Friday, March 30, 2007

More About Dating Your Spouse



Another weekend is nearly here and that means I get to go out on another date. And yes, I still mean a date with my wife.

Dating your spouse definitely has its advantages. For example, while picking out a restaurant, you pretty much know how a "genre" of food is going to go over. The level of "polite" in a ten year old marriage pretty much guarantees that no one is going to keep quiet while pulling into the parking lot of a lame choice. For example, if you suffered a blow to the head and followed it up by picking "Billy Bob's Barbequed Beans Emporium" for your romantic night out, that mistake will be corrected much earlier than when the waiter drops by and asks if everything tastes okay.

The level of hygiene and grooming required for a date with your spouse is also a little different. Yes, you should try to look nice for your spouse. I'm not saying you can be a slob, but if you have a little funk from playing hide and seek with your youngin' before your date, it's still going to be okay, so long as you let your wife sit upwind. Ladies, you probably don't have to worry about shaving your legs either. Remember when you were eight months pregnant and couldn't bend over enough to shave? Yeah, we remember that time too, and it wasn't an issue then, so it's not an issue now.

And, unless you really do something stupid, you are pretty much guaranteed that you'll get to sleep with your date. Maybe not sleep together sleep together, but there will probably be room for you in the bed and maybe a little cuddling. If you play your cards right, who knows? Maybe you might want to shave your legs after all or shower off some of that funk.

Of course, nothing in life is perfect and so even with all of the advantages of dating your spouse, its not exactly a picnic. For one, there's no getting out of a date, if you don't feel up to it. You can't call and say, with that dramatic voice you use when you call into the office, "I think I picked up this bug at work and I'm just not feeling up to going out." Your wife can see you, sitting there in your underwear, playing Xbox. She knows you feel just fine and you'd rather spend your time with the Master Chief than her.

And then there is the problem of what to do. When you're dating, you'll do anything with that special someone and it'll still be fun. You want me to help you with your taxes? Awesome! Clean your cat's litter box? I'll be right over! When you're married, spending time together is still fun, but an evening out sort of has to be special, since they're so few and far between. There is nothing more painful than setting up a sitter, washing off the funk, and spending $40 to go to a movie, only to realize that you could have had just as lousy of a time at home with your DVD player and the couch, all with half the effort and none of the money.

Our biggest problem, I think, is that we're out of practice. We've been dedicated, hands-on parents for two years and we've kind of lost touch with what we found fun, as a couple. When we were childless "dating" just sort of happened, but now that we're parents, it... has... to... count... every... dang... time. Dates are about as rare as leprechauns and three times as valuable. There's pressure in a date, not necessarily pressure to impress her enough that maybe you'll be invited back for another date, but there's another kind of tension. There is the pressure to find a way to sit across the table from your spouse while the waiter gets you more bread, and see the woman who fascinated you for so long, not the mom who just suddenly appeared one day in her place. It's not that I don't like the mom, I do, but I also want to hear stories from the woman who, despite being a mom, is still trying to paint and be creative and maybe even read a book.

So, what do you do? My wife and I used to be huge movie buffs, but our various excursions to the theater have been lackluster. Even when the movie has been good, the experience of going has been kind of blah. We used to love to ski, but we just can't imagine putting anyone through a full day with Chunk. That leaves things like museums, dinner, and maybe the theater. Museums are fun, but Denver is slow to change, so their novelty wears off quickly when you just keep seeing the same things over and over. Dinner is nice. I like to eat, but again, novelty is a fleeting thing. And, as much as we both want to go to the theater, throwing tickets into the kind of planning required to secure a sitter, just seems like too much for us right now.

Internet, what do you recommend? I've read your blog posts, so I know you're far more creative than I am. If you had the chance for a hot date with a person you adored, what would you do to make it a rousing success? The less you have to plan ahead, the better. Leave your suggestions in the comments! Who knows... if your suggestion works, you might even get a special prize.

Coming up next... Denver Dad answers some real questions! And, I finally respond to a meme that Maria at Just Eat Your Cupcake hit me with weeks ago!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Denver Dad Reveals The Mysteries Of The World!

