Friday, December 26, 2008

From the Icy Mountaintop....

Coming to you from 7000 feet above sea level at the in-laws, it's the post-Christmas review....

...or something.

So yeah, we did the Christmas thing at Amy's brother's. He's a decent fella; hard-working, roll-up-your-sleeves, shut-the-hell-up-and-get-it-done kind of guy, much like his father. He's got a kiddo, neat lil' dude about two years old. Most anyone who reads this probably already knows him. His mom and pop are very devoted to him, and it shows. (The in-law tradition of uberparenting continues; I refer to them as in-laws for some small degree of internet anonymity.)

Came to realize one of the impending signs of my parenthood - I found myself not enjoying Christmas for my own sake, but looking forward to The Ornery One's arrival - and doing silly stuff for that one's Christmas enjoyment. (Sidebar thought: Is this the sign of one's adulthood - when one becomes more interested in - or looks forward to - the enjoyment of one's children above the enjoyment of one's self? If so, some parents are not adults - and some non-parents are still adults. End of sidebar.)

Let's face it - for adults, like it or not, Christmas is STRESSFUL. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) Even when we tell each other we have no expectations, the self-respect and personal desire to impress one's peers still push us. Kids, on the other hand, absolutely rejoice for the holiday. They get free stuff that they really want, and that's it. Now we could go on about how Christmas is intended as a religious holiday, but let's face it - the vast emphasis of the holiday is commercial and "gifty." I'm not condemning that - I'm simply pointing it out.

Christmas is basically a kid's holiday. What's the most favorite Christmas tale? Sorry, but it's not "The Greatest Story Ever Told" - it's "A Christmas Story," Red Rider BB Gun and all. Yeah, sure, it's a time for families to get together, but there's a reason kids get all the presents - we're trying to instill in them the magic of the holiday that we ourselves have let go of to some degree. Adults love Christmas because of the kids; our vicarious enjoyment of their rapture. Me, there's a second motivation - my own Christmas history involved going to a large, drunken gathering of skydivers and packing parachutes in the afternoon while getting presents in the morning. Great way to wrap up the day, fa la la. I want my own kid to love the day and not have any reservations on it.

Easter's the same way, if you think about it. Valentine's, not so much - kids love their candy, but Victoria's Secret is the big retailer on that day. (Rawr.) Halloween is kind of split down the middle; kids love it, but lemme tell ya, the guys don't mind seeing the ladies in the getups most choose to wear on that day. (By which of course I only mean my dear and darling wife.)

I'm not sure I have much of a point, here. More of a rumination on holidays in general. Christmas is need. It's a lot more neat with kids. I think I must be - on some level - mentally preparing to become a dad, because I start thinking in terms of what this holiday means to kiddos.

On another note, it's just started snowing here in Ruidoso. It's a day late, but it's a sort-of-white-Christmas. Heh. Hopefully there'll be enough and it'll stick so that we can see how ol' dogface Lily reacts to it tomorrow. Maybe I'll post two blogs in two days. Oooh. Exciting.

-MT out

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the Season to be....something or other

Christmas is a rough season of the year for me. I'm one of those people that associates negative memories more so than positive ones with the holiday, largely due to the…. Unusual nature of my childhood. Being a teacher, it also tends to be more tiring and stressful. Being an expectant father, it is even more of both. (Seriously - expectant father and teacher, at Christmas-time, who has had lousy Christmas-pasts, and feels like he has to fit in with The Perfect Family now - I ought to just check myself in to a loony bin, neh?) Right now I feel more at my wit's end than I have since my first year of teaching at Christmas, so this blog may very well be more pathetic than usual. It will be filled with self-doubt, pessimism, and discouragement. Attach a big fat "DEPRESSING" to the top and move on with your ho-ho-ho'age if that's your desire. Don't blame you. Go drink egg nog and put on Nat King Cole and close this thing.

One of my students routinely comes by at the end of the day during my last planning period to do her homework. She's a student aide during that time, and she's never needed in that role. (Why the hell this means she can't go take Art or Drama or learn SOMETHING during that time is beyond me, but I suppose she benefits from…something or other.) She sits, she does her work, and we talk about life, liberty, and so on. Today she saw the fatigue on my face and looked pretty surprised - she assumed (as most kids do) that teachers are made of steel and stone and feel nothing. Meh, she's nearly in high school, ought to know better. Fine, whatever. I explained that this time of year tended to be exhausting - more so for me in this case. She's got this play tomorrow night that Amy and I are attending since it's at the wife's school, and I did my usual grumpy-grouse routine about it interrupting my day, rescheduling my dinner, and so on - and she was quite surprised that Amy and I ate together at vaguely regular times. We got to talking about her schedule, and how all her friends had similar schedules with a million events going on at all times. Seems that's pretty strange these days among kids, families eating together at normal times.

I know Amy and I want that for our child. I also wonder if, by insisting they have some spare time to hang with the fam, I'm damning my child to the same life of being-different-from-day-one that I was cursed with. People look at me and the fact that in high school and college I didn't party, that I was nose-to-grindstone, the good little student, and say "It's good, it's the right thing, it's noble, etc, etc, etc"

Strangely, this doesn't do a damn thing to make me feel better about the fact that I didn't do what everyone else did. While I'm proud of the fact that my attention to learning is pretty clear (Couldn't control my overuse of knowledge and grammar if I wanted to) it's also pretty damning. I don't know about popular television - don't care; can't develop any attachment to obviously predictable storylines. I couldn't give two craps about pop-anything. I have no idea what most party beverages are - I never "learned the taste" in college to fit in. I'm as categorically boring-square as they come. I am, in every measurable way, different. Different interests, different viewpoint, different priorities, different sense of right and wrong. Some of it's tragically old school, some of it wildly, rebelliously new and different. I struggle with that a lot, but I accept it with a certain stoic pride; I like my life, I like who I am, and I like what I stand for. I don't fit in, and I'm proud of that.

Problem is, I sure as hell don't like how I got here. I think about what I'm planning on raising my kid by: regular family meals, not a million different after school activities so they can be a kid, demanding the best teachers and the best schools, not letting them stay out at a party till 4am, expecting a regular, checked-on, regulated bedtime…. and it hit me today how massively, profoundly different that is than most kids - including the very kids I teach, the best of the best, the ones I imagine my child mixing with in due time.

