The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir

The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir

3.5 124
by Katrina Kenison
     
 

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The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and

Overview

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers—holding on, letting go.

Poised on the threshold between family life as she's always known it and her older son's departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.

The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women's hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.

Editorial Reviews

Family Circle magazine
This eloquent book is subtitled "A Mother's Memoir," but that's not giving Kenison's chronicle of her sons' increasing independence its full due. It's also about longing and fulfillment , taking stock of failures and achievements, a search for the elusive "something more" of one's existence-and a reminder that life's seemingly mundane moments are often where we find beauty, grace and transformation.
Beth Kephart
With an honesty and intimacy rarely achieved in modern memoir, Katrina Kenison dissolves yearning into its complex, sensate parts. This is a book about mid-life want and loss. It is also a most knowing book about a most gracious love-about the gifts that are returned to those who find beauty where it falls.
author, House of Dance
Publishers Weekly
In her second affecting memoir about motherhood and nurturing (after Mitten Strings for God), Kenison, here at middle age with two sons in their teens, pursues with graceful serenity a time of enormous upheaval and transformation in her family's life. As her sons grew out of babyhood and into the “new, unknown territory” of adolescence, she no longer felt clear about what her life's purpose was supposed to be; their comfortable suburban Boston house of 13 years grew restraining, and Kenison longed for a simpler, more nature-connected lifestyle. Since neither she nor her husband, a publishing executive, was tied to a workplace (indeed, she was suddenly let go as the series editor of The Best American Short Stories after 16 years), they were content to be rootless for over three years, living mostly with Kenison's parents until the building of their new home on bucolic hilltop land purchased in New Hampshire was completed. Meanwhile, Kenison's youngest, Jack, began a new high school, while the older boy, Henry, a musician, applied to colleges, and the family had to adjust both to the move and to the startling, delightful pleasures of country life. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
From the author of Mitten Strings for God (2000), another gentle reminder to mothers to slow down and savor the joys of the quotidian. For Kenison, ordinary days were in somewhat short supply in the period covered by this memoir. She decided that her suburban Massachusetts community was too high-pressure and competitive, and that her family would be better off in a more leisurely rural setting. Before finding a new home, the Kenisons sold theirs and moved into her parents' home along with their two adolescent sons. The house they found in New Hampshire was a run-down, 200-year-old summer cottage. After camping out in it for one idyllic summer, they tore it down and designed and built a new, larger house. While constructing a house is a process normally fraught with tension, the Kenisons' experience was aggravated by the fact that she unexpectedly lost the job she had held for 16 years, as series editor of The Best American Short Stories. Eventually the new house was, if not completed, at least in move-in condition. As they settled in, the author's older son, Henry, was in his final year of high school, and anxiety about college admission replaced construction concerns, at least for the author. Kenison, who writes of the necessity of letting go of one's children, apparently had a hard time actually doing it, and the space devoted to Henry's struggles and accomplishments seems disproportionate to the rest of the text. Meanwhile, her younger son was going through an exasperating teenage rebellion. "I am constantly reminded of just how high adolescents highs can be on any given day and just how low the lows," she writes. "What I love most, though, are the rare and deliciously peacefulplateaus in between."Kenison's wise comments on what she calls "the humble business of life" are often a pleasure to read. With repetition, however, the sweetness quotient becomes cloying. Agent: Mary Evans/Mary Evans Literary Agency
Family Circle Magazine
This eloquent book is ...about longing and fulfillment , taking stock of failures and achievements, a search for the elusive "something more" of one's existence-and a reminder that life's seemingly mundane moments are often where we find beauty, grace and transformation.
Thomas Moore
An honest, graceful book that every parent will appreciate. In the thick of challenging changes, emotional troughs, and tender realizations the reader will find comfort and guidance. Here is a fine writer, a dedicated mother, and a spiritual seeker speaking intimately to parents in search of wisdom.
author of Care of the Soul and Writing in the Sand
Nancy Mellon
How I admire this mid-life mom, who writes with strong contemplative spirit and a heart wide open to change. Her memoir is a courageous and generous contribution to deepening American family life.
author of Body Eloquence
Lisa Garrigues
The Gift of an Ordinary Day is much more than a memoir of motherhood; it is an inspired and inspiring meditation on midlife. What Katrina Kenison gives mothers-her gift-is the promise of reinventing ourselves as our kids grow up and we grow older, and the assurance of an invitingly abundant landscape on the far side of parenthood.
author of Writing Motherhood
Jane Hamilton - author of A Map of the World and Laura Rider's Masterpiece
"Kenison writes so beautifully and clearly about what is most important in family life."
Beth Kephart - House of Dance author
"With an honesty and intimacy rarely achieved in modern memoir, Katrina Kenison dissolves yearning into its complex, sensate parts. This is a book about mid-life want and loss. It is also a most knowing book about a most gracious love-about the gifts that are returned to those who find beauty where it falls."

