Saturday, September 10, 2005

State of Readiness

"Are you ready for the baby?"

Example

I'm getting this question a lot. It's hard to answer without going into a long explanation about one's levels of 'ready'. How can anyone be ready for a baby? I will sometimes say "We've got the crib, diaper pail, clothes..." and the person asking the question will say "You call THAT ready? What you need is..." before starting a list of horrors or the way things were when THEY had kids, back in the days of rock, flint and raw meat (they are ususally referring to the early to mid-90's). Not all questions end up like that, but when I think I'm going to get a smug, self-righteous "You don't know what you're in for" kind of response, I've started giving short answers just to watch the different looks on people's faces:

Are you ready for the baby?
Not quite, we've got a lot of stuff to get together. I'm going to ask the doctor to put this on hold for another month and a half. They can do that, can't they?

Are you ready for the baby?
More or less. We couldn't decide on disposible or cloth diapers, so now we're just putting newspapers everywhere. The floors, the walls, the crib. Saves money.

Are you ready for the baby?
What baby...oh! Yeah, I'm ready. Sorry, what with my wife and I drinking as much as we are, it's hard to keep track...and your name is?

Are you ready for the baby?
Absolutely! We've got mesquite, hickory chips, a nice chipotle marinade, getting a big enough skewer was a bit of a challenge, but...
(the above answer was met with a straight-faced response "And that's good, because with the slow-cook method, you won't have to trim off the fat.")
Example
Fatherly advice arrives from time to time. Mr. Groucho wrote me with:

When you are a parent you will feel like you could not be more tired at all in your life, and you will see how incredibly hard it is just to get the simplest things done. Dinnertime. Bathtime. You will always feel like you could be doing more and you're not. But any day where the kids are more or less fed and more or less clean and more or less happy is a good day. Don't beat yourself up.
I'd written the D.I. (an artist with two kids who I've known for a long time), with this:

I seem to recall that years ago, you mentioned that the last few weeks ofpregnancy were 'a treat and a half.' My friend, as always, your acumen has proven to be true.
He came back with this:

Caitlin would often get angry with me.
She would get upset and worried almost frantic.
I would sit calmly and ask her to stay calm.
This is not to say I was calm; I just appeared that way to her.
On the night of Rhys' birth Caitlin woke me up at 2:00.
She said she thought she might be having contractions.
I told her to wake me when she was sure.
Fifteen minutes later she was sure and off we went.

It is one of the unexplained jobs of fathers.
You are not emotionless you just act like you are.
They hate you for it at the time and curse you for it later.
Today's Dads admit it afterwards and no hard feelings.

Try to be strong and calm.
This will help with the surprises.
There are always surprises.

Rest while you can.
DeJesus at work, with 3 young boys:

You can't bank sleep, you know, store it up, so don't even try. And you'll be fine. Everyone manages to be fine. Seperate room for the baby? Abby staying home full time for awhile? You're laughing.
Nadja, with one son:

When I was pregnant with Nick, I'd just lost my job and we'd just bought the house and Hector couldn't work in Canada yet and I was on EI and he was borrowing money from his family. And we were fine. Just do it. There's no perfect time, do it, you'll be fine.
My father in law, shortly after Abby and I were married, probably in anticipation of this day:

I was scared. I'd just bought that little house and Abby was still a baby and I'd borrowed money from everyone I knew, and I didn't know how I was going to keep it up. I was scared. Bone scared. And...it all worked out, didn't it?
All of the above counts as hope. I'll scratch up the rest myself, time permitting.

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