I married a family woman like I wanted to.
My mom wanted me to marry a Latina, and my dad wanted me to marry a god-fearing woman.
My wife is neither.
But she is a family woman. And that’s what I wanted.
This brought my mom on board even though we keep having to tell her we won’t send our daughters to her house by themselves because what my wife does fear is my mom baptizing our daughters in secret.
My family is very important to me, so finding someone who shared that love of family was important.
How else would they understand when my mom calls me 100 times a day and meddles in things that are none of her concern?
My wife is half Irish, and I love the Irish. But, by god, are they fertile?
When my wife and I got married, I could fit my entire family on the children’s table. My wife’s family could fill Boston.
So often, and I mean often, my wife, her aunts, and her cousins get together to celebrate… being Irish. I guess. I actually have no clue why they get together so much.
But we have two very young girls. And I want to be seen as a supportive husband because how people see me is very important to me. So when my wife tells me before leaving, “Are you sure you got this?” I think, “Oh, you offend me by insinuating I can’t take care of my girls while they are very dysregulated in the middle of the holiday season, hopped up on candy cane when we have 1,000 other things to do, and I still have not bought your gifts!”
But that would be too much to unload, so I say simply, “I got this! Go let your hair down! Paint the town red!” And other 80s platitudes about female liberation and partying.
My wife is a dedicated stay-at-home mom, and she deserves every single break she can get.
But my daughters are not accustomed to seeing her leave.
The moment my wife closes the door, my youngest daughter, Amélie, who has been acting normal, will go into hysterics and cry for thirty minutes straight.
Halfway through, her sister, Jovie, decides to be supportive by joining in the crying even though, for fifteen minutes, she was perfectly fine drawing and ignoring the drama happening at the front door.
I tried to tell them, “Mommy will be back tonight.” But they can’t comprehend the idea of time, and right now, it feels like forever.
I leave on four-day work trips, and they are easily distracted by the promise of a granola bar. It’s not even a good granola bar, either. The ones made out of fruits, minerals, and shredded cardboard would be fine.
I calm them down enough to sit at the table to draw with crayons. But it’s not working because Amélie wants to grab as many crayons as she wants, and Jovie wants to be the toll supervisor and only allow her one at a time.
I avoid the tug of war by dumping four boxes of crayons into a giant salad mixing bowl where they can pick whatever they want.
Jovie starts by drawing a rainbow, and Amélie, not having developed the fine motor skills of her older sister, sets out to level the playing field by grabbing Jovie’s dominant hand and taking a gaping bite at it.
I mediate all these property disputes while cooking pasta.
And when I cook pasta, it is a whole thing.
I caramelize the onions in bacon fat, then I shred a vegetable into it to sneak vegetables into their diet, then I add two pounds of beef, the marinara, and then the pasta.
But this night, I’m constantly pulled away from the stove, so I forget the beef and a meal in my house without animal protein is not a meal; it’s a snack and not a good one.
So I hurried to sauté the beef separately in between running to mediate crayon border disputes.
I finally tell them the pasta is ready, and the promise of nourishment makes them believe for a second that maybe being with Dad is not that bad after all.
I triumphantly place the first bowl in front of Amélie and run back to put together Jovie’s bowl. Before I make it to my Le Creuset, I hear my youngest say with her baby voice, “Oh, no.”
And not a second later a BANG! on the floor.
I turn around and see she had flipped the bowl and thrown it on the floor with all the marinara pasta. It looked like murder all over our white linoleum floor. It was the murder of my soul.
I decide that’s a good moment to get my camera and take a picture. I want to text it to my wife, but I decide against it so as not to ruin her time with the Republic of Ireland.
Instead, I write down on my note-taking app with the words, “The egg!!! The egg came first!!!”
This is my way of blaming her when the girls are not behaving.
While scientists, fundamentalists, and the population at large still try to figure out what came first, the chicken or the egg, my wife and I have a different debate; we ask what came first, the egg or the sperm, or in other words, who is responsible for originating the existence of our progeny.
I typically like to crown myself victorious when our kids are unbearably adorable, but on a night like the one I was going through, I want to distance myself from the exposure.
The notes also serve a different purpose. It is there in case my wife comes home and finds me lying on the floor, with my phone in my hands, dead. This is a possibility since I have an inexplicable pain in the left side of my chest, and I can’t tell if it’s an anxiety attack, a heart attack, or a gas attack!
She would read a simple entry.
“Captain’s log: MUTINY!!!!! These fuckers are crazy!!! They are trying to…”
I put the phone away and proceed to start again. My daughter swears it was a mistake, so I give her another bowl of pasta.
They both eat most of their food, and I wonder what makes me forget that feeding marinara pasta to toddlers is a two-person job. You need someone to restrain the kid while the other person waterboards the most stubborn stains out of their cheeks.
Somehow, I finish dinner, clean them, and get them ready for bed.
Once Amélie is in bed, she cries for twenty minutes for her mom, and Jovie wants to read her entire library of books.
Everyone is in bed by 9 PM, and my wife arrives shortly after.
I want to blame her for the night I have and forbid her from ever stepping foot outside again until our daughters can rent a car. But I have enough sense to know that I’m just tired and cranky from the night.
So I go to bed, knowing I am the only one to blame for this night.
I am the one who chose to feed them marinara; I am the one who married the woman of my dreams, and I am the one who fertilized the egg.
So, this night is all on me.