Am I condemning my own child to the hell of my youth? To the absolute certainty - before the child is even born - of being not a little different like their mother, but PROFOUNDLY, "wow, you're WEIRD" different like their father, because of not only who they are (and having Amy's "love the world" and Jesse's "eye the world with arrogant, bitter scorn" for parent role models, the kid is GOING to be a bit odd) but because of how they are raised? Will my kid be the one who has to go home and miss out on things because their weirdo parents want to have dinner with them, AGAIN? Will my kid be the one not in the clubs everyone else is in, be the one not at the party everyone else goes to because I don't want to pointlessly endanger them? Will my kid be the one that wonders what they missed while they studied and stayed in because I care about their grades? And if all that's true, will my kid be glad for it? Or will some small part of them always wonder if the sacrifices they made were worth it?

And most importantly - will they thank me for that choice that I made for them? The one and only good thing I give my mother is that she, for the most part and with one strict exception, allowed me to make nearly all my own choices growing up. I willingly embraced my elitist, arrogant, I-turn-my-nose-up-at-social-gatherings,-for-I-am-a-scholar place in the world.

By demanding my child be well-raised, well-educated, well-cultured and well-balanced, am I damning my child to social isolation and marginalism? Is being a good parent so unusual now that good parenting is in and of itself damning to the child?

For me, knowledge and control are bread and butter. Being ready, being prepared, understanding the situation and all it encompasses are my goals. I sacrificed huge amounts of my life and time making sure I had them - and it, for the most part, has paid off big. I'm doing exactly what I want with my life right now, even if I'm not being paid properly for it.

I'm coming to realize that for all I supposedly know… I don't know a damn thing about what matters most. Just like every other parent, I haven't a clue if I'm going to raise my child well, or ruin them. Just like every other parent, I am utterly witless in this situation.

Pregnancy: the great intellectual equalizer. Those people who see me as arrogant must be crowing right now.

So why the hell did I not go out more in college again?

Man, I hate the holidays. Next blog will be full of cheer and pre-parental joy. Promise.

-MT out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sadists, Car seats, and in-laws.

Pull up a chair, ladies and germs - it's time for MT to do a wee bit o' rantage. The end of the post is non-rant, but you're going to read a fair bit o' flame-and-fire beforehand. So. Forewarned, forearmed, half-an-octopus, here we go:

I'm a first-time parent as most everyone reading this knows. This means that - by my nature as a rookie - I'm very likely to listen attentively to any and all comments on the subject of children, birth, child-rearing, pregnancy, the joys of breast feeding, and the implications of the sudden and dire need of the female to pee. Not only am I likely to listen, I'm rather inclined to take such information, when delivered, to heart - or at least consider it seriously. I'm going to make the apparently either massive and fallacious or accurate-and-yet-naive assumption that most people know this, or remember a similar state of mind from their own experiences as a first-time-parent.


Seriously? WTF is the thinking there? This is the same bovine stupidity and unthinking behavior that humans display when they go "Wow, this tastes horrible....try it." No thank you, I don't want to share in your misery. Misery may love company, but I'm a whole hell of a lot happier NOT sucking along with you, thanks. So why in the hell do people think "Gee, here's someone going down the road for the first time, let me increase their stress, discomfort, and fear as much as I reasonably can with anecdotes of woe." Is that the goal? Do people genuinely WANT to see someone else's suffering? Is the average schmuck so sadistic that they, knowing someone else must be vulnerable, feel the roaring need to give them a swift spiritual and emotional plant in the cojones? What kind of sick, twisted bastard tells stories about extended childbirths, raging psychopathic wives, and children who don't let them sleep for weeks on end? It's not like I can take back the pregnancy at this point. Do they want to see me a miserable, unhappy parent that produces an unbalanced child? Is their goal to further the entropy quotient in the human race? What the hell is wrong with you people?

The next time you see a first-time parent, tell them a good story. Tell them how you made it through just fine. Lie if you must, but for chrissakes, don't add to their stress - people have imaginations of their own, y'know? Show some empathy instead of stupidity, and the world would be a better place. That's a message for the masses in all realms.

And while I'm at it, don't friggin offer me your nasty drink in the future. K? K.

Second rant. Less of a rant, more of a "WT...?"

We've got this car seat in the garage someone gave us. Nifty car seat, don't get me wrong. Eddie Bauer. (Since when did Eddie Bauer get into the car seat fashion biz? Anyhow.) Here's what I don't get. The seat is rated for infants - but the dimensions are as follows:

Up to 52 inches in height, up to 100 lbs.

For those following at home, that's FOUR FEET FOUR INCHES tall and THE WEIGHT OF SOME SMALLER FEMALE ADULTS. Dear lord. What child is anywhere near that size and still in a car seat? I've got a student or two in eighth grade who meet those dimensions - do we seriously intend to make them ride in infant seats? Can you imagine that?

"I know we're driving to your friend's 13th birthday party, but hold still while I strap you into your car seat, dear. Next year we'll let you put your high school bumper sticker on the side - won't that be fun?"

Can you imagine the psychological trauma? 52 inch, 100lbs ain't an infant, folks - and it sure don't ride in Eddie Bauer's finest. I'm forced to wonder if the engineer(? advertising agent?) who specced that thing seriously considered the dimensions of the occupant at the high end.  Personally, about the time you cross four feet, I'm-a let you ride in the back seat normal, k? Sounds good.

Finally, a reference to something positive. Amy's in-laws just left this morning. (Ooops. That's not the positive bit, I swear.) They're good people. Unlike most stories (that's another one - why the nasty in-law stories, people? We're stuck with them, don't make it worse?) about nasty in-laws, these two are pretty cool folk. They're still together after umpteen crazy years (seriously, we're talking, like, fifty or more or thereabouts) and they still giggle at each other and I swear she might even think he still hangs the moon. They have their differences, sure, but we all do. The thing is, they're really encouraging and really scary all at the same time. 

