Thursday, May 11, 2006

It's a Girl Blog Book Tour

I'm reading: It's a Girl Blog Book TourTweet this!

Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Laura Friedlander. Laura is a woman of many talents. She's an award-winning photographer, a talented writer, a good friend, and she bakes the best apple pie. Most importantly for today's purposes, she is the mother of three girls. Below are her thoughts on It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters.

“It’s a girl” were the first words I heard after the doctor pulled my first daughter out of my uterus via Cesarean. “It’s a girl?” I sluggishly stated thinking for sure I was having a boy. It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters is the name of a fine collection of essays edited by Andrea J. Buchanan. This book has 30 essays about various issues related to mothering a girl. The essays are filled with open and honest words about the mothers’ trials and tribulations, joys and celebrations of knowing themselves as mothers and the personalities of their daughters.

The paperback book is a perfect 5 x 7 size making it easy to carry with anywhere. I read an essay while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, another one while sitting on the toilet, and many others just before dozing off to sleep after an exhausting day of mothering girls.

Naturally, from 30 essays I had my favorites. Trying to figure out if there was a theme amongst these favorites, I realized that as a middle-aged suburban mother I was attracted to the more “edgy” pieces. I was drawn to the essays that dealt more with the ambivalence of raising daughters in this modern world. The essays that focused less on being a “feminist” mother and more on the challenges and sacrifice of just being a mother. Carolyn Alessio’s essay “Her Perfect Woman” begins: “A few days after I gave birth to my daughter, I realized my life’s true calling: to be a 1950s father and husband.” What crazed mother doesn’t fantasize about having all the fun of parenthood without any of the responsibility?

I remember my sister-in-law once saying how every marriage is like a different country. Well, I think this statement could also be said for every mother-daughter dyad. We all bring into our relationships history and experience and a filter of how we view the world. This is then communicated down to our daughter and passed on, some of it spit out, some of the information absorbed. In Jennifer Margulis’s essay “Spilled Wine” the mother-writer comes to terms with her feelings of mothering a challenging child: “I still worried that my girls might be having an imperfect childhood with an imperfect mother to care for them, but I realized their experience would not be an exact replay of my own. Athena had taught me that she was her own person and that I needed to love her on her own terms.”

I find it rewarding to read about other mothers’ experiences, some of them seeming to mimic my own, while others are totally different “countries,” yet still I am fascinated. The ease of reading this collection is that depending on your mood you can choose your story. Just as intriguing to me as the essays were I also found myself reading every writers’ bio, wondering about their lives. Andrea Buchanan also edited a companion book It’s a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons. Since I am the mother of three girls and no boys I am not sure if I would find myself reading this book. But I would bet that it would be a stimulating read for mothers of sons.

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