Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Babies Are The Center of the Universe, Part I: Father's Day Is For Babies

Happy Fathers’ Day! Yes, yes, I know, Minky’s a week late… or later… can we focus here people? I got The Prince a fancy waffle maker, underwritten by my father, Lenny the Red, who we did not get to see till the next day. And while the waffle maker was itself a success, the homemade pumpkin waffle batter was less impressive; gluey, and not terribly pumpkinny; not that I let this stop me from eating the leftovers for Second Breakfast this morning.

The Prince was also supposed to sleep in as part of his present; sleep in! Ha ha hahahahahahah, oh, that's rich! Sleep in! What a knee-slapper! These days, The Prince takes M on compulsory (compelled as they are, or perhaps jettisoned, by Minky,) jaunts to the playground at SIX A.M., lest he spend the early morning watching upwards of 2 hours of television while The Prince dozes face down in the dog hair, M thus becoming so hysterically overstimulated and underexcercised that by 7 he's givin' me whiplash, how he's running up and down the 3 rooms of this apartment SCREAMING HIS GODDAMN HEAD OFF and bringing Minky dangerously close to … becoming really dangerous.

Suffice it to say, The Prince did not sleep in, though he was granted a reprieve nap later in the day. And then we were on to a birthday bar-b-que at cousins out on the Island, where The Prince skulked with yard-envy and M raided the battlefield of lawn toys belonging to the not-home people next door.

I carried Little H around, which I almost never get to do, what with M in his ever-increasingly gorilla-like condition of boyness, climbing up and down my “Big Mommy!” body and swinging from my tireless boobs, the poor dears. That Little H is delicious. Her smell is like pretzels, calamine, and brown sugar, her sturdy, rubbery skin fairly springs back at you when kissed, her smile is so joyfully gooney that all her prettiness of great blue eye and Kewpie mouth just falters in her hilarity on seeing your obviously preposterous face. And she happens to think Minky is the kitty cat’s PJ’s, thank you very much!

And because I am a shameless glutton (if I said I was ashamed I was lying) of every kind, all I could think about as I toted on my sweaty hip her insistent denseness of flesh hither and thither across the lawn, was that I want



I’m not going to make another one, I just want another one, and I’m always going to want one, because babies are the CENTER of the universe.

Lenny The Red would disagree. “Men don’t know that,” he said. “Men don’t really know. Only women know. Because they know in their bodies in a way that men can’t, and I really believe that.”

He’s a believer, all right, mostly in his own time-tested theory that people are no goddamn good and that he himself has got no mazel. My sister’s myriad psycho-medical conditions of the past 50 years are at the forefront of his bitterness, to be sure, followed closely by all the people who abandoned her. His mother suffered. His father disappointed him. The loss of my mother haunts him every day. And I didn’t turn out as all I was cracked up to be, either.

My babies, however, seem to assuage all that; my beamish, blonde-beaned offspring, a pair of two-fisted nursers as ever have boobed. Lenny the Red won’t come right out and say that my lusciouses represent the hope of humanity, but you can see it in his misty eyes as he watches M’s every move, the grandpa lurching in a panicked sweat this way and that to keep the kid from taking off out the playground and into traffic; you can see it as he holds Little H on his lap with growing confidence as she packs on the pounds week after week, gripping under her plump pits and raising her up and down evaluatively like she’s a roast, frowning in affirmation and saying, “Strong. Strong baby.”

He loves them, deeply, loves the promise of their bodies, the lineage of their DNA, he loves them instead of himself. He doesn’t need to see them a lot, he doesn’t need to know them all that well. They’re me, and I’m him, and as weird as it is that they’re blonde, he claims them.

My old dad; Lenny The Red; for M, he’s “Papa! Big Papa!” For Little H, “Yeee! Uuuuuurlp!” and all four limbs jerking semaphorically on sight of him. For the bewildered Prince, he’s "my father-in-law." For myself, I couldn’t do without the man.

On the Monday after Fathers’ Day, Papa The Red took us to the beach. The Prince was at work, otherwise he’d have taken some of the load off the old guy; but as it was, Little H was unsatisfied to remain in her tent, demanding instead to be shaded only in Minky’s lap, and not for love or money could I make that fuckin’ umbrella stay put anyway. So it fell to Papa the Red to run after M, continuously, up and down the beach, for almost 3 hours.

No mean feat. Because M spontaneously turns into a racecar now, a scientifically documented phenomenon that other boy-owners warned me about but I did not believe until it began to happen in my own home. One moment I’ve got a hairless chimpanzee lolling in my lap and babbling about boobies, when suddenly without warning he’s a racecar, upon which metamorphosis he must tear off his clothes and run naked through the apartment, or down the beach, for that matter, screaming, “I very fast race car! Very very very fast! Very big! Racecar very loud! Rrrrrrrmmmmmmmm!”

And there was Papa in his yellow bathing trunks, flapping after him, tirelessly, until the two of them were utterly exhausted. I piled the whole gang and that damn umbrella, the wet towels, the sandy blanket, the bucket of beach toys, and even the half-eaten sun-soured sandwiches back into the station wagon, and we headed home, all of them asleep before we got out of the parking lot. I didn’t begrudge them the nap even as I hauled us the hour plus home slurping very bad ice coffee from a MacDonald’s drive-thru; they had all worked hard making mommy-work for grateful Minky. And besides, there’s no knowing how many more of these Papa’s got in him.

Father’s Day; not so much for the dads, maybe it’s for the babies, but it feels like it’s for me.

Babies Are The Center of the Universe, Part II: Getting On With Life, Indeed

The same grizzly-wise relative who told me my father is a superstitious old grinne said to me on the phone last week, apropos of what I have mused upon;

“You have to make a decision to put a stop to having children at some point.”

(I do?)

“Women can spend their lives talking about poop and diapers and shit and it’s not that interesting.”

(It’s NOT?)

“You have to get your brains back and get on with your own life.”


I reached for the nearest pair of bundled up tube socks and stuffed them into my mouth, rather than say back:


He may have thought he was speaking on my father’s behalf; my father may have said to him that he fears I will go on having babies exponentially beyond what The Prince’s paycheck can endure; my father may have insinuated that the more babies I have, the less clear the distinction becomes between myself (and himself by association,) and the frumme; he may have said none of these things and the relative was simply taking the initiative to school me on what’s important for a woman in the modern world, which is most likely.

But I actually happen to really like this guy, and he happens to be a father himself, so I give him a break, because clearly, he is not well; it is more than evident that he has…


Well Intentioned Macho Arrogance, a qualifiable mental illness I made up, which, by the way, women can get, too.

In fact, I used to have it.

Ooooooohhhhh where do I begin … all right, how about with an apology long owed to Gingy, and you know who you are, you skinny little dish-towel; Gingy, I’m sorry I was an idiot but I was very, very sad.

About 100 years ago, when Gingy was first pregnant and I was chewing off my own leg in an alcoholic marriage, I wrote Gingy what I thought was a compelling, but was in retrospect only desperately jealous, email about why she must reject such bourgeoisie pressures as childrearing and instead use her Ivy-educated brain-powers for the advancement of the millions and billions of women withering worldwide under the oppression of their own offspring. Though the email itself is long lost thank god in a 3rd hand computer The Prince stripped of its hard drive eons ago, the pungently adolescent radicalism of its verbiage still singes the nose hairs on reflection.

In my own defense, Gingy did not tell me that she actually was pregnant at the time, only that she was thinking about getting pregnant; so she gets one fore-finger-from-thumb-flick between the eyebrows for side-swiping old Minky. Of course, Minky wasn’t so old then; it was actually just seven or eight years ago, not 100 (has my SSI check arrived yet, for cryin’ out loud? And get outta my yard, you kids!), but the future for Minky’s uterus was bleak.

My husband at the time, Killer, had made it redundantly and abundantly clear that we had not entered into marriage to pursue any such tasks so laborious, so to speak, as reproduction (especially as we had met working in a copy shop in the Village; the irony… deafening); rather, we got married so we could go on getting it on and drinking into the wee hours as continuously as possible before one or with any luck both of us departed the firmament for points west.