I've never been the most socially comfortable person to begin with - I always feel weird around 90% of the planet, for whatever reason, because I feel like I can't relate - but with these two, it's something else. They're like, the UBER parents. Dad's a housing contractor builder guy - the man built three of the homes Amy grew up in with his own friggin hands. How much more awesome-dad can you get than that? His only requirement of me is that I make his daughter happy, and he means it. He's straightforward, honest, speaks his mind and works until he sweats, and that's when he calls it fun. There may be five mechanical devices on the planet he doesn't know how to repair without thinking about it, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what they are. His innate mechanical handiness makes my own macho self-image curl up in a corner and cry out for momma.

His wife, Amy's mom, is the same way. She cooks. She sews. She housekeeps. She mows the friggin lawn, and keeps the books for the family biz. The woman leads a group outside of the home in her town, and she even finds time to talk with Amy every other day or so and play with her grandkid a lot. She and Amy get along better than anyone I've ever seen - they have half-hour gigglefits with no apparent reason or sanity behind them - and she is literally one of the most "I can make the world better with a hug, a smile, and apple pie" people I have ever met. She raised a woman I consider to be one of the wonders of the world (I mean, c'mon, Amy puts up with ME, y'know?) and a son who by all accounts is pretty friggin impressive himself - he's never given me cause to complain.

The perfect housewife, the uber-house-building all-American dad, two kids, dogs, and they'd have a picket fence if it made any sense where they lived. 

Yeaaaahhhh...... and I'm gonna raise a kid to fit into that world. Me. The product of a dead biker and a drug-dealing-child-abuser-who-teaches-bitter-community-college-courses. Suuuuuure. I don't even say the Texas pledge, folks - my All-American ends with the first 30 seconds of the school announcements every day. How in the world am I supposed to resemble (forget compete, I ain't even in the minors for that league, sucka) anything like the kind of parent Amy's dad is? Now Amy, she's the spitting image of her ma and will no doubt continue to the family tradition of Uber-Momness.... but she sure ain't got another version of her dad carrying the other side of the load. My idea for fixing something is to give it a swift kick and buy a new one. I'll work up a sweat working, but don't expect skilled labor.

They're great people, but dang - talk about a high bar. At least when my kid decides he loves his grandparents better than his parents (c'mon, they all do that for awhile) this one will have a reason, neh?

Eh. Long post. Sorry about that. Sadistic people who tell you horror stories about their life suck. Be encouraging or shut up. Car seats need a dose of realism. I'm never going to be half the parent Amy's parents were, and it makes me a little nervous and in awe every time I'm around them.

MT out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shabot shalom? and other mysteries I'll never uncover

So Amy likes doing social things. I got invited to a bar-mitzvah (probably mangled the spelling there; Jewish coming-of-age-ceremony) by one of my students quite some while back, agreed to come, and promptly filed it away in the back of my head under the category of "if by some miracle I actually feel like it on the day of, and remember, and have clean clothes of the appropriate type, and don't have to pick my nose, yeah, sure, that'd be cool."

Unfortunately, being married to a socialite means when you accept social committments... you're actually expected to go. 

Dude. No one mentioned this in the fine print. (Okay, I lie. I've always known, but I continue to protest.)

So off we went. Lot of my students there, too. They seemed surprised to see me, and I was a bit surprised to see some of them. I guess they're a little surprised that one of their teachers feels a personal connection and commitment to them - and I guess I was a little surprised that they felt that kind of committment to each other. And let me tell you, two hours of people singing in a language you don't understand to notes they know and you don't is a gut check; you gotta like someone to wait that out. They did. We did. I'll also deny making any jokes in my wife's ear over the proceedings. I am NOT, repeat NOT irreverent. Really.

So the kid in question - I have to admit, as kids go, this dude's pretty clean-cut, honest, wholesome. He's the one I'll mention in my substitute notes as "the kid to ask for an honest answer on whatever issue." He says sir out of habit, and really is just a strikingly well-behaved dude. Don't get me wrong. He's still a teenager and loves his mischief and is a goof - but his heart is as clear as I've ever run into at that age. It's pretty impressive. I wouldn't bring this up so much except that, as teachers, you kind of eyeball kids and wonder which one yours will be like. Physically, there's just no way - he's neither heavily built nor tall, and Amy has both in her bloodline, and I'm the midget in a clan of giants by way of chemical interference during puberty, so there's no doubt that my 5'11" height is "fake." But this kid's parents apparently have some pretty sharp insights on how to raise a proper boy. It's funny... parents often come to their children's teachers on advice for how to handle their children.  Truth is, in some cases, I'd rather go to them.  Think I just may, too, when the time comes.

"Hey. Your kid possesses the impressive and unique qualities of neither being a freak nor a complete reject. How'd you pull that off?"

Flattering in its own way, I guess?

So Miss Amy's bump is starting to become noticeably more pronounced; the ball is picking up speed down the mountain, as it were. If I'm just glancing at my gorgeous wife, she doesn't look any different, but I don't have to inspect her long to pick it out anymore. I imagine before too long, even my permanent-mental-image-of-gorgeous-Amy will be able to pick out the changes on a glance. Part of me wonders what this will do on the hormonal level; I strongly suspect that any guy who says he finds his wife sexier when she's immensely pregnant is lying. Those qualities which most men find sexy are, by natural process, gone late in the pregnancy. That doesn't mean I won't still find her attractive for who she is, what she means to me, and so on, but it will obviously change some qualitative factors. I don't know by how much - it hasn't changed anything yet - but I'll admit I'm curious about it. I'm very analytical and "cold-minded" about the world around me, but I'd be a fool not to recognize I'm a creature of my body's own chemicals, too. Should be interesting to see how the two very different sides of Medieval Teacher react to the changes ahead.

Unlike the false alarm that Amy was coming out of the yuck phase earlier this month - heh, I wish - she really does appear to be coming out now. This arriving at the same time as we're both getting over a bout of coughs and icky stuffs, it works out well for everyone. Tip for fellows: Wives can't take the majority of aggressive anti-sickness drugs when pregnant. This means they stay contagious longer, greatly increasing your chance of getting sick. So wash more often, take preventative stuffs, etc, because unless your wife is uber-friggin-stinkin-cool like mine, she won't want to take care of you while she's pregnant and miserable. This will probably frustrate you, and while that frustration may be justified, her position of "I'm miserable too" is equally justified. Bear this in mind and avoid sickness when she is as much as possible.

