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Fatherhood's forever, and then some

November 06, 2002|CHRIS ERSKINE

The cat's in heat again, meowing and rolling around like Anna Nicole Smith. My wife is menopausal-pregnant. The kids are entering Christmas mode. "Fatherhood is for good," the sign on the bus stop warns. Of all things, you think to yourself.

"Here, help me out of this chair," says my pregnant bride.

"I'm having a good hair week," announces the little girl.

"Can I have 20 bucks?" the boy asks.

"Meow," screams the sex-crazed cat. "And I mean it."

Sometimes, it's like I'm living a children's book, only there are adults in it with real adult problems. Marriage issues. Money problems. And that's just at our house. Lord knows what's going on next door.

Take my wife. No, seriously, take her. Lovely as a summer rose, she's menopausal one moment and pregnant the next. Makes for an interesting outlook on life.

"Do you," she says, "have any idea how old we'll be when this baby goes to college?"

"Too old to have another one?" I ask.

She looks at me with executioner's eyes. Sizing me up for a noose.

"Too old to remarry?" I ask.

See, I try to find the humor in this situation. I try to find the joy. There is a blessing in this late-in-life pregnancy if you just look hard enough.

"Dad, did you really call Mom 'Jiffy Pop?' " the boy asks.

"That's just her rapper name," I explain.

"I don't think she likes her rapper name," he says.

Sensitive, these people I live with. Some are menopausal and pregnant. Others are merely teenagers. Same symptoms: cranky, beautiful, borderline insane.

In the other room, the phone rings. It's college calling.

"Know what I was thinking?" the college student says. "It's completely selfish, but that's OK."

Evidently, my college daughter has lots to tell me, for she is speaking faster than the speed of sound. Above the house, there are occasional sonic booms. Windows rattle. Plaster cracks. Under the house, termites burrow into the floor joists, fearing the worst.

"If you're busy raising your baby, how will Mom ever be able to help when I have one?" she says.

Fatherhood is for good? Now they tell me.

And on to the couples' baby shower we go, the one I mentioned last week, at the big house in the hills.

"What's this guy do?" a friend asks.

"I think he's in the mob," I say.

In truth, he works in movies and he's married to the leggy dentist. Some years, she might make more than he does. Had a crown put on lately, you know what I'm saying.

"This place is so beautiful," Nancy says.

"Where's the bar?" asks Hank.

They party well here in the suburbs. Wine flows. Plates of food orbit the guests. One friend pinches me every time he passes. Pretends it's an accident.

"I can't believe you're having another kid," Susy says.

"We are?" I say.

"See, she's completely pregnant," Janet says.

"Well, there's always room for one more," I explain.

Wait, no there isn't. I can barely handle the kids I already have, though I have no major complaints about them. They're good kids. I wouldn't change a thing.

Sure, they're chronically unemployed, with a Kennedy's sense of entitlement. But I love them dearly. I guess it's sort of a Stockholm syndrome: I've fallen for my captors.

"Do we know what sex the baby is?" someone asks.

"Doesn't matter," I say.

In another room, the women are opening gifts. "Ooooooooo," says my wife with every new box.

"Ahhhhhhhh," say the other wives, lovely as aging Bond girls, chardonnay on their middle-aged lips.

Of course, I don't recognize hardly any of these baby items, though I am grateful for every last one of them, whatever they are.

The one gift I recognize is a gag gift from Julie and Steve, a Sigmund Freud action figure. As you might guess, he's holding a cigar.

On the box are some quotes from Freud, who apparently lived in the suburbs as well. Did a bunch of research here. Might've played a little golf.

"Despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, I have not yet been able to answer ... the great question that has never been answered: What does a woman want?"

Children, some of them. Don't say you weren't warned.


Chris Erskine's column is published Wednesdays. He can be reached at

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