The clever lyric goes: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” But an even greater lyric might go: “Life is what happens while you’re feeling about 11 years old.” I’m often told by my shrink that the greatest challenge for men is reconciling that they are in fact adults, while the majority of women he sees are in therapy to stave off turning into their own mother.
So let’s see: that would mean my wife and I (and most other couples) are quite the fetching pair: An adolescent boy strolling down the street with his lady’s mother.
Can it really be that grim and dysfunctional? Are adults really going through life’s ups and downs, triumphs and responsibilities, cloaked in these personas? Well, rather than play macro-sociologist (even though I did earn a BA in TV/Radio at Brooklyn College), I will share my bag, not tell you what’s in yours.
In the last month of my life, my wife and I have purchased two massive things: One is 1,000 square feet and will take until the year 2040 to pay off and the other is small enough to hide behind your back. Yes, an apartment and another item that, until recently, I only heard about in passing — sort of like the Shake Weight or Janelle Monae. It’s called an Ovulation Kit. It can be purchased at any decent pharmacy or baby-paraphernalia shop. The kit comes in a small, bright-blue cardboard package. If shelved incorrectly, one might mistake it for a very clinical Mac ‘N Cheese box. A closer look offers proof it’s entirely not pasta. The box reads: Clearblue Easy Digital Ovulation Test. Underneath the text, an imposing picture of a bare-chested 5-month-old human appears with his fist touching his mouth. He’s staring into the near distance with a cryptic look on his face that seems to say, “You really want a piece of this?”
He poses a really good question, or at least I imagine he does. The baby’s expression itself is a subtle Rorschach test. Perhaps someone else interprets him as saying, “Hooray, Pops! Let’s do this!” or, “Hurry up and make me, motherf**ker!”
But I suppose the real question for me is not “Are you ready to make a baby?” so much as “Are you ready to be a father?”
To a large extent it’s about timing — it always is. My wife and I met when I was 31 and she was 32. Had we met at 25 and 26, things would have been different: I would’ve shown up reeking of unchecked anxiety, sporting a Guitar Center-esque goatee and angling only to bang and bounce. Who knows, she may have still been tangled up with an ex, or needing to sow her own wild oats for that matter. But, as luck would have it, we met at a time in our lives that was just right. We were emotionally available and poised to embark on a big-time partnership. So we did.
Now the thing about getting married in your early 30s is while you were able to live like Charlie Sheen in your 20s, life events have now become slightly compressed or accelerated. For example, the window for baby-making can have a good portion of Mother Nature’s fat ass blocking it, the sound of Father Time’s hefty footsteps making women’s ovaries want to scream. I knew this, but I didn’t really want to believe it — I didn’t feel it. My 11-year-old self kept avoiding the subject or tapping my mental snooze button when my wife brought up having babies. She’s not one of those women who crave a baby as a means to an identity or self-defining purpose; she wants a baby for what I believe are healthy and loving reasons — namely because they’re soft and cool. And, in theory, I liked the idea too; I just always saw it as a “someday” event; a “when I’m richer, or calmer, or … tanner” event. Not a “now” event. So, two years ago, in 2008, I pressed the snooze button and assured my wife we’d get on the baby-train by, oh, I don’t know … the summer of 2010.
On August 1st, with the deed to a new apartment and our Ovulation Kit in tow, we will set up shop. Just the four of us: husband, wife, moody 11-year-old and mother-in-law. We’ll pee on ovulation sticks, circle calendars and force ourselves to have sex three times a day. Stay tuned …