how it began

Already, almost a week has gone by since our minds changed, and so much detail has been lost.

These are the things I’ve noted:

This morning I woke up to catching a glimpse of Scott’s red plaid flannel clad butt as he was bending over in the backyard, pulling up dandelions, at 7:00 a.m.

This — à propos of his comment yesterday, as we were lying on the bed looking out the sliding glass door at said dandelions: “How can I take care of a baby if I can’t even take care of the yard?”

I guess we have 9 months to practice weeding, or 10, or…?

* * *

On March 18, 2006 we got married.

Around that time, we made a deal with each other about “the kid thing” (a thing being something you can dangle at a distance from yourself with the tips of your fingers, something you can be in denial about). We said to ourselves, each other, and everyone who asked, that we were going to “wait a year.”What does “wait a year” mean, exactly?

To me, apparently, it meant that on March 18, 2007, or close to it, the glove would come off.

I didn’t quite realize how deeply that intention had taken root in my subconscious. The first clue came in January, when I started having crying fits whenever the subject of kids would come up, or seemingly not come up but I’d find a way to tie it in, and blame Scott.

Like this: I applied for a full-time job in San Francisco, and had my first interview. I came home in a little bit of a mood. Remember, this is January. We haven’t had hardly any conversations about if or when we want to be parents, except to admit to each other that we’re both feeling a little ambivalent and a lot scared.

So he asks me about the interview, if I think I’ll want the job. I say something or other, but meanwhile, inside, a storm is brewing. By 10:00 that night, I’m wound in a tight ball, on the bed, so angry at Scott I can’t even look at him, much less explain why. I’m crying like he’s never seen me cry. Wailing. I catch my breath. He asks. I still can’t say it. I cry some more.

Finally, I get the power, courage, breath to explain to him that I’m upset because his encouraging comments about me getting a full-time job mean that he doesn’t want me to get pregnant and take care of a child. I had wanted him to tell me that I should only look for part-time work. Of course, he hadn’t gotten the psychic memo.

A few weird confluences in January:

I started working for two new clients, almost simultaneously: one, a parenting magazine hiring me to edit parent blogs, the pediatrician Q&A columns, and other ephemera; and the other, grant-writing for a family-planning services organization.

Nothing like a little outside nudging to get one’s mind where the universe seems to want it to be.

Around that time, I had also started having conversations with friends, expressing my strong STRONG ambivalence about having kids. Do I want them? I can hardly say the words — ggggget pppppppregnan…t??? What?

I started to doubt my relationship with Scott. Sure, marriage is one thing, and the bill for our wedding alone is enough to guilt me into making this work, and yes, we have the house we bought together, the mortgage we struggle to pay, but a kid? That’s really commitment. Can I take a lifetime with this guy? This messy, irritating, absentminded, goofy guy?

I didn’t realize it yet, but the deadline was working its magic, pushing all of my doubts, worries, and fears to the surface, like two thumbnails on a zit.

So a friend suggested I call this therapist who specializes in helping people who feel ambivalent about becoming parents. I had a phone interview with her the week my other two baby jobs started.

She asked me how Scott felt about having kids. I told her that he was worried about the financial burden, the loss of freedom, sharing me with someone else, and birth defects.

When she asked me how I felt, I just froze. I didn’t know how I felt. Except for being pretty sure that I don’t have TIME to feel ambivalent….

Of course, I cried.

She explained that she doesn’t work with couples, but rather with the more ambivalent partner. But which one of us was that? I decided, given how I’d reacted to her questions, that probably I was the one who was more ambivalent.

I discussed the conversation with Scott and he agreed. We’d send me to see the ambivalence lady.

But I was less than ambivalent about paying her $1600 for the prescribed 12 weeks of therapy. Even though it would have concluded nicely in time for my “glove-off” deadline.

That was another sign — that I was counting the weeks to see if her schedule fit my “schedule.”

And when I thought about it a bit more, about why she sees the more ambivalent one, it dawned on me that maybe it was Scott who was waffling, and that I was merely meeting his waffle. That I was being codependent, somewhat, and also reacting — if he’s not wanting the “thing” then how could I?

Plus, the fact that both of us hadn’t had steady work in six months wasn’t helping either of us in the confidence about the future department.

So we kept talking. And as we talked, we became more and more sure — in odd, funny ways:

We’re driving along and we spot a hot rod car. Scott says, “If you have that car, you can’t have a baby. Car or Baby?”

“Baby,” I answer.

“Wow, he says, you said that like you meant it.”

“Yeah, I do. I did. I don’t know.”

We’re at the farmer’s market and we see a kid wearing a Batman costume (superheroes being the mettle of my mate’s heart), and then we see a really cute dog. So I say, “Dog or Kid?” And he says “Kid,” and I say, “Wow, you said that like you meant it. Why?”

And he says, “Because you can dress a kid up in a batman costume.”

And I say, “Yes, but you can do that to a dog too.”

And he says, “Yes, but the dog wouldn’t enjoy it.”

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