I was in the supermarket when I ran into one of my co-workers and her husband. The husband had recently learned that my wife and I had just had our first child. “Isn’t it wonderful?” he asked, though I should say it wasn’t so much a question as it was a statement. He wasn’t really asking me anything other than to confirm his clouded memory of what it was to be a parent of a child whose age is counted in days.
Needless to say, I picked up a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi and threw it at him. He ducked and it hit his wife in the face, knocking her cold.
“Fuck you,” I said, as he attended to his unconscious wife. I really didn’t care that I had injured his wife instead of him since they were joined at the hip as far as I was concerned and if he had the gall to say something as spiteful as “Isn’t it wonderful?” and she was standing within earshot and didn’t slap him across the face after he said it then she deserved whatever he deserved.
Fact of the matter, and what no parent ever tells another prospective parent, is that if a baby were a mechanical object, it would be in pieces all over your floor because you had thrown it into the wall and stomped on it. But because a baby is not a mechanical object, the new mother or father just stands there at the top of the stairs, baby in arms, thinking about launching the thing down the stairs and what the ramifications of such an act might really be. Could one hide such a thing? While I have no sympathy for child abusers, when you become a parent you suddenly peer into the face of evil because you realize how easy it would be to snap. Stupid insane people should not have children, but they do every day.
Now, there are two issues here: the first is the notion that there are some things that parents will not tell other parents and there’s the issue of being a person whose thoughts would drift toward hurting an innocent baby. First, I think there’s something in our genes that prevents us from telling other people what having a kid is really like because if we did, they would never do it and the human race would die out. There’s also the issue of every parent wanting to be a great parent and great parents don’t normally consider killing their babies, so telling another parent that you’ve thought about tossing your child under a bus so that you could just get a few extra hours of sleep definitely eliminates you from contention for “Parent of the Year” and everybody, especially during that first month, is vying for “Parent of the Year” status. Ultimately, you just can’t tell somebody who doesn’t have a baby in the house what it’s actually like because they have these preconceived notions of bliss that have been hammered into their brains by movies and diaper commercials. So, we just tell each other how wonderful everything is but what we’re really thinking is “Fuck you, asshole. You’ll find out and when you do, I will laugh and laugh because you’ll be stuck at home with no friends and no life and I won’t call you either, motherfucker.”
I’ve found my vocabulary is now dominated by three words: breast, boob, and poop. It doesn’t matter where I am. I can be at work and I’m still using those words because everybody wants to talk about the baby and when you talk about a baby, there’s nothing to talk about except for eating and pooping. You don’t talk about peeing because urine isn’t interesting, but poop has all sorts of different characteristics that can spur conversation. Is it green, dark green, or greenish-yellow? What’s the consistency? Does he poop so hard that the feces blows out of his shorts? I’ve also found myself talking about breasts and vaginas in front of my female co-workers who are, surprisingly, more than happy to discuss the topic and tell you what size their breasts were when they nursed. Inappropriate workplace conversation topics go right out the window when babies factor into the mix. Where you would do everything to avoid brushing up against a female co-worker, suddenly you’re talking about their vagina or your wife’s vagina and nobody seems to mind.
And here’s another thing I know: every woman who’s ever breastfed and is reading this is wishing she could drive a stake through my forehead because I’m a man and no matter what hardship I might think I’m going through in relation to raising my child, it’s absolutely nothing compared to what she’s going through. Given the burdens of motherhood, it’s nothing short of a miracle that more women haven’t walked into Babies R’ Us with automatic weapons and slaughtered everything and everyone in there. Tools walk into post offices all the time with much less reason and do precisely that, but they’re men and they’re pain threshold is low. We never hear of a woman doing the same thing because they have a much higher pain/inconvenience threshold and that’s proven by the fact that they are willing to breastfeed. But here I am, a man, and I’m whining about fatherhood, which is like the backup quarterback of an NFL team whining that he’s got too much to do.
And then, I’m doing something and suddenly my five-week-old son smiles at me for the first time and everything I’ve gone through is meaningless.
Okay, wait. More bullshit clichés, but hey, if that’s what you want to believe, be my guest.