Thomas Moore - author of Care of the Soul and Writing in the Sand
An honest, graceful book that every parent will appreciate. In the thick of challenging changes, emotional troughs, and tender realizations the reader will find comfort and guidance. Here is a fine writer, a dedicated mother, and a spiritual seeker speaking intimately to parents in search of wisdom."
Nancy Mellon - author of Body Eloquence
How I admire this mid-life mom, who writes with strong contemplative spirit and a heart wide open to change. Her memoir is a courageous and generous contribution to deepening American family life.
Lisa Garrigues - author of Writing Motherhood
"The Gift of an Ordinary Day is much more than a memoir of motherhood; it is an inspired and inspiring meditation on midlife. What Katrina Kenison gives mothers-her gift-is the promise of reinventing ourselves as our kids grow up and we grow older, and the assurance of an invitingly abundant landscape on the far side of parenthood."
From the Publisher
"Kenison writes so beautifully and clearly about what is most important in family life."—Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World and Laura Rider's Masterpiece
Jane Hamilton
Kenison writes so beautifully and clearly about what is most important in family life.
author of A Map of the World and Laura Rider's Masterpiece

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446409483
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
09/07/2009
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
695,558
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Beth Kephart
With an honesty and intimacy rarely achieved in modern memoir, Katrina Kenison dissolves yearning into its complex, sensate parts. This is a book about mid-life want and loss. It is also a most knowing book about a most gracious love-about the gifts that are returned to those who find beauty where it falls.

author, House of Dance

Meet the Author

Katrina Kenison is the author of Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry (Warner Books, 2000). She has appeared on Oprah and other shows. Her writing has appeared in O, Real Simple, Family Circle, Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, Health,and other publications. From 1990 until 2006, Kenison was the series editor of The Best American Short Stories, published annually by Houghton Mifflin. She co-edited, with John Updike, The Best American Short Stories of the Century (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). She wrote, with Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga (Random House, 2002).

