doesn’t die after baby—it evolves
months after our wedding, we were expecting a baby. Getting
this news was a bit like walking into a surprise party in
our honor—after the initial shock, we quickly settled into
celebration. Except, of course, that our anxieties were
slightly weightier than your average adoring-crowd fluster,
and the party doesn’t end.
We wanted a family, no doubt about that. But we were planning
to plan. To wait until we had a bigger place. More money.
More college. More stability, maturity, time. More of all
the thousand things that may never come. The things we thought
would make us ready.
now I know that nothing, nothing could have prepared
us for that moment. A moment washed in fear and awe and
joy and love and the smashing comprehension that everything
The revelation I was to be a mother made me feel strangely
like a child, naďve and unqualified. But my husband gripped
my eyes with his, a foggy upturn to his lips, and said,
simply, “I’m not scared.”
Those words were a steadying foothold in my roiling dizziness
and my mind whorled into focus beside him as we began our
ride into parenthood.
After months of morning sickness and “sausage feet,” after
the heart-splitting bliss of that first cry, after marathon
sleepless nights and spit-up stains, tumbles, bruises, first
laughs, first steps, first words, our little family has
now blown out one candle.
And yes, everything has changed.
No one hesitates to inform new parents that their love life
is headed down the drain. The profound lack of romance in
our demographic has long been fodder for stand-up comedy
(usually involving jokes at a mate’s expense), movies (usually
involving a chaotic passel of tots and a plumbing problem)
and Sunday funnies (usually involving laundry and frizzled
hair). This collective societal laugh is not entirely unwarranted.
Nor, perhaps, is the apparently lucrative “keeping romance
alive” self-help book industry.
We were never much the romantic candlelight dinner types,
but, yes, an elegant meal and a leisurely glass of wine
have become more a pipe dream than a luxury. “Luxury” would
be better defined as a day in which all three of us manage
to be simultaneously clean.
Yes, when we curl into a cuddle on the couch there is now
a bright little body tucked between us. Yes, we stretch
to kiss goodnight over her soft sleep. And, yes, too often
I catch us moving around each other in our daily business,
doing our best to command the chaos with, yes, an armful
of laundry and frizzled hair.
But I consider our partnership in this ordinary, extraordinary
adventure a genuine success. I may be able to count our
recent dates on one hand, but I can count our fights on
the other, most of those born of stress or exhaustion. We
go about our days, waking, working, eating, exploring, sleeping.
Romance has been cast temporarily aside, but love, I suppose,
is a kind of energy. And energy, as Einstein’s law declares,
is never lost. It only changes form.
Everyone told us that our romance would suffer. That parenting
What no one told us was that, whether by growth or necessity,
selfishness would wither to a vestigial wisp, and that love
would become the engine that drives our lives and informs
our actions. What no one told us is that the work itself
Forget the scattered rose petals, the chocolate-dipped strawberries,
the soft-focus, dreamy gestures. After many a long workday,
I’ve stumbled over our threshold onto a freshly vaccumed
carpet, or into the kitchen to find dishes drying in the
drainer and my husband, barely home himself, slicing potatoes
with our daughter in his arms.
Warm towels after a shower, a half gallon of ice cream and
a jar of fudge, a few minutes of quiet, a shameless living
room dance party, a lullaby, a kiss caught over bubbling
dishwater or simmering soup, the same story read for the
14th time, a 3 AM diaper change, finger paints on the kitchen
floor, imagination, patience, persistance—those everyday
acts are our love notes now, and it is the most sincere
and beautiful romance I’ve ever known.
We can do better, I’m sure; we’re still learning to balance
this precarious tower of needs, wants, responsibilities,
freedom and fun. I’m trying to say thank you more. To tell
him more often that because of him, my muddling days are
lit, again and again, by love and gratidude.
To tell him that more than once I’ve had to catch my breath
in the cereal aisle as, a few steps ahead of me, he tickled
a delighted peal of laughter into the Cheerios. That I’ve
choked back a swell of dizzying wonder, sitting on the edge
of the bed where they nap together, snug and rumpled, breathing
in quiet unision, her eyes my eyes, her mouth his. And that
I may never have loved him more than the day I came home
to find them perched at the coffee table, each working on
a masterpiece in crayon.
