Catastrophic Happiness

Finding Joy in Childhood's Messy Years


By Catherine Newman

Read by Catherine Newman

Formats and Prices


This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 5, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A comic and heartwarming memoir about childhood’s second act from Real Simple journalist Catherine Newman.

Much is written about a child’s infancy and toddler years, which is good since children will never remember it themselves. It is ages 4-14 that make up the second act, as Catherine Newman puts it in this delightfully candid, outlandishly funny new memoir about the years that “your children will remember as childhood.”

Following Newman’s son and daughter as they blossom from preschoolers into teenagers, Catastrophic Happiness is about the bittersweet joy of raising children — and the ever-evolving landscape of issues parents traverse. In a laugh out-loud, heart-wrenching, relatable voice, Newman narrates events as momentous as grief and as quietly moving as the moonlit face of a sleeping child.

From tantrums and friendship to fear and even sex, Newman’s fresh take will appeal to any parent riding this same roller coaster of laughter and heartbreak.



It Gets Better


You know how you feel when you see the RUNAWAY TRUCK RAMP sign on the highway? Like there must be an eighteen-wheeler barreling massively behind you, on the brakeless verge of destroying your beautiful, doomed life? You can picture the tiny, rosy-cheeked children screaming, clinging to you since you are, of course, riding in the back with them, the better to distribute string cheese and hand-holding and the occasional contorted breast, bared and stretched toward somebody’s crying face, but only if they’ve been crying for a long time. About to be crushed—all of it. But “runaway truck” also feels like a metaphor for something. For you, maybe, with your impulsive desire to careen off alone to Portugal or Applebee’s, just so you can sit for five unmolested minutes with a ham sandwich and a glass of beer. Just so you can use the bathroom one time without having a concurrent conversation about poop with the short person who has to stand with a consoling hand on your knee, looking worriedly up into your straining face. Later, it won’t be like this. You’ll see the sign, and the nearby gravelly uphill path, and you’ll think, “That’s a good idea, for the runaway trucks.” Also, you will go to the bathroom alone.

You know how you know by heart the phone number of the Poison Control Center? Because the children, your constantly imperiled children, like to eat the ice-melting salt and suck batteries and help themselves to nice, quenching guzzles of cough medicine? One day you won’t know that number anymore.

One day, the children will eat neither pennies nor crayons nor great, gulping handfuls of sand like they have a powerful thirst for sand, sand, only sand. They will no longer choke on lint and disks of hot dog or fall down the stairs, their heads making the exact, sickening, hollow-melon thump you knew they would make when you knew they would fall down the stairs. They will still fall out of trees and off of trampolines. They will still scrape their elbows and knees and foreheads, and you will still be called upon to tend to these injuries. And you will be happy to, because they will so rarely need you to kneel in front of them anymore, to kiss them tenderly here, and also here.

Rest assured, though, that there will be ongoing opportunity to be certain of imminent doom and destruction. Ticks will attach their parasitic selves to the children’s scalps and groins. Rashes and fevers and mysterious illnesses will besiege everybody. You will still go on a Googling rampage of the phrase “mild sore throat slight itchiness coma death.” The kids will still barf with surprising frequency—but competently, into tidy buckets, rather than in a spraying impersonation of a vomit-filled Super Soaker on the “Drunk Frat Boy” setting.

You know how you see germs everywhere? Every last microbe illuminated by the parental headlamp of your OCD? One day you won’t. One day you will cavalierly handle doorknobs and faucets and even, like a crazy person, the sign-in pen at the pharmacy. Plus, in a public bathroom, the children will no longer need to touch and/or lick every possible surface. Seriously.

You know how you’re tired? So tired that you mistake talking in an exhausted monotone about your tiredness for making conversation? You won’t be tired. Or rather you will sometimes be tired, sometimes rested, like regular people are. You won’t blearily skim the passage of the novel you’re reading—where the protagonist lies down on her soft bed, between crisp, clean sheets—as your own eyes fill with tired, envious tears. You won’t daydream about rest and recumbency, lawn chairs and inflated pool rafts and white hotel comforters. You won’t look forward to your dental appointment just so you can recline alone for forty heavenly, tartar-scraping minutes. One day, you will once again go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. You will sleep as much as you want to. You’ll actually be shocked if you don’t get to because a child is ill or can’t fall asleep, even though now you lie wedged into various cribs and cots, night after night, still as a button, while a small somebody drifts off and snaps awake gropingly and drifts off again. “How did we use to do it?” you will ask, and your husband will shake his head and grimace. You will no longer be constantly scheming to lie down, tricking the kids into another round of Sick Patient, so you can be dead on the couch while they prod you therapeutically with plastic screwdrivers and the doll’s bottle. “I’m still not better,” you mumble now, but you will be. You really will.

