As I write this my wife is off at a baby shower. Strangely, this event involves neither soap nor water. Heck, they won't even have an actual baby! In all fairness, though, a baby will be present, albeit lolling about in his mommy's tummy.
I have never been to a baby shower, but have heard enough about them to steer clear. A baby shower, apparently, would be kryptonite for a guy. Attending such an event would sap his strength, strip him of his manliness and cause him to "ooh" and "ahh" and exclaim "how cute!" whenever a baby gift is opened. It wouldn't be long before simply catching a glimpse of baby-related paraphernalia would cause him to spout similar expressions.
The next generation of our family is beginning to engender its next generation. Our nieces and nephews - all of whom I still picture as being just little kids! - are moving into the reproductive phase of their lives.
Good luck to them! Good luck and Godspeed and let us know if you need a babysitter. We can refer you to several teenaged girls who specialize in this business.
As for my wife and I, well, we've been there and done that and have the spit-up-stained T-shirt to prove it. We have paid our dues, made our sacrifices at the altar of childrearing and are now freely enjoying our freedom.
Not that we regret becoming parents, mind you. On the contrary, becoming a mom and a dad were probably the best thing that ever happened to us.
Nothing transforms your life more profoundly than having a baby. Except for maybe winning the Powerball. I can't really say, having never accomplished such a feat. Someone should give me a few dozen million dollars so I can conduct a rigorous scientific study and settle the matter.
One major alteration that a baby brings to your life is the overwhelming amount of logistics involved. When you were young and single and free and wanted to visit a restaurant or see a movie, all you had to do is find your wallet and you were off to the races.
Not so with a baby on board. A supply of diapers has to be requisitioned, bottles and formula stuffed into a hangar-sized diaper bag, wet wipes, toys and numerous other ancillary items procured and stowed. These days, a single infant requires as much material as the entire army of the Potomac.
Another huge change has to do with one's behavior. When you were young and "hip" and "happening," you never imagined doing such things as sniffing a small person's heinie or peeking down the back of his or her pants as if you were searching for a hidden candy bar. But this is exactly what you, as the parent of an infant, will routinely do. And not just in the privacy of your home! You'll soon be performing this and many other undignified activities almost anywhere. This is why it's best to sit well away from parents with babies when dining at a restaurant.
As the parent of a small child, you'll blurt words that seem to have come from someone who is being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. You'll say things like "stop that!" and "put that down!" and "don't put that in your mouth!" and "icky!" and "eat nice!" and "spit that out!"
Let's face it: it's nearly impossible to reason with a person who regards spaghetti as both a foodstuff and a hair replacement product.
You know that you've been totally indoctrinated into parenthood when you're out in public and hear a baby cry and instinctively begin to rummage in your bag for a pacifier. And once your child has begun to walk and talk, your head involuntarily swivels whenever your hear a small voice call out "Mom" or "Dad."
Parents quickly learn that children learn by example. You have to be on your best behavior at all times, as you are being closely observed and recorded.
One day our small sons got into a milk chugalug contest. After draining their glasses, the boys plopped them onto the table and chirped in their tiny voices, "Ahh! Whiskey!"
My wife was aghast, but I knew the truth: the boys had recently spent some quality time with their Grandpa Nelson. Grandpa often used that expression, a playful saying he picked up in the Navy. Some anonymous sailor Grandpa had met four decades earlier was thus teaching our boys how to talk like old salts.
We had to instruct them to never use that expression in public, figuring this would be easier than dealing with a discomfited kindergarten teacher. Plus, my wife might never be invited to another baby shower.