With Child, Preparing for the SuperBowl

Greg before birthA wise columnist once said something wise. “Once you are ‘with child’, you are ‘with child’…for at least the next 20 years.”

But she, I assume it was a she and I wish I could accurately attribute it to someone, lied. At least by omission. She did not explain that children can be self-replicating, or accurately describe the length of gestation.

Now people get all gooey about this.

“Grandchildren.” they say, as though that explains it all, and then they sigh.

That’s exactly what I did when my children announced their news.

“Grandchildren.” I breathed. “Grandchildren.” Maybe it was a sudden oxytocin attack. Maybe having children is like exposure to cats. They secrete a parasite that changes your brain so that you actually want them around all the time.

Still, they sure do interfere with the preparations for a SuperBowl party.

It had been a busy week for me. Or actually, it had been a really busy week for my son and daughter-in-law. I should be sympathetic, but after all, this is MY column.
I had been ‘with child’ Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“I’m retired, for heavens sake.” I whined. “What happened to golf?”

“Yes! Yes! That’s what I’m saying!” shouted my husband.

I looked at him sharply.

“Grandchildren. Grandchildren.” I breathed. “Besides,” I observed. “the parasite has actually taken a much firmer hold in your brain than mine. They never leave your lap.”

On the Saturday before Super-bowl, my son (who works on Sundays) had hinted around a request.

“Umm. Ellen has a bunch of work to do before the end of the mini-semester…would you mind if she came over with the kids so that you could help watch them while she finishes her project?”

I made non-committal noises then sat down with my computer…and I had an adult beverage.

As I calmed down from the day, my inner Christian gained strength. Or the parasite did.

Whatever, I called and offered to take the kids for the day. To church, and to my house until she had finished her work. After all, I thought to myself, my husband can take care of the cooking for SuperBowl Sunday. Meat can only really be cooked effectively by men anyway. And he’s better at all the other culinary stuff too.

“Yeah, you get the glory, and I get the work and the kids.” he muttered.

I reflected quietly that sometimes life does work out well.

But then, it didn’t.

We had invited the 3 kids, and 3 grandkids over to watch the SuperBowl. We had defrosted a lamb, and planned for potatoes, roast squash cubes in olive oil and maple syrup, salad and corn bread. I knew that Grandpa could handle this nicely.

Except things happen. Our daughter had taken her son and flown to Rochester, NY for the weekend, leaving her husband alone with a complicated home improvement project. Has anyone ever noticed that complicated home improvement projects always take longer than predicted?

“I’m going to go pick Tracy and Max up from the airport. So Ryan can finish.” my husband announced. “You’ll have to do the dinner.”

“But…but…I’m with child.” I panicked. “I don’t multi-task well.”

“Do you want to drive into Boston?”

This was not a happy moment.

Let me digress here. I am reliving my early motherhood moments through my grandchildren. My third grandchild used to be a lot like my third child. Easy. I called him my Zen baby because he could be set on a mat on the floor, and he would just make lovely gurgle noises and look at his toes. I loved Zen baby. When an adult came into sight, and did him the great favor of actually looking his way, his whole body would wiggle, just like a golden retriever. Then he would break into the worlds widest, most beautiful, grin. Zen baby was perfect.

But Zen baby changed. He is now a one year old. He learned to walk a month ago, and immediately morphed into Mad Climber baby. An afternoon with Mad Climber baby is like the ‘Bourne Identity’. I just race from crisis to crisis, and the adrenaline never stops.

I watch him climb up a stool in front of a window. That’s bad. He has no balance. Then I see him eye the shaky table a foot and a half away. I can hear him thinking. “From the table, I could get to Grandpa’s desk. I could pull myself up using that…what does Grandpa call it? computer monitor?”

I cannot imagine spending 24 hours with this child. Plus I had his older brother, who would like it if someone sometimes paid attention to him as well.

“Mom. Babies sleep. I’ll be there in the afternoon. And so will my wife.” my son assured me. “It will be fine.”

“It will be fine.” I assured my husband. “Just keep to the schedule for cooking everything.”

“I am a woman of faith.” I assured myself.

“You know, don’t you.” my daughter cautioned. “This is going to leave you and Ellen in the kitchen. You two have a history there.”

“That’s a silly superstition.” I said. “She’s a great cook. I am, sometimes, a competent cook. It will be fine.” I repeated.

And it would have been fine. Even if Mad Climbing Baby had prevented a timely start, and left me a bit shaky.

“Lov…Don’t blame Mad Climbing Baby. You decided to do a desert.”

“Shh. This is my article.”

Actually, it would have been fine except for my new double oven. It would have been fine if the upper oven hadn’t mysteriously turned itself off. It would have been fine, had I realized the oven was off sometime before the desert should have come out. It would been worked fine, if the potatoes had gone in earlier. It would have been fine, if my husband, daughter and grandson hadn’t arrived at an inopportune moment.

“Honey, we arrived exactly when dinner was scheduled to be served.”

“You be quite, it’s all your fault!”

Actually it was fine, no matter what anyone else says. My son-in-law put it best.

“I love that everything wasn’t ready at once. I mean, I got to eat all evening, and I never got stuffed.”

I took the desert out at 9pm, whether it was cooked or not. Everyone assured me it was just wonderful, and headed quickly home.

“Wow. It’s quiet.” my husband said, surveying the damage.

“See, I told you it would all be fine.” After all, I thought, Mad Climbing baby was still alive. And with his parents.

Still, I do need to explain something to that ‘wise columnist’. Maybe she knows it by now, just like I do. Let me explain, ‘wise columnist’, once you with are ‘with child’ you are ‘with child’. There is no nine month expiration date. There is no 20 year expiration date. They don’t stop; they replicate; Mad Climbing baby makes its appearance generation after generation…

“It’s OK lov..” my husband said, patting me on the back. “It was fine. It will be fine. Grandchildren. Just breath deep and repeat. Grandchildren.”

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