One day, you’ll be sitting on the couch with your husband, reading the Sunday paper, and around the time you’re getting to the book review you’ll think to ask, “Are the kids still sleeping?” And he’ll shrug without putting down the sports section. The kids might be sleeping or they might be reading in their beds, playing with LEGOs, stroking the cat, bickering gently, resolving their differences. And you will be awake, even though you don’t have to be. I swear it on a stack of attachment-parenting books.

Speaking of the newspaper: you will one day climb back into bed with the heavy wedge of folded sections and an unspilled mug of hot, milky coffee. You will even do the crossword puzzle—and all the puzzles you’ve been saving. It’s okay. I know about the newspaper that still arrives constantly now, either because you’re in denial about the way you recycle it unread or because you cannot recall your account password and don’t have the intelligence or emotional resilience to figure out the cancelling of your subscription. I know you still tear out the Sunday crossword and stuff it into the drawer of your bedside table with the crazy idea that you might get to it later. And you will. You’ll open the drawer one evening (to ferret out some birth control, no less) and you’ll find the archaeological evidence of your optimism: hundreds of puzzles spanning a sizable chunk of the early millennium. And you’ll lie around doing them in a kind of leisurely, ecstatic trance, eating bonbons and weeping with happiness.

You will have time to run and bike and do yoga and floss and have sex. And sometimes you won’t, but it won’t even be the children’s fault. It’s just that you’re lazy. Or doing a crossword puzzle.

You know your body? How it’s like a baggy, poorly curated exhibit about reproduction? You know how your weaned bosom looks like a cross between a pair of used condoms and Santa’s sack the day after Christmas? All empty and stretched out with maybe one or two lumpy, leftover presents that couldn’t be delivered? It will all get better. The bosom will never again look like a bursting, gift-filled bag of awesomeness, that’s true. But it will look less harrowed by motherhood. The breasts, they will tighten up a bit. All of it will tighten up a bit and be yours again to do with what you will. For example, your husband won’t gesture to you at a party after you’ve been nursing the baby. “What?” you mouth back now, sticking a fingernail between your teeth. “Spinach?” He shakes his head and points at your front, and you look down to see the elastic edge of your tank top, and how your left breast is hanging over it. That won’t happen anymore.

Even though you’re older you’ll actually be less hunched! One day, whenever you arrive somewhere, you will all simply get out of the car and walk inside! You won’t be permanently bent over to deal with the car seat/seat belt/shoes/socks/sippy cups/diapers/turd on the floor. Why, you wonder now, does so much of your life take place below you? (It’s because the kids are small.) One day infants and diaper bags and hemorrhoids and boobs won’t be hanging off your person like you’re a cross between a human mobile and a Sherpa and a performance-art piece about Dante’s Inferno. The flip side is that there will be fewer cuddles. Lots still, but fewer. For example, every morning you will have to kiss your twelve-year-old good-bye not on the school walkway but in the bushes before you get there, like you’re sneaky, chaste teenagers.

You know all those things you thought would be fun with kids but secretly kind of aren’t? Going to museums, making biscuits, watching the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies, ice- skating, swimming, singing in the rain—how they all end in tears and pooping and everybody needing to be rocked to sleep in the sling? All those things really will be fun! You’re just doing them too soon because you’re bored of Hi Ho! Cherry-O and the diaper-smell children’s room of the library and those hair shirts of conversation about Would you stay partners with Daddy if he turned into a mosquito and was always buzzing around and stinging everybody but had his same face? One day you will watch Monty Python and The Princess Bride with the kids instead of Arthur’s Big Valentine’s Day Guilt Trip and Caillou by Mistake Draws on a Library Book, and you will hardly believe your good luck. At the dinner table you’ll talk about natural selection and socialized medicine. You’ll arrive at your campsite and the children will carry wood and play beanbag toss rather than cramming pinecones and beetles into their mouths before darting into the road to be run over by a Jeep. Your vigilance will ebb away until you actually take for granted how it feels to sit by the fire with a beer in your hand, looking unworriedly up at a sky full of stars with a lapful of big kid.

They will still believe in fairies. Sort of.

