When my older kids were born there was still a very strong sentiment in this country about not letting boys be too sensitive, though it was in the process of changing. Ronald Reagan was in the White House, John Wayne had only recently died, and the macho mentality still pervaded much of American culture.
But the baby I brought home wasn’t a big strong man–just a little boy who needed all the love and care I could give him. And I did, with my first and, as much as possible, with all of his brothers too.
I was a doctoral student when my oldest was born but he came during the summer so we had five weeks to spend together before I had to return to teaching and classes. Once I learned how to hold him, and got over my initial fear of breaking him, I held him often. We sat on the couch and he nursed while I watched TV. While in college I had begun watching the soap opera, All My Children, off and on. Holding and feeding my son gave me a chance to catch up on my favorite characters. But we had a used TV without a remote and Ahmad didn’t want me to put him down even after he had fallen asleep. So I also sat there with him and watched One Life to Live. And General Hospital. I can’t remember what show came after that–maybe my husband had come home and relieved me by then–but I got my fill of the soaps when he was little. (I wasn’t the only one. My sister was at home watching General Hospital with her little one too. But I’ll save that story for later.)
Eventually I did have to go back to classes and teaching but I still spent every minute I could with my little guy. Sometimes I took him to class with me. That worked well when he was little. Later, though, he wanted to move and make noise so I had to leave him at home. My husband and I juggled our schedules so that one of us was always with him.
We did co-sleeping too. My husband suggested it and at first I was opposed. It sounded dangerous and (this is going to sound funny) “unnatural.” But when you’re breastfeeding and your little guy wants to nurse at 2 a.m., co-sleeping is definitely the way to go.
One more thing. We never let him cry. We just couldn’t. The poor little guy. We comforted him. We held him. In those days some people would have said we spoiled him. But I still believe that a child, and especially a baby, can never get too much love.
My oldest son is definitely not a mama’s boy. None of them are. That’s actually something I worked to avoid, though I can understand the temptation now that they are grown and going in different directions. Loving our sons, holding them close, being with them and letting them know we’ll always care, those things can’t make our sons “mama’s boys.”
So what do our sons need in order to grow up to be responsible young men? That’s the topic of my next post, insha Allah.