We were driving home tonight and my wife reached over and touched the back of my neck. Her hand felt warm and the connection went straight down to my toes. It was nice to feel her say hello.
It had been a good day, but a long day, and the girls were tired and quiet in the back seat. I didn’t hear anything at all. The constant sound of parenthood wasn’t there for a time and I was enjoying it.
There is a lot that goes along with being a parent. There are so many emotions and lessons and challenges and triumphs. Too many to catalog, really, but I guess that is a big reason I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to try.
I wanted to write about the innumerable joys that come with being a father, and I have. And I wanted to write about the difficulties that are part of it all, too. And I have. Quite a few of my posts have been a bit redundant, I know – some stuff happened, I was happy/sad/mad/reticent/ knocked unconscious, I then hugged/yelled/smiled/did yoga/got pooped on, I gained a new perspective/learned a lesson/washed my hands, and then I wrap it all up with a clever little ending at about 800 words.
I like those posts, I really do, and I’m glad I have written them. It feels good to write it all down and helps me to process this journey in a way that I don’t think I otherwise would. It’s also nice to have people actually read them. Judging by the page views and comments this blog gets, there are no less than a half a score of people who really enjoy what I write, and upwards of 10-15% of those people aren’t directly related to me or named Yara.
But what I haven’t written (at least directly) is the So You’re Going To Be A Parent Public Service Announcement post, or better put, the post about why in the hell there wasn’t a Public Service Announcement about what parenthood is really like before you actually become a parent.
Granted, if you are a teenager there is plenty of that sort of thing to dissuade you from becoming a parent prematurely (and for good damn reason). The trouble is it is done in the same way that adults try to dissuade teenagers from doing anything – by trying to scare them with imaginary tales of getting high and running over their baby with a Zamboni while trying to order tacos. Folks, teenagers don’t scare easy and they like getting high and tacos. If you want to keep kids from having kids, tell them what it is going to be like when said kids are three. And then five. And then fifteen. That oughta do it.
But I digress.
The PSA that we are sorely lacking as a society is the one aimed at the semi-rational adults who have convinced themselves that now is indeed a good time to start that family. That is what I was thinking about in the car tonight as we rode along silently and my wife touched my neck, which reminded me of a time when we used to ride along silently and my wife would touch my neck (you were wondering when I was going to come back to that, weren’t you? Me, too).
What I’m picturing is thirty second spot on late night tv with a dad who may or may not look a lot like me – disheveled, unshowered, slightly paunchy from strangely timed meals made up of the shit his kids wouldn’t eat and sporting a look in his eyes that is equal parts joyful, infuriated and flabbergasted (or joyfurgasted). He has no lines in the ad, but you hear his two kids voice over 123 questions (actually only 3 questions, but each is rephrased 41 different ways), 9 arguments about 12 different things, 16 stories that never end but start over 3 times each and whining in 5 different languages. You never actually see the kids long enough to know if they are boys or girls, but you know they are there because things are broken and/or spilled in a random pattern around the room throughout. Then you hear the sound of one of the kids being hit in the head with a floor lamp (which is surprisingly unmistakable). In the end, he is startled to see a strange woman that he doesn’t recognize walk into the house until she reminds him that she is his wife and she is simply home from work. Then the screen goes black and the words “You sure?” appear.
But that PSA is never going to get made, and do you know why? The Procreational Imperative. (which I may have just made up, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?) Survival of the species, people. Multiply or die.
My theory is that it’s all part of nature’s conspiracy to get us to continue to make more people so those people can empty the earth of all its natural resources, turn those resources into useless shit, buy the useless shit and then throw the useless shit away.
I know nature is making billions on this, I just haven’t figured out how yet.
But the puzzle pieces are all there. First, there’s the whole horniness thing. We are biologically compelled to want to make babies. Duped into doing something that produces someone who will thereafter prevent us from doing what we were trying to do in the first place. For a full half of our species it is damn near our sole purpose for existence. Hell, more than half of the useless shit we do end up making and buying is directly related to the desire to participate in the baby making activities (cases in point: Corvettes, Rogaine).
Second, the byproduct of the baby making (a baby) is damn near the cutest thing we can possibly imagine. Think there isn’t a biological reason for that? Think any of us would tolerate these screaming poop factories that keep us up all night if they looked like mini-Bea Arthurs? Hell no. Just as our libidos are, it’s a trick. Then, when they start to leave that ambiguous adorability that is babyhood, they start talking and what is the first thing they say? “Mommy” or “Daddy”. And with that you are further duped into loving this little thing with everything you have. (Note: They don’t learn “No” or “I hate this family” until much later. I looked it up. Makes you think, doesn’t it?)
Finally, once these adorable little babies who inspire us to begin tender parenting blogs grow into kids who inspire us to write blog posts like this, a switch seems to go off in our brain that prevents us from passing the valuable truth about parenthood on to other would be parents. And the older we get, the less we pass on to those miserable bastards who are considering procreation as a wonderful next step in their journey on this manipulative rock we call Earth. In fact, not only do we not remember to tell the childless of the truth, the further we get from our own childlessness the less we remember about pretty much everything. Ever notice how the now grey and withered few who do make it back to childlessness only say shit to you like “enjoy every minute – it goes by so fast”? When? When does it go by so fast? I’m convinced they are all just delusional – another trick by Mother Nature herself. She’s a wily old bitch.
So, to the kidless masses, consider this my Public Service Announcement to you. Yes, parenthood is full of beauty and love and joy the likes of which you could never otherwise know. Yes, you will learn more about yourself than you ever could have had you stayed carefree and devoid of any real responsibility. Or at least that’s what you will think because you, too, will have been duped. The brochure is misleading and incomplete and I think a lot of the pictures were taken with wide angle lenses.
Consider this your clever little closing, wrapping it all up into a neat little conclusion: Caveat Emptor.
And if there are any oak trees or kangaroos or baby seals reading this who want to help me figure out the money trail and how nature is profiting from this grand conspiracy, I adhere very strictly to whistle-blower laws. I just want the truth.