Finian at six weeks with the author
  • Finian at six weeks with the author
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I Have Purchased a Grey Cardigan Sweater

My wife and I fell in love over wine, bourbon, and cognac. We attended a college with a dry campus, and many evenings were spent sitting in my car under a highway overpass just off campus known to students as The Pit, a bottle between us and a candle on the dashboard. We developed the habit of each other, the ease of being together that bodes well for domestic bliss.

Feb. 13, 1997 | Read full article

Men Will Rise to the Level Women Demand of Them

I decided I couldn't stand my coach and I quit playing baseball. And that was it. As intensely as dad had supported me, as hard as he had worked with me, he did not try to keep me where I did not need to be. It was a lesson to me. I am not for hands-off parenting. But here was a place where letting go, while it would not affect my quality of soul, might still be difficult. 

March 20, 1997 | Read full article

Our One and Noble Function

I'm not saying women shouldn't work. I'm saying that parents ought to look to their children. That is the "one and noble function of the time." It's not a question of politics, it's a question of love. As the narrator aunt tells Dean in On the Road, "You can't go all over the country having babies like that. Those poor little things'll grow up helpless. You've got to offer them a chance to live."

April 17, 1997 | Read full article

Call No Man Blessed Until He Is in the Grave

People react the way they would if you told them you had landed a job or won an award. But pregnancy is not the result of an achievement of this sort. It is the result of sex, and though I believe sex with my wife is both an expression of love and an occasion of grace, the fact remains that most men and women can take part in the conception of a child. It requires no special virtue.

May 29, 1997 | Read full article

This Was Labor, Not an Aneurysm

Whether he feels the same about me is another matter. His first excursion with Dad was to the circumcision table, something we did so that he would look like his father, so he wouldn't get made fun of in the locker room, and because it is customary. All he knows is it hurt, and Dad brought him there. I also get to change him, a ritual that includes rubbing Vaseline on his wounded penis.

July 3, 1997 | Read full article

To Be a Chunker

In Evelyn Waugh's "Work Suspended," the narrator falls in love with a pregnant woman, despite the fact that she is "deprived of sex, as women are, by its own fulfillment." In contrast to this is John Updike's Couples. Before I married, I agreed with Waugh — sex with a pregnant woman seemed somehow of another order, almost weird. But when Deirdre got pregnant, three months into our marriage, I started tending toward Updike.

July 31, 1997 | Read full article

I Said I Was Looking Forward to Trying to Raise a Saint

I had a moment of clarity. A moment when words resume their original force and meaning. (Amazing that we can use words like God, the Devil, Heaven, Hell, Sin, Grace, the Incarnation, and all the rest of it with such casual tones, but we can, because they have been softened by use. What does "born again" signify anymore?) These words were, for a moment, clear. "Live no longer for ourselves, but for Him...."

Aug. 28, 1997 | Read full article

After Job, Wife, and Family Fall into Place

The Normal Heights house we are in the process of buying is not dull, but neither is it exotic. One-story Craftsman, wood exterior, three bedrooms, one and a half baths, a garage for an office, and a small yard. Cushy linoleum covers the large kitchen floor; the rest is forgiving, coverable hardwood. There is room for an herb garden. We have struck a balance between form and function. The baby is boss. "What is normal" remains to be seen.

Sept. 25, 1997 | Read full article

My Darling Droolbucket

Four months, and I still find myself believing that motherhood has descended on Deirdre with all the ease of an inherited crown. Solutions to the mystery of his sadness seemed infused in her; I must experiment. Contrasts between being and doing square off in my head — she simply holds him to her breast, and lo, by nature, comforting milk appears. I, on the other hand, must cavort, sing, and jostle to win Fin's grin.

Oct. 30, 1997 | Read full article

Fin Kisses

Fin knows our devotion to dinner, and he demands to be a part of it. Seated in a bouncy seat on the floor, he complains until he sits upon a lap, Out darts a hand into the Gorgonzola-onion-tomato sauce. Then, a pleading reach for a fork, placed just beyond his grasp. If we pick our food up to eat it, his eyes follow it to our mouths, full of the accusation that we have cheated him. 

Nov. 26, 1997 | Read full article

What Good Is Dad For?

When he came to the movie theater where I was seeing a movie I had been forbidden to see and led me away in front of everyone I was with. I was mortified. But by the end of high school, when classmates pitied me for my strict father, I was able to say, "At least I know he cares about me." ....Someone told me once, "A mother is mother by nature; but a father is a father by will."

Dec. 18, 1997 | Read full article

Free-Range Baby

He has made Mount Mama his Everest. When she is reclining, he ascends the swell of her hip. When she is sitting, he seeks handholds in the crook of her arm and on her shoulder and in the ropes of blond hair that dangle above him. The Fin Kiss he gives upon arrival at Mama's chin has become a Fin Clench: a hard, toothless chomp, hand clutching the hair on the back of her head.

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