Okay, I've finally figured it out... bloggers are a bunch of lazy liars! Don't believe me? Go check out Metro Dad's latest mailbag post. Or, go over to Suburban Kamikaze's site and read her "Ask Amy" segment.

This doesn't happen! I've been blogging for more than a year now and the only advice I've been asked to share is how potty training has been going with my little guy (answer: wonderfully, if you're a shareholder with Pampers). That's it! I know MetroDad is something like a demigod among bloggers, a living titan that walks among us mere mortals, and Suburban Kamikaze is hilarious, so funny in fact that I don't even understand half of her posts, even when mouthing the big words out loud, but do people really write in for advice? I have a hard time believing it. I mean, I'm not calling either MetroDad or Suburban Kamikaze liars, but I do wonder if their noses haven't grown just a tad.

So, in that spirit, I'm starting my own blogging advice column, complete with fictious questions by imaginary people. Here goes....

Q. Dear Denver Dad, My child keeps putting her hands in her mouth. Do you think she's teething? -- Heather in Sacramento, CA

A. Yes. It's either teeth or dry skin. Babies have an innate but powerful understanding of exfoliating and moisture control. Check her hands for patches of dry skin. If there's no cracking or flaking, she has teeth coming in. Or, bees are about to attack. Its one of those three things.

Q. Dear Denver Dad, My baby isn't sleeping and our entire family is about to go crazy. Do you have any tips for dealing with a uncooperative baby? -- Anton in Pittsburg, PA

A. A baby that won't sleep is a difficult thing to deal with, as the problem really stems from an inability to communicate needs between the child and the parent. I would recommend moving and not leaving a forwarding address with your baby. I mean, sure, even if you left the forwarding address the baby probably couldn't read it, but you never know when one of those pesky "concerned neighbors" or "police" will come along and read your note. When the time is right, your baby will find you again during a segment on the Maury Povich show, as God intended. And, with any luck, he'll be sleeping through the night by then. Good luck!

Q. Dear Denver Dad, I keep hearing about the "Mile High Club." Since you live in the Mile High City, I thought you'd be the best person to explain it to me. -- Tim in Little Rock, AR

A. This is one of those things where, if you have to ask, you're just not meant to know. However, in an effort to write an entertaining and informative blog post, I'll tell you anyway. The "Mile High Club" is a sandwich. Like most club sandwiches it has a variety of lunch meats and cheeses, but is stacked very high, often threatening to fall over due to its incredible heights of sandwichese. That is where the "Mile High" part comes in. They're very good and worth two punches in your frequent eaters club card, but only if you go on Tuesdays.

Q. Dear Denver Dad, My son is always hitting things. He's two years old, so is that the problem? Or, is it something more serious? -- John Jacob Jiggleheimer Smith in Tempe, AZ

A. It's something more serious. Probably Le P├ętomane Syndrome.


That's all. So, join us next time for Denver Dad Reveals The Mysteries Of The World! And, if you're feeling brave, leave your questions in the comments section. I promise I'll answer them, but I can't promise the answers will be very useful.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Daddy Owwie?

Last year, around this same time, I had this this crazy thirst. Every night, from dinner time until bedtime, I drank glass after glass of water, but nothing seemed to help. I just couldn't get enough water in me.

A friend of mine with diabetes suggested I get tested, so I went in and had some blood tests done. I didn't have a sitter, so Chunk accompanied me, and surprised me with a very well developed bedside manner for a one year old (at the time).

The same thing happened again. I've been completely parched, night after night, so the doctor had me come in again to give more blood. Everything looks fine. Strangely, the doctor thinks it might be allergies, but after seeing the doc I went to pick up Chunk from grandma's place.

"Daddy owwie?" he asked, very seriously, as he pointed at my bandage. It was practically the first thing he said to me, when I walked in the door.

"Yep, daddy has an owwie, but it's a little one. It'll be okay."

He leaned over and kissed my arm.

I love my son.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Momma do et!

My son is going through an interesting phase. Actually, he's been going through this phase for months now, but his vocabulary has finally caught up with him and he's now able to articulate this phase, much to my dismay.

