Mama’s Boy Archives
- Allison Landa
My M.B. has become a little boy. He strings words together into sentences, sings songs, makes jokes (toddler humor? Who knew?), dances, and even holds me with his hands cupping my face, or else his arms wrapped around my legs. Even with his new mornings of child-care at the university, we are together most of the time. He is my companion, my charge, my yoga, he is my work and my job, my joy. He is so much a part of me, and my daily life, that all of a sudden writing about him seems unmanageable. How does one write about his fingers, eyes, or legs? How can I explain how much this child means to me?
I wasn’t sending my not yet two-year-old Mama’s Boy off to Siberia or boarding school, but to a morning daycare program at the university where Neil and I teach. Logically, I knew there was no reason to worry. The daycare program here is a gem — the kind of place where they make their own Play-Doh, where each child brings in a fruit to share with classmates for snack time, and where several languages are spoken as university kids tend to come from all over the world. There are wooden toys and an outdoor play area, and two kind and wise no-nonsense teachers who have been heading this particular program for two decades. But emotionally, I just didn’t know if my M.B. was ready to head off into the world without me.
M.B. is a breast man. There’s no two ways about it. The boy loves his Mama — that would be me — and he loves his mama’s milk. My milky secret is that I love nursing, too. And, even though M.B. is pushing 16 months, I’m not ready to stop.
In my (relatively) energized second trimester, in between the morning sickness, exhaustion and headaches of the first trimester, and the aches and pains, exhaustion and headaches of the third, I wrote the opening chapters and proposal for a book (part memoir, part lifestyle guide) about yoga philosophy and healthy eating. My hope was to share what I’d come to learn from The Yoga Sutras — an ancient yoga text — about how to lead a healthier, happier life.
Because M.B. was years in the making, the fleeting nature of his infancy is like a soft hum in the back of my mind. Will this be my one and only time with a baby? Is each new milestone a goodbye? I can’t help but feel nostalgic for every day that passes, as exhausting as it may be. “Remember this moment, this touch, this feeling,” the hum reminds me when I am too tired to breast-feed or to handle another two a.m. wake-up. I carry a camera in our diaper bag (though I’ve yet to do more than admire the downloaded photos on my computer) and I try to remember to BE with my son for a few minutes every day and to not just DO with him (inspired by the New Age Eckhart Tolle book I paged through one rainy morning in Brooklyn). Still, when I put away the clothes my son has outgrown, sorting them for the donation pile, the give-away-to-friends pile, the maybe-who-knows-if-we’ll-have-another pile, I’m already wistful for these early months.
We’re on the children’s train riding through the forest in Stanley Park, a massive piece of public land in the middle of Vancouver, British Columbia. My Mama’s Boy, at three months, is the youngest one on board. While the older children on the train — toddlers and school-age girls and boys — take in the lush surroundings and bask in the cool damp air, my son cries, nurses, and naps. But Neil and I are in heaven. This is the second-last day of our ten-day visit to Vancouver, and we’ve made a decision. We’re moving from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the United States to Canada, from urban life to a different kind of urban life, one where nature will (we hope) be front and center.
Immediately after being pulled from my belly, my son had been whisked off to the NICU as a precaution for testing and antibiotics. Upstairs in the maternity wing I had begged my night nurse to wheel me to the NICU, and she told me to sleep for a few hours, promising that we would go first thing in the morning. She kept her word — a Christmas gift to me and my baby. If I couldn’t have the birth I wanted (unmedicated, vaginal, empowering), I was determined to get a good start to breastfeeding and bonding. Mostly, I just wanted, after all these years, to hold my baby and say hello.
It’s been three weeks. The days and nights are a blur as he reaches for me, again and again. We spend so much time in bed together, tummy to tummy, chest to chest, that on most days I don’t bother changing out of my pajamas. When I try to steal a few minutes to myself for the most basic upkeep — a shower, something to eat, an email session, some sleep — he cries out for me.
It’s like I’m a teenager again. Cute boys are everywhere, and I can’t stop checking them out. On the subway, in the street, in the park. Instead of taking drags on cigarettes and drinking too much cheap beer like the boys I lusted after in high school and college (and too many years afterwards), these boys indulge in chocolate chip cookies and the occasional parent-approved video game. And this time I’m seeing the boys for what they are — much more than just eye candy.
The other day I gave in and bought something blue for my mama’s boy
in the making — a winter baby bunting that my husband Neil said
looked like the color of an icicle. For years, ever since I began
trying to have a child, my mommy-fashion eye focused on little girls
in striped Pippi Longstocking tights worn with smock dresses and t-
shirts and turtlenecks all in mismatched colors — bright purples and
reds and oranges and hot pinks. When I (rarely) considered baby boy
clothes, it was just to note that I would never be the kind of
mother to succumb to gender stereotyping in dressing my child.
The other day, on the way uptown on a packed subway car, I positioned myself next to a set of seats labeled “priority seating” for the disabled. I was hoping my seven-month pregnant belly would qualify me for a seat on the hot, not-yet-fall-like, September day. Women of all ages and ethnicities have generously offered me their seats in the last few weeks, but with men, it seems, you never can tell who’ll be empathetic toward a pregnant lady with swollen ankles.