Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few days before delivering Sprong, I read Colm Toibin's collection of short stories Mothers and Sons. Toibin is an immaculate observer of human foibles and this comes across every story. How do you judge a selfish mother who ignores her only son's wishes in order for herself to have freedom to live life the way she wanted. Was she a lesser mother?

What about the mother who finds out that her son, a priest, had raped the boys in his seminary? Will she still love that son?

Difficult questions which Toibin unpacks without supplying easy answers.

It's a complicated relationship that has been delved since Oedipus. Some of my favourite books explore this relationship of boy/man with the first woman in his life. DH Lawrence in Sons and Lovers, Lionel Shriver in We Need to Talk about Kevin and Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men. To a lesser extent, The God of Small Things has lovely glimpses of the son-mother relationship. Ammu reaching out to mess Estha’s Elvis puff comes to mind.

Then, there is Lucy Ceccaldi whose brazen brand of mothering (or non-mothering maybe) stands out. She says this about her literary son: "this individual, who alas came from my womb, is a liar, an imposter, a parasite and above all". The question someone like her poses is what happens when mothers and sons become enemies?

Sprong is currently going through an early form of stranger anxiety: he wants his mommy exclusively ie mommy has to run out of the shower/ rush back from the corner 7-11 because of meltdown moments. Everyone is exasperated except me. I am quite aware that after this stage, Sprong will never quite want me this way again. One day, I know that he is going to walk to school with nary a backward glance (later rather sooner hopefully). For now, I am quite happy to smother (pun intended) him any which way he wants.

No comments: