Tag Archives: sex

Return Week: Questions and Questions

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“Where do babies come from?”

It’s an easy question. One of the easiest, really. If you’re a parent, you know where babies come from, and the answer really is quite simple, no matter how squeamish you may feel in talking about it with your children.

My wife and I have no problem with that question.

It’s the questions with difficult answers that trip me up.

Every year, my family attends the Memorial Day service at the cemetery near our house. We hear “The Gettysburg Address” from a sort-of Lincoln impersonator, listen to a quartet sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and clap for the men and women who stand and salute when their respective military-branch theme songs are played. As parents, my wife and I are upfront about death.

But as easy as it is to explain to our kids that lungs or a heart or a brain can stop working, it’s difficult to explain why someone would make that happen to someone else.

How do I answer my newly 5-year-old secondborn when she asks, “Daddy, why do we have wars?”

I hate not being in control, not having the answers. I hate it when that same daughter asks me why her stomach is hurting and what I can do to stop it from hurting. Every night. Short of continuing to take her to the doctor for tests, there’s nothing I can do. I don’t have an answer.

I’m still asking questions myself: What drove a frustrated 22-year-old to kill six people in Santa Barbara? Why do gunmen attack children in schools? What will I tell my children when they first hear such reports, when they first receive and comprehend the news that in another school, another classroom, kids just like them were killed—for no reason?

After the ceremony at the cemetery, my firstborn, just about to turn 7, told me that she wants to join the Air Force, like my dad. I told her that if that’s really what she chooses to do with her life, I would support her, but in the meantime, I would try to talk her out of it.

“Why?”

I struggled for an answer.

“Because I would be afraid,” I finally admitted. “I would be afraid that you would die.”

She was undeterred—because Grandpa didn’t die—but I’m not too concerned. She only recently wanted to be a fashion designer/entomologist, which was a career choice that may or may not have involved her creating dresses inspired by insects. I was never clear on the specifics.

I’m not clear on a lot of things.

What if my secondborn’s stomach doesn’t stop hurting?

What if the tests reveal something bad? Something terrible?

What if one of my children does join the military? Sees combat? Disappears from my life?

What if not all of my children outlive me?

What can I do that I’m not already doing?

These are the tough questions. Or, more accurately, these are the tough answers to find.

“Where do babies come from?”

Please. Sperm and an egg are a walk in the park.

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Fight Week: Making Up

Fight Week: Making Up

In the back of my head, during pretty much every fight I have, there’s a part of me thinking: “This is going to be great when we finally get it resolved.”

Every fight I have with my wife, I mean.

We don’t like to fight, even though you’d think so if you were our wall-sharing neighbors. But we do like to make up, which you’d know if you were our wall-sharing neighbors.

Ahem.

We fight about the typical things: bills, insurance, spending habits, what we can afford, our credit card. It’s pretty much all about money. Sometimes we’ll fight about other stuff, but cash and what to do with our general lack of it is the big one.

We’re doing OK, as far as people do—especially when you compare us to most of the rest of the world. But what we’ve got coming in determines who of us works and how often, and where we live, and what we eat—and all that stuff may sound like what we’re fighting about, but underlying all of it is the bottom line.

But under even that is the understanding that this fight will be temporary—much, much, much shorter than my marriage to this amazing woman. On the geologic scale of our relationship, one fight isn’t even the Holocene. It’s the complete series of Firefly compared to an epoch. Except Firefly is awesome, and fighting isn’t.

I got lost somewhere in that metaphor. Actually, I got lost somewhere in this overall post.

My point is that we’ll work the money stuff out. And we’ll get through our communication issues. Because we told each other we would more than nine years ago. We told each other we’d keep working at this—even the hard stuff.

So after a fight—even a big one—we like to remember that commitment. And if we’re good at fighting, we’re really good at making up.

On a totally unrelated topic, prostates and testicles are awesome, don’t you think? (Yes, this is unrelated.) But cancer isn’t awesome at all. Check out what’s happening on my face this Movember.

And check out Firefly if you haven’t seen it.

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Words from my Wife

Words from y Wife

Recently in a dad-blogging forum—because I frequent such places now—somebody posted a link to this babble.com article, “Why I Don’t Put My Husband Before Our Children,” which is about, well, exactly what the title says.

Someone else contrasted that essay with this one from the New York Times, “Truly, Madly, Guiltily,” which presents the opposite perspective.

In case you’re too engrossed in my own writing (or lazy) to follow the links, here’s a summary: In the first piece, a mom discusses the challenges of dealing with three children and the tolls that takes on a marriage—and why she’s OK with that, for now. In the second piece—written years ago, actually—a mother explores the idea that her children are orbiting moons, while her husband is the sun. (She also explores that topic though a lens of sexual attraction, so hey!)

Intrigued by the two views, but leaning very heavily toward the second (given the two choices; there’s no angle here on children vs. no children or single vs. married), I was interested in hearing what my wife thought. So I sent her the links.

She responded pretty quickly, sending me what I now give to you as the first guest post in the Shallows (almost guest post, because I’ve still written a fair bit).

On the first essay: “That mom is going to wake up one day to the realization that the ‘hard’ part of parenting doesn’t end after the children are toddlers. One day she will realize she has no idea who the man is in the bed next to her. Children are needy and exhausting little humans. They will always demand all of you. You make choices about your priorities and how you manage those demands. I think her attitude leads to the kind of marriage that ‘stays together for the kids’ and ends as soon as the kids are out of the house because she and her husband made the choice to not make each other their priority.”

Wow! Maybe I should turn this blog over to her more often.

She continued: “The second one I tend to agree more with (obviously). As I have said before—I married you because I chose you. Our children are needy, exhausting blessings—but you (and being united with you in our parenting) always comes first. You can’t be united if you don’t make each other a priority (or don’t even spend time together). That time does not necessarily have to be romantic weekends away like she says (though that sounds wonderful); it does have to be a regular commitment to communication and connection. Children learn from what is modeled for them—I would hope that we model a love that is committed, playful, supportive, and passionate. I also think sex is a reflection of the intimacy and emotional connection that is in a marriage. I’m glad she talked about enjoying her sex life (though I personally would have been more bold in challenging the play group moms and their negative attitudes)! I actually have had the same thoughts she has about how I would react if our children died versus if you died.”

I’ve been thinking of starting a place in the Shallows for the bigger-issue serious stuff, called the Deep End, and this post would certainly land there.

What do you think?

(P.S. This is an old drawing of Sarah, from back when she had rectangle-framed glasses. Also, as you can see, the straight lines of her eyewear influenced the hole out of which she’s sticking.)

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