Monday, August 25, 2008

In Which I Struggle

"What do you want for your birthday?" The Boss asks, exchanging the TV remote for a mug of tea resting on the coffee table. The steam rising out of the mug leaves a faint trail in the air as she lifts the mug closer to her.

"I dunno... I can't think of anything off the top of my head," Michael replies. "Your birthday is coming up before mine, shouldn't I be asking you want you want?"

"I don't want anything for my birthday. Just a card."

She peers over the top of the mug as she takes a sip. The twinkle in her eye gives away the lie in her last statement. Now holding the mug with both hands in front of her, she smiles quizzically in response to the indignant stare she's receiving.


"Come on. I know you don't want just a card for your birthday. Tell me what you want!" Michael begs jokingly. He remembers last year very well, when he brought a card, and only a card, to her birthday dinner. That trap won't catch me twice. Not if I can help it.

"You tell me what you want, and I'll tell you want I want," The Boss says.

"Okay, fine."

The room falls silent, save for the evening news on the television.

-nd it looks like we'll be getting more rain this weekend, with temperatures inland hovering in the mid-to-high 70's. We can expect to hold on to this weather pattern for a few more days, with clear skies returning for Tuesday. I'll have your full seven-day forecast coming up nex-

"Okay, I've got mine," The Boss, having placed her mug back on the coffee table, settles into the couch, hands clasped together. "You go first."

Michael sighs dramatically, positioning himself on the couch to face The Boss.

"Alright. For my birthday, I want a Lego set... You know? For old time's sake. I'll let you know which one specifically when it gets closer to my birthday."

"Lego's?" The Boss asks, laughing. "Aren't you a little old for Lego's?"

"Never! I'll never be too old for Lego's!" Michael exclaims, suddenly feeling a little juvenile. Switching the focus off of himself, he says, "It's your turn now. What do you want?"

For a moment The Boss falls silent, the expression of laughter falling from her face. She remains quiet for several agonizingly long seconds, her eyes now glistening with the presence of tears.

"I want to have a baby."

The air rushes out of Michael's lungs, immobilizing him. His mind races to find an adequate response before too much time elapses.

"A... a baby?" he stutters. "You want a baby for your birthday?"

Still silent, The Boss nods her head slowly up and down. A tear races down one cheek.

"We can't... we can't have a baby now," Michael says. He places one of her hands in his. "Our finances are a mess, we can't afford a baby at this point."

"I know," The Boss says quietly. Sniffling a bit, she continues: "I was selfish to ask. I'm sorry."

"You are not selfish, and you don't have to apologize. I wish we could have a baby. There are more reasons than just financial. It's ..." Michael looks away as his voice falters and trails off, a lump having suddenly appeared in his throat. The wavering light from the television catches on a tear carving its way through the stubble on his face.

"It's just that, with all that is going on with me medically, I wouldn't want to have a baby, and then have something happen to me. We're still not sure if this is a tumor or not."

Tears are falling steadily onto the fabric of the couch now, The Boss trying in vain to wipe them away. Her bottom lip is trembling, and Michael is frightened by how fragile she looks. A heavy tear drop lands on his thigh, and he realizes that is is crying, too.

"It's not that I don't want to have a baby. I do. But I'm scared that if something happened, I wouldn't be able to provide-"

Michael is cut off as The Boss sits up suddenly and throws her arms around him, pulling him in. He wraps his arms around her and pulls her in even closer, tighter.

"I don't want something to happen to you. I don't want to be ALONE!" The Boss cries out between sobs, her voice picking up in volume as she struggles to get the words out. The last word, almost a shout, rings in Michael's ears. She is shaking now, her body rocking against his arms.

Knowing he can't assure her that her fear isn't going to happen, Michael remains silent. He adjusts his arms to hug her just a little more tightly. The news on the television drones on, ignored wholly by its audience.

"I know," he says at last. "I know."

They sit there together for a moment, crying.

Crying, and holding onto each other with a fierce strength and scared compassion.


scatterbrain said...

I'll be back to comment later - just got to get rid of a huge lump that's in my throat.

enthalpymama said...

Oh, Badass! That is beautiful. I think you know my opinion. Are there people in the world who really wish they had never had children? Really? Its such a personal decision. Wow. Thanks for sharing this moment with us.

Meg said...

I was trying to write a comment but all I could think of was 'oh my'. I wish I could hug the both of you. You should go buy her flowers today.

Moonspun said...

Oh my, Badass. That's an incredibly touchimg, poignant and agonizing post. Thanks for sharing. I have always thought that crying together is in many ways more intimate than sex. You are really opening up your soul to another person.
There are no easy answers to what either of you want or need. I'll be thinking of you both...
Oh and I think you wanting lego's is awesome! I love to play legos with lil moonsopun! :-)

Daddy Files said...

That's tough man, really it is. I feel for both of you.

I'm in no position to give advice, so I won't. But here are the two things I do know for sure:

1) You will NEVER be financially ready to have a baby. Never. Somehow you just make it work.

2) Your medical situation makes this decision even tougher. God forbid something happens to you before or just after the baby is born. That's a nightmare scenario. But speaking from personal experience, I can honestly say that one day -- one single, solitary day -- of being a father is worth it. Technically my number could be called today. I could be hit by a bus or diagnosed with Cancer. Who knows? But I do know my life wasn't complete until April 3 of this year when my son was born. If I had died that day, I would've died a very happy man with no regrets.

It's a personal decision and you should both keep talking about it and only do it when you're both ready. And even though you'll always have fears, you need to go into parenthood with a "No Fear" mentality because it's a wild ride and anything can happen. But it's so friggin worth it.

