well-read person. 

And every now and then, a well-read person needs a guilty pleasure.


By Tori Spelling.

Yes...Tori Spelling. 

I don't know what happened.  One minute I was standing at the New Arrivals section of the library shelf, looking for the biography of Cleopatra that I didn't get to finish the last time I checked it out.  The next minute I was checking out Tori Spelling's latest tell-the-world-about-my-life book, Mommywood.

The thing is, I don't particularly love Tori Spelling.  I don't particularly not love her...I don't think of her at all, really.  I didn't know she had a reality show.  I didn't know she was married.  I didn't know she had two kids, or that she'd been married before, or that she has been in numerous TV shows and independent movies.  I knew she was on Beverly Hills 90210, but I have never seen an episode.  The most familiar I am with her is her role on - wait for it - Saved By the Bell.  As Screech's dorky girlfriend Violet.  Because I am THAT AWESOME, my friend.  THAT AWESOME.

I'm also not a celebrity person.  I don't read the weeklies, I don't watch TMZ, and I don't know who most of the people are on the cover of People magazine.  I am a mom of toddlers - if they haven't sung a duet with Elmo, I don't know who they are, and I don't really care.

So, why did I pick up this book?

Ummm...I dunno.  I guess it just kind of caught my eye, being about motherhood and all.  I started to read the first chapter there in the library, and then I checked it out.  It's as simple as that.  I have read both of Jenny McCarthy's books about motherhood (the funny ones, not the one about autism), and they were hilarious, if not a little raunchy at times.  So I thought, what the heck, this looks interesting and like it would be a fast, fun read.  Why not?

It was all of those things - interesting, fast, and fun.  I didn't know much about Tori Spelling before this, but I realized I had some assumptions about her, like that she was a gazillion-aire who had inherited a chunk of her father's money.  Well, she is certainly richer than I am, but she's not in the same place she was growing up, and she consistently says she "has to work to support her family."  What that really means is that she has to work in order for her family to live a certain lifestyle in a certain tax bracket - but whatever, that's her choice.  I also didn't know anything about her personal life - her relationship with her mother, her marriage, etc. - and she is very candid about everything.   All that was interesting.  She's a little - ok, a lot - neurotic, and while I can't identify with much of her eccentricities (an open casket funeral for a dog?  Really?), I appreciate the fact that she can readily admit that "I'm just not one hundred percent sane."   She knows her childhood was crazy, and she knows her current life is nutty compared to most of America.  And she is able to be honest about it and laugh about it and invite us to laugh along with her.

It was also fascinating to read about her worries as a mother - not because I didn't realize she has the same worries that I do, but because SHE doesn't realize it.  I get the feeling she thinks all of this is new or just because of her celebrity position in life, but the truth is, most of her worries are the same as any other parents'.  The block party?  All that awkwardness about fitting in doesn't have to do with being a celebrity; it has to do with being the new kid on the block.  I have had vastly similar experiences, and I do not have cameras following me around all day.  (At least, I don't think I do...)  The celebrity factor adds a different dimension, but the feelings are the same.  Likewise about finding the balance between work and home life.  That isn't a famous person issue. That's an issue millions of mothers face, including me.  Feeling inadequate in the face of another parent's skills?  You bet.  Dealing with public temper tantrums?  Well, I have never experienced a red carpet meltdown, but I have experienced Wal-Mart ones, and the principles are the same.  (For the record, I think they did the right thing.  You either have to cut bait and get out, or just wait out the tantrum.  She couldn't leave, so she had to wait it out with as much grace as she could.  Go Tori!)  Motherhood is universal, whether it's in Mommywood or as a MidWestern Mommy. 

In the end, I had this overwhelming urge to call up Tori Spelling and go get coffee with her.  I mean, not that I'm going to or anything, but I think we could talk about a lot of stuff. We both have little kids, born via C-sections.  We both struggle through feeling inadequate as a mother.  We both face problems with our children and our families and the world around us.  We have the bonds of motherhood that forever bind women together.  I'd like to reassure her that really, she's not that different than other moms, just facing some different factors...and doing so with grace and style.  I could talk to her about diaper disasters, and she could teach me how to dress.  (You know, in something other than jeans and a t-shirt.)  And I'll be honest - I'd like to throw Jesus in there too.  This is a woman still in a lot of pain and a lot of issues from her childhood, and I wish I could tell her somehow that the holes in her life left by her relationship with her mother can be filled by God, and that He's just waiting and aching for her to turn around and see Him standing there, waiting for her with the open arms she never felt from her mother. 

So...Mommywood.  Interesting.  Fast.  Fun.  Not terribly deep, but though-provoking all the same.  A nice little guilty pleasure break from biographies of twelfth century Anglo-Saxon royalty or books about special education strategies.  Read it, don't read it, whatever you like. 

Scale of 1-5: 3
What's up next: To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
Top Five TBR:
1. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins
2. Hearing God by Dallas Willard
3. Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert
4. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
5. Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

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