The Fatherhood Chronicles I

Of course, I could actually title this blog, “The Bonehead Chronicles” or “The Honey-I-Bungled-Again Chronicles.” (Now is “bungle” transitive or intransitive? Is it “bungle” or “bungle it“? But I digress.) Yes, within the first 36 hours of (known) fatherhood, I’ve bungled (it).

It seems that men and women, more particularly, mothers and fathers, live in two completely different existential, if not ontological, planes. I get the news Anna’s pregnant, and the “happy, happy, joy, joy” reflex kicks in. I say to myself, “Self, first inform your family. Then tell the whole-wide-freakin’ world!” So that’s pretty much what I did. Anna, on the other hand, is–how shall I describe?–“joyously anxious.” The joy’s there. No doubt about it. But the anxious is a strong part of it. Heck. Now that I think about it–ah, yes, there’s the missing ingredient from yesterday!–I would be, too. This whole thing will all be external to me. Vicarious, as it were. For her . . . well, this is some radically transformative stuff. Physical, emotional, spiritual, it all gets wrapped up in one big ball of “what is going on?”. So, there I go, goofy with giddiness, and tell a few dozen friends.

Now I would be willing to bet that most of, if not all, the women reading this are thinking: “What?! Didn’t he talk to her about sending an email to tell people about it?” (Men, I know we’re slow catching up, but now you’re asking that question, too.) Of course, not only do mothers and fathers exist on two different ontological planes, they also inhabit two different epistemological spheres. So, Anna asked me, “Why didn’t you talk to me about this?” See, in new-father reality (or maybe just male reality), I thought that I had talked to her. I had said something along the lines of “Now that I have told family, I can send out an email to friends.” In fact, I said pretty much this same thing to my sister, when I talked with her, which Anna overheard. (Or, more accurately, which Anna could have overheard since she was in the same room at the same time sitting a few feet away, but may not have, indeed apparently did not.) But anyway, as became clear, this was not talking about it.

So, before two days had passed, I was in the doghouse. Now it’s true, I should have been more thoughtful about this. I should have considered Anna’s anxiousness in the midst of joy. I should have thought about when and how she wanted folks to know. But, having no experience in this sort of thing, I just acted. Now to Anna, sending out an email link to a blog to announce this to our few thousand friends or so . . . well, no pun intended, but this didn’t compute. Why would I do such a thing? (Which, I think translates into male speech as “How cold and impersonal! An email? A blog? What were you thinking?”) Since we’ve already established that I wasn’t thinking, when Anna asked me why I would do such a thing, the thought that came to mind was: “‘Cuz, I’m a geek giddy with giggly good news?” Thankfully, my unconscious ban on thinking was at that moment lifted, and I then–before speaking, mind you–thought, “Though this is a true and trustworthy saying, methinks it would be rude to say it now.” So I just shrugged. (We males and new-fathers-to-be, I think, are good at communicating through shrugging.)

At this point, I had come off my delirious high. I had realized: a) I had not thought carefully about how Anna was experiencing this, b) I had not understood that email and blogging are considered by many to be impersonal and not a good conduit of broadcasting personal joy, and 3) man, oh man, oh man, I have so much to learn.

Just when I was at the point of despair, however, our two friends, Tripp and Trish came to our rescue and arranged to have dinner with us. This took the tension off, and made us feel so much less alone in the big city with a baby on the way. Thanks guys.

(Sigh) Maybe I’ll get better with practice.