Here’s last night’s “to the left to the left, to the right to the right” wedding low-down.
Now that I cut my dreadlocks I wear a black flat brim fitted hat everywhere except the shower. En route to the wedding, Alanis Morissette singing about turning 98, winning the lottery, dying the next day. While brushing and penciling make-up, Kate asked me if I was going to wear the hat into the wedding. Questions are often disguised suggestions. The baby was protesting the car seat. Which is victory-less for us, unless breast to the baby’s mouth, Kate leans over and gives her the milk straight from the font.
I said hell yes to the hat. Black like my wingtip shoes which were my dad’s prided kicks in the mid-1980s. Black like my inch-wide ear plugs. Black like my horn-rimmed glasses from Zenni Optical for 6.99 plus tax. The hat matches. Kate did an eye roll. Which she’d been doing all afternoon.
The high and low of the wedding were as follows.
...but first I started an Alt Dad Instagram.
....and also I’m re-realizing that sanity can only be achieved through insanity.
I should start and end by saying the wedding was great. And as a social hermit, I felt grateful to ride shotgun on Kate’s social connection. Also Kate’s been pointing out how I’m a whiney complainer and mostly negative person so let’s just establish for the sake of rewiring my cerebral circuitry that the whole shebang was shebangtastic.
First the high. It was a lovely wedding. They went the Mexican route which is always the best way to go. Kate and I sat next to this guy named Rob whose wife started this company called Rainbow Peg Dolls. She’s done it all herself, becoming quite successful. In fact, the wedding cake was topped with little wooden peg dolls of Bailey and Drew and the dog and cat. Quite detailed and immaculately funny. Since Bailey manages the local coffee shop, the whole town was there. And it was nice to see bodies up and dancing, feet stomping, hands flailing, hips shaking. Any occasion to dance is dope with me. Also, sometimes I say things I probably shouldn’t but I get the right person so they hit me back with the something that’s gold. Last night this person (I’ll leave it gender neutral to protect their identity, proper journalistic ethics you know?) asked me what’s been up, and I told them I’d been listening this podcast on the psychological benefits of acid and all this and coincidently they look at me and laugh and say that just recently they had quite a lush acid time with their partner. A first, they noted. I don’t mention acid because I’m an acid head. But I mention acid because I’m fascinated by stuff that nobody talks about. That’s why I don’t think you should have guns in your house. Not even in a safe. If I were a kid, the safe would only draw my interest my intensely. I’d make it my six-year-old life goal to crack the code. I still have that mentality. So we talked about they’re romantic acid trip and we both looked over our shoulders, me because Kate and the baby were in the bathroom and I wanted to make sure that they were okay and didn’t need any help with any massive diaper explosion. Funny when everybody is looking over their shoulder.
Nearly half of all parentless parents who took the Parentless Parents Survey say they get jealous when their in-laws spend time with their children, and 29 percent resent their in-laws’ power over their children. My sister interviewed me about my manic parenting attachment the other day. Shared this statistic with me. Nice segue to where I’m going now.
The wedding low. Don’t take this the wrong way. Meaning take this as me not having another therapist appointment until after Thanksgiving. Is that okay to do? Meaning sharing is caring. Even if sharing is insanity.
The low was this one woman (again gender altered to protect the so-called innocent) who already has kids and therefore probably subconsciously thinks she’s an expert or safe zone for other parents to deposit their kids upon approached me and Kate and said can I hold the baby while you guys get your food from the buffet line? Kate says yes because Kate always says yes and I probably would’ve said yes to that too because I’ve realized over the last four months that that question is a cloaked way of saying can I hold the baby, which people should say, because like in this case if you add on “so you can eat your food” or whatever, then it gets confusing for me. It gets confusing because: what the hell do you think we do the 99.9% of the time you’re not around to hold the baby while we make our plate of food, or vacuum the house, or fold the laundry, or walk the dog, or whatever. I can do downward dog with the baby in both hands. Just ask straight up if you can hold the baby. It’s more accurate.
So I’m at the end of the buffet line. This lady has the baby. And then I put my plate on the ledge and say OK I’ll take the baby back now. She says what is never okay to say when a parent asks for their child back. She says no and then says I’ll wait for you to sit down at the table so you have both hands to hold the baby. Pause. We are entering my insanity.
Intentions matter, people say. Of course this lady’s intentions were Sunday church worthy. And this is where having a dead mother and being a parentless parent screams louder than the voice of reason and I think I don’t give a damn what you’re intentions are, give me my child back. But instead of saying that I maintain civility and say okay and walk to the table with my plate of tortillas, rice, beans,chips and guac. Because that’s what you do I guess when you have anxiety and you admit and you’re trying to just let it be and not act on it. Except now I’m writing about it. Because the therapist is very busy this time of year, she says. Lots of college students stressed, lots of breakdowns.
I get to our table and put my plate down and look at him or her or whoever I might be talking about with fiery red eyes like the four horsemen of the apocalypse that are so incendiary they can burn through stone walls. In my mind, I’m walking with the baby on my hip, walking straight outside with a long knife in my hand, slashing diagonals in random car tires, deflate the rubber foundation of other people’s existence, until the whole parking lot is slumped there, like an empty plastic bag pummeled by a rainstorm. Really. Is this a common phenomenon of first-time fathers with dead moms?
I guess the point is twofold. First, sometimes people can think they’re doing the nice thing but actually be doing violence to someone else’s insecurities. And that’s okay. Because it is what it is. And people are people. On both sides. But second, I understand this man woman is acting out of love. And I really appreciate her or him or they extending a helping hand, showing interest in our baby, us as parents, etc. All commendable. The point is that good and bad are irrelevant words but because we use them we must say they coexist in fifty shades of grey, and saying that I dislike a part of one experience does not mean I dislike all parts of that experience. I think people’s default modes slide into the uber-basic reductionist dichotomy of good or bad. We seem to resist nuance. But honestly, I love this ladylad. And yet the buffet line made me tighten my fingers a bit.
Culturally we don’t talk about the grey. Say something nice or don’t say anything at all. Why so stark a division? Why not discuss the whole gamut of lived experiences? What if we could talk about our feelings without poking other people into defensiveness? Why not talk it out? Let’s get to the bottom of it. And how can we talk if certain taboo topics are on the Thou Shalt Not list?
The baby is perhaps the best thing that's happened to me. Along with everybody who I've met, talked to, thought and written incendiary things about since. Like the yoga teacher on YouTube says, the Teacher is everywhere.