I pined for a baby so badly I couldn’t even tell myself. I used to sit with my madly beloved friend, the fabulously talented actress Kelly Kay Griffith, on a bench in front of the first hip coffee shop on Smith Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, watching all the arty-style yuppies walk by with their little kids named things like Chloe and Piper and Hamden and Corliss and Kennedy and Henry and god-knows-what-all affected bullshit in some new-money-lefty conflicted ambition of WASPitude-driven granolaship, and I would say;

“I hate children. I HATE them. I’m not kidding, Kelly. I hate them.”

“Really?” she would say back to me, sucking a cigarette and without the slightest mockery.

“Really,” I would say, staring down any 3-year-old that dared look my way. Then she and I would smoke some more, complain about our art – my writing and her acting – complain about our mothers, our metabolisms, our men; she, too, was stuck in a perversely compelling relationship which was rapidly becoming more perverse and less compelling. Kelly didn’t have the baby bug yet but she knew I had it, and was much too kind to say so; also, I was a crazy person running around talking about kid-hatred, so she was reasonably afraid of me.

Separated for the 3rd time, I asked my Killer to have lunch with me. “Is there any chance,” I whispered over $12 Smith Street hamburgers, as if my reputation would be jeopardized were I heard, “that if we got back together, we could have a baby?”

“No,” he said, biting into the beef. “Besides, you only want one because your friends are having them.”

Ow. OW! He meant Gingy, and another friend at the time, The Philosopher Mom. I didn’t entirely blame him; what had I ever done to make him think I was sincere about family? Smoke and drink? Leave the marriage three times? Anyway we seemed to finally believe each other after that, and parted ways.

And I began, as I’ve written before, to search for a baby-friendly husband in earnest, and despite my most self-destructive efforts, found The Prince, who begot M, followed by Little H, and here we are, rattling down the road with Papa the Red in tow.

So am I doing something criminal, that would inspire this first of comments by my relative, this apparent urgency of making “a decision to put a stop to having children.” Am I a dog? Am I having litters? Am I on the dole? Why don’t I go get sterilized, for christ’s sake.

But before I do, let me invoke the Philosopher Mom. When we were 19 and knew everything, she said, ”I don’t want to just fall into something, I want to make decisions.” I never let her forget it; in fact I would say I stuck it to her for the next nearly 20 years. And that’s because I wanted to make decisions, too, always have. And I wanted her to go on wanting to make them with me. I wanted to be affirmed in my fantasies of control, is that so wrong?

Wrong, shlong, she wasn’t one to bullshit; where babies are concerned, she realized on having her own, then advised, throw your decisions out with the bathwater, and I’ve come to agree. The babies are the new sheriff in town, are they not?

Whether it’s peanut butter vs cream cheese, nursies vs the powdered stuff, getting out the door in time for Mommy-n-Me vs calling it quits for the day at 9 a.m. and staying in to play with trucks for the next 11 hours, these tiny little schizophrenic martians don’t seem to speak the language yet will tell you in no uncertain terms:

I’m not eating that
I’m not shitting in there
I’m not going to sleep
I’m not staying asleep
I’m not being quiet

and I’m not going to behave as you would like me to now or for the next dozen years, because I have ONE item on my agenda, lady, and that’s keepin’ your ass right here next to mine every minute, every second that I can, whatever it takes, because I LOVE YOU, MOMMY.

Never, in fact, have I been so loved, nor have I loved so much. I even, I especially, love delivering; I’m great at it; I squirt ‘em right out au naturale, no dope, no nothin’; in fact I know if I could do just one more, it would be absolutely perfect. And after my euphoric deliveries, the actual children make me happier than I thought humanly possible. Why would I want this to end?

And whether I stick with two or have ten more, I don’t, FYI, actually have to make a decision about it; it’ll get made. And the irony is, if I do my job right, then sooner or later, the kids will leave me, and even if I have 20 of them, it will break my heart.