To tell him that love is waxing, not waning. Because, toddling
out into the world, itself thrown open anew, is a fresh,
exquisite, curious, joy-filled, blossoming life, proving
with every step what I believed all along: that together
we’ve become something better than our selves.
those of you wondering what happened after I popped the
question in last week’s Wedding Guide, here’s what transpired
a good few hours on the day I would carry out the most romantic
action of my 29 years on this planet, I didn’t feel particularly
romantic. For a while, as I waited with my mother for the
new issue of Metroland—with my proposal to my girlfriend,
Jamie, printed inside—to be delivered to Proctors in Schenectady,
I felt driven, motivated, like a man on a mission. But as
the minutes ticked by and the Metrolands did not
arrive, I began to feel helpless—undone by my own convoluted
The florist had been contacted, credit card number given,
a price set. The plan was as follows: As soon as I brought
them a copy of the Wedding Guide, the florist would deliver
the paper and the bouquet to Jamie at her office. But the
issue wasn’t arriving. My mother and I scoured Jay Street,
but not a Metroland could be found. “She’s got one,”
my mom shouted at a woman walking by. The woman was a bit
startled. I glanced at the paper in her arm, “It’s last
week’s issue, Mom,” I replied.
Back at Proctors, my phone rang. The florist wondered where
the issue was. “I will have it soon,” I said. A chai and
brownie did nothing to calm my nerves. The phone rang again.
It was Jamie’s mother, Theresa, the ultimate planner of
parties and surprises and my partner in this whole routine.
“Do you have them yet?” she asked. “No. They aren’t here,”
I said nervously. Luckily, her friend at the Manhattan Exchange
had received a delivery. We waited a few minutes, wondering
if a delivery at Proctors was imminent. It wasn’t.
As we dashed to my mother’s truck it hit me how silly it
was that I was waiting around for a delivery of Metrolands.
Since 2004 I have been surrounded by them, my desk covered
in them—but this one meant more than any one ever before.
My mother darted out of the truck and up the stairs of the
Manhattan Exchange and emerged with a plastic bag full.
We made our way to the florist. Everything was coming together—or
so I thought. But when I handed the woman behind the counter
the Wedding Guide, she was unsure she could deliver the
issue before 3 PM. “Well, then, can I have the flowers?”
I asked. The arrangement wasn’t ready. “I will have to make
completely different plans,” I said, desperately, “This
has to work!” The clerk told me her boss wondered if the
business could get a write-up in Metroland. My jaw
hit the floor. “No!” I said. “You don’t write for Metroland?”
the clerk asked. I was enraged to the point of being numb.
The clerk promised her boss would call me in 45 minutes
and let me know if she could make the delivery. I got back
into the truck and told my mother what had happened. Then
I called Theresa, looking for level-headed advice—my mother,
I worried, was just as emotional as I. While I concluded
my conversation with Theresa my mother got out of the car
and went into the florist. Theresa advised that I cancel
the flower delivery, go to Price Chopper, pick out flowers
there and deliver them with the proposal to the front desk
at Jamie’s workplace. But I had to wait for my mother. She
returned, victorious. “ I made it clear to them that this
has to happen well before 3 PM,” she said, adding that the
girl behind the counter had read the article and been brought
From there we went to Jamie’s workplace. I waited in the
lobby and my mother departed. Sitting in the lobby was a
skyscraper-high stack of new Metrolands. Not only
did I feel dumb for searching for the things, but now I
worried that Jamie could have very well already seen the
article. And, if she had, why hadn’t I heard from her? The
minutes passed and I didn’t see a delivery person. The phone
rang—finally—the florist, announcing that the flowers had
indeed been delivered, and with time to spare. “Are you
sure?” I asked. They were certain.
It seemed like an eternity. I wanted to go up there myself
and check. But I waited. And then the phone rang. I answered
without looking at the caller ID. “Hello?” I said meekly.
I heard crying on the other end of the phone. “Where are
you?” Jamie asked. “I’m in the lobby,” I said sheepishly.
“You are? I will be right there.” I packed up my Metrolands
and my computer and hurried to the elevator. She walked
towards me, her eyes flooding with tears. I dropped to one
knee and asked, “Will you marry me?”
of course!” she replied, still holding back the tears. I
took her hand. “The other hand,” she said. And I took the
right one. The ring slid on perfectly. My grandmother’s
ring. The ring my grandfather had given to my grandmother
decades ago. The grandparents I had written about in my
proposal. We hadn’t even had the ring fitted. It was perfect.
But not everything had gone according to plan. I wanted
the flowers delivered first, with the proposal, so Jamie
would have time to read how much my grandparents meant to
me and how important the ring was that I was giving her.
But she hadn’t read the story yet. The girls at the desk
downstairs had called her down to get the flowers, claiming
that a package had arrived that they were too busy to deliver.