"Momma do et!" he proclaims, pretty much whenever I'm trying to help him. Tying his shoes. Changing his diaper. Reading him a book. Getting him more milk while we're having dinner. Giving him his nightly beating. Whatever the task, his dad is no longer allowed to help. It's all up to momma now and failure to adhere to this new set of rules results in a strange sort of squirming fit that might catch on as a dance in future years, but now just looks like a seizure.

I've been an "involved dad" since the beginning. When Chunk was born, I took a month off to stay home with him and Denver Mom, as we slowly started creating a new life as a family, instead of just a couple. I've been working from home with him since then, so I get five full days of Chunk time a week, minimum, if you include the weekends. It's not like I haven't had the time needed to prove that I'm not a complete novice at this whole parenthood thing. I mean, it took him months before he started calling me "daddy." Before that, I was "momma," just like Denver Mom. But, now? Regardless of my skills, or regardless of my lack of skills, which I assume is at least entertaining, I can't do a thing for the child.

I'm conflicted. If I were smart, I would just go along with it, letting my wife do everything for our son. Getting him dressed and ready to go outside takes approximately four days, an act of congress, and prayers from many prominent clerics, pastors, and cardinals. Sadly, although I'm prone to exaggeration, in this particular case, I'm not exaggerating. It really does take that long, so I should just get back to my napping and let Denver Mom take care of everything.

And yet, on the other hand, I still want to be involved. Whether he wants my help or not, I want to provide it. When he falls, I want to scoop him up in my arms.

Someone told me that once he's four, it'll all shift back to me. At that point, he'll be a daddy's boy. I'm pretty sure that's going to be kind of annoying too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Actual Statement Made By Chunk*



* Okay, okay, so it was wasn't actually said out loud, but one look in that kid's eyes and you can see he's working on his master plan. The good news is that there are likely going to be some awesome perks being the father of Emperor Chunk.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Loss

We like to think that what makes us such a wondrous species is that we experience a wide range of emotions, a spectrum that covers everything from whimsy and joy to despair and regret. We empathize with animals that we think can also feel these things, but I think the depth of our memory is what makes our emotions unique. And, it is that depth that makes us creatures that can truly be hurt.

Earlier this week, Rob at How About Two? lost his son. The outpouring of sympathy in his post comments is beautiful. In many ways, it is the perfect example of the goodness that is possible on the internet, a form of communication usually just saddled with suspicion and fear. Even more, I can't help but think that for every post left for his family, there were three or four other people who stopped in and were simply too speechless or to broken up to leave their warmest thoughts and wishes for Rob's family.

I have a story about loss I also want to share. I don't intend to take away from Rob and his difficult time, he needs all the support he can get right now, but since learning the news of the passing of young Doss earlier in the week, I've spent a lot of time thinking about my own experiences several years ago. It feels like an appropriate time to share it.

My wife and I, after years of being childish ourselves, decided we wanted a child in our lives. Or, more to the point, we decided that we would just stop using birth control and see what would happen.

Almost immediately, she was pregnant. We couldn't be happier. For days, it was all we could talk about with each other, plans we were making, names we liked, ideas for how we would care for the child while we kept working. We couldn't believe it, how easy it was, how lucky we were to get our wish so quickly, when so many other couples struggled for months and years.

Only a few days after learning she was pregnant, she woke up in terrible pain, discovered she had been bleeding. Shaken, we quickly got dressed and rushed to the emergency room in the early morning hours.

The medical staff ran several tests. One of the last tests was an ultrasound and so I was able to see the small, dark circle that was going to be my child, before they told us that the pregnancy was ectopic and it would have to be terminated. Matters quickly got worse when we learned that my wife would need surgery to remove the "fetal material." It was too large to be treated with medication and if it was left, it would eventually rupture inside of my wife, causing internal bleeding and risking her life as well. The surgery was scheduled for later in the day and we had a few hours to wait, before she would have to be prepped.

We came home. We took a shower. We cried. We packed a few things for her surgery. In less than a week I learned that I would be a father, only to have that unrealized dream of our child about to be taken away. I desperately wished for something, some undiscussed procedure to save our child and my wife, but there wasn't anything to be done, other than what the medical staff had already decided on.

