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Life Is Short: Book Reviews

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Adam Naddelman, M.D., FAAP - President, Princeton Nassau Pediatrics, PA

"I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Scott Benner's inaugural book, Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal.  There are a lot of books out there claiming to have all the answers to parents' insecurities about how to best raise their children, and many of them come off as pedantic and sanctimonious, turning most readers immediately off.  Benner's book does the exact opposite.  From the first chapter, I was pulled into the book and couldn't put it down.  As a pediatrician and a parent myself, I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun but poignant read-- Benner takes stay at home parenting, actually just parenting in general, to a whole new level.  His anecdotes alternate between hilarious and touching, and the book's conclusion will leave you crying and wanting for more.  Parents of kids with chronic illness will especially appreciate the anxieties and insecurities Benner reveals, and his advice for dealing with them truly comes from his heart.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.  You won't regret it."

Midwest Book Review

Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal is a much recommended addition to any modern memoir collection...

manny hernandez | president | diabetes hands foundation

I had a chance to meet Scott Benner in person for the first time in the summer of 2012. Previously, I had only read some of his posts on his blog Arden's Day about the life of Arden, his daughter who lives with type 1 diabetes. When I met him, I felt an immediate connection to him, as if I had known him for a very long time. And having just finished his book "Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad" I can see why.

Scott's first book (being such a great writer, I sure hope it's only his first!) is so chock full of moments you cannot avoid but smile at, think through, and cry to, as he describes the innermost details of his life as a stay-at-home dad. He exhibits the courage to bare his soul every bit as much as he makes you crack up with his brilliant humor. When you think you've read the best of the book, he hits a home run taking a powerful stance on the role of men in families today, and how we can sometimes take a position towards certain chores in family life (from sports to laundry), that unknowingly perpetuates a cycle that we really need to be contributing to break.

Scott's wisdom shines even more as he dives into the moments leading up to Arden's diagnosis, through their first few years with her living with diabetes, and how it fundamentally changed everything they believed to be ready for in their lives as parents. He writes:

"I don't need more than four, maybe five, hours of sleep a night and the hours don't have to be consecutive. The only thing that matters is that Arden's blood glucose doesn't drop so low overnight that she dies in her sleep."

What Scott leaves you with in the end is a contagious sense that, in spite of all odds (having your adoptive father leave you, working through crappy jobs, receiving the terrible news about one of your children having a serious chronic condition)… you really can be happy anywhere. As Scott says:

"you can choose to stand in [a sad state of mind] or walk forward and leave it behind."

So, run (don't walk) and order (or pre-order, if it's not April 2, 2013 -when it becomes available) "Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad." You will be glad you did! 

Christopher from Dad of Divas

"This was a funny look at both fatherhood and parenting and you have to love the author's approach and writing style! I know more and more dads that are now staying at home and this book gives a fun look into the world of this type of individual. Humorous and witty, this book will leaving you laughing in many places and touched in others. The book definitely will challenge your initial impressions of stay-at-home dads and what they mean to society today. At the same time you will love the writing style of the author (or at least I did), and will get an uncensored look into a whole new world that will make you smile and be ever more appreciative for the work that these dads do!"

Erin Shea, Library Journal

Benner is a member of what he refers to as the DOC, or diabetes online community. Since 2007, he has chronicled his struggles caring for a child with Type 1 diabetes on his blog ArdensDay.com. Here he takes a different route and describes meeting and courting his wife, his daily life as a stay-at-home parent, and how his father abandoned him and his siblings, coloring his own approach to parenthood. Benner paints himself as a bumbling father with self-deprecating stories of being in over his head. However, he loves his children fervently and asserts the secret to happiness is to never stop and never give up. VERDICT Benner gained an online following by chronicling his life as a caregiver to his daughter with Type 1 diabetes, yet details about this part of his life don’t appear until the last third of the book. Still, his unabashed “dad humor” brings a distinct charm to his writing without being mawkish or overly sentimental.

Christopher Snider from Just Talking PodCast

I'll spare the hyperbole and elaborate metaphors and simply say it was a joy to read and I would recommend it to anyone. Seriously, anyone. I can't think of a person who wouldn't enjoy reading this.

Laura K. from Discuss Diabetes

"As a mom (also married to a remarkable stay-at-home dad), I am easily inspired by all that Scott does to ensure his children have meaningful childhood memories. I honestly can’t say enough good things about his book, which will be released in early April 2013. I literally could not put my advanced copy down once I began reading it. The life lessons he shares are extremely powerful and have inspired me in ways that allow me to be a better mother, wife and person. My thanks to Scott for sharing his story with us and with everyone else I suspect will benefit from reading his lessons."

E. Magill fromOpen Salon

"It's easy to feel like an aberration when you're a stay-at-home father. Sometimes you're the only man in a room full of mothers, and sometimes you find yourself defending a woman whose husband fails to appreciate how difficult it is to keep a home in order. At times, it is an intensely lonely--though incredibly rewarding--job, which is why picking up Scott Benner's book, Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad, is like finding a new friend.

Simultaneously funny, poignant, and tear-jerking, Benner's description of his life as a stay-at-home dad isn't just written for fathers in the same boat. Indeed, he earnestly offers advice and perspective to all people who might benefit from it, including to wives, husbands, and even non-parents. It's an easy read that feels like an intimate conversation with a sibling who isn't afraid to be brutally honest about himself and what he's been through. Benner shies away from nothing, going seamlessly from describing his troubled relationship with a father who left him when he was an adolescent to talking about the agony and ecstasy of married sex life.

The book opens with a description of the mind-numbing tediousness of the Sisyphian task that is doing laundry, and I can certainly sympathize with that, even though, for me, I find the endless supply of filthy dishes much more soul-crushing than the collection of dirty clothes. Benner uses this as a springboard to explain what it means to be a stay-at-home parent, how something as mundane as the laundry can go wildly underappreciated. Still, his book isn't just about the mind-numbing trials and tribulations of endless daily chores; it's also about why it is the greatest job in the world and how he wouldn't trade it for anything.

Though the book is short, it is crammed full of wisdom. He gets philosophical about socially-ingrained gender roles, explains the difference between good communication and meaningless sentiment, admits three huge mistakes he made on the day his son was born, gives deeply personal information about how it felt to discover his daughter has Type I Diabetes, and explains why nothing can make him feel more connected to his son than the thwap of a baseball landing just right in a catcher's mitt. As soon as I finished reading Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal, I gave it to my wife. While I know she understands--at least in theory--what my typical day is like, Benner's entertaining insights make it clearer than I ever could. It also offers the sage wisdom that the best thing a wife can do for her husband is have sex with him, which may be another reason I want her to read it.

Indeed, I can't think of many people I wouldn't recommend this book to. It's an honest, sweet, and fun look at parenting that is a love letter to all the mothers and fathers out there, not just the ones who are lucky enough--and brave enough--to stay at home. If you've ever been curious about what can make a man turn to this female-dominated profession, if you've ever wondered what awaits the life of a homemaker, or if you simply can't believe that such a thing as a good stay-at-home dad can exist, Benner's story will enlighten you to no end."

Cherise Shockley founder DSMA 

"Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad by Scott Benner had me hooked at page one. I am not a stay at home parent. I never had the need or want to become a stay at home parent, because I always assumed that stay at home parents become so wrapped up into their kids that they some how lose themselves in the process of cooking, cleaning and caring for the kids. Scott proved me wrong. Staying at home is about helping a child navigate through life. It is about making sure family is taken care of from sun up to sun down. It is a job that I did not fully understand until I read Life is Short.

I could relate to a lot of things Scott wrote, falling and being in love, becoming a parent, and conversations about married sex. Married and have children? You know what I mean!!! I enjoyed reading about Cole’s first home run and Arden’s entry into the world. The vivid description of Arden’s diagnosis with diabetes brought back a lot of memories; I was admittedly taken back to the day I was diagnosed.

Life is Short will have you in tears, make you laugh and shaking your head because you have experienced a few of the same things Scott has shared throughout the book.

I highly recommend reading Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad. Warning! Once you start, you will not be able to put it down."

 

Audio Reviews

Mom of Bean and Ubergeek from MySweetBeanAndHerPod.com

Audio Clip (3:25) - Clip courtesy of DSMA Live "Rents - 3/19/13

Mike Hoskins from Diabetes Mine talks about Life Is Short

Audio Clip (1:25) - Clip courtesy of BloggingDiabetes.com ep. 74

Tony Rose of Blogging Diabetes

Audio Review (6:36) - Clip courtesy of BloggingDiabetes.com ep. 71

For me, when I read a book from a parent, I don’t want to hear them glorify themselves. I want to hear about their struggles and the uglier moments of parenting. Parenting has many wonderful moments, but getting to those wonderful moments isn’t an easy road. It is a road filled with mistakes and detours. Scott Benner’s book, Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal, is a book that proves that the family route is one that is paved with bumps and washed with tears, but filled with fun and love.
Although I’ve never met Scott Benner, I felt a sense of community after reading his book and immediately hoped for a sequel. Like Mr. Benner, I am a stay-at-home dad and have gone through many of the situations and feelings that he has faced. I felt so connected with this book that I was certain that my name would be found in his acknowledgements.

