We have all fallen flat on our faces. We have all finished a day, come home & crashed on the couch and stared out at space – wondering what in the HELL just happened. It even happens to folks at the top of their game.
It has been my experience that with pregnancy during the 3rd trimester, every single day is “one of those days.”
This past 4th of July, at the peak of a sweltering summer, I hopped on a plane with my 4 1/2 month pregnant girlfriend and flew to Naples, FL – to meet her family for the first time. I was a bit nervous about meeting DAD, whose reaction to the “Guess What, Mom & Dad?!?” phone call (3 1/2 months earlier) was:
“What’s his name again? Jim?”
I felt like I was being summoned to Jerry Jones office after throwing 5 picks on Monday Night Football. Lines were running through my head like “I got a .45 and a shovel, I doubt anyone would miss you.” But instead of putting me through a week of torture, Papa gave me the chance to explain that I was head over heels in love with his daughter – and he let me attempt to prove that I’m not a complete deadbeat. He took my feelings into consideration – then factored in the tremendous amount of a** kissing I did (including, but not limited to, digging up the yard and attempting to maneuver a 50 ft. snake to fix the plumbing). He then offered me the best advice regarding relationships I have ever received.
“If you want to make it as a father, and make my daughter happy without losing your mind, just memorize these 5 words: ‘I hate when that happens.’ She just needs to know that you understand what she’s going through – even if you have no earthly idea what the hell just happened.”
I know next to nothing about what kind of father I will be. I have never been pregnant, and (lord willing) never will be. The folks who write for this site are scientists, pastors, scholars and marketing gurus. They are ALL parents, in many cases multiple times over – my 1st kid isn’t even due for another 6 weeks. I bring to the table a useless (though encyclopedic) knowledge of popular music & culture – and a knack for sliding around on all kinds of surfaces on boards. That is pretty much it. I do not consider myself an actual authority on anything – but I’ve read a few books, my parents are lifelong educators and I have watched “The Wire” in it’s entirety more than once. So I’ve got some game – and I have a few ideas.
When I was a kid, I HATED going to the dentist. Who am I kidding – I still do. But strangely enough, the childhood memories that stick with me about Dr. Z’s office, to this day, are not (solely) of pain or the taste of blood. They all feature a framed pseudo-American Indian proverb print from his wall that read: “Never Criticize A Man Until You Have Walked A Mile In His Moccasins.”
I am doing the best I can trying to make my increasingly-uncomfortable baby mama feel better. Back rubs, foot rubs – I’m currently doing websites and marketing work for a chiropractor and a masseuse in exchange for services. But none of this helps when I find myself at wits end – simply because I, too, am overwhelmed in a situation – and start to lose my temper. For instance: my family was just visiting… Before they arrived, I was informed that we needed a bed frame for our guest bed, which is my queen-size-bachelor-pad bed/ box spring combo. One that always just rested comfortably on the floor. The following conversation took place:
Me: “Would you like me to find a frame and buy one?”
Gorgeous Pregnant Woman: “No, that’s ok… It’s no big deal.”
Gorgeous Pregnant Woman: “I couldn’t sleep, so I ordered a bed frame on Amazon last night – it will be here by the weekend so you can put it together Saturday morning before your folks get here. After you finish cleaning all your crap out of the guest room.”
Me: “You mean move everything out of my office? Sure – no problem. Thanks baby!”
Gorgeous Pregnant Woman [standing over my shoulder]: “That’s doesn’t look like it’s gonna work. You’re doing it wrong. Are you following the instructions?”
Me [while assembling the frame]: “Yep – and this IS right. But, um – well – it seems a little small… I didn’t look at the box – are you sure they sent us the right size?”
Gorgeous Pregnant Woman [exasperated]: “Well, it said ‘Twin/Full/Queen/King’!”
Yep – I am exactly the kind of jacka** that took a screenshot when I went online to print the return label.
Which brings me – finally – to my point. Pregnancy is a joyful and wondrous experience – an unforgettable time in the lives of any relationship. But anyone who has been there knows it is not all baby names, showers and monogrammed onesies. I have yet to experience parenthood firsthand, but I am not envisioning perpetual peace & tranquility. There are many ways to deal with the negative feelings – from frustration to anger and depression – that inevitably come into play when dealing with a stress. You need to empathize with your partner – let them know how much you love them, and reassure them that you’ll do whatever it takes & you’re not going anywhere.
We all need some kind of help in dealing with this sysiphian task. For some men there is exercise, for others the power of prayer. Yoga is the solution for a number of guys these days – some prefer Don Draper’s old standby: hard liquor. Sportscenter, League Pass, the Ticket… In my previous post I discussed sharing music with not only one’s partner, but with your unborn child as well. Using the beauty of melody and song to inspire & soothe…But music can offer great relief if you’re mad, sad, frustrated or just flat out done.
Well – I can guarantee you Tony Romo is not riding home from the stadium tonight pumping “Shiny Happy People” or the Starland Vocal Band in his ride. You can’t simply internalize your negative emotions – the energy that is generated can’t be destroyed, according to accepted scientific principles. The right kind of music can , when you can’t escape to the gym for a couple of hours – and you don’t carry a pint like Jimmy McNulty. You need to play music that understands how you feel.
“Music is what language would love to be if it could.” – Irish poet John O’Donohue