I have learned to love essay collections. They can be funny or profound and they can be read in the short unexpected spurts of free time that I find myself with since becoming a mother. It's a Boy doesn't dissapoint.
The theme of women writers raising sons intrigued me as soon as I heard of it. I enjoyed and identified with Ann Lamott's ambivalence about having a son in her classic book Operating Instructions. Harboring a gender preference myself, I wondered what these intelligent, feminist mothers would have to say. It's a Boy, especially the first section of essays, is a peek behind the standard "healthy baby is what's important" line that gets trotted out when we are all being polite. What happens when we just can't keep ourselves from wishing for one gender or the other?
I have always wished for girls. In my childhood fantasies of motherhood, I always pictured myself as the mother of daughters.
When I was pregnant with Naomi, I convinced myself I was having a boy. I was afraid if I got attached to the idea that this baby was a girl, I would ruin the moment of his birth with my shallow dissapointment. Expecting a boy and getting a boy would be much easier to handle than expecting a girl and getting a boy. Even though I spent much of my pregnancy trying to imagine having a boy, the ambivalence did not go away. I knew I was programmed to love whoever was born to me, and I trepidatiously waited to see how it would come about.
In the past, I have been drawn to men that enthrall and overpower me. This kind of love, if you can call it that, simply doesn't translate to the love between a mother and child. Would having a son encourage healing, or would he trigger my defenses? Considering my baggage with men, could I be an adequate and healthy mother to a son?
As this pregnancy is drawing to a close, I am again facing the possibility of having a boy. There is much more curiosity this time, much less fear. I know better how mother love works now. This is a child I will love to pieces, differently that anyone I have ever loved before, no matter what the gender turns out to be. I am curious about how mothering a son will change me, will change how I feel about men in general. For the first time, there's a part of me that's rooting for the Blue Team. I want a son. I want to experience that.