They will buckle their own seat belts and make themselves toast and take their dishes to the sink instead of flinging them from their high chairs to the floor like the drunk, tyrannical fathers from Irish novels. They will do most, if not all, of the important things that you worry they’ll never be able to do, ever, such as follow the pendulum of your finger with their gaze and wade in the neighbor’s inflatable pool and ride the merry-go-round. Speaking of merry-go-rounds: the years will start to fly by surreally, the seasons recurring like you’re captive on a deranged carousel of time. The dogwood will bloom, it will be Christmas, the dogwood will bloom again, the children will start middle school. This is how it will be.

They will stop doing most of the annoying things that you worry they’ll always do: they won’t sob into their cottage cheese for no reason. They won’t announce guiltily, “Floss isn’t for eating,” or make you sing the ABCs like a lullaby, No, not like that, like this. They won’t ride the wheeled xylophone around the house like it’s a skateboard or lick spears of asparagus before leaving them, mysteriously, on the couch. They won’t talk about poop all the time. Kidding. They will still totally talk about poop all the time!

Not to be all baby-out-with-the-bathwater, but they’re also going to stop doing some of the things you love. They will no longer imagine that the end of that “Eleanor Rigby” line is all the lonely peacocks. They won’t squint into the darkness and marvel at the moon beans or hold their breath when you pass the gravetary. They will no longer announce odd questions into the darkness of bedtime. “Mama, Mama—how do cats turn into old cats?” And you will no longer sigh and say, “Time.” But they will be funnier, and on purpose. “Is that a robin?” your daughter will ask one day, pointing to a bird hopping along the hedge. When you say, “No, robins have red breasts,” she will say, “Plural? Breasts?” and use two index fingers to pantomime a bosom. They will make you laugh all the time, they will make you think, and they will be exactly as beautiful as they are now. But with missing and giant teeth instead of those minuscule rows of seed pearls you so admire.

You know how you secretly worry that this is it, that it’s all downhill from here? I know you do. You worry that the children will turn into hulking criminals; their scalps will turn odorless. You lie in bed now during a thunderstorm, two sleeping, moonlit faces pressed against you, fragrant scalps intoxicating you, the rain on the roof like hoofbeats, heartbeats—and the calamity of raising young children falls away because this is all you ever wanted. Now you boo-hoo noiselessly into the kids’ hair because life is so beautiful and you don’t want it to change. Enjoy it. But let me tell you—you won’t believe it, but let me tell you anyway—you will watch them sleeping still and always: the illuminated down of their cheeks, their dark puffs of lips and dear, dark wedges of eyelashes, and you will feel exactly the way you feel now.

Only better.



How to Throw a Tantrum

Birdy is two. She’s tired, I’m tired, and our evening is turning into a series of trifling but cumulatively consequential moments, each one toppling into the next like the very dominoes of sanity. I’m not looking to cast blame here, but who invented giving up your nap when you’re not even two yet? And who invented this frightful time of day? If I were the mom from Bewitched, I’d wiggle my nose and—poof!—one minute we’d be watching the sun just start to dip behind the trees, and the next the kids would be snoring in their beds. Instead I’m just mortal me with bodies to feed, teeth to brush, a pair of children to shepherd through day’s end like sweet-faced little overwrought lambs.

First there’s dinner. Birdy gobbles roast chicken while five-year-old Ben and I chew our food and discuss the “real pretend snake” a classmate brought to show-and-tell. There are smiles all around, the festive clinking of spoons and sippy cups, guitar music filtering in from next door. This is great, I think to myself. Like a fool. Because the very next minute is when Birdy decides that she wants to hold both the bowl full of steamed broccoli and the bowl full of French dressing we’re dipping it into. “I hold,” she says. “I do it.” This would be fine, of course, if Birdy actually had a third arm. I love her feisty independence, but you just can’t fight the laws of physics, especially the one that says: hold the broccoli and the dip, and there will be no hands left for dipping. She puts down first one bowl and then the other, then picks both back up and wedges one under an arm, trying to figure out how to grasp a broccoli floret and plunge it into the orange gloop without spilling anything or letting go of the bowls. She’s a one-baby Laurel and Hardy act. This bowl, that bowl. That bowl, this bowl.

I am willing to let Birdy struggle for a while—I really do understand how important this is for growth—but finally I’m compelled to offer, “What if I hold the bowl of broccoli while you dip?” I’m just guessing here, but I think her screeching response means something like “No thank you.” I’ve offended her dignity, and what follows is some obligatory stomping around, the accusatory groaning of the word Mama, and a few tears. But this is only, maybe, a three on the one-to-ten scale of toddler tantrums: Loudly dissatisfied, but distracted by sticking fist into near-empty pudding cup.