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The Gift Of An Ordinary Day 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
Yellie12 More than 1 year ago
I don't remember the last time my heart was so touched by a book, if ever. Being a mother of boys really helped me identify with the author and her experiences. What a great reminder to slow down and appreciate the beauty in the simple days and remember that things will change eventually, so to live in the moment. The book also did a great job of helping us to see the beauty in our children and to not measure their successes based on what the world says they should be or do, but to love and appreciate them for who they are. I think this is such an important thing to remember to be able to support your children's unique gifts and talents. Just a great book that has certainly changed my view on life and makes me want to be a better mother to my boys in these precious fleeting years I have with them.
Leah-books More than 1 year ago
enjoyed this book as much as mitten strings for gods! I could easily relate to this book.
NYhorsemom More than 1 year ago
I too bought this book after walking by it and thinking the cover was lovely. I began reading it in the store and couldn't put it down after carrying it around to grab a few pages here and there. It is important for all mothers of any age, however it will mean the most for women right at the authors age (myself included) who have teenagers beginning to separate from you. Her statements about mothering little children and the day-in-day-out routines we too often pass off as mundane are juxtaposed with mothering teenagers when each day is a different kind of challenge. What was so insular and simple when our children were young often becomes a daily battle when our babies are all of a sudden young adults. It made me stop and think about the little moments that make up a day and to cherish the noise in the house, the mess on the counter, . . . things we are all too quick to want to neaten or quiet. These moments make up a loving family life and are fleeting. However they are often swept under the rug as annoyances; this book helps you to see beauty in simplicity. I want to buy a copy for all my friends and give them as gifts and I will refer back to it often for inspiration. This author strikes a cord with mothers facing new challenges and realizing the days of being needed every moment are drawing to an end. It's not all melancholy as the book is really a journey to find yourself after years of defining oneself by motherhood. It is an entertaining and joyful wake-up call to remember what we all too often don't realize until it is too late; appreciate THIS day, it is your life!
of-course More than 1 year ago
The description sounds so promising, but Kenison jumps around from past to present from motherhood to house renovations with no rhyme or reason that after 50 or so pages I had to toss it.
Avid_ReaderAB More than 1 year ago
As the mother of two growing boys, I found this book both sad and enlightening. It really has made me think about our day to day life and how quickly things will change as they grow. I definitely identified with the author. Can't wait to read another of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most people looking for a "more simple lifestyle" would have to do so on a far more constrained budget than the author. She moves into a new house and helps older son travel to various private colleges and apply at multiple places. It is hard to relate to some of these problems.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This selection is the best book I have ever read ! Kenison puts into words what every mother-every parent-experiences as her children grow up and away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This memoir was life changing for me. The author is honest and "real", as she candidly relates her story as mom & wife, making radical changes to savor the time she has left in her role as "mommy". She put into words my thoughts and feelings in a way I had never been able to express. This book is insightful and uplifting, as she deals with the reality that her mothering years are in the home stretch. She gave me a sense of hope and courage to make the necessary changes to appreciate and enjoy to time that I have left with my children at home. This book helped me to get out of the rat race, take trivial things off of my plate, and enjoy my family. My take away was this: Life is fleeting, so enjoy and appreciate what is important, and let the other stuff go.
lynniepGA More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the Youtube of the author reading an excerpt of her book. The book was good but not sure others that aren't in similar life stage would enjoy as much. I have 2 sons as well who are getting ready to fly the coop so I could relate.
RozaFL More than 1 year ago
The book was good, written very well but at times very slow and it felt like she was repeating herself over and over and over.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A friend of mine, a writer, recommended this book.  I did not like it.  Typical of this type of writer (many others like her) we have this  - life's beautiful journey sort of thing happening.  The money helps I'm sure.  I would like to say to this writer - look around you, there are so many women who are really up against it - these are the women I want to hear from.  Not some spoiled lady - gee, building a house, oh ugh, wow.  Kid got low test scores - what  will the neighbors think.  It is just so shallow and selfish. and boring.  
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This book was refreshing
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the meaning of the story but i thought it was a little drawn out. The chapters were to long to keep my attention.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am about halfway complete and am finding this to be a surprisingly good find. The writing is very descriptive and full of color. Definite recommendation.
LOBOPA More than 1 year ago
THE GIFT of an ORDINARY DAY is a remarkable heart warming story of a mother's journey will raising two sons. One son is a special needs child that overcomes obstacles. The other son is gifted and athletic. This is a spiritual journey that enlightens with insights for that A HA moment! The author crafts many insights to her journey for this time in her life. Katrina Kenison also has the wisdom to trust and let go to the next part of her life. I am using this novel as a spiritual guide for meditation. The author weaves and crafts answer to daily living.T
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not care for this book at all. Very slow moving!