There was a point in our lives together as a couple, during one of those in-depth, late-night discussions — the kind of conversation in which young lovers contemplate their future — when Lindy said the following: “I’m just not sure I’ll ever be ready to have kids.”
Here’s the problem: That was two years ago. Our children were 19, 16, and 11 years old at the time.
All parents, I’m guessing, periodically question whether they’re ready to be raising kids.
For us, that questioning has come when, say, daughter Hadley, at age 4, asked our 60-year-old waitress if she was pregnant.
Or when son Henry, then 5, ate a pine cone during an RYBA T-ball game.
Or when daughter Emma, then 6, answered our home phone and — like she had been coached if a stranger called — explained that her mom couldn’t come to the phone right now, that she was in the shower. Lindy and I, still in bed, could hear Emma in the living room. Then, the caller must have asked if they could talk to her father.
“No,” we heard Emma say. “He’s in the shower, too. They’re in the shower together. Good-bye.”
Or when 6-year-old Hadley brought home a picture she had drawn and presented at school — of “Your Dad And His Hobbies” — for Father’s Day. It was a drawing of me sitting on the couch drinking a beer.
Or when 11-year-old Henry created and detonated a stink bomb that has lessened the resale value of our house.
Or when 10-year-old Emma held a concert for our family. We bought tickets and were ushered to seats in the living room. Emma had YouTubed karaoke versions of songs she had learned from her Kidz Bop CDs. She introduced herself. Began singing into her plastic microphone.
The YouTube version, though, contained the actual, adult lyrics of the song. The lyrics were so raunchy, in fact, that Emma was not sure what she was singing. I’m not sure I understood what some of the words meant.
By midway through verse two, Lindy and I were diving for the computer to slam the lid closed before erasing the Google search history.
That question, though — of whether we’re ready to have kids — is usually fleeting. The rest of the time, the answer is a resounding “There’s no going back now!”
Or, really, “Yes.”
Like that night in 2013, when we took all three kids to see Sesame Street Live. For the last song of the show, Emma, 5, started dancing like she was in a mosh pit at a Clash concert. She was so excited that she asked the older two kids to dance with her. And while they were probably mortified to even be there (I mean, Hadley was a teenager), both of them started dancing and singing along with Grover.
And in 2014, the day before Henry’s first day of eighth grade. After three years of growing out his hair — on one side only, he regularly shaved the other side — Henry decided to finally get his hair cut. “Like trimmed?” Lindy asked.
“No,” Henry said. “Cut. I want to donate it to Wigs For Kids.”
And, after two years of auditioning and being rejected, daughter Hadley finally got accepted to sing and play ukulele during the Eagles Cancer Telethon. She had kept trying if only because she wanted to get the chance to say, right there on TV, that she was doing this for her aunt, my brother’s wife, Tammi, who died of brain cancer at age 51. My brother and his kids, I know, were watching over a live stream back home in Michigan.
When Henry was 9 and lost a tooth. Emma, then 4, started crying. “The Tooth Fairy never visits ME!” she said. That night, without any prompting, Henry gave his tooth to Emma to put under her pillow.
When Hadley was 13 and wrote a song for Lindy on Mother’s Day. When Henry cut short a night out with friends to see Emma’s seventh-grade band concert. When Emma counted the days until she was 12 and could start volunteering at Paws and Claws.
Or tonight, as we all sit in the living room with Hadley, now 21, back home after a college semester in England. Our 11-year old chocolate Lab, Scout, is lying on her back on the floor and all three kids are scratching her stomach at the same time.
And even, when we really think about it, when Hadley painted her carpeting. And Emma tried to hard boil a raw egg by putting it in the microwave. And, possibly, even when Henry detonated that stink bomb.