With the dip disaster behind her, the pudding blotted from her hair with a damp paper towel, Birdy now wants to “winse,” which means standing on a chair at the kitchen sink holding measuring cups and funnels and every other available thing (including her own fleece-clad arms) under the running faucet, water spraying everywhere like our kitchen is a car wash. I say no to this now, even though I sympathize with the urge to drench, because it is bedtime and Birdy can never just “winse a wittle,” no matter what she might promise you. Again, a small fit ensues—“I dooo winse, Mama,” she insists, along with the vague but emphatic “I am”—and Birdy stampedes up the stairs in a rage. But soon enough she is distracted again, wiping her face with her shirt bottom, singing “Itty Bitty Bider” and getting ready for bed. I breathe a sigh of relief—and then remember, too late, my superstition about sighing with relief.

Have you ever known a toddler? Then you understand how fierce and protracted a battle the simple act of toothbrushing can become. Birdy wants to do the toothpaste “by self” (it bloops out onto the floor); she wants to eat the toothpaste from the floor (she may not); she wants to clamp her teeth down on the bristles of the brush I’m maneuvering (this is annoying, and I tell her as much). She wants to suck on the washcloth I’ve used to wipe her grubby face (I let her). She wants to fish a dropped butterfly sticker out of the toilet with her hand (I don’t let her). And, by the time we’re done with the evening’s hygiene, it’s all been too much for Birdy—too much “No,” too much “Stop”—and we approach something like a six on the tantrum scale.

I get a little snot on my shirt, in my hair, but Birdy pulls herself together. If my evening were a novel, or a Jaws movie, we might refer to this as “foreshadowing,” and there would be ominous music to terrify you about the next ruinous ambush. The real tantrum—the one you see slicing through the waves in the pointed shape of a fin—arrives a few minutes later, when we’re already pajama-clad and snuggled under the covers for bedtime stories. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, to be precise. That’s when Birdy finds herself unable to pull off her own fingers. “Aagh!” she cries, tugging on them. “Want to take dese fingahs off.” She tugs some more, then she holds her hand out to me and says, reasonably, “Mama, help me, bease.

When I tell her that I’d like to help but can’t—I trace her palm and fingers with my own finger to show her how seamlessly put together she is—Birdy throws herself down on the mattress and screams. The technical term for what’s happening to her is “the last straw.” She stands up again, still screaming, and with the tears rivuleting down her sweet face and her mouth opened into that red cave of yelling, she looks like a Beatles fan, in footie pajamas. “Fingahs ooooooffffffff!” She’s shrieking and tugging on her hands, trying to remove her fingers like they’re gloves. (This scene feels oddly familiar. Was it in that tenth-grade film they showed us about LSD?) She bites into the comforter, tears at her own sleeve with her teeth. I don’t say, “If you pull off your fingers what will you poke into your booty?” but I consider it. Instead, I say, irrelevantly, “Would you like to read Fairy Went a-Marketing?” and Birdy stomps away. Such a bald-faced distraction will not, at this point, be dignified with a response.

The thing about tantrums is that sometimes there is not only no way to help but also—and this is the kicker—no point to any of it. This is to be distinguished from the kind of tantrum that results from a disciplinary or safety intervention. If Birdy is about to plunge her hand into a Crock-Pot full of lentils—or if she’s jabbing a thermometer into her ear or darting out into the road or hitting Ben over the head with Pooh’s Party or spreading her cracker with ointment—and I speak sharply to her, well, the episode that follows always feels worthwhile in some way. Sure, the kicking and screaming are inconvenient, and you may have to stand in the middle of the sidewalk shrugging and smiling at the flinty passersby while your child flails a hole into the pavement with her snow boots. But righteousness is a raft you can cling to: an Important Lesson has been taught and learned, and yes, sometimes this learning is difficult and even ugly, but you really had no choice. But in “The Case of the Attached Fingers” there is no glint of a silver lining. Tiredness has simply forgone its usual, peaceful route (close eyes, fall asleep) and has instead taken a terrible, winding detour through paroxysms of fury and frustration (kick feet, bang head against crib bars). And the lesson “Fingers stay on” just isn’t a very satisfying destination.

