Thursday, February 21, 2008

Babes in Bookland

My friend Samantha had a baby ten days ago. As she was previously a MOOS like me (mother of only sons), when she discovered it was a girl some months back she was thrilled. The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise (typical of the bewildered male, her dear husband--a college professor-- asked, “How did that happen?”) but with pink blankets and hair bows in the offing, it has seemed like forever before Maddie arrived.

I’m such a baby lover. I’m the one peeking into all the strollers as they pass. I was at the pediatrician with Son 2 last week and was elated to see a brand new baby and a four-month-old. Their “crying” is so quiet! When I’m with a friend with a little one, I’m the person letting her coffee go cold or lunch untouched so I can hold the infant while Mom gets a break. Don’t know where I get my deep connection to babies from, but it’s been there since I babysat my first infant at 13 and only intensified when I spent all my extra money on clothes for my first niece when I was in my early twenties (okay, it was combined with a shopping thing, but who doesn’t love teensy clothes?).

We have video footage of me falling in love with Son 1 just hours after he was born. Okay, I admit, we don’t have the same footage for Son 2 (why does that happen? we don’t have nearly as much footage or photos of him) but I remember vividly telling him to stay 6 days old forever. Bad boy, he did not.

But confession time, when it comes to romance novels, I don’t feel the baby love. In the past, I’ve written some stories with babies/little kids complicating matters, but my creativity doesn’t flow that way these days. Am I hankering for the simple life? For the past when I could scoot off not having to worry about dragging a diaper bag or calculating how many hours until car pool? The fact is, though, I haven’t carried diapers and wipes in quite some time, so… Oh, man, wait a minute. I know where to place the blame.

On Jon & Kate Plus 8. You know it, right? The reality show on TLC and Discovery Health starring the family comprised of Mom, Dad, a pair of twins, and a set of sextuplets. The kids are all under about the age of seven. Imagine! That’s my problem too. I imagine myself as part of that family, and after thinking of eight carseats and eight lunches and the eight million gazillion hours of “homework help” in the future, I can’t imagine ever feeling amorous around a little kid again.

But I want to break the cycle! Help me! Do you have a favorite romance with a child in the mix? I want to feel the baby love again.


AuthorM said...

That family actually lives pretty close to me and are something of a phenomenon around here... LOL!

I don't have a favorite romance with a baby in it, but I do think I'd like to read a realistic romance where the hero/heroine have kids and fall in love around them. :)

Because I'd totally believe they were making an effort if they had to do it around children!


Betina Krahn said...

I love kids (not necessarily babies) in romances: they humanize characters and are often the truth-speakers in the piece. Babies, however, occupy a different space-- they have needs. A lot of needs. And they take time. O recall reading one or two "baby" books earlier where I as a reader got annoyed that the kid kept interrupting the romance. Then I read one with a two-year-old where the kid was basically a prop and I kept wondering where the kid was and if he was all right. (Too much mom in me, I guess.) Which leads me to think. I really love kids. But when I'm reading romance I don't want them hijacking the snog-time. And Heaven knows, kids have a way of interrupting. . . if you know what I mean.

On the other hand, if kids are there and bringing the couple closer. . . hmmm. . . or bringing them together in the first place and integral to the story. . . then it needs to be a strong love story to withstand the distractions of "cute baby."

Interestingly. . . there are NO BLAZE "baby" books. They're basically banned from Blaze. Not much of a mystery there!

Michele Hauf said...

Watching the Jon and Kate show makes me appreciate only having two kids. I'm completely opposite you, Christie. I'm not much for other people's kids. But I have been jonesing for a grandchild lately.

I don't have any favorite romance books with babies in them, but CHristopher Moore did a hilarious story about the grim reaper as a baby titled A DIRTY JOB. The precious little baby would point at people, say "Kitty" and kill 'em. Good fun stuff. :-)

lois greiman said...

I'm with you, Christy. Looooooooooove babies, but don't really need them in my books.

So, is the baby craze over with in romance novels?

Keri Ford said...

now that you've got me thinking about it, I can't remember right off of any babies in any stories I read (except for at the end with HEA and all that). I've got some with kids, but no infants.

I'm a little thankful for it, too. I love my boy to death, but when he's with daddy and I get some to read, I dont' want it to be about diapers and cleaning food off the floor.

Playground Monitor said...

