“Why not?” said the Missus, “It’s perfectly natural.”
It’s perfectly natural for INFANTS. Not men. It won’t hurt ,I’m sure, but it feels like stealing candy from the mouths of babes. The whole ‘breast’ thing is odd enough. Once, they were titties, a rack, bodacious ta-ta’s- now they are ‘mammary glands’, a proper scientific nomenclature to distance themselves from their former glory as mesmerizing tandem man-magnets, and I use the term ‘man’ loosely, as just being a titty-chaser hardly qualifies. I get that, while I can still engage them on the rare night that the kid is asleep and we aren’t exhausted (never), they are now serving their god-intended purpose, and I should not interfere. Like my friend B says,
“Boobs are like toy trains- they’re for the kids, really, but dad gets to play with them once in a while.”
I explained as much to the Missus, my reasoning being that now that I was a Man, I no longer trafficked in the realm of breasts. She was having none of it. Having grown up with boys, she knew how to press my buttons.
“Are you scared?”, she said.
“Hmmmph”, I said, licking my fingers, “Tastes like coconut.”
Outside of my own feelings- and they are supremely important, as I am a dedicated egoist, and only able to even conceive of the phrase ‘outside of my own feelings’ because I can type it- here’s the thing: getting milk to the kid is tough.
Sure, you can freeze breast milk. In theory, this should do just fine, and as I am a dedicated freezer of things- hoping someday that when the apocalypse comes, bread riots and cannibalism included, we will somehow still have an intact apartment and electricity and enjoy sesame asian stir-fry greens from the organic farm- I’m happy to fold in the kiddie entrees.
The milk, though- It didn’t go quite like I planned. We started off with 30 little baggies of frozen milk on the day that Mom went back to work.
Dad Spills Liquid Gold: Part 1: Four baggies down.
You would think that, being trained up in biology, that I would have a notion of what is in milk. I do, but all that goes out the window when confronted with a fresh baby, along with any vocabulary that isn’t monosyllabic.
You forget. You panic. If it is your first day of solo parenting and you decide to take the kid miles from home in the stroller because you think she might like the view from Inspiration Point, or at least you will because it’s nine hours with the kid and you have to do something, then keep your head straight and keep the baby out of the sun, and make sure you have enough milk with you for the long journey. If you don’t, it may be possible that she will start crying, and if she starts crying then you have to pull out your magic weapon of soothingness, yes the BOTTLE, it’s just like mom’s breast, all squishy and milky, oh god, what’s wrong, why won’t you stop crying is it ME, am I hurting you, why oh why did I take you so far from home, you will HATE me forever, there is PAIN! You’re in PAIN! I’ve done something wrong?!?! Is it the wrong BOTTLE?!?! Is it something in the MILK??!?? LET ME SEE THAT, oh god, SORRY HONEY but daddy has to look at the milk, and OH MY FUCKING GOD WHAT ARE THOSE YELLOW GLOBULES???!!!??!?!?!
I like to think I’m a good dad, picking up the slack when I can, including cooking delicious soup. As we live in the Richmond district of San Francisco, informally known as ‘new chinatown’, the soup tends toward the asian ingredients we can get cheaply. You know the stuff, Pho or beef curry noodle or Tom Yum- basically any soup with absolutely deliciously SPICY oil floating on the top, gorgeous lava-lamp amorphous yellow …globules…!
All I know, in that moment, was that my brain left it’s skull, grabbed the time machine cab, hurried home in a Star Trek Beam Me Up Scotty Flashback moment, and watched myself just 5 hours earlier, washing the dishes from last night’s dinner while preparing the baby’s bottle at the same time. I was burning off the inside of her delicate mouth! She would never eat milk again and STARVE STARVE STARVE!!!
After running home 2.2 miles ( I looked it up) with a half-screaming, half-sleeping (the stroller vibrations put her right out, as I learned that day, although I was sure I had put her in a coma) baby, dumped the offensive concoction down the sink and hurridly defrosted another bag (date 2/03, 1.5 oz., name: Kopke) into a new bottle and examined it for weirdness, I found OH NO! WEIRD YELLOW GLOBULES! FUCK! I DIDN”T Even…cook,……..soup………………..that day. “
Yes. Ahem. So. Milk is fatty. Milk, in fact, doesn’t look like it does at the grocery store. I think we all know that, really, cream floats to the top and any sort of homey parables we can attribute to this, but really- in the moment- you forget.
“You dumped HOW MUCH milk out today?!?” said the missus.
“Jeez, can we leave it alone, please?” I implored, “talk about it tomorrow?”
Dad Spills Gold, Part 2: (one more baggie down)
“So how much do we have left?”, she said the next morning(26 baggies), “Can’t you be more careful?”
“I AM being careful!” I screeched, punctuating the ‘AM’ by slapping whatever was in my hand on the kitchen counter.
One more baggie down.
Dad Spills Gold Part 3: ( another baggie down)
“Oh, JEEZUS FUCK, are you serious?!?!? REALLY?!?” she said, looking at the shards of broken plastic Gerber Ziplock baggie and melting breast milk.
“Look” , I say, prescient, already defrosting another bag in warm water while my hands are still free and another person is in the room holding the baby, “ It’s not my fault. That’s just shoddy workmanship, the way that bag cracked. Really, can you blame ME?”, said I, throwing aside my arms aside in an expansive-why-is the-whole-world-against-me gesture that knocks a mess of milk and tepid water smearing across the counter.
To be continued…