Ready to Shoot, Jack

People on the outskirts of my life wonder why my wife doesn’t divorce me because of this blog. If she did, I would write the greatest reaction post ever, which would be trivial consolation for losing my soul mate. But it would be such a compelling post, probably my second-best ever behind the deathbed finale.

The thing is, I feel I hold back quite a bit when sharing about our life together. I am strategically vague when necessary, summarize generously, and write around omissions. On a 1-10 scale from shallow to deep-dark inner soul, this blog is really only at about a 5. It’s just that everyone else is so vapid and one-sided on social media, my content seems shocking.

A buddy was disappointed in the Bear post because he wanted me to dig deeper into marital tension. He generally relates to my arguments. Bro, could it be you need me to speak for you because your wife posts the exact same picture of you two on Instagram every time, just with the background switched out?

I hate people. I love humanity, but I hate its constituents. If your real-life memories were blanked and you had to choose new friends based on the posts in your Facebook feed, you would have a lot of trouble filling out a starting five, too.

The least I can do is put something out there a little bit raw and real and personal. It’s therapeutic. I refuse to fundamentally change how I blog.

My wife is a much more private person, and I need to respect that. At the same time, she should respect that I’m a less private person. This blog technically predates her, so she kind of knew what she signed up for. I write selectively honestly about my life and thoughts, and she has become the biggest part of them.

I also knew what I signed up for, in a more consequential matter. My wife has always wanted children, the salient topic at hand as she joins me in the Larry Bird Club (33 years old) in four days.

It has been jointly decided that sometime in 2018, there will be attempts at pregnancy. I am not allowed to divulge when we start. Maybe we already have for all you know. After spending 17 consecutive days apart in December, we had intercourse on New Year’s Eve with Mississippi River Delta-level fluid exchange. Was there a dam? I can neither confirm nor deny. This is private information. You see, we’re only at a 5.

Should we be fortunate or unfortunate enough to conceive, I am not at liberty to tell anyone, even my mom (who has shown little interest anyway), until my wife gives permission. It’s supposed to be our fun secret. I don’t find secrets fun at all, although I am dependable at keeping them thanks to my stubbornness, aversion to social outings, and measured manner of conversing.

A secret is usually a big deal or at least more interesting than average; otherwise no one would care to keep it a secret. I prefer to talk about these things and hear a diversity of opinions rather than milk the dramatic irony around people who don’t even really care. It beats talking about the weather or work.

Alas, I have verbally committed to privacy around this undertaking. If you ask what’s going on in my life 6 months from now, I might talk about my job or diet. And then the following month, surprise! — I may tell you we’re already 3 months pregnant. The timeline of communication seems disingenuous, but I’m just honoring a binding non-disclosure agreement.

For now, I believe I can safely talk about my own thoughts on reproducing. I’ve hated on children and especially their parents for so long. Reconciling this vigorous point of view with baby-making intent is a process far from complete. I still can’t shake the suspicion that having kids is an unimaginative, default, lazy, even cheap way to derive meaning from life.

When I think about young adults I know with kids — personalities before and after, hobbies or lack thereof, what they talk about, the pictures they post… I often think to myself, of course you had to have kids. What else could you do? You are so comprehensively uninteresting to others.

There are exceptions, but a very limited number by definition. If you feel like I’m not talking about you, that I must know a lot of boring people and you’re not one of them… the safer bet is you’re misjudging probabilities and I am talking precisely about you.

Yet I can no longer talk about you behind your back without cognitive dissonance, because now I want to join the baby party. I simply couldn’t figure out how to do better.

It was 9:10 on a recent Saturday night, and I was rubbing lotion on my wife’s feet. I remember the exact time because one tends to pause and reflect on life decisions when rubbing lotion on someone else’s feet. We had spent the afternoon at a 3-year-old’s birthday party talking to grandmas and talking at toddlers.

At home, we were mired in a stupor while still trying to find something half as good as Game of Thrones to hold us over until the final season is released in 2032. Jon Snow was in some HBO historical drama about religious persecution, and we forced ourselves to watch and desperately pretend it was entertaining.

We had no desire to go out on the one night of the week that afforded the elusive combination of sufficient energy and recovery time. Nobody invited us to anything anyway. I was doing my second load of laundry, a staple activity when motivation is low but there is still an inclination for feeling productive.

This was a telling snapshot of being ready for kids. I am done. I have nothing left to fight for. The opportunity cost of raising children, although absolutely staggering, will never get any lower.

Plus I’m beginning to foster a genuine curiosity about being a parent, tinged with a fear of regret. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and I’m more concerned about missing out, with only a slight interest in the actual experience.

During a car ride late last year, I verbalized a simple logic staring us in the face. If we are indeed committed to trying for kids one day, doing so at a younger age is better for fertility and health risks. One day is here. There’s no practical reason to wait based on our current lifestyles and goals.

Somehow during that conversation, I became almost euphoric about the idea of children. I blabbered something unintelligible about how exciting it would be to create a family unit and teach and learn together. The next morning I took it back and felt so embarrassed.

I am at a plateau of acceptance. More like a curve approaching an asymptote of readiness. More like a pendulum, swaying between being thrilled and horrified.

Basically I am as ready as I will ever be. It’s like warming up serves in tennis on a mediocre day. You blast some good ones, shank some bad ones, can’t get into much of a groove, and at a certain point declare it’s not going to get any better and you’re ready to play.

I am ready to take my shot. Of unfettered semen. Kind of. Sometimes. Soon. Never. Now. This year. When GoT comes out. I’ll keep you posted.



Writer’s note: If you spend any amount of your finite time reading the absurdities in this blog, we are either friends or highly compatible strangers. Thus I feel close enough to ask for your email address below. The only email you will ever get from me is one blog post per month for the rest of my life, until you click Unsubscribe. Thank you.