Our dear friend Mace (Ziggy's name for her) hipped us to our most recent favorite book, Big Momma Makes the World, by Phyllis Root, with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury, whose Tom & Pippo books have been well loved in our home.
We read Big Momma anywhere between three and six times a day, whenever Ziggy cries out, "Baby!" (his name for the book, despite his Daddy saying to me this very morning, "The Baby's not even really all that a much a player...?") and commands, "Read!" as he did recently to a special family friend and supper guest. Both reverends, the reader and his wife, have a teenager and therefore hadn't yet come across this book, published well after their own boy held them joyfully hostage to towers of read-alouds.
A creation myth to appeal even to the secular humanists among us, Big Momma Makes the World is warm, folksy, spiritual without being preachy and sings from every page. It can't hurt Ziggy's love of the story that his own Mama Booty bears a strong resemblence to Oxenbury's images, and I love that-- it helps me celebrate my own roundness. My Ziggy, a baby not unlike Big Momma's, settles into the crook of his father's neck or twining round my bosom to hear it again, telling us, "Comfy."
I've been so tickled by my son's gentleness, his sensitivity and passion: he's a hugger like no baby hugger anyone knows. He REALLY hugs. Tight. He kisses. Hard. He lives with such gusto, laughing and cutting up with pure joy, and is in possession of a tenderness that melts me. Just a few days ago, while visiting Diggy, I stood in her kitchen, secretly watching my boy love on a doll that belonged to my sister when were small girls. He held her, put her thumb in her mouth, rocked her, kissed her.
I want to tell everyone I care about to read Big Momma to their children. To their lovers. To their workmates. To the folks with whom they knit or read or used to fight or attend church. To the people running for office in their districts. I found this wonderful interview with Ms. Root in which she expresses, "What if people came and threw things at my house because I had portrayed God as a single mother?" Upon reading that, I wept and laughed both, and want Ms. Root to know that Ziggy and his own Mama Booty will throw things at her house like sunrise muffins and Gee's Bend postage stamps (aren't they the best?) and choice apples, succulent mangos and fuzzy mittens, to show her how much we love her story.
If God isn't a single mother as much as God is anyone and everything else, I'm no believer.