As for "not that interesting…" according to whom? Members of the Letters-After-My-Name-and-a-Fat-Paycheck Society? They have clearly not met my children, the poor deprived dears. You know, my kids are not a hobby. They’re not a right of passage. They’re not items to cross off the To Do list. They are human beings and I’m in love with their health, their minds, and their feelings, with every investable atom of energy I can muster; that’s my purpose, because I’m their mother. What, WHAT, is more interesting than my children? And never mind MY children, what about YOUR children? YOUR children are the center of YOUR universe, smart guy! You needed ME to tell you this???

If you did, then forget it; you’re a day late and a dollar short. Go read The Times and pat yourself on the head.

Maybe I’m really trying to talk about some kind of liberation. I’ve never heard of another endeavor that begins so selfishly; “I want a baby. I WANT ONE!” and proceeds so selflessly.

Begin with the body; goodbye, vanity! Never mind the few moms (though in our envy they seem ubiquitous) who gain a total of 18 pounds with each baby, lose it during delivery, and scamper home wearing their pre-pregnancy jeans. As for the rest of us, packing up those skinny clothes for the thrift shop and scooping our boobs off our knees, it's bon voyage to the bodies we knew; this body is not really ours any more, anyway. It's baby’s first fort, first food source, first home of the soul. Wouldn’t you trade your old waistline in a tiny heartbeat for the the sight of your toddler running from insult and injury to the solace of your legs and face-first into your crotch? I would. I do! And even if we didn’t want to trade, too bad! Too late!

Au revoire, too, to control of all kinds. First of all, what does that expression mean, ‘save money’? And what time are we leaving? When they wake up from nap! What’s for dinner? Cereal, at Minky's! And how does she get her kids to eat vegetables? How does she keep them so clean? Why are they so well behaved? I didn’t get to the laundry today. Didn’t get to the gym. Haven’t had a haircut in two years or remembered to kiss my husband when he first walks in. Sex life? Ha HA! They sleep in my room! And as for the floor? This place looks like a staging of a Fisher Price war. Pick up his own toys? Sleep through the night? Not raise my voice? No sugar? Yea, right…

…and my all time favorite, “I will never use bribery.”

Let it go, baby… let it go. You’re doing the best you can. I know I am, and you look as wasted as me.

And strung out as I may be from getting no sleep ever, I’m on the most intense learning curve of my life; my brain crackles with appetite and electrifying discoveries all the time; I am a scientist of M and Little H! I read books, articles, blogs, and more importantly, I talk to other mothers, who are the one true source, and you know what? I learn things! Imagine! Learning from a mother!

Not that it’s of any interest to my relative, but I happen to be getting on with my life, and at breakneck speed. I just shot out two kids in two years, old man, and I have never been a more terrific lady than I am right now.

But no matter how good or lousy I may be, and believe me I leap the spectrum from one day to the next, circumstances will dictate. And The Practical Prince will have his say. We’re civilized. We’re also on a shoe-string-french-fry budget.


Babies Are The Center of the Universe, Part III: The Bottom Line

When M was seven months old, in January of ’06, dad had emergency multiple bypass surgery. Afterward, he strode around the hospital telling everyone he was fine until they kicked him out. Three days later, at home, he developed congestive heart failure, known in the medical business as CHF. He couldn't lie down to sleep; his body wouldn't let him, because his lungs were filling up with fluid and he'd have drowned in his own dry bed. At first he refused to go back to the doctor, but when he hadn’t lain down in four days and was afraid to sleep sitting up because he thought he would die, back he went.

I went with him, and M, still compliant and reliably cheerful at 7 months, tagged along. Though dad seemed to be holding his own while sitting there in the office, the doctor wanted him to have more tests in the hospital, so I took him home to get his overnight bag. Then I dropped off baby M with The Prince, got a warmer coat and a cup of coffee, and headed back to pick up dad once again; about two hours had passed.

I called him from the car to say I was ten minutes away, and he answered the phone barely able to push words out, growling, "Where are you?" He gutturally whispered that he couldn't breathe, and that he was having an unstoppable nose bleed, the blood running down the back of his throat. I said, “Hang on, Dad. Hang on.”

