When Andrea J. Buchanan wrote this piece she was the mother of a little girl and was also pregnant with a boy. She began to hear a lot of stereotypes from others about how boys love their mothers differently to girls, presumably better than girls. She started to consider this stereotype further…
.. our relationships with our daughters are more complicated than our relationships with our sons. We are conflicted. We want our daughters to do everything our sons do, yet as mothers ourselves, we know the difficulties and the hard choices they will have to make when they grow up and choose to mother – the career options that dwindle; the daily balancing act that exhausts; the kind of things our sons will never face, even as they become parents themselves. Perhaps it’s easier to love our sons because there is no big secret, no truth we’re withholding about the divided life of women. Perhaps we feel less conflicted about boys – love them more, believe they love us differently than our daughters do – because they will have such unconflicted, uncomplicated autonomy as men.
.. It feels as though I am being told to love a boy because he is my link to power, to empowerment, to unencumbered motion through the world. It feels as though I am being told that girls remind us how we are constricted by our gender; that boys set us free.
… “Boys love their mothers differently,” the nurse assured me that day as she watched me wrestle with my complicated daughter. But I think she had it wrong. Maybe mothers love their boys differently, not the other way around.
From Buchanan’s piece in It’s a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons.
I have just finished the book, It’s a Boy and my mind keeps coming back to the passage above. I find it a fascinating if not troubling theory.
There are some excellent pieces in this collection; Catherine Newman’s beautifully composed Pretty Boy, Jennifer Lauk’s sinister It Takes a Village, Susan Ito’s heartbreaking Samuel and Katie Kaput’s compelling Things You Can’t Teach (about being a transsexual parent and getting your head around your child’s masculinity), are all stand-outs. But there are also a few grating pieces in this collection, ones that I found to be bogged down with cumbersome stereotypes about gender. Still, I read this to get me thinking more about the experience of having a son and this book certainly got me doing that.