Thanksgiving is due up fairly soon. I'll probably post something about that. I keep meaning to post more often in this thing, but the early stages of this pregnancy bit are a bit slow-going, and honestly, I didn't want to dwell unduly on the misery of the first trimester. I'd hate for my blog, as my students call it, to turn "emo."

Life continues onward. Mental note to talk about the strange and various gear you get when babies are on the way, including the biology-defying car seats.

MT out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dreams, Social Events, and Life in General

So life continues onward.

Had my first "baby dream" last night, I guess - the ones that actively involve you, your wife, and some infant-presence. In this case, I was being presented with The Unknown One (sounds much more impressive than "the baby") for the first time, and The Unknown One decided to demonstrate his very new masculinity by peeing on me. Apparently this is in point of fact a fairly common parental experience; my subconscious must take delight in tormenting me with "joys" yet to come. (Seriously - who the hell dreams of getting peed on? In any context? WTF is that about?)

Wife's becoming wife again. That isn't to say that the pregnabeast isn't making occasional appearances and she's not in psychohormone mode about cleaning or some other randomness, but at the very least morning sickness is now more of a weekly occasion than a daily one. This is having the expectable effect on the rest of our lives, which is a good thing. Still no sign of the most famous change of the second trimester (Heh, you wanted to know that, right? Hey, I'm writing this thing for posterity and future poor schlubs like me who have to figure out what's going on with their wives. Deal.) ...but I'm holding out a bit of hope.

So we went to a party this weekend, Halloween shindig one of my coworkers put together at her place. Normally I'm not keen on parties - in what I'm sure is another "Thank you Captain Obvious" moment for those who know me, I'm really not very social at all -  but I have to admit I had an okay time at this one. Part of the problem I have relating to...well...ALL.... of my coworkers, and indeed 99% of the teaching population in general is that I have absolutely nothing in common with them.

Average Teacher:
- Conservative
- Churchgoing
- Football Watching
- Sports-Loving
- Non-Academic-Fiend
- Non philosophical-debater-type.
- Probable Greek in College
- Watches television as a major pastime
- Believes video games are a major contributor to the misbehavior of children

- Independent Semi-Liberal
- Non-Atheist, but my views on religion, belief, and Church (three different things) are more complicated than the US Tax Code
- I'll watch one football team, ever, and only if I see it on by accident
- Interested only in unorthodox sports (fencing, archery, dodgeball, extreme sports)
- I'm quite content to discuss academic topics ad naus
- I'm also quite content to debate world topics (not politics) extensively, but people seem to drag any debate on the world back to tired old partisan politics
- Vehemently anti-Greek in College
- Hates most television, believing it to be a major contributor for the misbehavior of children
- Plays video games, and is actively involved in the development/creation of same you might say that the average teacher - 99% of the teaching population - and I have NOTHING to talk about after the weather and "children-in-school-these-days."

It seems I finally have a commonality with some teachers, though: this whole pregnancy bit. The wife did most of the talking, but here was a subject I could also add to/contribute with and not either be making stuff up completely, or be totally certain my views were "the enemy." I actually found myself enjoying talking to people that historically I've always felt very awkward around; not because I had anything against them or because of their conduct - far from it, they seem to think I'm a decent fellow for some reason - but because I actually had some common ground. Me, the Yankee-Born, Beach-Bred Non-Conformist, in the middle of the heart and soul of Red-Blooded Biblical Conservative America.

So at the end of the party, something truly bizarre happened - the wife wanted to leave before I did. Granted, the pregnancy probably played a huge part in that, and I'm sure I'll be back to my anti-social self before terribly long, but it was a strange evening.  I guess the whole point of this segment of blogging is this: having a kiddo gives you things to talk about with people you never really would've felt comfortable around before.

So life continues onward...dreams of getting peed on and all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Grind

So it's been awhile since I actually posted on this thing. Partially, this is because I'm a schoolteacher and well, that's a busy job, last I heard. Partially, this is because life has been somewhat-to-significantly uncomfortable.

Yes, I said that. Fellas reading this in advance, just accept it now - it's fairly likely, especially if you haven't been married for an extended period of time, that the first trimester of your first child will be the low point of your marriage up to that point. (The second one will be when she discovers your Asian pr0n collection you thought was properly hidden! HAR!)

I never understood the phrase "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" until recently. While I still find it mildly offensive and overly glorifying, at least for situations when someone is just being cranky to exert power, there's some truth to it here. Amy's not happy. She doesn't want to do lots of the things that made us both smile. No Rock Band. No Diablo. No...uh...well, you get the gist. We still talk, but the talks aren't soul-sharing. They're damage-control. Keeping us from killing each other while we weather this storm, because I've had to bite my tongue REALLY hard a few times, and I imagine being married to a snarky, sarcastic, arrogant bastard like me means she's probably got a permanent dental impression on her tongue, too.  I don't blame her for that, and it's entirely expected, but it still means that most (scratch that, ALL) of the things we did that bonded us together aren't being done. All the things we did to dissolve stress between us aren't being done. And even in a frighteningly sweet and idyllic marriage - which is what I would term mine, prior to this point - after three months, a toll begins to take effect. (I sometimes wonder if the rumored...uh... "zest"... in the second trimester is nature's way of trying to balance out the damage it does to the mated pair, as it were.)

The point of the above info isn't to scare you off the whole pregnant thing; I'm still game. It's to pass on this advice: it's okay to take a break. Amy's mom was here and the two of them went gallavanting off to Hell (a.k.a. Fredricksburg, Texas, but that rant is for another day) for the weekend, and I didn't miss a beat - there were four dudes playing video games, telling dirty jokes, eating pizza, and watching people beat the crap out of each other on TV all day Saturday. I felt better on Sunday morning that I'd felt in ages. Truth be told, I could use another two or three weekends like that - now that things have returned to "normal" (just Amy and I and .25 extra Fletchers) the toll I mentioned above is still very much there and still very much growing... but there's nothing wrong with seeking solace in yourself and your own luxuries during the first trimester. (Just make sure the lady is doing the same, 'cause it's a safe bet that she's hypersensitive to her own crankiness and probably has noticed the distance building between the two of you, too.)

