“You need to write, it’s been too long,” my wife told me.
“When do I have time?” I replied.
“You’ve managed to find time to watch the whole series of The Sopranos,” she shot back.
“Sure, but the character development is just superb and the performances are-”
“I don’t care! Either you write something, or this marriage is over!”
“That’s a bit extreme, don’t you think? Our marriage is predicated on mutual love and understanding, on a desire to build something together and share experiences, not on my being forced to write random pieces for a website that I own and control.”
“You clearly haven’t read our marriage contract.”
“And furthermore- wait, what’s in the marriage contract?”
She produced a rolled up piece of parchment, removed the wax seal, unrolled it and started to read:
“CLAUSE 10: ‘THE HUSBAND’ SHALL ENDEAVOR TO WRITE ONE NEW PIECE FOR HIS WEBSITE ON A CONSTANT BASIS. FAILING TO DO SO WILL RESULT IN THE TERMINATION OF ‘THE MARRIAGE’ AND THE RIGHT OF ‘THE WIFE’ TO PICK AN OPPONENT FOR ‘THE HUSBAND’ TO BATTLE TO THE DEATH IN A MATCH TO BE STREAMED LIVE ON THE INTERNET. ALSO, ‘THE HUSBAND’ SHALL BE FORCED TO PAY FOR ALL THE SNACKS.”
“I didn’t know anything about this!”
“You clearly weren’t paying attention in our Jewish conversion classes.”
CUT TO: INT. OFFICE – PRESENT MOMENT
Why has it taken me so long to write something? It’s not like I wasn’t thinking about writing, or lacking in things to write about. My life has been so full of change over the last few months, you could easily confuse it for a Barack Obama campaign speech. Hard how is it to sit down and write just a few paragraphs? It doesn’t have to be a massive essay, like that time I wrote a massive essay. Just a few random, unconnected sentences every day could add up to an entire novel (just ask Stephenie Meyer). I mean, at the height of his success, didn’t Stephen King churn out like three novels a day? Granted he was doing a ton of coke at the time, and most of the novels are about random things coming to life and murdering people (“Really Stephen, the sandwich gets possessed by a demon this time?”), but you have to admire the man’s work ethic. No, I’m more of a Guillermo del Toro kind of guy, in that I prefer to talk about things I’m going to do instead of actually getting around to doing any of it.
In the time since I last wrote the world has changed dramatically. South Africa has undergone a radical shift in terms of the populations’ desire to affect change, a new Star Wars film came out and was actually really good, David Bowie and Alan Rickman died, Bruce Jenner became a woman, and a Mad Max film has been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Monumental moments in human history to be sure, but all of it paling in comparison to what was going on in my own life.
When you have a baby the most amazing thing happens: you become so engrossed in the business of making sure this tiny person keeps breathing, shaping your every moment around their needs, that everything else gets put by the wayside. That’s not to say that life doesn’t carry on. You still have to go to work, make sure the trash is taken out, keep up with all the Marvel movies (which is a full-time job in and of itself, seriously, they need to start handing out photocopied mind maps at the cinema), and prepare meals for the family. It’s just that finding time to take care of all of that other stuff becomes more of an effort, and you don’t see anyone unless they also have children, mostly because they’ll understand when you start falling asleep with your fork halfway between the plate and your mouth.
No amount of advice, whether it be from friends, relatives or parenting books, can adequately prepare you for the experience of having a baby. Part of this is because every baby is different (I assume, mine looks suspiciously like Vincent D’Onofrio) but mostly it comes down to not being able to comprehend just how absorbed you have to be in order to keep the train going – from constantly changing nappies, to waking up multiple times during the night to feed, right down to doing load after load of laundry because your clothes are constantly covered in various liquids. It’s easy to hear, “Better catch up on sleep now because you sure aren’t going to get any in a few months!” It’s another thing actually living that. The strange part about it though is that it’s impossible to describe the state that you’re in, because you’re constantly in that state – it becomes your new normal. This all sounds perfectly horrible, I’m sure, but when you’re not getting all the sleep in the world and have no choice in the matter, you just sort of… get on with it. Sure I’m not the one who has to wake up multiple times during the night to breastfeed, but babies wake up at five ‘o clock in the morning (spoiler alert) which is an ungodly hour for anyone. Even God rolls over at five ‘o clock and says, “nope,” before rolling over and going back to sleep. Just having your sleep patterns interrupted constantly really takes it out of you the following day. So basically what I’m trying to say is that no one care prepare you for life with a newborn baby, it’s just a rollercoaster of emotions. But the really amazing part about all of this, is that even when you’re woken up by a wide-awake baby hours before your alarm is set to go off, when you drag your body out of bed and reach down to pick the baby up, and the baby gives you the happiest, gummiest smile in the world… well, instead of feeling bitter resentment, you feel nothing but joy. This is all a long way of saying that I suspect nature makes babies so cute to avoid parents from throwing alarm clocks at them.
Another thing that nobody talks about before you have a baby is reflux. What is reflux, all you people with no babies ask? Basically, reflux happens when the milk the baby has swallowed comes back up into his or her food pipe. A baby’s stomach contains acid that helps them to break down milk, right? Well when this mixture of milk and acid comes up it makes the baby uncomfortable. If you’ve ever had heartburn, you’ll know the burning feeling that acid reflux can cause. This can result in the baby having trouble sleeping, as lying down can be uncomfortable. In other words, the baby throws up a lot, usually on you and everything you love, and can cry for ages for seemingly no apparent reason. Not all babies suffer from reflux and those that do usually find that it disappears after about six months, so this is a short-term problem, but I feel it needs to be spoken about more. They should teach it in schools to promote safe sex.
My baby likes to be bounced on an exercise ball. I think he finds the constant up and down motion soothing. If he’s crying we’ll just hop on the ball and start bouncing, which usually stops the crying. The downside is that as soon as you stop bouncing he looks at you like, “I didn’t say stop,” and immediately starts crying again. Basically we become what my wife and I refer to as “bounce slaves”. I can’t complain about this too much, because my ultimate goal is to put my baby to sleep while crafting my thighs to look like those of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
If all of the above sounds like a hard time, let me assure you that all the lack of sleep in the world, all the stained clothes and high blood pressure that results from inexplicable crying, cannot take away the amazing feeling of seeing yourself in another human being. While your life will be different once it happens, man is it worth it.
I’ll be sure to keep writing and updating the site far more frequently this year. This was just me saying hello, like that Adele song where she’s all like, “Hello”. God Adele’s good.
My baby was excellent in Full Metal Jacket