Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's a Boy...still

The last four babies to enter my world have been boys. Make that five or six. Most of the kids on our block are boys. My two nephews. The last three kids born into my choir. So even though Andi's blog book tour is over I thought I'd say a few more words about It's a Boy, which I just finished reading the other night.

The essays that really struck me have to do with boys growing older, perhaps because we're well out of the toddler years here, perhaps because I'm interested in watching the boys at Mariah's school grow up. Gayle Brandeis has a lovely one about her son and weaponry, for example. There are a couple about the strangeness of living with a teenage boy--something I'm not quite ready for. I thought about it the other day: Nick hugged me and I flashed forward onto his hairy teenage self and I realized how unready I am for that day, and that person. I've got some time, though.

Kate Staples has a lovely piece called "Reading to my Son" that I want to think about more. I have found myself, as I think I've written here, choosing different stories for Nick than for Mariah, and I'm never quite sure if I'm responding to or shaping him as I do so. Staples' piece takes up some of the same issues and resolves them gracefully.

And I was really taken with pieces by both Susan O'Doherty and Catherine Newman about their sons' love of "girlish" things. Again, it's something I've thought about with Nick. When he was in pre-school, he used to insist on spraying some of my perfume on himself and putting on some of my lipstick every morning before I left him at the pre-school. Not only did none of the kids there every tease him about it, several of them used to crowd around me and ask for their own lipstick as well--both boys and girls. It always seemed to me that Nick was trying to keep a piece of me with him when I left, and I never denied him (though I did draw the line at painting other kids' lips chocolate or berry-colored).

What I love about It's a Boy is the diversity of the stories--some of these boys remind me of my own, others not. All the mothers remind me of me, though, in their love for their sons and their ongoing reflections on what it means to raise them. It's a nice kind of reminder.

1 comment:

jennifer eyre white said...

Beautifully said, Libby. I too see myself in other mother-writers, whether I agree with their point of view or not, whether I've had similar experiences or not. It amazes me that there are mothers out there who are able to raise their children *without* wanting--or needing--to write about it. I'm also in the middle of "It's a Boy," which is about the 12th anthology I've read this year. I just never get tired of them. There's so much to learn from them, both as a person and as a writer.