December 1, 2012

Roaming the outskirts of family life

When we were first having babies, my husband and I made an agreement about his involvement in the labor/delivery process.

I very much wanted him present at this glorious occasion; he sort of wanted to be there. But, we shared the same feelings about his duties. Neither one of us wanted him to be the umbilical-cord-cutting kind of dad.

He feared the grossness of what was happening down below. I feared how the image of a laboring/delivering me would dampen his future “view” of me.

So, we decided that his station would be fixed at my head; far away from the war zone, feeding me ice chips and adoring me (that last part was me). Nowhere was there mention of a doctor handing my husband a leg so he could act as a living stirrup for my straining body. Truthfully, I don’t think my husband has been the same since. Little did he know that this act would be a mere foreshadowing of his role as startled, drafted hero in our life story.

I believe that my husband has tried to envision himself as a kindly neighbor who helps out an unfortunate woman (me) and her batch of needy kids. I don’t know that he has ever transitioned (in his mind) from bachelor status to married

father of five.

When we hooked up our first-ever answering machine, many years ago, my husband happily recorded the following outgoing message, “Hi. I am either golfing or fishing. Leave me a message and I’ll give you a call when I get in.” After listening to the message, I politely asked if he was trying to hide us from the outside world. His reaction was to record a new and sullen message that said, “Hi. We’re not here. Leave a message.”

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