Now in theory, all this distance will close and repair itself after the first trimester passes. I hope so. At the very least, I hope it closes after the kiddo's born. (Saw the second sonogram two days ago, by the by... very cool stuff. Lil' booger's in there wiggling around, flailin', kickin' and otherwise being a teeny tiny kid. I dunno about personality, but you can definitely see a person doing very-young-person-stuff in there. I haven't quite sorted what that experience is doing to my views on abortion yet.) Anyhow - I'm hoping that Amy will want to make up for lost family time in some form once all the dust settles from this, and I'm a little worried it won't happen because of the new booger in our lives at that point. I try not to think that far ahead, and I try not to wonder if I'm being selfish in hoping that there will still be an "us, you-and-me" after it's all said and done. 

But anyhow. I'm hoping this will be my last "wow, this shit REALLY sucks" type post. They say the misery of the first trimester starts bleeding off around 12 weeks, and we just passed that mark. I'm sure there will still be plenty of insanity in store, but I'm kind of hoping that in some form, I'll get my wife back.

If not.... I may have to start renting old UFCs and paying for plane tickets for Amy, and that'll get expensive.

MT out.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"We're" Pregnant And Other Misstatements

I'm not, as a rule, afraid to take credit where it's due. (Yes, thank you captain obvious, I know.)

However, I have something of a pet peeve: the guys who say "We're pregnant" or allow others to tell them "So, you're pregnant, eh?"

No. No, I am NOT pregnant. In point of fact, it is physically impossible for me to BE pregnant, last I checked. I lack the proper equipment for that job.  "Oh, but you're married to your wife, the two of you are a team" I hear people say. Rubbish. When the quarterback fumbles the football, they don't say the TEAM fumbled. They make it quite clear WHO fumbled as soon as they know. Same thing with scoring goals in hockey, or anything else. Yes, I am on Team Fletcher, but if I want to extend the sports metaphor, I've already hiked the ball. My job here is done. All I do now is stand there and block stressors in her life from time to time. That's not nearly enough work for me to claim credit on something as awe-inspring as "I'm pregnant."

I wonder if other guys feel like that. Sure, I'm supportive, sure, I'm around - but I'm no life-support system, and I sure don't have the super power of growing people inside of me. In fact, for a guy like me, who likes to feel like he has some sway over events, some control over his life, and some general command of the direction things are going... I do damn little in what matters most at the moment.

Can't say that I like it much, honestly. Frustrates me to watch my wife yack - we're up to about 1.5 times a day in the last week, uberbad - and know there's nothing I can do to prevent it happening. Frustrates me to watch her exhausted and know I could do every chore in the house and it wouldn't matter. Frustrates me a LOT to get chewed out for minor or non-existent misunderstandings which are entirely pregnant-hormone-irritation-explosions (AKA, "The Pregnabeast") and know that were I Rico Suave, or the King of Diplomacy, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

This whole dad thing. I'm looking forward to it, but for the first time in my life, I'm totally on the bench... and yeah. Not keen.

Other mis-statement worth brief note: Fairs. They aren't. There's nothing "Fair" about them. "Fair" means "acceptable" or at least "agreeable." Those mob-crush, fried-food-orgies are nothing of the sort. They're "Sucks" followed by "Mehs" with the occasional "Neat!" wrapped in. Texas State Fair should also have a "ripoff" written in it somewhere. I guess "Texas State Suckmehneatripoff" would have all kinds of misunderstandings and bizzare connotations to it, though... not to mention the possibly unpleasant side effect of someone's manhood getting mangled. Eek.

Closing now.

I'm not pregnant. My wife is. I want to help more. I can't. Fairs aren't. End of blog.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Yeah, so I haven't blogged in awhile. This is partially because things have fallen into a "pregnant routine" - not much has changed. For the most part we dodge Amy's sickness, and once in awhile she still does the technicolor yawn. This is also partially because I had a truly hideous week at school - two twelve hour days in a row (football game, Open House) and then was supposed to have a meeting with a bigwig about curriculum (who neither showed nor called, win!) and various stressors related.

Did have a bit of a jolt the other day, though. As a teacher your kids like, being reflexively and accidentally called "Dad" is not that unusual. The kids think of you in a guiding/caring/protecting role, and if they're thinking about an assignment and need you, the first thing that comes into a mind is not "teacher" when they think about those roles, especially if they like you and they're used to having you around. Normally, when this happens, I snicker at the kid, inform the child that were they mine, they would receive daily beatings for their behavior (which is of course my code for "you're a good kid" as always, and they know it) and ask what they want.

So this happened Wednesday. Sweet, overenergized, overintelligent punkoid kid, her lil' mind eagerly chewing away on the mental challenges I'd set before the class, makes the slip. I'm sitting a desk away talking with another student and I get "Dad, can you help me with this?" Not all that unusual. What was unusual was my reaction.

I answered.

Never before in my life has the appellation "Dad" had any effect on me, and I've not identified with it even in the slightest. I consider the line between teaching and parenting pretty clear. Apparently though, unbeknownst to me, the ol' brain has been gradually climbing into "Dad shoes" without me realizing it. It wasn't a conscious thing - it was simply "you have been addressed" and I answered.

Immediately after I answered and as kids were snickering at the girl, I realized what had happened and the jolt was so strong I'm surprised I didn't blow any electronics out. Dear lord having mercy Mary Mother Joseph and his camel, I JUST RESPONDED TO THE TITLE OF FATHER.

I think there are still scorchmarks in the bottoms of my shoes.

Note to self and future dads: while not as publicized or as well-known, you too will have occasional massive emotional shocks on this nine month march.

"Dad." Holy gawd. I'm going to have to get used to that before it's my turn. I dunno. I'm not sure what title seems appropriate for me. I was thinking more, "El Patron." Sounds more intimidating.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Quest For the Golden Placenta?