I put on some speed and called 911 from the car and paramedics arrived as I did. My father had blood all over his shirt; it was all over the bathroom. His face was a dusky blue. He couldn't finish a sentence. The paramedics slapped an oxygen mask on him and we went lights and sirens to the hospital.

I had never seen that terror in my father’s eyes before.

Amazingly, the color was already coming back to his face just from the little bit of oxygen he’d received on the way to the hospital. And once in a bed, with fluids coming in through and IV, and more oxygen, his voice came back, and the panic began to abate, for both of us.

But for the moment, my father had been a helpless old man. Ragged at the eyes, thin, gray hair wild, and face hollow, this was my lonely father, finally lost without my mother who had herself died of a heart attack five years before. Now he was facing his own mortality and not sure it wasn't a relief to be doing so.

I stayed with him till about 10:30, just until I began to feel the room swim around me from pure exhaustion. My breasts hurt so much, as I hadn’t nursed M in 6 hours at that point; in fact it was the longest time I’d ever been away from M. So I left my father and went back to my baby. There was nothing else I could do.

I took my father's clothes and his jacket and his tall black faux fur hat and his $10 glasses from Riteaid and I left, feeling utterly beaten as I walked up the street, and like my dad, weirdly relieved of my will at the same time.

I climbed the stairs to the elevated N line, and as I stood there, thinking of my baby, aching with menstrual cramps and terribly thirsty, the dry, medicinal taste of the ER air still in my mouth, I started to shake with the hunger to be pregnant again. It seemed to be suddenly revving every cell in my body like the diesel engine of an ambulance, and it made more sense in my mind than anything other than the baby I already had; that the only answer to all this work of not dying, and to the work of dying, too, its inevitability, is to have



Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Big Prince

How do you like my new blog art? The Prince made it for me because that’s the kind of guy he is; talented, selfless, and puffed up like a rooster over his gorgeous kids. At first he didn’t want their pictures flying around cyberspace for any perv or murderer to examine, but his growing awe at the very luminousness of his own offspring has recently outrun his paranoia.

(As a matter of fact, an X of his, a warm and hilarious woman, actually has a huge rooster for a pet; scant substitute, I say! My dear, you must eat that thing and move on!)

“I don’t get this,” the Prince said, staring at the kids, misty-eyed, “they’re sooooo … beautiful…” Meanwhile M launched trucks around the living room and H laid on a blanket, gurgling and spitting up on herself. “I mean, you and I,“ he went on, “at best, have… off-beat good looks…and that was before, when we were slim, and got sleep…”

It’s true; pretty people we are not. Nor were we exactly catalogue material as children, either. He was all teeth and elbows, and I was a slightly lopsided butterball with perpetually sticky hands and one eye bigger than the other. We had darling personalities, of course… but…

Anyway tomorrow is our 2-year anniversary. Yup, that’s it; 2 years. We got married 8 days before M was born, mostly to satisfy my father and his mother.

“Um, don’t you think it would be helpful, I mean, if something went wrong, or, I mean, for the birth certificate, if you, of course you two know best, but maybe…” said my poor mother-in-law, who would rather have hives than step on our toes, being as she is the kindest, most tactful, and optimistic person currently living.

“It’s a shonda b’leiten!” muttered my father, who M now calls Papa, “a baby and not married.” ‘A shame for the people to see.’ That’s why he hadn’t told my uncle, my aunt, or any of the thousand or so other people in our extended family. Not that he wasn’t delighted; it’s just that evil eye, you know. I forget that he wasn’t born here, at least his soul wasn’t.

“Why can’t he take a compliment about his grandchildren?” I recently whined at a cousin. “People say ‘congratulations’ to him about H, and he says, ‘I had nothing to do with it!’ It’s so weird! Or they say, ‘How are your grandchildren?’ and he says, ‘They’re 8 feet tall and they speak 5 languages!’ I think it’s very hostile,” I went on, complaining at expansive, excessive length, a specialty of mine.

“Whatsamatta with you,” growled my relative. “It’s bad luck in the old country to get a compliment. You’re lucky he doesn’t spit on the floor.”

A point.

