Fatherhood: Is there another profession in the world where you’re woke up at 5 in the morning with the question: “So, you want to change the baby’s diaper or clean-up the dog vomit on the living room rug?” Now that’s living!
How do you answer that? How do you choose? And obviously the diaper is in “interesting shape” if it’s offered as part of the bargain. This is a deal with the Devil, and there will be no winner.
“I’ll take dog vomit,” I answer, and so begins another morning as “New Dad #103562.”
Dads get asked questions in the morning like this: “Have you checked in on her yet?”
“Yes, I just did,” I say.
“And she’s breathing and stuff?”
What exactly is the “stuff?” That’s never specified, and I, of course, lie. “She’s breathing and definitely ‘stuff.’”
But I don’t know what I’m talking about. Is there something I’m missing — the “stuff?” Will she be 17 and while examining her ears a doctor will ask, “So, Mr. Thompson, it seems you forgot to do some ‘stuff’ when your daughter was a baby, and now she doesn’t have a spleen.”
What! Nobody TOLD me about the stuff!
It’s tough questions, as well as other things, like trying to figure out what get for my wife’s first Mother’s Day.
As if there’s not enough pressure to make it important and special without people coming up and telling me, “Woah! First Mother’s Day. Don’t screw that one up. I know a guy who’s still homeless from that one.”
Part of what I bought my wife was a beautiful orchid, which I hid in the car the day before Mother’s Day. And this was a wise idea, for I later realized that when you leave an orchid — a plant that doesn’t like it when the temperature gets above 90 degrees — inside a black Jeep with the windows up and the temperature hot enough to bake a pizza and turn beach sand into glass, your orchid won’t do so well. I went to get the orchid in the morning and the beautiful flowers were drooping down, gasping as they clung on for dear life. The leaves looked like a banana peel that had been left in the street for days.
Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy your dead plant. (I’m trying to nurse it back to health, and I think by next Mother’s Day it should be fine. Then I can hide it in the Jeep and surprise her all over again.)
Part of what dads are supposed to do is carry the child around, especially when moms get tired and have been doing it all day. Dads are supposed to be big and strong, but have you seen me? I weigh 155 pounds and look like a pixie stick that hasn’t eaten in three weeks. My child weighs 18 pounds at 5 months. My spinal chord is bending like a paper clip.
How do dads do it? I think back to Disney World and watching fathers — some who were later carried out on a stretcher after breaking in half — who carried 3- and 4-year-old children around the whole day. There they would be in the line to “It’s a Small World,” the kid bouncing up and down in the father’s arms while muscles bulged in his shoulders. His face turned purple and strange creaking sounds I could never figure out until this day emanated from bones and joints on his body.
“OK, I’m going to put you down now,” he would try, only to be rebuffed by the child who would simply say, “If you do, I’ll marry a gang leader and get a tattoo of a part of the male anatomy I’d rather not mention.” Not long after, the paramedics came to haul him off on the stretcher.
Boy, fatherhood. What a whacky profession it is. I just wish it came with a lifetime supply of ibuprofen, a gift suggestion list and HAZMAT suit.