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

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

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446409490
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 09/30/2010
Pages: 321
Sales rank: 107,636
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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).

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

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The Gift Of An Ordinary Day 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 130 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.
bbutzlaffvoss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Discussed February 2011. Fantastic book by mother of two boys -- one choosing a college, and their life through job loss, home building and more.
VickiLN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a memoir from a mother who is getting close to having an empty nest. Her son Henry is 17 and thinking about colleges. Jack is going into high school. To top off those already stressful situations, they are moving to a new town and building a new house. Together they go through many emotional ups and downs. But you know that through it all, love is very much present. There is some very good advice in this book, mainly that you should cherish every day. I felt that this book had a poor poor pitiful me aspect to it. When her son gets a low score on his SSAT, she is upset almost to the point of devastation. I have a daughter who has made honor roll all the way through school who is now in college, just a few months from getting her degree. She has made the deans list many times. If she were to get a low score, it would without a doubt be very upsetting to her and that would be what would bother me, not the score. Another thing that I didn't like was the wordage. The book would have affected me more if it was not so repetitive. And all the hoity toity-ness about did me in. I'm just a simple girl trying to read a book that is full of fancy talk and butterfly kisses. Don't get me wrong, I love books that are descriptive, but this was a little over the top for me. The one paragraph that almost made me cover my eyes and scream "no more" was:I envisioned myself as a sort of house heroine, not a house wrecker. So coming to terms with the idea of knocking down the house had been hard enough. To me, it seemed almost akin to adopting a child, only to give up and send the child back-(page 73, paragraph 2)What????? How could anyone compare tearing down a house with the loss of a child? Under any circumstance?I did finish this book, and I do agree that we need to recognize even the small stuff in our lives for the blessings they are, but the rest of it was not a good fit for my mind.
Sararush on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The ordinary of the title is apt as this book relishes the bittersweet moments we all experience: new home, new career, growing older, giving way to our children¿s growing independence. The most triumphant parts of the book is where Kenison focuses on the aspects of motherhood that all mothers face. Her grapples to redefine her relationships with her kids as they grow and their needs change are moving for any mother. Her chapters are more like mini essays then a typical memoir, and Kenison does have a tendency to repeat the same ideas. But her ability to create a moment with only a few words add a vividly poetic feel to her sentiments. At times syrupy sweet, Kenison creates the pancake of memoirs reminding us that it is the little things that construct life.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a beautiful reflection of the author's life, on the value of slowing down, on the necessity of letting go, and of how much can be gained by doing so.
njmom3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not really sure how to rate or review this book. The book seems to ramble. At times, it is also a bit preachy. Yet, parts of it and the idea of it really touched my heart. It seems to flow as a "stream of consciousness" from one thing to another. Yet the central ideas of longing and growing are constant. The ideas for me win out and make it a memorable book.
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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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago