Another kid? What were you thinking?

Posted by GT on October 9th, 2008 — Posted in Newspaper columns, Personal favorites

Originally published in March 2006, The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colo.

When you’re in your early 40s and say, “My wife is pregnant,” the first responses you get aren’t the same as the ones you might have heard as recently as your mid-30s.

“Congratulations”? Nope.

“Great news”? Uh-uh.

“About time”? Get outta town.

Instead, the response I heard to the news that Lisa is pregnant – news I started selectively sharing this year around mid-January – usually amounted to, “Is this on purpose?” Which at least wasn’t the snort of laughter I got from one person, or the unabashedly flummoxed/amused wide eyes I saw on another.

Isn’t it interesting that even when dealing with someone as socially withdrawn as me, many people – including some I really don’t know all that well – scarcely think twice about asking such an intensely personal question?

Let’s acknowledge that such responses amount to this: “You’re so freaking old, Todd, and with two kids already, Lisa and you have already made your replacements. What were you thinking?”

Well, to quote some younger fathers-to-be – many of whom were less married to the significant women in their lives than I am – I wasn’t thinking.

At times, I feel like pointing out Tony Randall and James Doohan became fathers when they were twice my age. Then I remember they’re both dead now and hold my tongue.

At least I can look to my favorite literary father figure, Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” He’s described in the book as being almost 50, which means I’m in roughly the same ballpark, and unlike Atticus, I get to raise my kids with my wife instead of with a loving maid and opinionated sister.

Heck, just last week I heard someone describe 60 as the “new 40,” which by extension could mean that 40 is the “new 20″ and therefore I’m on the young side of things.

Yeah, I’m just going to keep whispering that to myself over and over. “I’m a young man. I’m a young man.” If I avoid eating pizza after 7 p.m. and make sure to get 10 hours of sleep every night, I even feel young.

Well, maybe not young, but less … mature, maybe?

OK, here’s the simple truth that I know I don’t have to share if I don’t want: This isn’t what we expected. I’m going to be almost 42 when this next little one arrives, which means I’ll be almost 60 when she or he reaches legal adulthood.

So no, we didn’t “plan” it. To be blunt, we didn’t “plan” any of our kids.

When I found out, my own response held considerably more shock than anything I’ve heard from anyone else, and not a whole lot of amusement.

Starting the whole process of raising a third kid – diapers, feedings, bottles, yadda yadda yadda – is intimidating.

For a few days after getting the news, my brain played the opening to Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” over and over in my head. You know, the part about how he went out for a ride and never went back, Jack.

Having lived more than five years with night lights in every room (so the kids won’t trip if they get up in the night, or so we won’t trip ourselves if we have to rush to them), I keep thinking about how much I miss simple, genuine darkness.

At the same time, the two kids I already have make me so stereotypically happy it’s goofy. People who tell you how great kids are may irritate you by coercing you into looking at endless stacks of boring snapshots of toddlers playing in water, but they’re right about how good it is to be a parent.

God only knows what a third one will bring, but I bet happiness will be a big part of it.

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