Please Don’t Grow


The first time I met my son I immediately fell in love.

Well, not immediately, if truth be told. Immediately I thought – “Who’s that?” after they laid his slippery body on my stomach and his face shot up to within inches of mine – and we looked at each other with mutual fear and surprise.

But later, as the pain became something I would gladly endure again and again to receive such an amazing reward (mostly because it was now a memory), I gazed on his sleeping form on the eve of our first night together and thought I’d never loved anyone so shamelessly and completely.

And I could tell he was an old soul – not just because he came with male-pattern baldness and a comb-over.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t want TIME to hurry up and get somewhere else.

All I wanted was to hold him and love him and have him in my arms. I wanted TIME to stop so he wouldn’t grow up and leave.

Other mothers have said in consolation that TIME brings new joys with children and that it just keeps getting better. Two months into Kaleb’s life (10 weeks and three days) – I believe them – but am happy to just enjoy what I have. Although….I have to admit I am really enjoying the awareness that TIME is bringing into my son’s life.

Last week, we were hanging out in Kaleb’s room, my iPod playing in the background, me putting away his laundry – him lounging on his changing pad. Suddenly, I heard coos and aahhs join the chorus to Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ Yeah! I yelled and grabbed him up to dance with me. And we rocked out together.

For a few weeks now I’ve had a couple cute, stuffed animals hanging off the handrail atop Kaleb’s car seat. Mostly, they were for me. They looked adorable but he was completely unaware of them. A handful of days ago, he started engaging the black and white cow and the pink teething pig in an emphatic conversation. I’m pretty sure he’s convinced them to see things his way.

And on occasion, my soothing voice actually cuts through his senseless fussiness. And by fussiness I mean: brain shattering, throat ripping, heart piercing wails for which I’ve been given no translation guide. (That part hasn’t been as much fun). But kisses will sometimes now turn his heartaches into smiles. It’s the best.

Right now he’s mine. Or ours. Our little guy. And my worry is: when he gets older, I have to give him up. And of course I do. That’s my job: to raise him to be a self-sufficient adult and a kind and happy man. But that also means I’ll need to let him go. And I am already dreading this.

I’m already seeing it happen with my 10 year old step-son, Kyle and his father, my husband Howard. Just a couple short months ago, Kyle would turn his head away in disgust when he’d witness people kissing on television. “Ewwwwww,” he’d plead if it was us showing the affection.

But last Wednesday, he graduated from Elementary School. He’ll be attending Lindero Middle School next year. And before they sent them off, they gave them a 5th grade graduation dance. And he asked a girl to be his date. A girl….with no ewwws in the vicinity.

Howard suggested Kyle ask her if she’d like for them to pick her up beforehand. And Kyle almost immediately picked up the phone to call and ask her! With no hesitation. Wow. I was really impressed with his temerity.

Before talking to him, she made sure when she answered his call, that it was really him by quizzing him about things only he’d know (like his last name). Apparently, some not as mature 5th graders had been plaguing her with crank calls pretending to be him. After ascertaining that it was indeed her date, she informed him that she planned on going with her friends and she’d just meet him there.

Then Howard suggested he bring her flowers. “OK,” he said and went across the street to a vacant neighbor’s house in search of the perfect rose to clip off their bushes. Just like that. Again, I didn’t remember being so fearless with the opposite sex when I was his age…..or even when I was 30.

He went to the dance and we got to peek in and see him jumping up and down with the girl and their friends and later we heard there was a slow song that he danced to with his date. Again, wow. I couldn’t believe this was the same boy I had met four years ago, age 6!, now a budding pre-teen.

I am happy for Kyle because he seems more relaxed in his new awareness. But I am watching my husband’s pain as he grapples with the reality that next year they won’t be walking to school together every morning – as they have done since Kyle entered Kindergarden.

And now I understand.

