The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'll love you forever, but I'll try not to show it quite so much

OK, I'll admit it. I bought the book in large part because it sounded so cute when Joey read it on Friends. Yes, I'm a terrible pop culture addict. But how wrong could I go with a book about a parent who loves a child?

Uh, pretty wrong. I mean, have you read this book? The mother drives over to her adult son's house, climbs into the window and scoops him out of his bed to sing him a lullaby and rock him in her arms. A grown man. In, may I add, really geeky pajamas. The first time I read it to Julia, Paul and I were literally convulsing on the floor with laughter, tears pouring down our cheeks. Julia learned all sorts of new words that night, among them "psychotic" and "certifiable." I don't think she'd ever seen either of us quite so hysterical. It's possible we'd never seen each other any more amused.

After that first reading, I started to giggle every time I so much as looked at the book. I couldn't come near to getting through it with a straight face, to the point that I finally had to hide it because the weird choking noise that came out of my mouth every time I tried to get the words out without laughing hurt my throat and seemed to freak Julia out a bit. So much for celebrity endorsements.

This book's subject is clearly the pinnacle of crazy, over-involved mothers who can not let go of their sons, but her obsession is not all that unheard of. I know plenty of women who fawn all over their adult sons, indulging their every whim and calling them "my baby" and generally treating them like small children instead of grown men. It's a phenomenon, I've noticed, that rarely seems to happen with daughters, only sons, and it's made 100 times worst if a son also happens to be the baby of the family. To say I've always been scornful of such behavior would be rather an understatement. But can I keep up that stance now that I have an adored son of my own?

This weekend, Julia found the book tucked away in a hiding spot that apparently wasn't good enough and brought it to me to read. I giggled again as I sat down to indulge her, promising myself to find a much more permanent hiding spot for the book as soon as she'd gone to sleep. But as I flipped the pages and watched the son grow and the mother try to communicate her love to him, I started to get a little misty eyed. "Maybe this is how it is with a son," I thought. "Maybe I'll be this way with Evan, too. Maybe it's not so awful to call your grown son a baby."

And then I got to the page where the mother drives over to her son's house to cradle him in her arms, and the tender tears that had been in my eyes started rolling down my cheeks as I convulsed in laughter once again. No way. Not me. I'll love my kid from a safe, healthy distance, thank you very much. I'll happily hug him on holidays and at family get togethers, but I won't be scooping him out of his bed to croon him any lullabys. I don't know when he'll outgrow my public displays of affection, but whenever it happens, it's hands off for me. I'll let my kids grow up and move on some day, even if it kills me to do it. And I'm keeping this book to remind me how crazy I'll look if I don't.


At 3:04 PM, Blogger gkgirl said...

i've worked in three different bookstores and have seen many people of different ages and sex moved to tears when they read that story...

i, myself, have read it many times
and have never seen it in the literal
(albeit humorous) way that you have...

thanks for showing me something old in a different light...

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Hee. I'm not going to say a word, mostly because each and every comment that springs to my mind is something that is going to either force you to remove my comment, or ruin this blog's sterling track record as a family blog with no horrible cuss words like some bloggers are always using.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Ha, I admit I've never seen it in quite that light. I've always been Joey-fied by it! But Munsch is so over the top in everything. Don't know if you've ever read his others: Fifty Below Zero and Moira's Birthday - its all about exaggeration baby. I bet Munsch would get a real kick out of your response. As for me, I'll never look at that book the same way again

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Kristy said...

I never knew the "friends" connection.

I happened upon this book awhile ago, and found it to be, hands down, the scariest book I've ever had in my hands. Scary stuff. This book is a litmus test, I believe. You either see it one way, or the other. Kind of like ketchup on eggs. I'm on your side on this one. Nothing sweet about it. NOTHING.


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