So I'm not exactly a social animal by nature. (Those of you who know me well are probably struck down with awe at the sheer understatement of that remark.) Never have been. I likes my small circle of friends, and that's just that.

Lately, though, I've been going against my traditional trend. Kinda weird. People stop to ask me about Amy's pregnancy, and instead of grumbling a very mundane reply like I do when people ask me how she's doing in general, I'm actually ....well....almost animated... in my replies about how she's doing, now. They make further commentary, and I even respond to it. A modern day male debutante am I. What's up with that?

I guess, despite my usually "Meh, whatever, life's not as big as the drama lets you think it is" I'm getting a tad caught up in this whole thing. It's a bit of an adventure, trying to come up with ways to feed an Amy with 1000 aversions, be there for her when she gets sick (Chunk O' Meter is at 3 now, by the way) and still keep my own affairs in order. Bit of an adventure? Hell. BIG adventure. Adventures need a good name, though, and I'm stuck for one. Quest for the Golden Fetus just seems odd - and kiddo ain't that big yet.

Dad tip o' the day: enjoy the ride. Like most adventures, it's a lot more fun in the telling than the living, but it may be one of the last times in your life you genuinely feel social - and people genuinely want to be social with YOU, not the wife.

Hmm...another adventure name thought...."Raiders of the Lost"....wait. Let's not go there. The implications would get me in trouble for a week.

Breakfast time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chunks, Waffles, and other bits

So Amy's cookie-tossing count is now at one. (Aren't you thrilled I led with that, babe? Hey, at least it's over faster now, right?) I feel horrid because I wasn't even home with her when it happened - epic fail in the supportive husband column - but I'm sure at least one or two other opportunities to make up for it will come along. Hopefully not, but there you go.

I was out beating myself through an exercise routine - few miles on the bike. Also cut way back on my food intake, as well. It's very important to me that I be in proper shape when The Unknown One (I'm trying out nicknames here, bear with me) joins the world. There's the obvious "I want to live a long time and enjoy parenting/grandparenting" and being there for my wife, but honestly, there's a simpler motivation, too - I don't want my kid being the one other kids can crack on for having a fat dad. My own personal vanity and motivation was never quite enough to get me off my proverbial hind end, but I'm not taking my kid down with me, as it were. Sixty pounds in eight months shouldn't be too bad - and I figure if I get rabid enough about it, it ought to keep the ol' wife healthy as well.

So there you go, expectant-dad-types, sage advice: when the wife gets pregger, it's a great time to start exercising yourself: communal activity, keeps their weight gain reasonable, and you'll be glad you were healthier when you're running around with two hours of sleep anyhow, right?

Other subjects.

My mother. Hell, I don't know, at some point maybe I'll even tell her about this blog and let her read it, or maybe not. It's tough to know what to think about her. On one hand, I've got a laundry list of reasons to be very, very angry with her - there isn't a headshrink or childcare specialist under the sun that wouldn't shriek in utter horror and proclaim "Abuse" at any of a hundred stories I could tell. On the other, I know she did what she believed to be in her/my best interest, most of the time. Whether that's an excuse, I dunno. On one hand, I've got a lot of trouble dealing with my temper and a busted nose I can thank her for. On the other, I've got a determination and an ability to deal with rude/hostile actions calmly (hey, when you deal with it for eighteen years, who the hell cares what Johnny in class has got to say?) that is probably within the top 10% of the population.

Those are the thoughts that swirl around in my head all the time. Now I've got new ones to add to the mix - the woman really does know a lot about kids, loves babies, and can be pretty supportive. I've also got the memories of THIS kid's childhood to counter that with, and the "do I want my child exposed to that." Part of me goes, "There's no way she'd do something bad to her grandchild." But of course, we all have the demon that says, "Wanna bet? Wanna bet....your kid's welfare on it?"

Not so much.

(And you wonder where I get my own nervousness about parenting from, right? Heh.)

Been getting back in touch with a lot of the old high school friends lately. That's pretty keen. Even back in touch with the Snooze and Kacy, two of my best chums in the whole world, back in the day. That's also pretty keen. They all have kids - I seem to be behind the power curve here - but I guess I'll be catching up soon.

Eh. That's more than enough for 6:30 in the morning. Does anyone actually enjoy reading this voyeuristic, self-aggrandizing, what-goes-through-my-head-hits-the-page stuff? It helps me think at times, I guess.

Buncha weirdos.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heartbeats, Heave-Ho's, and Ho-Hum's.

So like most big events in life - well, most ANYTHING in life, really - there's a lot of waiting with this pregnancy thing.

(Yes, I know, "Thank You Captain Obvious.")

But still. It's not like there's a new change every day.

Went to the first "serious" Doc Appt two days ago. While I'm still instinctively NOT okay with some dude rummaging around in my wife's personal regions, I guess I'd better get over it. Doc seems okay, as docs go. S'pose he'd better be okay since he's the one playing catcher at the end-of-season baseball game, as it were. Did the sonogram (and OH MY GOD THAT SONOGRAM TOOL IS NOT THE FLAT PADDLE THEY SHOW IN THE MOVIES. Seriously. My manhood felt overshadowed.) and the sonogram showed a grain o' rice with a heartbeat. Women say this is when things feel more real to you. Meh. Not so much for me. I mean, I accept and believe there's something going on in there, but a wee lil' fuzzy thing on a TV screen with reception that would annoy Great Grandma isn't quite enough to give me THE BIG SHOCK. Amy's still Amy. (Bigger boobs, though. HAR!) I'm still me. Life goes on. Visit was otherwise uneventful, except for me forcing myself to watch when they took her blood for tests. Figure if Amy wants me to be in the delivery room, I'd better get over my quease about needles, blood, and goo in general, eh?

Speaking of the quease... She's got the pregnancy quease going now, but hasn't done the old heave-ho yet. Since I tend to be a sympathy yarfer, that's probably a good thing, as I haven't done the technicolor yawn in several years, or so I choose to recall. We're kind of hoping it won't happen, but what're the odds of that, eh? I'll make sure you voyeuristic lot get all the gory details when she does, fear not. (Assuming anyone still reads this.)

