Three books I’m going to write about together, all of them read nearly a year ago, in May of 2006.
- Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It
- It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters
- It’s a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons
All of these books are edited by the same person, Andrea Buchanan. All three are collections of essays by various mothers and (occasionally) fathers who have been there. Mother shock is about entering the world of parenthood, and the various phases one passes through. All the essays in Mother Shock are by Andrea Buchanan. The other two are about gender: mothers write honestly about wishes they had for which gender their baby would be, and how no matter what gender the child is, they realized that he or she won’t fit expectations exactly anyhow. I read these books because I had always had a strong craving for a daughter, which led me to some anxiety about how I would respond to a son. Reading these books really helped me to realize that whether I have sons or daughters, they may not fit the mold that I have imagined anyhow. I think, for me, I had wanted a daughter so I can help her to grow up strong and do anything she wants to do, because I know a lot about the pressures that girls feel and I want to help parent another girl into a strong woman, because part of me is scared of raising a boy, of not knowing how to react when playtime involves aggression and violence. But reading these stories helped me to realize that I could have a daughter who wants to wear pink tutus and play house all day long, and that girl could be just as different from what I know as the boy who wants to play war games. There are many differences between different girls and different boys, just as there are difference between a son and a daughter. As a parent, I’ll have to adapt to whatever personality my child has, and gender may be no better a predictor of that than other aspects of his or her biology. I may be surprised by a very gentle son or a daughter who wants to wear pink and dress as a fairy. Either way, I’ll adjust and love him or her for who she is.
I know I’m not the only woman who has experienced a secret desire for a child of one gender or the other, and I’m not the only one who has felt guilty about it. I wholeheartedly recommend these books to anyone else who deals with these thoughts.