Meanwhile, The Prince’s father wasn’t worried about it. Grandpa B believes in The Prince, wholeheartedly. He is a steady man of sense and reserve, a man who works with his hands even now at 71, and will likely move on to the next plane of existence with a grease-black fist full of nuts and bolts, a man who loves like he works; consistently, patiently, and without fanfare. He was certain that The Prince knew what he was doing, marrying a loud, bitchy woman he’d known for less than 6 months and accidentally knocked up. Not everybody’s dad can support that.

Maybe he was just hoping for the best. The Prince’s not-too-boastable history with mates made up for with masochistic endurance what it lacked in variety, the polar opposite of Yours Truly’s trail of bloody limbs, some of her own included, emotio-logically speaking, of course. Meanwhile our clocks were ticking, loud.

We actually met on-line. The Prince’s remarkable nose stuck formidably out from under his chic shades in the middle of his picture and I thought he was Jewish. I myself did not put up an ad, I lurked. I was hunting husbands, after all, and I had no time to waste. Other candidates had included a brilliant and funny journalist I almost adored except that he weighed 300 pounds and lived with his mother and nine cats and ate salad with his fingers; and a comedian who, when I coyly touched his hand across the table over drinks, screamed, “No no no! Too soon for touching!” and jerked his arm away so suddenly that he fell over backward in his chair.

About to give up, I took one more cruise on the web that night, and there was The Prince, standing ruggedly on the lunar landscape of Idaho while visiting friends out there, big hiking boots on his big feet at the end of his long, cowboy legs, a video camera balanced on his shoulder and a goony grin I would grow to relish, under his big beak.

“That’s it,” I remember thinking, as I furiously typed a response, “that’s the one. I want that one.” I wrote something incoherent about my great sense of humor and my big boobs and he called me the next night.

I almost didn’t get him, though we had a great first date and a precious first kiss on the subway, and I thought we were off and running. He was shy but he wasn’t afraid of me. He was profoundly intelligent but never showed off or spoke out of turn. He was, and is, very handsome, with blue eyes and silver streaked hair and great shoulders, and still doesn’t know that, and he has a way of looking at his shoes and smiling while reveling in my attention, and the smuttier I get the more ‘awe shux’ he still becomes, this sinewy old horn-dog. He’s from California, and lopes like it, with a mile long stride in his Chuck Taylors and a high, muscular butt lost somewhere in his Levi’s, perennially seventeen. Boy, was I sweet on him.

But the X he had moved out here for haunted me, half my size, half my age, with a fat paycheck and a pretty face like a china tea cup. The Prince did little to reassure me, I thought, though probably the only gesture that would have assuaged my insecurity would have been matrimony… but at the time I said, to a very close female friend of his, “He’s going to get strong on me, and then leave.”

“He’s not,” she said to me. “You don’t know him. Give him a chance.”

And then an X of my own suddenly appeared, literally stumbling out the door of a bar and into us while we were out on a date. He was a charming and witty drunk who couldn’t hold a job but who always had made me feel like the star of a movie about a preposterous fantasy of the bohemian lifestyle I dreamed of as a teen, that would in reality have looked a lot more like something off COPS in the final analysis, except with books about post-modernism and old issues of The Onion lying around amongst the empty beer bottles.

For a moment, the X and I went on dates. We saw “Coffee And Cigarettes” and X raved about it over burritos I paid for. I thought Jarmusch was a charlatan but kept it to myself.

Meanwhile The Prince was visiting his parents in California. He called me that night (afternoon in Cali) from an outdoor antique car show he was at with his dad.

He held his cell phone up in the air so I could listen to the marching band.

“Can you hear the parade?” he shouted.

I could.

We alligator-wrestled the relationship all summer. In September we decided to get away for a weekend, so we took my dog to Cape Cod, hoping to find out something, though I don’t remember what. I took the opportunity to torture both of us by asking repetitive and detailed questions about the pretty, young X, and he got me back by answering them. I seethed all weekend. Yet somehow, we also managed to get pregnant with M though of course we wouldn’t know that for another month.

