It goes without saying that many women have chronicled their pregnancies for books, documentaries, television shows, magazine articles, columns, blogs and more. In addition, I'm sure that there are plenty of men who have documented their wives'/girlfriends' pregnancies as well for whatever reasons. I don't really know what this travelogue through a black woman's pregnancy as told by a white man will turn into other than when I think there is something that is worth describing, I'll do it. The baby is due in three months - the first week of February - so things should get interesting over the next 90 days or so.
The hard part for me at the initial stage of my wife's pregnancy was informing my kids ("from the first marriage") that they were going to have a little brother/sister. As I indicated in Part I of what I hope to be this ongoing story ("Does the World Need a Daddy-to-be Blog" http://www.chicagonow.com/its-never-just-black-and-white/2011/10/does-the-world-need-a-daddy-to-be-blog), I consider myself "old' to be having a baby. And, I knew that my kids would consider me OLD as well. Plenty of people told me that "you're as old as you feel" or "a baby will keep you young" or "plenty of men have children at that age" (I kept thinking about Tony Randall fathering a child at age 90) or, the most common, "stop worrying about what other people think, you're a grown man."
I appreciated the advice, I really did. Of course, age was not really my concern at this next stage of the process. I was, frankly, worried about notifying four "children" (two of whom are adults living on their own) that their father, with whom they have all had ups and downs with over the past ten years, was about to bestow upon them a sibling. Moreover, when communication isn't the best between father and children already, I felt that an announcement like this had to be planned and strategized.
There's no such thing as a perfect divorce. While yes, the adults may get along and while there may be no financial issues or "problems" between them, if kids were born from the marriage, there will be blame, anger and unhappiness. In my case, the adults barely speak, much less get along, and there are issues between me and the ex. Nevertheless, I have tried to find a way to use the resources I have to make the situation as bearable for the four kids as possible. Even though I consider myself a "good" father in the divorced parent world and love my kids more than they would know, I am constantly feeling that I could have done more, should have done more and would have done more "if only ..."
After my wife and I decided to move forward with the pregnancy and she informed her parents and sister, it was time for me to step up and bite the bullet. I anticipated a different reaction from each and, because they are not all in Chicago, the notification process would be varied.
Call number one went to my son who is a junior in college. I didn't figure him for anger or scorn, just maybe a little bit of disbelief and sarcasm. I wasn't disappointed. I told him of the big news and he responded by saying, "Really? Wow. That sure is big news. Are you sure that you're ready and capable for all this, Johnny-Boy?"
We spoke for a few minutes and then he wanted to let the idea percolate for a little while. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and thought that didn't go badly at all. (You have to understand that at dinner several months earlier, one of my kids said if we ever had a baby I'd be cut off and another told me I'd better win the lottery if my wife got pregnant.)
I think it's difficult for children of an unpleasant divorce to wish future happiness upon a parent who "put them through that." At what point does the parent say to him/herself, "I need to live my life and I deserve some semblance of happiness?" That is the question and the issue that I have struggled with for ten years. That struggle and the associated trials, tribulations, and missteps led to the stomach churning announcements that I had to make.
The next "pregnancy talk" would take place with my parents and my 26 year old son and 17 year old son at my parents' condo in Evanston. (Safety in numbers I thought.) I called them together on a Sunday afternoon and when the Bears game finished, I said, "I have an announcement to make and I don't want to hear any comments about it." After revealing the announcement, I realized that I just should have said it without the qualifier. My parents were thrilled and my father said, "I knew it. I knew that's what he was going to say." At the same time, my 17 year old got up and started to leave. Not exactly the reaction I anticipated, but not inconsistent with how our relationship has been. I won't go into details, but I did hear him say something about never speaking to me again. Oh well, we're still working on it.
The oldest - it took him a while to get a handle on the concept. But, it actually turned out to be somewhat cathartic and gave us a chance to talk through some things; things that should have been discussed a long time ago and just got swept under many rugs over many years.
Lastly, I tried to call my daughter who lives and works in New York. She didn't answer and texted me that she was at work and couldn't talk on the phone. I didn't want her to hear the news from someone else, since everyone else now knew, so I texted her the information. BIG MISTAKE.
While texting is fun, convenient, easy and efficient, I would advise anyone and everyone to not text important or sensitive information to your child, especially a female child. She was not pleased. Not pleased that her "crazy" father, at his age, would have a child and not pleased that I informed her via text. Of course, I tried to explain why the notice came by text, but that went nowhere. Again, we're still working on it.
The point? I'm not really sure. Everyone reacts to things differently? Maybe. Live your life and don't worry about it? I don't think so. I think that it's making me think. Primarily, these "kids" feel like I have moved on from them, which I haven't. But, I have moved on from one thing to something else and the future can be bright for all of us. We just need to give it some time.
Next time - the wife is nesting and I need to throw stuff away.
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