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.
At a baby shower my friend Stefanie threw for me on a recent Sunday, our friend Karen brought her two young boys. Her older child, who just finished his second month in kindergarten, busied himself during the brunch with coloring, and then, to my surprise, a math game his mom and dad wrote out for him on a pad of paper. Who knew kindergarteners could add and subtract in the double digits? That math could be fun? (Here I was, still thinking that boys needed constant physical stimulation, and that only girls could properly entertain themselves with pen and paper.)
Then the other day I took my dog for our usual walk through Riverside Park. I ran into a friendly woman I'd spoken to a few times before, and her dog Kulfi (named after the Indian ice cream). This particular day, she and Kulfi were accompanied by her eight-year-old son. We let our dogs off leash (furtively checking for the park authorities as the dogs, with unabashed delight and freedom, ran in circles chasing each other) and soon the boy took charge. "Salem," he called to my dog, tossing a stick for her, engaging both dogs in a good game of tag. Cuteness! My pulse quickened, like it used to when I met a boy who was not only hot, but interesting and talented, too. I imagined my son playing fetch with Salem on a similarly crisp fall day years from now. I hoped he would be as fun-loving and gentle as the boy in the park.
And then I thought about my favorite male specimen, my husband Neil. If I write too much here I'll embarrass him, but let me say I can't imagine a more dedicated Daddy-to-be, or a more supportive and emotionally engaged husband. Neil had to go out of town for a couple of days recently, and he folded up my laundry and stocked me up with food to last a week. He even pre-sliced me a Tupperware full of pineapples! And when I came down with a bug the other day and projectile vomited the dinner he'd just made all over the bathroom floor, he cleaned up after me before I'd even stepped out of the shower. (That's true love.)
The more I gather together my layette of skull-themed clothing, and tune into all the good and great boys and men in my midst, the more I wonder why I was so fixated on having a girl in the first place. While most of my deepest friendships have been (and remain) with women, I managed to discount the relationship more important to me than any other -- the one with my very best friend Neil. Who else can be equally enthusiastic about an all-day Sunday "L Word" marathon, a weekly Friday night yoga class, and an hour-long subway ride to Brooklyn for our favorite pizza? Who else can provide simultaneous sociological perspective and pineapple slicing services?
Between thinking about my friend's son adding and subtracting while taking bites of his croque-monsieur, the boy in the park playing sweetly with the dogs, and how great Neil has been throughout these years of wanting to become parents, I'm starting to open my mind to what a boy (and a man) can be. So far my son in the making has been (involuntarily) exploring his sensitive side by accompanying me maternity clothes shopping, practicing yoga, going on countless walks, watching movies, and keeping me company while I'm working. I'm hoping he'll willingly do the same over the next several years. I already have my eye on a parent and baby yoga class, and a weekly Rattle & Reel film screening for moms and babies at an arty movie theater on the Lower East Side.
Today I am officially 36 weeks pregnant and feeling every day of it. Getting up out of bed to pee has become a gravity-defying chore. My feet don't fit into anything but sneakers or my ratty old Ugg boots. I need to sleep off a movie and dinner out, the next morning. I had a sonogram the other day and my boy is estimated to weigh in at nearly 6 pounds. There's a real little person there in my womb. After all these years of waiting, we are almost there. My hospital bag is just about packed, and next weekend we move from our Manhattan sublet to a larger one in Brooklyn, where we can spread out and set up our ever accumulating stock of baby supplies. As much fun as it's been to carry him around these last months, I can't wait for a more formal introduction. Mama's Boy, here we go.