Sunday, June 10, 2012

The parents of hazards

“Dude!  Aw, dude.  Dude!”  I yelled, holding my infant son by his armpits as he did his best impression of a fire hydrant with the cap off.  There would be no shirtless children frolicking in this spray, though.  Just me.   

“Babe, I need help!” I called to my wife Kara, who was already dashing for the paper towels.  With two small children and a queasy dog in the house, we should really install overhead systems where emergency rolls of paper towels fall from the ceiling, like the masks in an airplane. 

I dangled Zack above the puddle he’d just spewed onto my lap, unable to move without a free hand to hit the button to unrecline the couch.  Until Kara got there to help, I was trapped in a reclining prison of barf.
Just then, the puddle on the cushion between my knees began running downhill, toward me. 

“Help!  Take him, take him!” I yelled, arching my back so that only my heels and head were touching the couch.

At that moment, I thought of the recent cover of People magazine I’d seen at the grocery store checkout, depicting a reasonable facsimile of Jessica Simpson holding a baby girl.  “BABY BLISS!” the headline shouted. 

The headline seemed to suggest that the baby was named Bliss.  As a celebrity baby, you could do a lot worse.  Most celebrity babies end up with names like Antietam Endtable.   

But the smaller text informed me and my fellow queued-up grocery-buyers that the actual name of the future Duchess of Hazzard was Maxwell Drew, which is still a pretty normal name for a famous person’s kid, if slightly Boy-Named-Sue-esque.

To my surprise, then, the headline was saying that having a baby confers a state of bliss upon the baby-havers, which is probably why you hear so many stories of new mothers going through post-partum ecstasy.  
It’s not that having a baby isn’t a blissful experience at times, but that one word doesn’t really sum it all up.  You almost get the impression that whoever wrote that “BABY BLISS!” headline had never been pinned to a couch by an ocean of vomit. 

Parenthood is a beautiful, disgusting, wonderful and exhausting thing.  In most publications, you only see the awesome side of parenthood, with mothers beaming beside cute little cherubs.  It’s the same with those Anne Geddes calendars, which show adorable, content babies dressed up like ladybugs or sunflowers.  I’d like to see what goes on behind the scenes when they’re shooting those calendars.  My guess is that there are at least a few screaming ladybugs spitting up on their exoskeletons.    

We never get to see those pictures, though.  The Anne Geddes Outtakes Calendar: Brought to you by Trojan.

So that’s what I thought about as Kara took Zack from my arms and started cleaning him off: the lack of journalistic balance when it comes to the experiences of new parents.  Actually, I thought about how I’d just washed my jeans.

“Man, those jeans had at least three weeks left in ‘em,” I said, throwing them into the washing machine, where they joined the rest of the day’s detritus. 

As the onesie popped over Zack’s head, his face reappeared with a giant smile on it, a trick he’d just picked up a few days prior. 

“How adorable is he right now?  You’d never know what just happened,” Kara said.

Zack stared right into Kara’s eyes and cooed, kicking his little feet.

“I got Daddy good, didn’t I?” he seemed to be saying.  And just like that, baby mayhem turned to baby bliss.  I ran to grab the camera before the outtakes started again.
You can blot Mike Todd with paper towels at

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