If you have fathered a child, you have already discovered that a baby is the most effective form of birth control ever invented. It may have taken you a while to figure this out, because a baby is so deceptively cute and disarming that we utterly underestimate his or her ability to scheme against us.
But the brutal fact is this: When you bring a baby home from the hospital, you invite into your home a small-but-willful being who realizes, at a very young age, that if he prevents you from ever having sex again, he gets all the toys for himself. Think I am exaggerating? Then tell me, Dad, have you ever experienced the following scenario?
You are looking forward to a sweaty little round of conjugal fellowship with your wife, but you first need to put the baby to bed. You gently place him in his crib and tiptoe out of his room, confident that you have a minimum of a few hours before he will awake.
About 30 seconds after you and your beloved get naked, little Tommy begins wailing like an ambulance. Now you, as a guy, can ignore this because once you get naked, you, as a guy, could ignore a meteorite smashing into the living room. But your wife can’t even ignore a dripping faucet three blocks away, much less ignore the pitiable shrieks of her helpless and dependant infant.
So you throw on your robe, scamper down the hall and check the diaper, which has the moisture content of the Sahara desert. He does not need to be changed. You try rocking him but that only makes him fussier. So you bring him to your wife to see if he wants to nurse, but he just nestles into her breast and says “guuu ehhh gaah ahhh,” which is how babies say, “Don’t you wish YOU were here?”
Thirty minutes later he drifts off to sleep, so you pick him up with the same caution you would use if you were picking up a beaker of nitroglycerin and tuck him into his bed. You climb into bed and snuggle up next to your bride, who is now in a possum-like state of unconsciousness. You gently rub her back, hoping to ease her back into a state of amorous wakefulness, but she begins snoring like a Husqvarna chain saw. You are about to burst into tears when little Tommy emits a small gurgle, which snaps your wife back into a state of wide-awake panic.
“I think he is choking!” she whispers.
“He’s fine! He just made the same little noise he always makes!” you reply.
“Honey, I won’t be able to get back into the mood unless we make sure he is OK,” she says.
So you creep right up to his crib. No sound. You reach gently into his crib and give him a little wiggle to see if he will make a little noise. He does not. Rather, he makes a vast quantity of noise, akin to a buzz saw cutting into concrete. And your evening now has all the romantic potential of a root canal.
I cannot even begin to count the number of times that our first child thwarted my romantic intentions. I have to confess that I actually got mad at him. I got angry that a 6-month-old baby had the audacity to be, well, a baby. Yes, I was that shallow. And, yes, I am embarrassed about it now.
Those frustrating times of deferred pleasure forced me to learn to sacrifice and to put the needs of my son before my own desires. God was showing me my true colors and also building character into my soul as I rocked my fussy son.
I also learned to be creative and to look for other opportunities to engage in romantic interludes with my wife. I never knew traffic jams could be such a blessing. Hey, I am a guy.
Dave Meurer is an award-winning humorist and the author of Mistake It Like a Man (Multnomah)