Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Baby

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The Israeli and I have been going out for five months now. If you look at our relationship developmentally, we're still in the baby stage. We're barely sitting up; we're just beginning to trust. But there's something about the way we look into each other's eyes now, and the way we touch each other.

Is Yossi my future partner? Is he the man who'll come to bed with me for the rest of my life? It's too early to tell. So far, he seems to be a good balance to my sensitive, moody side. He doesn't carry around a lot of heavy baggage or any debts. He's very close to his eighty-one-year-old mom, a Holocaust survivor, who lives on a kibbutz in Israel.

When his friend, Dianna, who set us up, sends me an email, it dissolves me:

Yossi is so excited about you! This is the first time I've heard him this enthusiastic about a relationship. (Mind you, it's in his typical tempered style.) He's happier than I've ever seen.

Good thing. There's quite a bit of happiness on this end, too.

When Yossi rings our doorbell, Mae flies down the stairs and right into his arms. We go on a walk around the marina, the three of us, with Mae perched atop his shoulders. Before bed, he swings her in the kitchen in big circles. Every night, he wraps his arm around me at night, all night, and he tucks my feet in between his calves to keep them warm.

Yossi meets everyone in my family: my mom and stepdad, my dad, my sister. They all like him.

"He's very smart," my dad says.

I can say undeniably, however, that not everything with Yossi is perfect. He wants to have a baby. ASAP. I don't. At least not right now.

While he's tough, he's also full of estrogen. I've never heard a man long for a baby like this before. He wants his baby now. Yesterday, if possible.

I'm freaking out.

"What's the hurry?" I say. "I'm only 33. Can't I wait and see if you're daddy-material first?"

"I'm forty-four," he says. "I'm old."

"But you're a man," I say. "Your clock isn't ticking."

"It is," he says.

This is the Israeli in him, unforgiving and obstinate. The Baby is his deal-breaker, and there's no wiggle room here.

"Stop rushing me," I tell him.

What am I? A walking uterus?

The thought of having another child terrifies me. Maybe because I've never done it with a partner before. Maybe because I'm just beginning to discover who I really am and I don't want to give that up.

I like the fact that everything is on the table. No secrets. But every time we see each other -- for coffee at Peet's, or a burrito with Mae -- we talk about The Baby. I like the fact that everything is on the table. No secrets.

The next time I see him, I press onto other issues: "Would you consider adopting Mae?"

"Yes," he says.

Well, that's good, but when I plan an overnight for Mae at a friend's house so that Yossi and I can go on a grown-up date, we are bickering about The Baby.

"It sounds like we need to break up," I say.

"It does," he says.

"I'm sad," I say.

"I'm sad, too," he says.

I call my single mom friends, Siobhan and Arden, and cry on the phone. Both of them have already given him the thumbs-up. Both thumbs.

"He adores you," Arden says.

The ever-observant Siobhan claims this can't be the end.

"More will be revealed," she tells me.

My mom calls, too. "You're making a mistake," she tells me. "He's a gem."

I know.

It's true. We talk about what a rock-solid responsible guy he is.

"And he's crazy about you and Mae!" my mom adds. "Just have the baby."

"Mom!" I say, red in the face with anger. "Don't tell me what to do!"

Then his friend, Dianna (oh, the nerve of her!) sends me another email:

Rachel,

I'm so sad to hear the news about you and Yossi. I heard there were "negotiations" going on, but assumed compromises would be made and the relationship would get stronger, not end!

Oh, this is just not right! You both care for each other so much, and are so good for each other.

In the meantime, Yossi and I keep hanging out. We like each other. We like being in each other's presence. He invites me to a friend's party downtown. I ask his Israeli buddies at the wine table, "You know that we broke up, right?"

They nod their heads, looking confused. That's because we don't look like a couple who've just broken up. We laugh. We stand close to each other, talking. We look into each other's eyes with longing.

Dianna invites us to San Francisco for dinner. Their mutual friend Heidi will be there. She's training to be a doula, and I met her at the recent party; we hit it off. Of course, Mae is invited, too.

Dianna is six-months pregnant with their first child. Nothing but babies all around. We sit at their dining room table eating chicken and potatoes. Mae sits in Yossi's lap. He rubs the small of her back.

"Okay, what's going on here?" Dianna asks.

"She dumped me," Yossi says.

"That's your version," I say.

"But doesn't it make you feel better?" he asks, smiling at me.

"No."

"Look," Dianna says. "I don't get it. You two are perfect for each other."

"Perfect," Heidi agrees from across the table.

"But the baby," I say.

She looked at Yossi. "Can you let the baby go for a couple of years?"

He nods his head.

"See how easy that was?" Dianna says to me. "He can compromise!"

"But -- " I say, thinking, Why wasn't he this easy with me?

Maybe he is tough around the edges.

"Just look at you!" Dianna says. "You belong together! You can't break up."

"We can't?" I say.

"No, you can't," says Heidi. "No more baby talk. Just hang out. Have fun. Don't bring the baby up again for at least two months, okay?"

"Okay," Yossi says.

"Okay," I say.

And just like that, we're back together.


Rachel Sarah lives and writes in the Bay Area. Her first book, Single Mom Seeking: Play Dates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World (Avalon/Seal Press) was published in 2007. She is also the author of the Literary Mama column, Single Mom Seeking. Rachel has written for Family Circle, Parenting, Tango, Bay Area Parent, Ms., Hip Mama, and American Baby. A journalist for the past decade, Rachel is also the single mom columnist for LifetimeTV.com. For more information, please contact Rachel through her website.


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