Monday, December 18, 2006

This is not my beautiful wife

had dinner last night with K & several of her friends last night. It was us and two other couples, at the home of the couple with the kidlet, Minuet, who, if you might recall, is terrified of me.

The little one was markedly less frightened than last time, being on her home turf surrounded by toys and puppies and familiar folk. But she still cut me a wide swath. Though by the end of the night, I was deemed goodbye kiss worthy, which was very sweet.

It was another of the many opportunities in my life to get a glimpse into life of folks on the family track. Home ownership. Mortgages. Bed times. Diapers. Tantrums. Tickle fights. Hilarious Christmas lists (Minuet's: #2: cookie, #5 giraffe, #6 elephant. When they're out of cookies, switch to giraffes...).

It's not wholly without appeal. Little girls have a special adoration for their fathers. And it's fun to play with little kids. Plus, it's not like I stay up late partying on weekends. I can barely keep my eyes open past 9:30. And two incomes can sure buy a comfortable life.

Once upon a time I had the romantic notion of being so in love with my wife carrying our baby, being the supporting new age dad, going with her for every check-in and -up.

But now that just scares the crap out of me. Kids are not cats. Can't leave them with food and water for a few days and let them roam the house freely.

And part of me wishes I still believed. I feel a bit broken. I see marriage and fatherhood and home ownership as those things that plug you into the Matrix, saddle you with inescapable obligation, and put you on the middle management treadmill of hell for the next 25 years, after which time you'll own your home, have educated your children, but lost all sex appeal, erectile function, hope for self actualization or eternal salvation. Having children is selfless (when the pregnancy is planned). Because your life is not the same after you have kids.

I used to think it would be great. Christmases with my brothers as uncles, my mom as grandma. But that's just the snapshot moment of harmony, a moment achievable only after months lugging of diaper bags everywhere, breast pumps, college funds, midnight feedings and wives who's relationship identity and orientation has converted from that of 'lover' to that of 'mother'. And moms don't wanna screw on the kitchen table. They have headaches. Now go get more huggies, cuz we're out.

And I know it's not this bad. I hear things work out okay. I know of families with kids where the dad's life is not that of the guy in Synchronicity II. But I see enough others in which it is.

I wish I still believed in love and marriage and kids and happiness. But after the divorce (and after faxing more tax documents to my accountant, which makes me want a t-shirt that says "I got married and all I got was a bucket of tax paperwork and a lot of legal bills.") I'm just not so sure that "domestic bliss" isn't a giant lie we all keep telling each other to justify the mistakes we've made. "Oh, no, I'm really happy." It's why the married people push the single ones to get hitched, and the breeders encourage spawning. Misery loves company.

I wish I still believed in it. But I can't see myself as much more than a miserly eccentric bachelor till age 40. And then I'll get some therapy from the Ministry of Love and feel better about marriage and relationships. Till then, I'll retain as much freedom as I can.