I don’t know how or when it happened, but one of my favorite blog posts got lost in the migration of the website to a WordPress blog after the original host, MSN Spaces, shut down. I wrote it on Mother’s Day of 2009, a few short months after my youngest niece was born via natural childbirth to process the PTSD from the experience. I’d already held a significant sense of gratitude for my little Y genes for a hundred little reasons. Here are just a few.
My underwear comes in a pack of three for 20 bucks, what do bras cost? $50? $100? We get to rent identical tuxedos for formal events, and ladies have to buy a dress that no one else they’ve ever known or seen has worn. There’s the insane cost, time, and effort of hair and makeup, etc. And those are just the more trivial reasons. Throw in unattainable beauty standards, the gender pay gap and some of the more disturbing things uncovered by the #MeToo movement, and my maleness looks like the ultimate cosmic vacation. But even all that pales in comparison to the brutal, mysterious miracle I heard from the waiting room of the birthing center near my parents’ home 11 years ago. From that proximity, there didn’t seem to be anything natural about natural childbirth – those were not human noises coming through the paper-thin walls. It was traumatizing. So, for the last decade plus, one room away was plenty close. Now look what I’ve gotten myself into.
It’s been downright awe-inspiring to watch the entire process unfold in my own home on a daily basis. Watching Claire’s body transform into a baby factory is like witnessing the origin of a goddamn superhero. It’s an emotional, achy, and crampy process that will culminate with one of the greatest achievements a person can accomplish. Oh, you’ve wrestled with world-caliber athletes and can bench press 265 pounds? That’s adorable. Try creating a whole separate person with your body, then we’ll talk. Yeah, all that nonsense about the fairer sex? I think we’re on the wrong side of that argument, fellas. The real kicker is the fact that the actual manufacturing and delivering of a human being barely scratches the surface of what motherhood entails.
It’s a full-time job that doesn’t clock out at 5 PM or retire after 18 years. It’s driving all over God’s green earth to get your two kids to sports practices, recitals, dental appointments, and have a hot and healthy meal waiting for dinner each night. It’s digging through the back dumpster of the local pizzeria in desperate search for the retainer that was thrown away. It’s sleeping standing up outside your newly paralyzed son’s room since he calls every 15 seconds because he’s overheating, uncomfortable, or inconsolably depressed, telling him, “Let’s just get through today and tomorrow.” It’s also thousands of needle pokes, multiple egg retrieval surgeries, and a complete hijacking of your hormonal system for 18 months to try to make a baby with the man you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with.
Maybe it’s good that I lost the original Word to Your Mother piece, because it was worth revisiting my gratitude for the dumb luck of being born a boy. And yet I still can’t seem to keep myself from telling anyone who will listen just how traumatizing it’s going to be here in a few months… for me… just to be in the room… as my wife literally pushes the next generation of life out of her body. I know, I know… I’m still on the wrong side of that argument. For now, I’ll just shut up, try to prepare myself, and wish a deeply heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in my life who have put up with all my nonsense over the last four decades and continue to do so. I love you all!
3 Comments Add yours
I love your writing voice, Kenny.
The best is yet to come . . . .
My mom told me early in life that women were made tougher than men and being older I believe it. Thank you for this post from the men’s point of view. It’s not just the physical, it’s the emotional and mental strength we must have to stand outside the room and encourage that person, paralyzed body or forgetting mind, to keep moving forward. And to remind ourselves to do so too.