I'm immensely pleased to be kicking off the blog book tour for It's a Girl, which was just published by Seal Press. Now, those who know MomBrain know that I read a lot of books, and I can be hard to please. But few books have given me as much pleasure or provoked as much thought as this one.
Disclaimer: I do not have a daughter. I have a son, the (in)famous Little Guy, who has taught me everything I know about Legos and construction equipment. He has also made me realize -- deeply and against all my early feminist training -- that boys really are different from girls. So before I say anything else about this book, I need to apologize to all my friends who have daughters. For years I have carried the smug and secret belief that they had an easier job. After all, they were girls once themselves. Unlike me, the mother of a son, they speak the language. They know the emotional terrain. They have a map. (Pause for hysterical laughter ... now ducking the rotten tomatoes ...)
What I did not realize, until I read this book, is that raising girls may not be harder, but it's so much more complex. I mean, it's hard enough just to raise your kid to adulthood in one piece. But raising a girl also requires opening the Hefty bag of issues that every woman I know carries with her. As for me, I open my personal Hefty bag only during secret, private moments of despair. And I can go for weeks pretending it doesn't even exist. But reading this book made me realize what a luxury it is to untangle my issues with femininity just as I have always done: privately and with little risk to others.
Question: My son loves my soft, squishy, huggable body. But what would I do if my daughter developed an eating disorder, after a lifetime of watching me struggle with my weight?
Question: I'm grateful for the amazing amount of time the Big Guy plays with and cares for the Little Guy. But what feelings of weird jealousy might be stirred by Daddy's little princess?
Question: The Little Guy will grow up to be yet another privileged white male in a culture made for men like him. But what would I tell my daughter about her future as a mother and wife, when I myself feel so betrayed by all those rosy feminist promises?
Reading "It's a Girl" will make me a better friend, a better daughter, and someday a better mother-in-law. So thank you to all who contributed. I am humbled, enlightened, and grateful to you for sharing your experience, which is entirely different -- and more complicated in so many ways -- than mothering a son.