Cape Cod Gal said...

OMG! That is unbelievable. I don't even know what to say!

Badass Geek said...

Scatterbrain: A glass of water might help. It worked for me.

Enthalpy Mama: It is a personal decision. We want to have children, just not for a while yet. There are too many unknowns.

Meg: A hug would be nice. I'll take a rain check.

Moonspun: That night definately brought The Boss and I closer together. I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Daddy Files: I understand and appreciate your comment. There is more behind my fears of having a child than I mentioned here, but I thank you for your input.

Cape Cod Gal: It was quite a night.

Miss Grace said...

1. You're not supposed to make me cry at work.

2. If you put off having a baby until you're ready, you'll never be ready. There will always be one more thing. No one's ever ready, we just sort of hope that we don't screw up too badly.

Miss Grace said...

Oh and also, *hug*

Aunt Becky said...

Babies smell REALLY bad.

But yeah, what a hard post to read.

Employee No. 3699 said...

Oh BAG, I really feel for you and the Boss. You are in my prayers~

LilSass said...

Michael, although this is such a sad post, it is so eloquently written and as all our friends have said, thank you so much for sharing this.

As I know from my past week, crying can bring a couple together in a way that no other act can.

I KNOW you will make a decision that's best for you, when it's right for you. Maybe the Boss doesn't want a baby now, but she's terrified of losing you and this is her way of saying DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!


Pretend I am in your kitchen, making you tea, handing you a box of kleenex.

Forever In School said...

Oh my!! That was a beautiful true story. I love reading your stories, when you call yourself Micheal.

I wish you both Happy Birthdays, and I wish you health and a long life, with The Boss and children, if I may!!

Badass Geek said...

Miss Grace: I know the "not being ready" excuse doesn't hold much water. I just need a little bit more stability in my life before having a baby.

Aunt Becky: I've heard that babies smell bad. And also that they tend to cry a lot.

Employee No 3699: Thanks. Prayers are very much needed.

Lil Sass: The Boss and I have talked, and it is both a combination of wanting a baby and not wanting to be alone. Also, could you make mine a hot chocolate? I don't care much for tea.

FIS: Thanks for the well wishes. I'll be sure to relay them to The Boss.

A.C. said... many things...

1) Thank you for sharing such a fiercely personal and amazing story with us.

2) I had no idea that you were facing a possible TUMOR. Holy mother of god.

3) Your wife rocks...I know I don't know her, but this post made me want to hug her. What an immensely brave thing to ask for.

4) You also rock.

5) If you do have a baby, you should conceive in January so that it will be a Virgo.

But seriously...thank you.

Moonspun said...

Another pipe in from me...Daddy Files and Miss Grace are right. You will never be ready, either financially or emotionally to have a baby. It's nearly impossible to do so. Such as you have figured out everything else in life so far, you'll figure out being parents.
However, given the desire that you both have (and while yours is hidden in fear, you have that desire as aforementioned) to be a parent, that's half the battle of being ready. In some ways all you need to be a good parent is the desire, the common sense, and some basic life skills. You and the Boss have proved you have more than those basic skills and the desire to work together. That's huge.
I truly believe that people become parents when they are supposed to. No matter how hard they try or how hard they don't try!

scatterbrain said...

The water didn't work. I've been thinking about you both all day.

Just re-read this beautifully written post, and I feel for you both so much.

It's great that you have each other - and I've been blown away by your maturity, clear thinking and ability to keep things in proportion.

Lots of hugs from across the pond.

scatterbrain said...

Oohh! Liking the new banner! Glad you haven't removed the image, that's what attracted me to your blog in the first place.:-D

Badass Geek said...

AC: Holy mother of God, is right. Even a theoretical tumor scares me shitless.

Moonspun: I'm not sure what else to say, but thank you, and I want to hug you.

Scatterbrain: I'm glad you like the new banner! I was worried about the general reaction to it.

KT said...

Wow. That was hard to read. It's also hard not to put in my 2 cents, as much as I don't want to, I do want it.

All I'll say is that it's never the right time to have a baby. But it's always the right time once you have the baby. It's never perfect, but whoever said even 1 day of parenthood is worth it, is right. I was scared to death, but I'd never go back. No way.

Babies do smell bad..if you put your nose in their butts! Smell the top of their heads. That's nice.

Whatever you decide, Badass, I'll always read and support you. Thank you for sharing such a private moment with everyone. said...

I just got done wiping my tears from an old Oprah episode I Tivo'd. Seriously, one minute before reading this. Out come the tissues once again.

P.S. I don't want The Boss to be alone, either.

Moonspun said...

Badass....Consider yourself hugged back! Oh and will you pass one on to the Boss, too? :-)

Badass Geek said...

KT: I appreciate your input. I realize that there is never an ideal time to have children, but as I'm sure you've read, I need a little more stability before The Boss and I try for that.

SWAX: I'll buy you some more Kleenex, if you'd like.

Moonspun: Thanks! I definately will.

Lola said...

Everything there is to say about babies has already been said, and you'll never feel ready. I went into becoming a parent kicking and screaming more than my kid came out kicking and screaming, but I wouldn't change it. I wanted to pick the time, place, beginning, middle and ending, but it doesn't work that way.

The thing is that every stinking thing about life is a crapshoot, and you never know what the next minute will bring, but I can tell you one thing, my friend, you will both be great parents whenever you do have a smelly, crying baby of your own.

Badass Geek said...

Lola: One thing is for sure... When The Boss and I finally do have a baby, it is definately going to be smelly.

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