Many fathers go through this at some point, whether they’re brand new dads or their working on kid #4. We take a moment to reflect and soak in the gravity of the situation before us the way a desert dirt road soaks up the rain.
We don’t really have time to reflect during the nine months leading up to the “the big show.” We’re just too busy. From playpens and strollers to diaper bags and booties, we’re the ultimate chef’s assistants, consumed with the prep work of making sure that all has been assembled, packed away and cleaned. But the cooking, the creating, well, that task belongs to our better halves.
At the hospital we become the ultimate cheerleaders, holding our wives’ hands, offering words of encouragement, if not threatening to decapitate the guy responsible for providing the relief of an epidural. We’re fully engaged in what’s transpiring before us yet for physiological reasons are not able to fully participate. And let’s face it, if men could deliver babies, the world’s population would be nowhere near the projected 7 billion we’ll be reaching by month’s end.
Our true moment of reflection comes after all of that; in my case it was when mother and child were finally asleep amidst the beeps and squeaks of heart rate monitors and wobbly nurse’s carts, 24-hours after being admitted to the hospital.
I began to wonder what kind of world our brand new daughter was about to enter. Earlier that evening I read a headline about China’s shame after a toddler, stricken by two separate vehicles, was left ignored by dozens of passersby along a narrow road. The ensuing video made me cringe. After a week in a coma the toddler died yesterday.
Right in my own backyard a New Mexico man pled guilty earlier this month for giving a 29-year-old woman a yogurt sample tainted with his own semen.
In a handwritten statement to the police the woman recalled, “I spit it out on the floor many times cuz I was upset.” She also recalled that a supermarket manager told her the sample “was a Greek yogurt.” The manager went on to tell the woman – I swear to you that I am not making this up – “People love it has lot of protein on it.”
As part of the man’s plea deal, he’ll spend at least three years in prison, where he will undoubtedly get all the free yogurt samples he wants.
Our country’s economy isn’t doing very good. Political pundits and the elected-wannabes are spelling out doom and gloom, Occupy Wall Street movements are spreading throughout the country like wildfire and our president can’t even convince members of his own party that his jobs creations bill is worth passing…
Back up a second – baby batter yogurt? Did perverts and creeps throughout the world hold a secret meeting (near a school, no doubt) and decide that they needed to up the creep meter? It’s bad enough that fathers of little girls everywhere have to worry about pedophiles and smut kings but now this? What’s next? Ben & Jerry’s is going to come out with a new ice cream flavor called Schweddy Balls? Oh, wait…
The truth is, that moment of reflection is nothing more than fear. And no matter what a guy may say or how much machismo he may convey, even the biggest guys are afraid of the evils that our children may face in the world. For many of us, the fear is in the possibility of not being able to protect them. And that’s a tough pill to swallow.
At the end of the day there are only three things I want to be sure of: My kids are healthy, the bills are paid and that my baseball team can get a new stadium. Oh, and that my wife’s not mad at me. Four things. Whatever.
For every gloomy headline and perverted story you hear, hope springs eternal everywhere you look. The good people, the good stories in the world, still outweigh the bad by a landslide.
And that’s enough to make me feel better.
I was about to leave the hospital room for a breath of fresh air when my wife turned her head and smiled at me. Here she was having just given birth to child #4 and she looked like she’d be up for a midnight movie, no sweat. It was a smile that said, “Suck it up, will you?”
And that’s enough to give me hope. Because no matter how crappy the world can be, in essence, we have to just suck it up and face it anyway – if not for our sakes, but for our children’s.
That’s part of what being a man is all about, right?