Mother offers conventional (and unconventional) wisdom about men and babies

Categorized as 04/26/10 Goshen News column

“Men are babies when they’re sick.” This startling admission was delivered over the pulpit by a former bishop some years back.

On the women’s side, there was vigorous nodding and a rash of fervent amens whispered into handkerchiefs. On the other side, there was squirming and more than a few dour looks directed at the speaker.

As Mr. Schrock harumphed at the time, “Needless to say, none of the men shook his hand afterwards.”

The reason this is funny is because there’s a little bit of truth in it. Women – especially mothers – are known for their ability to carry on with their daily duties in the face of dire illness with unwavering perseverance. We may be coughing up a lung, but dinner will be on the table and the baby will be diapered, by George. So the stitches are barely clipped and tied from whatever –ectomy we just had; the carpooling will be covered and that school project will be in. On time.

Speaking of men and babies, conventional wisdom says that if men were having the babies, each family would only have one. That’s probably true.

In the men’s defense, women do come equipped with a God-given hormone that’s released shortly after birth. This wonderful function of our glandular system helps us forget the pain and trauma of birthing the equivalent of a bowling ball through a canal the size of a drinking straw.

Men do not have this hormone. That’s why they can recall the agony of labor and delivery in living color. They distinctly remember waiting two days post delivery for feeling to return to their hands. Just ask Mr. Schrock.

I can’t help it. When a contraction hits before Epidural Guy gets his thing done behind me, someone else is going to share my pain. That someone is the father of whoever it is that’s pushing and shoving to show up at the time.

I hardly remember this, see, but “someone” hasn’t forgotten. Now that he’s regained feeling in his upper extremities, he retells the story with elaborate hand gestures and quite a few adjectives. I’m thinking we were one epidural short.

Here’s one last bit of conventional wisdom for you regarding men and their offspring. I believe that if men had to care for the children over spring break while mama was at work, the family census would drop like a rock. That’s because daddy would have all of them up for auction on eBay by – oh, say day two.

“For sale,” the ad might say. “Two boys, slightly worn, with rooster tails and dirty jeans. Experts at work avoidance. Strong, healthy specimens that look like normal adolescent males, but are, in fact, walking food furnaces. Buyer should not be fooled. Full of tricks and shenanigans, enough for 12 boys. Excitement and uproar guaranteed. Come equipped with one slingshot, two BB guns, three Air Soft guns, and a full complement of fireworks. Very motivated seller will consider throwing in a YA (Young Adult) for free. Latter comes with iPod earphones requiring surgical removal and two opposable thumbs permanently glued to the keypad of his cellphone. Email All offers will be considered.”

One afternoon during spring break, I was making a real attempt to get some work done at my desk as Mr. Pull-Ups slumbered in his crib. Down below where the middles were supposedly folding laundry, I heard an ongoing stream of yelps, thumps, and arguing. This was punctuated by several charges up the stairs by number three, the yelper and recipient of the aforementioned thumps.

His attempts to file reports on our in-house AP wire (that would be the Annoyed Parent one) were foiled each time by the troublemaker who used one hand to grab his leg and the other one to clamp his mouth shut. Free speech is a joke over here.

After about the third charge, I headed over to Facebook to share my angst with a few of my closest friends. “Trouble and chaos, thy name starteth with a J. Thou art 16 and highly underemployed,” it began.

Seven people liked this, none of whom, I noted, live at this address. A mother who raised boys herself replied, “How well I remember.”

Another friend from out of state said, “And summer hasn’t even started yet. LOL.”

“That’s hilarious! What is he up to now?” an aunt wondered. Other than policing, pounding, pestering, pulverizing, and otherwise being annoying? Oh, nothing much, I thought. That would cover it.

Another aunt added, “I think my big brother should pick up a little more fatherly responsibility here, LOL. At the very least, he needs to wrestle the stuffing out of him tonight!”

And one of my cousins with a 16-year-old of her own added, “I’m hearin’ you loud and clear, sister.”

Next year, I propose that the dads spend a week of quality time with the little spring breakers while the moms rush en masse to the nearest outlet mall or sunny beach, whichever comes first. It may not be conventional, but it sounds like wisdom to me. LOL.

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