Meanwhile, back in bed, things have escalated. For instance, the word bloodcurdling pops into my head, and I actually picture my veins clotting up with purple lumps while Birdy rages on. And still, this whole entire time, I’m trying to read Laura Ingalls Wilder to Ben. I’m reading loudly, of course, so that Ben can hear me over the hand-wringing din of his sister. It’s all a little surreal. Because here, on the one hand, are Laura and Carrie in a different century, stumbling home through a perilous blizzard to their worried parents—these courageous, uncomplaining little girls in their petticoats and woolen tights—and there, over there on the edge of the bed, is this gigantic baby flinging herself around and pulling her own hair because of her nondetachable fingers. Birdy’s struggle is a real one, and her dear face is tragic and red and drenched. But when Ben makes eye contact with me, I raise my eyebrows and he giggles. Which is when Birdy staggers over with a pillow like some murderous yeti and presses it down over our heads. Under the pillow Ben and I are laughing and laughing: Things are so out of hand. When we come up for air, Birdy looks so sad and lost that I say, “Oh, sweetheart,” and, against her will, take her into my arms.

I rock this person—this half-baby, half-child—and sing to her, a ballad about Spanish leather boots because those happen to be the only lyrics I can remember right now. Birdy is struggling still and crying hard, but I try to remember that sometimes, if I’m sad or despairing, Michael, my husband, might rub my back and speak soothing words to me, and even though he might not see any change on the outside—I might appear to be wholly and despairingly unaffected by his care—inside I am comforted. And just as I’m thinking this, Birdy’s body softens in my arms and her screaming morphs into raggedy breaths with only a little bit of intermittent crying when she remembers her great Woe and Sadness. After the song ends, she sits up and asks, “Could I have tissue, bease?,” so polite that tears spring to my eyes. And when I hand it to her, she blots at her own eyes and blows her nose, smiles at me, and says, “Sink you, Mama!”

The thought that comes into my head is a cliché: it’s like a storm passing. Birdy smiles, and even though the moon is peeking in through the tops of the trees, the bedroom is flooded with sunlight. And Birdy herself has the age-old impulse, the same thing I’m doing here, to make sense of her experience by turning it into a story. “I was,” she tells us, her shoulders still heaving a little bit, “so, so sad.” And Ben and I say, at the exact same time, “We know.”


