It’s not that he didn’t want children. Turns out he was just afraid to have them. Apparently all the talks we’d had previously about one day spawning a family was, um, well, just talk. You see discussing a baby and actually having one are two different things altogether. Reality has a way of sobering you up. It’d been just the two of us for so long that our egocentric lifestyle (and steady stream of bountiful income) had become routine. And now he was worried that it would all change when a baby entered the picture.
As the compassionate wife, I thought he was just being stupid.
I told my husband we’d still ski 40 days a year, travel, and spend money on ourselves like we had an endless supply, because I’d still work as a stand-up and technical trainer (after, of course, a respectable six weeks off to get to know Junior). Never mind that I had to travel all over the country to do it, we’d just take the little blob with us and set him up in one of those baby bucket car seat thingies where he’d sleep on command or entertain himself quietly by staring at a black-and-white cardboard face while listening to his Mozart headset. I mean really, how hard could it be to change a Prada satchel into a diaper bag? Just stick some Huggies in the darn thing and voilà, you’ve got yourself a designer carrier for baby’s nappies. Yes, I’d already done my homework, so by now I was an expert on parenting, with an above-average expertise in babies.
Good lord, what a pretentious horse’s ass I was.
No One Told Me It’d Be Like This
In retrospect my husband had every right to be worried. No matter what you think about having a baby, no matter how many books you read, how many experts you listen to, or how much advice you take from parents who’ve gone before you, you have no idea what you’re in for until you do it. And that’s both the beauty and the curse of having children. It’s a wild ride on a runaway train without a seat belt–or even a seat.
For me it turned out to be nothing like I’d expected, starting with the moment I laid eyes on my new little son (who turned out to be not so little at roughly nine pounds—also unexpected). The thought of leaving him to go on the road after our first six weeks together broke my heart. I did try for a whole year after he was born to continue working. But to make it easier on me I took him and his father along when I had to leave. We looked like some sort of trailer-trash, traveling circus, what with the car seat, the stroller, the portable crib, the baby swing, the breast pump, the multiple diaper bags, and several rolling suitcases that contained nothing but disposable diapers and onesies. We’d stand at the luggage carousel collecting bag after bag as they spewed out of the bowels of the airport. It was like watching those endless scarves come out of a magician’s sleeve.
Babies: The Ultimate Career Killers
After a year I couldn’t take it anymore. I quit comedy and public speaking cold turkey to stay home and happily wallow in spit-up and baby poop. My husband was worried we couldn’t live off his income alone, and he was right. We couldn’t keep up our old lifestyle, but fortunately we were both too exhausted on a daily basis from taking care of the baby to go out and do the things we used to do. So instead we stayed in, became hermits (which, by the way, saves a lot of money), and my husband telecommuted from home while I gained weight and let my leg and armpit hair grow. (Lovely.) I guess our financial situation sort of took care of itself.
Eventually my designer wardrobe began to dwindle. Donna Karan jeans gave way to sweat pants, my acrylic manicure wore off, and my most frequent form of exercise was lifting my son in and out of his highchair. But I didn’t care because I actually felt centered for the first time in my life. I can’t say I was jump-for-joy happy every day, but the highs were so cool that they far outweighed the occasional lows.
Within two years I was pregnant again. Proof that your memory is the ultimate deceiver when you rely on it to recall stressful events in your life—like childbirth.
Hopping From One Party to the Next
On a sunny August day in 1998 I went to Park City’s City Park to watch my three-year-old play with the other townie toddlers. My second son was due in October, so I was uncomfortable from the bloated effects of my third trimester. As I rested on a park bench feeling like my bulbous body was stuffed into a kielbasa skin that was about six sizes too small, an attractive older woman sat down next to me. “Excuse me,” she said. “Did you used to do comedy in San Diego?”
I looked at her incredulously. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted that she recognized me. I wasn’t exactly looking my best. “Uh, yeah,” I confessed. “But now I’m doing other things.” I looked at my son on the swings. He was having a blast—as my feet swelled by the second.
“The night I saw you we took my girlfriend to the Comedy Store for her bachelorette party,” she reminisced. “It was her third marriage and none of us expected it to last, so we were pretty crazy. But you were into it; you were so funny. God, that was a wild night.” I honestly couldn’t remember which night she was talking about because back then they were all wild.
“Yeah, well, as you can see, the party’s over,” I said a little too pitifully while patting my gargantuan belly.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she countered, as she graciously pulled her Igloo cooler over to elevate my puffy feet (which by now looked like two giant eggplants). “From where I’m sitting, I’d say the party’s just getting started.”
Turns out she was absolutely right.
(Graph courtesy of www.GraphJam.com. See more Funny Graphs.)