Hey there fella. So you got your wife knocked up. Nice. The most definitive proof of your virility. Before the worries about how you’re going to take care of this kid, before trying to figure out when and where to move because you’re going to need an extra room or two, before you start freaking out about the fact that your single life is going to end at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, you see the little man in your head strutting under the lights, pointing his chin at the crowd with a husky look on his face and a small satisfied grin. Who da man? You da man. Who? You.
And then she starts to freak out. She warned you about the mood swings from reading the book her sister gave her, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. But you’re not prepared to deal with her menopausal like symptoms of turning hot and cold and hot and cold within nanoseconds. She tells you she feels like she’s alone in this pregnancy, that she understands rationally that you’re having the worst week of internship with 17 to 18 hours days so that when you get home you feel dizzy from exhaustion, hunger, and dehydration and you’ve got nothing left to give. But irrationally she can’t stand that you aren’t around, that even when you are around it’s for an hour at most and you are in the state of semi-consciousness. More often than not, you crawl into bed, shedding your scrubs like the old skin from an old reptile and mumble that you’re going into your space ship now and taking off. The sad part is there’s nothing sexual implied in the imagery.
You attempt to walk on egg shells around her because you just don’t know when she’ll crack. She says to stop walking on egg shells around her because it makes her feel like a leper or a rabid dog on the other side of the fence. You tell her you don’t think she’s a leper or a rabid dog on the other side of the fence. You simply don’t want to get into an argument about stupid stuff so your strategy is to wait out her storms and enjoy her when she’s not so volatile. The logic of this stops her for a minute. But you can see that she’s seething with dissatisfaction. Logic and rational thought are getting squirted at her bonfire of irritability like strawfuls of water. And is that foam around the mouth you see? Want some water sweetie? Get that water away from me, she barks and cloisters herself in the bathroom.
She comes back from brushing her teeth and tells you that there’s a flaw in your logic: you’re so busy keeping your distance, she says, you don’t know how to get close even when she is calm and welcoming. (Or more like, And welcoming!) You can’t relax and put your guard down to be with her. It’s all or nothing, she says. Either you’re in or you’re out. Her language alarms you. You have to jump into the fray and be there through the shit storms and sunshine. She never talks in absolutes like this. And shit storms sound like shit.
You can’t come to an agreement and so you both sleep on it.
She doesn’t think you hear her, but you do. You’re simply too tired to show your reaction at the time. For instance, as her birthday approaches, she cries on the coach terrified of losing herself when you ask her how her day was. Once the baby comes, she says, she’ll be the main, if not only, caregiver because you work crazy, ungodly hours and will be too exhausted to even pick up the kid from the crib and give it a feeding. She’s already given up her name, she says, crying harder, and soon she’ll lose what’s left and just become Mom. Mom Hayden. Her whole life will be about this child. And she’ll dissolve into responsibilities and domesticity.
You’re scared of this happening to her, too. You said as much a week before. You’re scared that she’ll begin to resent you for her state of domestiticity and motherhood, both of which might begin to seem imprisoning, hate you and leave you. Those were her words, but they summed up your fear accurately. She dismissed your concerns at the time and said that she’s the best insurance against such a sad and pathetic end. She’s far too fun seeking.
A week later, she’s weeping over the same fears.
So this is what you get the woman you love who is afraid of losing her penchant for fun, her figure, and her self:
A card that says that she’s still sexy and you can’t believe your luck. She feels like an incubator sometimes, a thing to gestate a baby, but she enjoys being objectified in other ways.
A blueray disc set of An Idiot Abroad, a Ricky Gervais production. He documented trips he sent his coworker and friend, Karl Pilkington, the idiot, to see some of the wonders of the world, manmade and natural. It’s a doc-com series you both loved and it inspired fantasies of visiting the places featured in the series someday, places, for instance, like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reaf. Someday.
A carry-on. It’s a fabulous carry-on with four wheels and constructed with Samsonite durability. You have one just like it, but this one is designed for the ladies. She’s been needing a one.
She’s going to need it a lot more later, because inside the carry-on is an envelope and inside the envelope is a notarized document. This document is a promise that your adventures with her are not over. Indeed, just beginning. And you’re not talking about the adventures of parenthood. Fuck that. This is a promise of opportunities to explore, grow, and have fun, just for her and you. She’s never just going to be Mom. She’ll be that and Hairee Abroad. Someday.
Someday can be a deadening word. But you’ve got a memory like an elephant’s and it’s not in your nature to let fantasies stay fantasies and get dead. It’s one of the things she loves most about you. So someday, you say to her with your birthday promise. And she cries because she believes you.