Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Growing Pains

Zev told me he wants to start seeing other girls.

He thinks
it's nice and all, the way I cater to his every whim. The way I
anticipate his needs so that he doesn't even have to verbalize them
(especially since – unless his needs include a ball or a dog – he can't
verbalize them).

But now, my 15-month-old tells me, it's time
we start seeing other people: Him, nice day care provider and her posse
of two-foot playmates. Me (sigh) judging by his penchant for grabbing
my midsection, I'm apparently to start seeing a yoga instructor.

really didn't see this day coming. We've been virtually inseparable
since the day he was born. I'll let Safta or his baby sitter Gretta
watch him for a few hours here or there. And every weekend he gets one
"Daddy Day." But, mostly, he's stuck with me all 14 of his waking hours
every day.

Apparently, that's simply too much mommy.

warned me that this was going to happen, that a kid as social as Zev
was eventually going to need to test the waters of independence and
make friends without Mommy hovering about. And Abbe told me that one
day I was going to need a little break from the unrelenting job of
motherhood, reminding me that as a freelance writer, "You are a working

I didn't quite believe either of them. I love the hard
work, and Zev and I have so much fun together. Wasn't I the one who
nibbled the first giggle out of him a year ago? Wasn't I the one to
slide him into a swing for the first time at 5 months? Who turns up the
Stevie Wonder and dances with him all over his room? Me, that's who.

Zev has recently started to notice other kids, chasing them, giggling
as they touch his face, even kissing his buddy, Aidan. Whenever we go
to a park or to synagogue, Zev darts off in search of adventure, only
occasionally checking over his shoulder to make sure I'm there. As fun
as Mommy is, she's no toddler.

We're in a Mommy and Me class, a
swim class and a music class, all of which Zev adores. But each of
these takes an hour or less. Zev could use more toddler time. 

frankly, I could use a little less. Zev's naps have grown shorter right
as my freelance assignments have grown more abundant. And I experience
this weird phantom-limb feeling whenever I walk outside without a

Still, I quit my job to stay at home with him, so what am I doing signing him up for day care? 

can't shake the question out of my head as I trudge over to Day Care
Lady's place to drop off the deposit. Day Care Lady is wonderful. She's
got good credentials, a calm demeanor; her record is clean and she's
walking distance from my house. But she won't take kids for fewer than
14 hours a week – about seven more than I'd like. And, most
importantly, she's not me. She's very understanding of my
indecisiveness and agrees to let me try it out for a month.

"What happens when he likes it, but you miss him?" she asks. 

"I don't know."

gives her a big smile as we leave and head to the park, where I slip
him into a swing between two 2-year-olds being pushed by their nannies.

used to being the only parent in a park full of nannies, but today I
feel self-conscious about it. Maybe the nannies can sense this.
Unsolicited, they tell me about all the successes they've had with
children in their care, the way the parents had 4-year-olds in diapers
until Nanny came along. The way Nanny eased bottles out of
rotten-toothed mouths and coaxed bed-wetters into waking up dry.

of the nannies starts meowing at her charge, inspiring giggles from the
child and an astonished look from Zev. Zev's heard Hubby and me meow at
him before, but something about Nanny's meow captures him differently. 

"Mmm," he starts tentatively. "Meow."

"Oh!" Nanny says, "He knows how to meow."

Well, he does now.

The world is full of people who aren't me. People who Zev will meet and learn from. 

As hard as it may be, I know I have to let go a bit and let him.

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