  • Praise for Catastrophic Happiness

    "Ultimately the most fascinating character isn't her family, but Newman herself. This is because the book's force lies not in what it tells us about parenting, but in its sensitive portrayal of the blurring of self that happens after one has children. . . For Newman, this question of where she begins and ends is less of a riddle than a Buddhist koan. Wisely, she never tries to solve it. Her goal, in parenting and in writing, is only to figure out how to love from within it."Elissa Strauss, New York Times Book Review
  • "Part of what makes Ms. Newman so good is her butterfly prose, colorful and light on its feet; part of it is her marvelous ability to reassure. It's affirming for parents to see their lives reflected back at them, and in a theme-park fun house no less, with all of the dreary bits made stretchy and silly. I adore her sideways sense of humor."
    Jennifer Senior, New York Times
  • "In writing that comes close to poetry, Newman really does manage to capture this bittersweet side of parenting, without overemphasizing either the bitter or the sweet. It's the two together that epitomize the job of raising and loving people who are destined to grow up and leave you, and her ability to see this that makes this book so uniquely good."—Malena Watrous, San Francisco Chronicle
  • "This is a book about mothers and children, or really, about how the job of mothering changes a woman, inevitably, irrevocably, and sometimes uncomfortably. Newman's self-awareness is what makes the book work; it's a portrait of striving toward a perfection that never existed, while loving the imperfection that surrounds us."
    Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
  • "Winsome and funny."
    People Magazine
  • "An intimate account about the hectic joy of raising children and embracing the silver lining of all those inevitable hair-pulling-out mom moments."—
  • "Catastrophic Happiness celebrates the absurdly lovely mess of the parenting years."
  • "You know those taunting posts that promise to make you "feel all the feels" only to leave you annoyed and let down? This is not one of those times. Catherine Newman's new essay collection on raising her two kids will make you laugh, cry, worry with her, and wish that you could make even the messiest, hardest, most crazy-making days with your children last just a little bit longer."
  • "Newman's stories are specific and funny, and she writes about the gamut of emotions we feel but can't always verbalize for ourselves. (She) takes her readers along for a fascinating, yet comfortingly familiar, ride of family life."
    Kristen Kemp, Parents Magazine
  • "A series of essays, which masterfully combine story and reflection...Newman's observations run the gamut from deep and profound to hilarious and true. Newman has a true gift for making the reader feel intimately connected to her family. In Catastrophic Happiness Newman has trapped lightning in a jar, allowing us all to admire its dazzle. In her book's short, lovely pages she captures life as a mother, life as a human being, life in general, in all of its gorgeous, complicated grandeur."—Lindsey Mead, Brain, Child
  • "Laugh-out-loud funny. Newman brings tears and laughter and truth to the inexplicable-like the demanding aimlessness of her children's stories-pairing some very effective anecdotes with the boredom, pride, disgust, and joy of child-rearing."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Hilarious, wise, sometimes neurotic and always delicious. Catherine Newman is a brilliant observer of contemporary parenthood."—Claire Messud
  • "I've already read most of this book twice because that's the kind of book it is. You pick it up for laughs at the end of a long day and before you fall asleep, there are tears in your eyes. Your husband looks at you funny and you tell him, 'Yes I'm reading it again.' If you are a parent, this is the book you need to read."
    Cammie McGovern, author of Say What You Will and A Step Towards Falling
  • "Our generation's 'Poet Laureate of Parenthood'....There is no one else who reports from the parenting trenches better than Catherine Newman. Everything that makes raising kids so wonderfully unforgettable is here--the exhaustion, the hilarity, the fear, the self-doubt, the sweetness. Especially the sweetness. Even though she sugarcoats nothing--that's what sticks."
    Jenny Rosenstrach, blogger and author of Dinner, A Love Story
  • "Catastrophic Happiness unearthed all the moments I forgot to remember, things I meant to write down and preserve before they faded. As I read, I smiled and nodded, reliving, through Newman's heartbreakingly beautiful prose, the most golden--and the most gruesome--moments of my parenting life."—Jessica Lahey, author of New York Times bestseller The Gift of Failure
  • "You know how parenting books don't actually really help? Catherine Newman's book is the opposite. Totally personal and weirdly relatable, it soothes, inspires, and fascinates me. She manages to make me LOL and want to run upstairs and smell the heads of my sleeping children."—Kate Schatz, New York Times bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z and Rid of Me, A Story
  • "A gorgeous love letter to parenting. Nobody beats Catherine Newman for cracking you up while breaking your heart--and somehow teaching the wise things you always meant to learn along the way." —Katherine Center, author of Happiness for Beginners
  • "Catherine Newman could write about watching paint dry and manage to be both funny and profound. Her musings on motherhood and its attendant heartbreak will have you laughing out loud, nodding gratefully in agreement, and grasping for a Kleenex. There's no other writer I want accompanying me through my own journey in mothering."
    Luisa Weiss, author of My Berlin Kitchen and founder of The Wednesday Chef
  • "I was reluctant to relive early parenting, but from the first sentence, Catastrophic Happiness had me on the verge of tears and laughter. But honestly, Catherine Newman could write about the black mold that lines my kitchen sink and I would be captivated and moved. She is that awesome of a writer. I pray that she writes about teenagers, menopause, and old age, because I will be right there with her, ready for her words to help me through."
    Phyllis Grant, author of the Dash and Bella blog
  • "The poignancy, mania, and hilarity of parenthood drenches this delicious book. Catherine Newman divulges more than her own maternal peaks and valleys-- she offers us a way of looking at our own precious day-to-day. This book is flat-out honest, and it teems with humor and sweetness."
    Amity Gaige, author of Schroder
  • "Catastrophic Happiness is everything I could have hoped it might be. Reading it, I kept wanting to throw a fist in the air and scream, THANK YOU CATHERINE! I had the strangest and most wonderful feeling that she had climbed inside my head and knew exactly what I needed to hear."
    Molly Wizenberg, author of Orangette blog and the books A Homemade Life and Delancey

On Sale
Apr 5, 2016
Hachette Audio

Catherine Newman

About the Author

Catherine Newman is the author of What Can I Say? and the award-winning bestseller How to Be a Person, as well as two parenting memoirs: Waiting for Birdy and Catastrophic Happiness, and a middle-grade novel, One Mixed-Up Night. She's also the co-author of Stitch Camp. Newman is the etiquette columnist for Real Simple magazine and the editor of the James Beard Award–winning kids’ cooking magazine ChopChop. A regular contributor to publications including the New York Times, Romper, Cup of Jo, and Grown & Flown, Newman lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family. Visit her at

Learn more about this author