Some of the category lines let you make a baby, but not have one as a character. ;-) I happen to like both parts -- the baby-making and kids as characters. As Betina said, they humanize the hero and heroine and can serve good purpose when used appropriately. I remember an old Desire by Kristi Gold where a man's little girl and his mother schemed together to get him "His E-Mail Order Wife." And Leanne Banks had a single title, "When She's Bad" where the heroine was a confirmed bachelorette and man-killer and had a baby left on her doorstep. The baby was the catalyst between her and the hunky neighbor who'd gotten under her skin.

I agree that in real life kids can suck all the romance right outta life. But we're talking about fiction. So I expect it to be more like a fantasy life than the real deal with a squalling baby, dirty diapers, spit-up on your shoulder and dust bunnies two inches deep. Though there is something kind of alluring about a big ole handsome,muscular man with spit-up on his dress shirt.

Marilyn - who is a MOOS but has a granddaughter she loves buying pink clothes for

Christie Ridgway said...

M: When I was looking for a photo of the Jon and Kate family I found out there's a lot of controversy out there about Kate's "OCD" and about how she yells at her dh. It really does seem true to life when you watch them.

Betina: No Blaze babies?!

Christie Ridgway said...

Keri: I was thinking of you when I wrote this post and hoping you where having fun with your little guy.

Marilyn: I know I have that Leanne Banks book in my TBR. I'm going to have to dig it out. And I love Kristi Gold's books. She's a great author (and fun person as well).

Helen Brenna said...

Superromances are big into babies and kids. In fact, most of the stories have some family type element. They're actually doing all baby themed books in March.

I don't write babies and personally don't think they add to the romance much, but it depends on the plot.

Secret baby stories are huge in Super. That opens the door for lots of angsty stuff. My 2nd book Dad for Life had a secret baby plot, although the child in the story is 6 and gets kidnapped. Can't interrupt when you're kidnapped, right?

I'm with Michele, I guess. Don't get all melty with the average baby, but would love to be a grammy. I can wait a few years though!!!

Keri Ford said...

Christie, my boy is about 10 ½ months now. I’m planning his first birthday party!It’s been a fabulous year. Everyday he makes me laugh and at least once a day he makes me want to pull my hair out :O)

This morning he was at my feet and I smelled something. I said, “Brady, did you make a stinky?”
He looked at me, totally serious, and said (wrote as pronounced), “Stain-key.”

Yesterday he learned how to look under a door. I see mirrors attached to his shoes in the future!

Typing this comment up reminded me of an article I read yesterday on genetics and character and enviornment. Parents who adopted said after having their baby for a few weeks started noticing he was picking up on his adoptive parents physical habits. That would add an interesting scene when the heroine's one year picked up something like the hero's annoying eyebrow raise.

Christie Ridgway said...

Brady is at such a cute age, Keri. I love it. If I was near to you I would so want to babysit to get my cutie fix.

Interesting about the physical habits of adoptive parents rubbing off on their offspring. I can see this. I've had things like that rub off on me from roommates! I'm writing a trilogy right now about sisters who are donor siblings and didn't meet each other until they're adults. They have some little habits that are all similar...I got this from reading up on separated sibling and twin studies. Some of those little things we do must come down through our DNA too!

Cindy Gerard said...

I think you've all covered the main issue: it depends on the plot. Believe it or not, I have a child in my current WIP - a RS adventure. she doesn't play a big role but it's a pivotal role and my hero's love for her (not his child) is a huge driving point for him. Hadn't planned it but it happened anyway :o)

Anonymous said...

Susan Elizabeth Phillips includes a believable baby as well as a credible teenager in First Lady, which also has some pretty steamy love scenes.

Returning to Lurkdom

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, anonymous, that was an awesome SEP book. Loved the teenager in First Lady. So real!

Bridget Locke said...

John & Kate plus 8 bugs me because the mom is an obnoxious control freak. :(

As for kids in books...I liked Simon in NR's Key trilogy. He seemed like a typical boy.

I'm not a huge fan of kids period, but babies love me. Go figure. :D

flchen1 said...

I haven't ever seen John and Kate--not sure whether I'd enjoy it or not! I've got enough kid-induced madness in my life without watching how other people deal with that times 8!

I do enjoy some romances with kids/babies in them, but I think I prefer the older ones, who add something to the mix a bit. A personal peeve of mine is actually the secret baby plot, which I usually hate because it generally involves deception that I often find so horribly painful that I prefer not to continue reading... but of course, it really depends on the story.

I did really enjoy Debbie Macomber's Morning Comes Softly, where the hero and heroine come together for the sake of his newly orphaned niece and nephew (they are older children)... I'll post again if I remember some others I particularly enjoyed!