Wednesday, October 26, 2011
No One Told Me This!
This is the first. That is a blog post for a 'blog' that started awhile ago, at least in my head. It was right about the time my wife called me upstairs a few years back and said "I have something to tell you…" and informed me the puppy vs. baby debate was officially over. From then on it's been a strange, incredible, and unintentionally comedic hike. One I'm sure I wasn't the only one unprepared for. Right? Sure, I read the books. I went to the classes. I asked questions. I observed and reacted to the wife's changing body, moods, and overall decision making that swung, creaked, and threatened to snap like a county fair amusement ride. But no one tells you the delivery actually happens and it might span three days. They don't tell you the things we see can't be unseen. They don't tell you you're just getting started after you leave the hospital. They don't tell you the only thing open at the time you can go to eat during those three days is a McDonald's. They don't tell you what three straight days of McDonald's and "Is everything okay?" phone calls does to a man. I'd complain more about the McD's but my wife would just remind me again I didn't leave with stitches in sensitive places or digest anything that resembled a medium-sized watermelon. Whatever. I wasn't right for days.
Moving on. As a parting gift for an extended stay at the New Parenthood Inn (as a bonus, ours was in the neighborhood known as Crack Alley!), they send you home with a real baby. A real purple, screaming, pooping, I need to eat every two hours baby that's presumably yours and not one of the dozen others they show you through the glass window of the indoor infant green house. Yes, I was proud. This was my child. My daughter. I was Dad. Wonderful, but no one tells you that baby could care less about you though. Unless you present boob or some sort of boob substitute at consistent and frequent intervals, what purpose do you serve? Are you ready for this? At least that's what her beaming brown eyes bored into me. Crap. Will I ever be a good enough father for her? Do I need to go back to school, get a second job, go the gym more often, join Greenpeace, ring the Salvation Army bell at Christmas, start helping senior citizens more? WHERE WAS THIS IN THE BOOKS???
No one tells you a baby and the corresponding sleep deprivation brings out the strange, the unknown, the WTF? in you and mom. Kind of like the office party where uptight, by-the-book, turtleneck-sweatered Stacy in HR has a few and starts table dancing and hooks up with Gary in accounting. You're shocked and uncomfortable to the point you just don't want to talk about it the next day and pretend it never happened. When that baby cries for the umpteenth time, its 3:27 a.m., you're exhausted, like you just crammed for five straight days for college finals exhausted, and you don't want to get up. Neither does she. So much so she may say things directed at you so perverse, you wonder if you're dreaming or if you left the TV on and you are hearing an episode of The Wire. Out of fear, you don't ask. You just get up and tell yourself it's your turn.
Now my wife is the smartest person I know. She has the job, degree, and resume to prove it. I married well. The books though, don't tell you even the brightest, most gifted among us will be subject to questionable decision making when a baby is introduced in the equation. One afternoon after work shortly after baby girl arrived, I took Junior, the much-maligned, bi-polar canine my wife inherited when she married me, for a short walk. Upon our return I find the wife on the couch holding the kid with a painfully obvious, guilty, I just went through your wallet while you were away and found something I should have look that implied something was ah, up. This was made quite obvious by the indescribable state of my child's cranium. Wet and greasy with what looked like flour in a thick coat on top. It appeared as if the wife had initiated some sort of strange primitive tribal ritual while I was gone.
"Um, so, about that…" I asked. "What happened?"
"Nothing." She replied with the same demeanor I imagine my kids using when I find a broken lamp on the floor someday real soon.
"Her head. What happened?"
Like a criminal relieved at finally copping to their crime, she confessed. As a side note, my wife is terrible at poker.
"Her scalp was really dry and it bothered me. So I rubbed it. With Vaseline. I may have put on too much so ….
"I put baby powder on it. I may have put too much on."
Take a second and imagine what that might look like on anything. Now imagine it on a six week old newborn that wasn't exactly the Gerber Baby when she arrived.
"Oh. Okay. Um, yeah. What would you like for dinner…" What else could I say?
Until next time... Keep your diapers dry. The car warmed up. And make sure they will have beer.