The other day, my wife started going on about wanting a baby. I pointed out that there was a seven-month-old boy somewhere in the house and that if anybody wanted to take the time to locate him, he could be counted as a baby.
“But he’s old and stinky,” she replied. “I want a clean, fresh baby.”
I pointed out that, even though he is eating a lot of “people food” these days, and is therefore stinkier than he used to be, he is, on balance, a relatively clean baby. Then I realized it wasn’t about how stinky he is. The important point was that he wouldn’t be a baby much longer.
My wife has a perpetual craving for an infant in her life.
This is trouble.
Of all the people who see our baby and comment, “Enjoy it while you can; they grow up so fast,” 99% of them are women. The 1% who are men feel pressure to say something and so they repeat what they’ve heard women say, thinking that women must know appropriate comments about babies.
Most men avoid commenting on babies, because, “Won’t it be great when he grows up?” just has that feel of a statement that might not go over well with baby’s mama.
I don’t get the need for constant babies that some mothers have. I have three children whom I love dearly. Two of them are no longer babies and I’m fine with that. The third is a baby, and he and I are counting the days until he can walk and talk and heat up his own milk.
Apparently, mothers spend a fair amount of time looking back and pining for the helpless days of their children. I have no wish to return to the infancy of either of my older boys. I like the generally drool-free children they’ve grown into.
To be honest, I might develop a little nostalgia for Buster’s toddlerhood when he grows out of it. Buster makes such an awesome toddler I sometimes worry that, at two-and-a-half, he’s peaked. If his jokes are half as good when he’s a schoolboy, I’ll probably be all right with his aging.
It’s not that fathers don’t like their babies. They’re just not in our favorite stage. We adore our babies, but look to the future in the same way that a lot of mothers adore their big kids, but regret the lost past.
A father works through the baby period, sustained by the dream that his little bundle of fuss will grow into someone with whom to watch football games and go on battlefield tours. Since we can’t seem to interest the baby in those things now, we bide our time.
I have sympathy for my wife’s feelings, but I can’t keep giving her babies as a pick-me-up. Also, I can’t afford to ply her with roses or expensive candy because three children. But she’s always welcome to sit down and watch football with her boys.