The nostalgia of summer permeates nearly every thought in my mind this time of year. Years of summers had. Years of summers to come. But then I think of the summer that actually awaits me. And it causes much cognitive dissonance. Last night at BuyBuyBaby (a store run completely by untrained monkeys — a smear blog for another time), I asked Laura “Aren’t you so excited to meet him” (of course referring to our unborn child who will most likely cook for another 34 days). She gawked at a $20 price tag on a onesie and said “Kinda.”
To the casual observer, that might come across as her sounding like the Distant Mother or someone who Doesn’t Understand the Miracle of Childbirth. Whatever. When the word “kinda” oozed out of her mouth, my over-jubilant expression morphed into the same expression I make when someone walks in on me while I’m on the toilet — confused, vulnerable, bewildered, befuddled, amused. If you haven’t figured out Laura, it’s that she has an innate knowledge of Things that remain a mystery to the rest of us. She’s the Dumbledore of Decision Making. The Mufasa of Marriage. The Atticus Finch of Family. The Tinkerbell of Teaching. The Obi-Wan of <can’t come up with an alliteration>. If she said “kinda,” then she knows something I don’t. And because I was too confused by her response, I didn’t Jack-Bauer her into a tortured confession as to what she meant.
But here I am at 7:30 in the morning, awoken (awaked? awoked?) by the one word that slithered off her tongue so nonchalantly yesterday. Kinda.
I’m about to go upstairs where she is most likely sleeping with a relaxed smile on her face, shake her awake, and yell in to her face, “Tell me everything you know! Devil! Release her!”
Perhaps her “kinda” refers to the same cognitive dissonance that I’ve been trying to understand about my own feelings of the approaching summer. On one hand, to see my flesh and blood, hold him in my arms, play with his baby feet (a weird obsession) — I’ll finally experience fatherhood. On the other hand, I won’t be able to do what I did yesterday: Read upside down on the couch for hours without a care as to what anyone else in the world is doing. Sit on the porch by myself in the sun — staring at neighbors and making up stories about their lives. Work in the yard with headphones on before coming inside to … read. Get in my car driving wherever it takes me to eat something for lunch, listening to an audiobook. Then there’s the traveling. The “hey, want to go see a movie?” two hours before it starts and, yes, being able to drop everything to go do it. The Absolute Freedom to Be Absolutely Free.
That will be gone. That’s kinda exciting. That’s kinda unfortunate.
Laura and I have long been caught up in making each other happy. So when she says “kinda,” it’s perhaps an acknowledgement that we’re about to experience a new kind of joy that will bind us together like nothing has before. Instead of our focus aimed at each other, it’s aimed at our child. It’s also, perhaps, an acknowledgement that the change that’s about to occur is unknown — a beautiful change, yes. But unknown. I catch her sometimes sitting in the rocking chair in his nursery holding his stuffed elephant. Her expression is usually serene. She rocks slowly, as if peacefully anticipating what it will be like to hold him here in just a little over a month. I like to read her “kinda” as an optimistic and anxious nod to our future.
Or maybe she’s just freaking out that a onesie costs $20.