While sitting in the waiting room, I called my parents. I explained what had happened to my dad, who I later heard from my sister, was so upset he couldn't tell anyone else the news. All he could do was cry. I called my wife's mother. This was the first time anyone had heard we were expecting, but all they really heard was that something had gone horribly wrong. I called my boss and told him I need to take some time off. This all happened on a Sunday, so the waiting room was completely empty, dark, and I sat alone for what felt like days while I waited for the surgeons to save my wife by killing my child.

My mother-in-law came and sat with me.

My parents came and cried with me.

After several hours, it was done. My child was gone and my wife lost one of her fallopian tubes, but she would be okay.

Only, it wasn't finished. A week later they checked my wife's hormone levels and found out that they had been rising, despite the surgery. Her body still thought she was pregnant. I formulated a number of wild theories, desperate hopes that somehow we still had a child nestled safely inside of her, but the doctors explained that some of the material had broken lose during the surgery and was stuck inside of her. It would have to be destroyed with a shot of a chemotherapy medication, a shot which would make my already exhausted and physically weak wife, even more exhausted and even more weak.

The shot worked, but it took weeks. Every week we would go in, my wife would have her blood drawn, and we would later get a telephone call telling us her new hormone levels. It was the toughest time of my life, having to endure those tests, having to be strong for my wife when all I wanted to do was scream at the doctors and their winks, their accusations that we had been trying to get pregnant again, immediately after her surgery, even when we were told it would be dangerous for her. One of the doctors refused to believe us when we told her we had been abstaining, as we were instructed to do. Surely, we were lying to her.

After several months, it was finally over. People said a lot of stupid things, trying to comfort us.

I was told that it was no big deal.

I was told that what we experienced was easier than a miscarriage and I should consider myself lucky.

I was told that I would do anything to get out of work for a couple of weeks.

I was told that we could just try again.

But, I didn't want to try again. We lost our child, even if it wasn't yet a true child, and all I wanted was that baby.

We went to a memorial for unborn children who had been lost. I couldn't believe how many people were there with us, mourning, as confused as I was about how such a thing was possible. I hoped it would make me feel better, but it only made me more angry. All of my friends were having children and I couldn't stand to be around them. I was so bitter about what we had lost, that I couldn't congratulate them for what they had gained. One of our cats got sick and we had to put it down, and as silly as it is, it stirred everything up again.

We talked. My wife wanted to know if I was ready to start trying again. I told her I wasn't ready and that I wasn't sure if I would ever be ready. She said she felt the same way. Months later, despite neither one of us being "ready," my wife was pregnant with Chunk and I spent nine months expecting nothing but the worst, grieving still for our lost pregnancy, and hoping that this one would be alright. When he was finally born, I think I cried more from relief that he was fine, that he was perfect, than I did from the joy a new father is supposed to feel.

Even with him in our lives, I wonder what that other child would have been like. It wouldn't have been Chunk. It would have been its own person, maybe a baby girl, maybe an older brother for our son. I don't know. I still think about that child, wonder about that life we weren't able to experience. It still bothers me, but it has gotten easier.

I'm not sharing this story to serve as advice for Rob. Our situations, like all situations, are completely different. I would imagine that what he's going through is much harder than what my wife and I endured. Or, maybe its easier, given that they had time with their son, time to hold him, time they can cherish. I'll never know. Grief, as I learned, is a very personal, unpredictable thing.

Instead, I offer my story as advice for the people around Rob, or people who are facing a similar situation, left speechless with their own throbbing empathy. Understand that nothing you say will make someone feel better. Understand that grief can't be tossed aside with best wishes and hopes for the future. Understand that your simply being there will be enough, maybe not at first, but eventually. Understand that grief can take a long time and that there is nothing selfish in it. Understand that having another child doesn't erase the pain, but it does bring some joy.

Rob, you and your family have my most sincere, deepest sympathies.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Coming soon...

Sorry to have been so absent, both here and reading and commenting on other blogs! I've been a little swamped at work and have a sick little boy at home. I'm hoping to get a new post up tomorrow or Saturday... which should be a big relief for all of you tired of reading about my vascetomy.

In the meantime, check out some of the blogs on my blogroll. They wouldn't be there if they weren't good. And, check out my latest blog-crush, Lainey-Paney's Life Is Just So Daily.