Jamie thought she was picking up a box of pagers. When she
arrived and saw the flowers, she says, she initially thought
I was either sending flowers on a whim because I hadn’t
seen her in a few days (thanks to the snowstorms that wracked
the region), or as a joke, as part of something I had written
for the wedding guide. She read the first few sentences
and realized it wasn’t a joke. So, as she has done with
so many of my articles, she skipped to the end and the tears
It wasn’t until hours later, that she wiped the tears from
her eyes and read the whole thing. The tears started again,
and I wiped them away as she read.
Day plans, wishes and wants from a handful of Capital Region
Well, we’d like a shoebox full of candy hearts that say
“Coax Me” and cards from Michael Jordan telling us to “Slam
dunk a super day!” Because Valentine’s Day doesn’t quite
have the same giddy charm that it did in third grade. (One
Metroland editor actually vomitted in anticipation
of the elementary school celebration.) It’s our suspicion,
though, that this Hallmark holiday can be good fun for adults
too, so we asked some of our favorite artists, musicians,
radio personalities, venue owners, restaurateurs, charlatans
and eccentrics to answer one simple question: What do you
want for Valentine’s Day?
of WEXT’s Hello Pretty City
magic radio that gets perfect reception.
want a heart shaped box of chocolates. Basically, I’m Forrest
night out together without the kids in tow.
to announce a 2011 tour (including a somewhat local venue),
and also chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne.
Jasen Von Guinness
headed to an Albany Irish Rowing Club winter tradition called
broomball on Saturday. It’s a great way for the club to
catch up over the off season and get some aggression out.
We play at a member’s house out in Nassau. From there, we’re
headed to a bed and breakfast in North Adams, Mass. Hopefully
have a great dinner and just enjoy being away from responsibility
for a bit. Sunday is all about MASS MoCA. I’m a big fan
and try to get there routinely. My girlfriend, Janie, is
from Kansas and has never been, so I’m really looking forward
to playing tour guide.
of WAMC’s The Roundtable
a perpetual singleton, I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s
Day or expect gifts. However, my birthday is two days before
Valentine’s Day and for that, passes to the Spectrum make
a perfect gift.
of WAMC’s The Roundtable
wish for Valentine’s Day is a coupon for a long winter walk
with my Valentine (my wife, Kelly.) We can walk through
the snow, talk and even bring the dog—so we have even more
reasons to smile.
of Bomber’s Burrito Bar and Wolff’s Biergarten
considering that I am not in relationship at the moment,
this Valentine’s Day I am looking forward to some alone
time with a high-speed Internet connection, a well-rolled
joint and a six-pack of Utica Club.
live to eat, so the best Valentine I could get is a great
dinner out with my girlfriend.
want flowers in gun barrels, seafood lasagna in Alfredo
sauce and oil tankers of prune juice to flush out our world
. . . for Valentine’s Day I wish for everyone who needs
a Valentine to have a Valentine. (Sorry, I kind of hate
The Other Head of Science
Day is a day for couples to set time aside to celebrate
all the silly, confusing and wonderful things that they
love about one another. For me, that could be anything from
going out and having a nice dinner to turning on some strobe
lights and having a two-person pajama dance party in the
living room. A little laser tag never hurts, either. Even
single people can enjoy laser tag on Valentine’s Day.
The Other Head of Science
chocolate deliveries would be lovely. Mysterious because
I don’t have to talk to anyone, and chocolate because I
get to eat chocolate.
Co-Director of Time & Space Limited
would like a revolution for this Valentine’s Day.
Yes, a revolution that includes Emerson, Shakespeare, Melville
and Gertrude Stein, Harold Pinter, Bertolt Brecht, Virginia
Woolf, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Malcolm X (to name a few)
as a source for inspiration and ideas in our schools and
A revolution that includes women and men as equals.
A revolution that considers the little people first and
the big people last.
A revolution that holds nature in awe.
A revolution that moves America away from a warrior nation
to a nation that makes change by other means—perhaps change
through hearts and minds not pistols and prisons.
A revolution that considers the health and the welfare of
our citizens first.
And, yes, equal rights for all and there are no exceptions
to this idea.
A revolution that asks citizens to think of a future without
wrecking the planet.
And last a revolution in education—it is our children that
Yes, hope for this “new yet unapproachable America.”
The bottom line—more wisdom and less “donuts,” AKA doughnuts.
long time ago, my wife and kids and I converted Valentine’s
Day from a two-person event to a full-family affair . .
. we would eat together, share goofy cards and great hugs,
and include any dear friend who might not have plans for
the night. From “eros” to “agapé” in the categories of love,
the transition still sticks. What do I want? More agapé.