Friday, September 18, 2015

Football vs the Maternity Tour

Working Monday through Friday, as so many of us do, means that Saturdays are a special day.

Sure, Sunday is technically a day of rest but, by the time Sunday evening rolls around, Monday morning is staring you down like a bullet whose destination is certain, its outcome determined.
I could have been here. 

So for that reason, Saturdays are my day of rest and, at this time of year, that's a particularly glorious fact of life.

As the nights grow longer, the air crisper and leaves begin to turn, the final ticks of summer's clock become part of the background hum of life here in the north.

Every ray of sunlight is enjoyed, yes, but each also serves as a bittersweet reminder of the cold to come.

So, we northerners prepare and we compensate. We tailgate. We barbecue. We go to the park. We go to the zoo. We go to the farmers' market.

We work hard to enjoy the last days of summer and the first days of fall as if the final shreds of sunlight are bankable and will see us through the long, frigid months ahead.

So right now, Saturdays are never more special, sacrosanct even. Unless of course we're talking about the baby. That little bundle of unborn joy resting in my wife's belly means nothing in my world is more sacrosanct than him.
The maternity ward. The boy was happy to be there. It only
looks like he's throwing a fit trying to escape his mom's grip.
But since I can't take care of him right now, I need to take care of the one who takes care of him — that would be Mrs. Blackwell.

And it doesn't matter how long your week was or how much you might need to drink a few beers and go blank for an hour or two with inane conversation about football, you put it on hold.

You do this because whatever momma wants, momma should get. That doesn't mean I always deliver for my pregnant wife (pun very much intended). But, when my lapses in narcissism allow, I do put her first.

This resolve explains how I found myself indoors on a most perfect Saturday earlier this month.

Mrs. Blackwell penciled us in for a tour of the maternity ward at our hospital. The tour happened to be on a Saturday. I knew there was no good reason to justify not attending.

"So, you don't want to see the space where your child is going to be born because you'd rather go drink beer, barbecue and tailgate before the Badgers annihilate Miami of Ohio?"

The truth is "Yes." But the more powerful truth is that I don't want to anger my wife.

It might be blurry but, this pic really captures his deep
sense of dissatisfaction and his willingness to voice it.
So, instead of enjoying the sunny, cloudless skies and the crisp 64-degree temperature, I was on a hospital tour with about seven other couples, my wonderful wife and my son, who did his best to make everyone in the tour question the logic of having a child.

Because I occasionally need a vivid reminder to re-prioritize my life and because God has the word "irony" tattooed on his right forearm, the hospital we were in is located just blocks from historic Camp Randall Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Badgers.

So the smell of bratwurst and the sounds of merry revelers filled the air as we made our way into the hospital.

All told, this endeavor accounted for about two hours but, because the boy is devoted to bending commonly held perceptions of time, he made us work for every single second and it seemed much, much longer.

For the duration of our trip, he was on the move.

If there was a doorway, he was in it. If there was something to climb, he climbed it. If there was a phone to pick up, he picked it up. If there was a button to push (real or figurative) he pushed it.

All of the kids on the tour, got a chance to simulate being an
older sibling. For his part, the boy responded by spiking the
doll and yelling "Touchdown Badgers!!!" 
He was in there. Down there. Over there and, in one case, under there.

Along the way he was touching every, single thing he could touch. I'll remind you that we were inside of a hospital, a place where a man with even my liberal interpretation of cleanliness is on guard.

Not the boy. Oh no. I can only thank God that he didn't lick the floor.

He cried a few times, and drowned out the voice of the hospital tour guide. He interrupted to say he wanted to go the park.

I couldn't blame him, he was only saying what I was thinking.

And through it all, Mrs. Blackwell was as pleasant as she could be. She smiled and engaged the other parents on the tour. She lightened the mood and made it sunnier for everyone.

She did it with a baby sitting in her belly and a week's worth of sleep to catch up on. She did this just as she's been doing many things for the last several weeks now. Biting her lip, sucking it up and not whining.

I'm missing a football game and she's missing the option of being able to sleep on her stomach or drink a beer without attracting dirty looks.

I don't know what I'll be doing the first couple Saturdays after our new little guy is born but I do know my wife gets first dibs on making that call.

No comments: