As part of the "It's A Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons" Blog Book Tour, today at Been There, we are thrilled to share our thoughts on the book, a beautiful anthology of essays about raising sons edited by the amazing writer Andi Buchanan.
After finishing the essay, "The Bully's Mother" by Karen E. Bender on Monday, I went to pick up my oldest son, age four, at preschool. I walked through the school door and immediately heard, up from the basement (aka "the action room"), the piercing screech of a child having a fit. Apparently the wailing had been going on for some time, as the adults gathered for pick up in the hallway were shaking their heads and muttering about the kid who could not get control.
After about 30 seconds of listening to the screaming, and watching the aghast looks and eye rolling amongst the grown ups, I turned to the group and said, "That's mine" and went down the stairs. And there was my son, red faced and covered in tears, kicking and screaming because the game of "Duck, Duck, Goose" was over.
There was something about Bender's essay that fortified me in that moment. After suffering through years in which her son was the preschool "biter" and "hitter," today, at six, Bender's boy is "a model citizen." The fact that Bender had been there, lived to tell about it (with grace and humor) and, in the process, shared the wisdom that children "evolve in phases," gave me serendipitous strength as I picked up my flailing son and walked up the stairs and through the gauntlet of parents (who, I imagined, were patting themselves on the back for their superior parenting skills.)
I have two daughters, ages 8 and 6, and two sons, our four year old and an 18 month old. When I was pregnant with our four year old, we did not know the baby's gender, but countless people would pat my tummy and ask slyly, "Trying for a boy, huh?" Not really, but, having only a sister, and being the product of an all-girls' school, I was curious, if not slightly terrified of the prospect of having a son. After announcing, "It's a boy!" the OB turned to me and said, "Boys are so much harder, good luck, mom."
The minute I held my baby boy, however, I knew there was nothing different in the deep, primal feeling of love and connection he ignited in me. As time has passed, I find, I am slightly in love with him (and now his brother), too. In her lovely essay, "A Son's Love," Caroline Leavitt writes about her surprise at the intensity of love she has for her son. She writes, "It's that he is who he is. Nothing like anyone I ever expected. A revelation. Just like my love for him."
I loved this book and found it hard to put it down. As in the best of books, on one page I was laughing and the next wiping away tears. Reading "It's A Boy" was like listening to a group of moms you really like and relate to and, with mouth open, eyes wide, nodding your head in recognition and agreement as they eloquently tell their stories.
Links to excerpts:
The first essay, "Expectations"
The second essay, "It's a Boy"
The third essay, "You've Got Male!"