I felt fat days later and lost track of my period. My bras shrank. The Prince and I decided we should take one last break from each other and make a decision after his parents’ visit in October. The days passed slowly. I wasn’t doing much of anything except smoking and bitching to my best friends. But I felt funny. And my period never arrived. And I took three home-pregnancy-tests and they were all positive.

I broke into a cold sweat and remained there for a week. The Prince’s parents were in town. I had no actual intention of having a termination, but I scheduled one at a nearby clinic because I knew I could get a cheap sonogram the same day, and I needed to see the heartbeat. But I told my father I wasn’t sure what I would do, because I didn’t know how he would take anything else. He drove me to the clinic, without comment of any kind, because he loves me.

“Before we go through with the procedure,” said the technician, “I need to show you this sonogram, and you need to sign this document stating that you understand what you are seeing and what the procedure means.”

But I could feel my face glowing and tears were streaming down my cheeks. She waited for me to answer her but I just sat there, staring.

“You’re not having this abortion, are you,” she said.

“Nope!” I said, and I skipped out of the place and threw my cigarettes in a city garbage bin. Then I called The Prince from my cell. It was 9:00 on a Saturday morning.

“What are you doing?” I sputtered.

“Uh, my parents and I are about to go out to breakfast,” he said.

“Don’t,” I said. “Meet me on your corner in 20 minutes.”

I hailed a big Lincoln Town Car cab and we fishtailed along Queens Boulevard at warp speed because I told the driver I had big news to tell my boyfriend! As we careened along I prepared my speech. When I got out at his corner, The Prince was standing there looking just plain happy to see me.

“Hi,” he said goofily, almost as if he knew something was up.

“I’m pregnant,” I said, “and you can-“

But he cut me off by opening up his face into that giant grin, then slapping his hand over his own mouth because he didn’t know if I wanted him to be happy or not.

“Why are you smiling?” I asked him, smiling.

“I don’t know,” he mlffphed from behind his hand.

Laughing now but not to be robbed of my Moment, I went on bizarrely with my speech, something about him coming along or not, and as I babbled he put his arms around me, and then I cried and then he cried and then we went upstairs and told his parents and his mom cried and his dad was happy and not all that surprised, and even my father was happy when we called him, at least he was relieved someone would be taking me off his hands and that I would have something to do other than just hang around his place, smoking with my big ugly dog.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I had never imagined being as happy as I was the day I realized that The Prince and I were going to spend the rest of our lives together, and we kind of owe it all to M. And Little H is the icing on the cake.

Because The Prince is, and I say this without apology, a truth. He is a standard for men. He is honest all the time about everything. He has a full range of human emotions that he never hides, able to cry and wanting and willing to laugh in the same moment. He’s masculine without machismo, he’s gentle without being a sissy, he’s careful but not fearful, he’s modest but he knows he’s the original Great Guy. He loves his children, misses them all day and washes them and feeds them and kisses them at night. I wish I could clone him because I would make a LOT of money and then he could stop working and stay home with me and the gang all day. If I am very, VERY lucky, M will grow up just like him, and H will look for a person like her dad to marry and will have a bunch of kids before I’m too old to help her out and be a major pain in her ass.

And meanwhile, for our anniversary tomorrow, The Prince will probably make me one of his lovely cards; a picture of the kids I haven’t seen yet with a sweet caption, which will take its place in a plain glass frame alongside the rest, which are scattered along the walls of this one-bedroom apartment, where the three luckiest people in the world live with the guy who made them that way, and their big, smelly dog, who also wants to marry him. He may also stuff me full of sushi then have his way with me if the kids stay asleep, unless we pass out on top of each other. Which would also be fine by me.

Shortly after M was born, I bought these little figurines of The Little Prince, my favorite story, about a pilot whose plane breaks down on a tiny planet inhabited only by a tiny little prince and his friend, the flower. The Little Prince teaches the pilot invaluable life lessons, not least of which is about himself and a fox. If you tame me, the fox tells the Little Prince, I will tell you my secret. And with quiet patience and very gentle friendship, the Little Prince tames the fox.

“And now I will tell you my secret,” says the fox. “You are responsible forever for what you have tamed.”

Lucky for me, forever is a long, long time, and my prince is no little boy.