Overall, though, not much changes. No belly bump yet. No complications or strangenesses. Lil' dude or chica's still in there. We're still out here. Our spraying cat appears to have subsided, but whichever cat it is definitely wasn't impressed by the tin-foil-on-the-couch trick. Foil everywhere. Heh.

Mental note for next log - talk about mom. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lazy Sundays and Optimism

So today has been a pretty mellow day. 

Watched one of my favorite fighters get absolutely whomped on last night at UFC - not so keen - but aside from a backache from lifting dogs and pianos yesterday, it's been a nice, quiet, mellow day.

Lifting dogs? Yep. See, there's this thing in Plano called "KERPLUNK." Doesn't stand for anything but "Oh My God That's a Lot Of Dogs Running Around a Swimming Area." I guess OMGTLDRASA doesn't roll off the tonuge as easy, though. We took Lily to see what she'd think and how she'd do. I was a little curious as to how exactly the City of Plano was going to control that many dogs running around a swimming pool, but turns out the solution is pretty easy:

They don't. Utter doggy pandemonium.

To my surprise, though, that many dogs and owners in the same area - and there were easily sixty, seventy dogs there - were getting along pretty well. Yes, there were occasional scuffles, but for the most part, dogs were getting along just fine. Small dogs, big dogs, tiny dogs, HUGE dogs. All kinds of dogs. There's something amusing about seeing a puntable-sized football dog touching noses with a big shaggy German Shepherd.

Lily was amazed. Never seen so many dogs before. Turns out our dog that loves the lake won't get into a pool with a bazillion other dogs around unless you bodily drag her in. We managed to coax her into the pool once with a lot of urging, but the rest of the time, we had to haul her in ourselves. A lot of my nerves about her behavior, though, proved to be absolutely unfounded. She ran around, she sniffed, avoided water like the plague, chased tennis balls, goofed off, and generally had a great time. Was an amazingly well-behaved very young dog, as she always seems to be....even though I'm always worried she won't be.

Being the overanalytical type that I am, though, I started considering whether or not this lesson applied to other sections of my life. Like, say, fatherhood and my fears about how badly I'll do thereabouts. I've always worried that due to the highly unusual nature of my own parental upbringing that I'd be ten kinds of weird at it myself. That I'd do something hideous and scar the child forever without intending to, or deeply anger Amy, or something else soul-scarring. I dunno. Maybe a little more optimism goes a long way.

Maybe I'll "man up" and not freak out or pass out on delivery day. I always did well under stress before now, I guess.

Maybe I'll be the kind of dad I want to be, supportive, understanding, firm, fair, fun - I mean, I don't go postal on my students, right? That's how they describe me.

Maybe Amy will go big with the Arbonne thing; she's got the skills. Maybe I'll get my book finished this year and get some extra change from that. Maybe the administration thing will work out before my kid's old enough to remember Mom and Dad and the Latchkey Life. Any of those things would work, really. All we need is one.

Despite my fears that I'd somehow become a cheating bastard or a wifebeater, I've apparently done a pretty stellar job at being a husband so far. Maybe I'll continue to not screw that up. God knows why, but Amy STILL seems smitten. (I know, wtf is she thinking, right?)

Maybe I can learn a little something about life from a semi-shy, semi-friendly, twice-abandoned Shepherd/Lab mix who likes to sound like a walrus, and happens to think Amy and I are the best things in the whole darn world.

At least, that's a decent enough message for me to ponder on a perfectly calm, perfectly quiet, perfectly relaxing Sunday afternoon.

Maybe life won't suck after all. Maybe it's worth giving the world a chance to work itself out once in awhile.

Maybe. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008


Hmm. So I'm awake now the next morning and mildly displeased at the "woe is me" tone of the last blog post. Never having written a blog before, I'm not sure if I've just committed a faux pas in posting when clearly very tired and downtrodden or not. Definitely not in that mood now (it's amazing what eight hours of sleep and four hours of Eh. I'll let it stand, I guess. It's nothing untrue, but it definitely had a somewhat untypically-Jesse "glum" to it that I try and avoid.

Must chase down information on administration. Must figure out way to get paid more.

...must go to work.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I have a lot of "bleh" on my mind at the moment. (Sure hope this isn't the first time you've read my blog, or you'll think I suck. Heh.)

I have a cold. It comes and goes in its symptoms, except for the being dog-tired one. Sleep a solid eight and I'm exhausted by noon. This annoys me.

One of our cats is freaking out and repeatedly crapping and peeing on Amy's beloved old family couch. We're pretty sure we know which one it is, but having to isolate him to confirm it will be a significant hassle. We're not sure if it's because we had a foster cat here for a few days - but he's been gone for five now - or if it's a reaction to what are undoubtedly Amy's rapidly changing pheromones. Either way, it's presenting a pretty serious problem, since for obvious reasons Amy can't go near the defecation herself. It may end up in us being short one cat. This does not amuse anyone.

Money's a tad tight this month. This normally wouldn't phase me in the least, but since I'm trying to figure out how exactly I can work and she can stay home in oh, say, 9 months... this is concerning me for the first time. Trying to be supportive, though, I have to act largely impassive, though I guess she'll just read it here and there goes my attempt at being her rock. Epic fail! \o/

Days like this pass like all others. I know this, and I'm not going to dramaqueen it and bemoan it forever. It is a pretty "bleh" experience, all told.

Dropping pounds before the kid is born - I swear to all that is in any way revered my child will NOT have a fat father - is also very difficult to do with cold/fatigue. This causes me to be annoyed, which probably isn't helping cure things.

Train of thought bleh-blog ended.

Could be worse, right? I could have wasted your time writing about politics.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pregnant Women Have Junk

I've come to a realization this evening, after a day of mulling over...okay, that's not true. I didn't spend much time thinking about it at all. Just kinda came to me.

A lot of stuff gets written about how men should learn what it's like to be a woman during pregnancy. At this early phase, though, I've come to a realization: women - at least at this point - have actually learned, at least in part, what it's like to be a dude. Seriously.

My evidence: have you ever SEEN one of these maternity bra things? Oh. My. Gawd.