Most Photos are provided by our photographer friend, Suzy Shearer (that’s why I’m in them). Thanks Suzy! (shearergs@aol.com for more info)

It Takes a Village

Always I hear this, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Well, I didn’t have a village. My family immigrated to this country when I was almost 5 and it was me, my pregnant mom and dad (later my brother, 5 1/2 years my junior, came on the scene). My dad’s brother also moved here with his wife and daughter. But we didn’t really hang out with them too often because they ended up moving to the valley and we moved to Santa Monica. So, really, it was just the four of us in this really big land called America.

But on Mother’s Day 2008 – my first official, just had a baby Mother’s Day – we had a village at attendance around our dinner table. The boys, with Auntie Mara and Cousin Melinda, made us lunch. The Moms sat around and ate and laughed and admired the newest member of the Nehdar clan. The Moms included three generations of family. Kaleb has a great-grandmother. I didn’t even have a grandmother (in this country). Or a grandfather (ever – long story). Kaleb has a whole family tree that more resembles a forest.

He is a lucky guy.

I always envisioned myself marrying a man with many roots sprouting from his lineage. I married a man who is related to half of Los Angeles. And they hang close together.

And now that I’ve had Kaleb, I’m part of that history.

I have been admitted to the sacred mom’s club. This is a little like when you’re traveling in a foreign country and you see someone that you recognize originates from yours – suddenly you are bonded and feel like you’ve been reunited with someone that gets “it”. This is the mom’s club that I know belong to and this is how I felt that day sitting around the table sharing a meal and a world with these women for whom I had suddenly found a whole new dimension to appreciate.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! (click on the slideshow pictures to see an enlarged view of our day)

Binky and Bottles.

Kaleb still lives in the Valley of Firsts.

Everyday (almost) it seems he is experiencing something within his world for the first time. I doubt he’s as aware of the implications of this as much as we are. I doubt he cares – when he bobs his head up and smiles at us – but we are overjoyed, ecstatic with glee. “Did you see that?” We point at his toothless grin, “He loves me!” Further proof of his genius.

Everyday it seems he is becoming more cognizant of his surroundings. He makes eye contact and holds his gaze evenly until his attention becomes focused elsewhere.

He is three weeks and five days old now. Oh, they grow up so fast!

I had certain plans for how I was going to raise our son – at least in the beginning: Breastfeeding, cloth diapers, no pacifiers, lots of hugs and kisses.

Even though I had planned on breasfeeding, I bought a pump so I could express milk and have other people join in the feeding fun. Well, when the recommended three week milestone to start to introduce the bottle came, I discovered, to my dismay, he didn’t like the bottle.

He cried and threw distress at me with his blotchy, red, contorted face, that, really, he wasn’t very interested in this plastic nipple thing and would much rather prefer the real thing. OK. No problem. I am patient and I could work on it with time.

So, he fed on my tit. Relentlessly.

I complained to Kaleb’s doctor about my sore (and now damaged) nipples and he told me to give him a pacifier in between what should have been the time between feedings. He should have been eating every two hours but at times, he would give me a bathroom break (maybe) and ask for more. Sometimes for hours at at time. In the middle of the night. I was hallucinating patterns on my baby’s face. That didn’t seem good.

At this point, I felt I had no choice. The doctor said he wasn’t really eating for all those hours and my boobs really needed the break.

So, with a cocktail of feelings mixed with guilt, shame and hope, I gave him a pacifier. And he hated it. Secretly, I felt a little relief. My boy was above that. He didn’t need any false stimulation to address a burgeoning oral fixation. I didn’t need to hang that on him.

But the bottle, I was determined to work on. I had a plan. Maybe if I started with the boob and then switched over to the bottle, he might not notice.

It worked.

Yay! My boy would eat with other people. Yay! I could go and do things for more than 1/2 an hour outside the home and know my son would not starve or be uncomfortable!

Then he started to cry. And I thought to myself: maybe now that he took the rubber nipple, he might be coaxed to take the pacifier too. I tried. And again, it worked.

I put him in his stroller and we walked into the park where I treaded on a path of guilt. How could I encourage such false dependence, based solely on my comfort? How could I sell out my own son, so quickly, because I needed a break?

This was the day that he first ate from the bottle and he first took a pacifier.

I wasn’t so sure I was happy with either.