From the first page, I knew that he and I are swimming in the same bottomless laundry basket. I was riding in the car while reading the book, and had to read out loud to my wife, “There is no more thankless task than making another’s clothes clean again.” The truest thing to ever be written. Cleaning house and picking up after family members is one of the many difficult tasks of being an at-home parent and he captured those difficult and gross tasks beautifully.
Benner tackles gender stereotypes, discussing the many mothers who have stayed home and taken upon thankless tasks and encouraging men not to view chores as women’s work, but to share the load themselves. “There is no such thing as gender specific when it comes to being a part of your family.” As I read those statements, I could hear rallying cries from the parental mountaintops.
There are many great examples in the book of what a stay-at-home parent faces daily, and the journey that took him from being a normal guy in his 20s to an involved dad. That journey was not always smooth, and Benner shares deeply personal moments and how they’ve shaped him, like when his adopted father walked out on him on his 13th birthday. “The lesson I learned that day was simple. I never wanted to be a man who could or would make his family feel as awful as he made us feel.” His world was turned upside down again when his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
This is not only a great book about being a stay-at-home dad, but it is also a wonderful book about parenting generally.The stories and anecdotes guide you through what it is like to love and care for a child with a serious illness, and then lift parents with encouragement and hope, whatever the parenting challenges they face.


The road to being a good parent isn’t glamorous, and thankfully Mr. Benner is honest and open enough to show us that you can make those mistakes and, with the right sense of humor and desire to learn, still come out on top.

“There is a wonderment of understanding on the other side of your struggle, and it’s worth getting to.”
— Jason Greene, NYC Dad's Group
When I made the decision to stay home and take care of our daughter Anna, I had no real guide to what I was doing. In 2006, the image of a stay-at-home dad had not progressed much beyond the Hollywood portrayal of the laughably incompetent “Mr. Mom” cliche.

Well, a lot has changed in the first seven years of my daughter’s life. Stay-at-home dads are more commonplace and more accepted as people see we actually can care for our children most of the day without losing them, starving them, or seriously injuring them. There are stay-at-home dad groups, both local and national, that provide support, and there are a growing number of books that take on some aspect of the at-home dad experience.

I should know. I’ve written one myself and I’ve read many others, most recently the witty memoir Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad by author, blogger, and twelve-year at-home dad Scott Benner.

This is a funny, moving, and inspiring book by a man who’s been an at-home dad for almost twice as long as I have. It is filled with hilarious anecdotes, great advice, and touching moments that ring true throughout. I quickly lost track of the number of times I nodded along with some story that paralleled a memorable event in my own life.

Benner also has a great ability to pull both humor and wisdom out of so many mundane situations. Most notably, laundry. The Sisyphean task that is his personal bête noir and the bane of his existence. You get the sense in the first chapter how he has planned not just each day, but his whole life around laundry.

When our home was redesigned, I only asked for one improvement. It wasn’t a media room or a man cave. I asked if it was possible to put the laundry room on the second floor . . . The architect remarked at the time that I was the only who had ever shown an interest in where the laundry room would be. I asked him how many of the men he met were stay-at-home dads, and he couldn’t think of one.

But once you have to haul laundry up a flight of stairs (and up is worse than down thanks to gravity) you care. I drop four to five big bags of dirty laundry down the steps on the way to our apartment’s laundry room every week. Hauling those same bags filled with clean laundry back up the stairs is the worst part. And though proximity of the laundry room to our apartment wasn’t a huge selling point at the time, I am glad in retrospect that we chose a unit within twenty steps of a bank of washers and dryers.

So as you can see, I identify with his struggle. All at-home parents will. And the parents who are out of the house will better appreciate what we do during all those hours we’re at home. They might even hold up their underwear and say thank you (and yes, that’s also a line from the book, and yes my wife Julia—who is now two-thirds of the way through the book herself—really did this).

It’s not just laundry either. Benner describes the daily tasks of parenting with a sharp eye to the ridiculous situations we all stumble into. He talks about the three times he almost “broke, lost or otherwise ended (his son) Cole’s life”—and all three incidents end well. He takes Cole to the zoo and sees things he took for granted through his son’s eyes, teaches him to play baseball and saves his first “practice home run ball,” and searches with him through numerous toy stores for the perfect doll. He even touches upon his continuing romantic relationship with his wife Kelly in the chapter cleverly titled “I Remember Having Sex . . . and the Baby Proves It!”—a sentence all parents have said in some form or other.

But what sets this book apart and takes it from a fun self-deprecating look at parenting to a moving story you will never forget is the chapter on his daughter Arden’s type-1 diabetes diagnosis. The chapter, with the deceptively understated title “Her Breath Smells Funny,” takes the reader almost minute-by-minute through a harrowing middle-of-the-night journey to the E.R., a night in which a two-year-old girl almost loses her life. This is the chapter that takes this book from good to great.

Benner also addresses his broken relationship with his own father, who through most of Benner’s life serves as a model of the kind of dad not to be. In another poignant chapter toward the end of the book, he describes how on the last day of the old man’s life, he is finally able to reconcile with him. The lost opportunity he describes is tragic, and reading about it made me appreciate my own dad that much more.

Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal is a fast-paced, witty, and ultimately poignant book that is hard to put down and easy to finish in a couple of days. Filled with great advice, it is a great introduction to at-home parenting suitable for any parent, and a familiar take on a life that more and more dads are leading. Someday soon, when (God willing) my own book is published, I would take it as an honor and a compliment for it to be mentioned in the same sentence as this exceptional book.
— David Ozab, Fatherhood Etc.