Seriously. They're made of cotton. They're huge. Armored. Strapped. Supported. They have little pull-open flaps (in the case of the one I saw, it even has a snap - nifty) and I swear the sewing looks like nothing so much as a guy's briefs. Seeing Amy in one of these this morning, I thought I was looking at a pair of my briefs she'd ripped the bottom out of and stuck her head through. Friggin incredible.

So then it came to me. Women's breasts, okay, they get bigger early in the pregnancy. They become sensitive to touch, and if you accidentally whomp one, it hurts like the blazes....just like a dude's junk. So, for safety and support, they strap them into this massive, sewn-cotton monstrosity... just like many guys do with their junk. The SIZE of the female "junk" is directly proportional to both the notice and the effectiveness of the "junk" - just like the male stuff. Big junk? Everyone notices and gawks, even if you're wearing clothes. Small junk? Everyone clucks their tongues and sighs and lies to you about how it doesn't matter that much anyway.

Call me crazy - and I'm sure you will - but I am now of the belief that women get their one look at what it's like to be a dude early in their pregnancy. Granted, their junk is mounted higher than the dude unit, but I'm not convinced that makes it more or less safe. Any guy will tell you that small children, large pets, furniture and door knobs all pose a threat to the low-slung materials.

Other news: One of our cats has very recently started dumping on the couch. Uber not cool, to be sure, but the cause we don't know. We were fostering a cat, and this dumping (happened twice now) started the day after it left. Wondering if it's a territorial reaction and our cats haven't figured out the enemy has left the building. Also wondering if possibly El Gato Poopado has caught the whiff of pregnant wife, and is trying to mark territory where she sits most often. If so, that's extra annoying, because of the whole "cat feces/toxmosis" thingie, or whatever it's called.

So yeah. Don't expect daily updates, but tonight I had something to say.

Knocked up chicks totally have balls. You heard it here first.

Monday, September 1, 2008

How the hell did I get HERE? (1 week later)

Yeah, so. Amy and I have been married for a year now, and okay, cool, the married thing has worked out really well so far. Amy's been wanting a kid for about a month and change now, and probably due to the biology that overcomes us all, I've started to get less and less leery about the idea. When she started "officially" trying to get things underway, she started taking her temperature and what not. (Which, by the way, is a really STRANGE thing to watch your wife do first thing in the morning.)

I guess that's where the term "in heat" comes from? Females of all races have a body temperature spike when they're ready for the ol' delivery? Neat stuff.

Yeah, so. I figure it takes most couples a buncha months, right? Figure I've got awhile yet before I need to start reading Dad books and what not. Turns out that apparently my equipment works just fine, because the first month she started doing the ol' temperature gauge, whadya know - we have a winnah!

In point of fact, I found out exactly one week ago today. Probably within an hour of this very time, in fact. I say that I found out, because I believed the test she took that night. She didn't find out until the next morning - she insisted the test from the night before was a false positive. (Truth be told, I was partially letting her convince me, for all the good that did.)

So the news became official at around 7:20 AM August 22, and, by the way, I'm a teacher - I had to somehow get it together enough in an hour and a half to face a classroom full of students that I had never even met before. Special bonus: this was the first day of the new school year.


I managed. Told Dakota first, in my usual semi-cryptic way. "Two pink lines," I told him. He didn't get it, just gave me a glassy-eyed stare. Told Cheryl next. "Well HELLO Mr.Potent!" was her response. Cheryl gets a big gold star for "most supportive and reassuring first response." Told a few other people throughout the day. I've since found out that you're actually not supposed to tell people right away, but meh - I've never done things the old fashioned way, and, well, I'm kinda keen on this whole dad thing, so I'm going to shout it from the rooftops and that's that. Random note: Girls tend to jump up and down a lot when you tell them this stuff. Guys tend to heave deep breaths and sigh. Interesting note if you consider it from a purely sexual standpoint, no? Heh, heh, heh.

So far it's a bit surreal. Life hasn't changed much, except that a lot of educating has been going on. Books about pregnancy. Books about pregnancy from the guy's point of view. Actually, that was a really crappy book that I put down after two chapters. It's still here on my desk, and it still annoys me just looking at it. The book basically says, "You are your wife's bitch for nine months. She can and will do ANYTHING and you have to shut up and take it. It's your fault she's in this mess, so suck it up and bend over!" Guy on the back cover is this little pencilneck twirp who looks like he got beat down repeatedly in highschool and college, and probably gets beat down by his wife regularly. She probably told him to write it, too. His kid's in the picture.

Kid looks like he's got a lot of beat downs ahead of him.

I don't buy it. I figure Amy's reasonable, and when she's not, I'm used to it and I'm reasonable, so we'll manage. I'm not going to be her bitch, and I don't think she would want me to be. I figure my life goes on, so does hers, we work together and we add one more life to the mix before too long.

So yeah. Gonna try to update this semi-often, maybe twice, thrice a week if I have anything to say. Dad-hood incoming in nine months.... in nine months, I'm repeatedly and often told that my life as I know it is over. We'll see.

Nine months to live, baby. Enjoy the ride.

Interesting thing about pregnancy I learned today:
Apparently women can have a "discharge" for several weeks after the kid is born, and it looks like something from a murder scene.

In the words of Rhonda: "Ew."

MT out.

And So It Begins

Okay, so I'm going to give this dad-blogging thing a shot. There are several reasons for this:

- It serves as an interesting voyeurist experience for those friends of mine who may yet travel down this dark, dark road. (Heh.)

- Who knows, maybe I might even make a book out of this at some point. Heh!

- Might be worth examining my own reflections as the process goes on.

- I'm curious about blogging.

The ground rules for this blog, which no one else is allowed to violate, but I can violate any time I damn well feel like it:

- Language may be variable. I don't usually swear. I might without warning.
- Names will be first-name only. You know me, you might get named. Don't like it, don't read it.
- I write these without a flying flipping damn about who reads it. It's my side of the story, not yours or anyone else's. It will probably be unfair and obviously be biased. Deal with it and move on.

Right. Having said all that, I'll post this one and then figure out what I'm going to say.