Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

Aug 14, 2009

The Change

Last month, I worked with a guy who is married and wants an army of children, but has none yet. He and I clashed on many, many, MANY things but got along quite well and I felt comfortable in our jests. He is Hispanic and his view of the world is mightily different than mine; his example of why people need cell phones was to call his wife to find out what’s for dinner and one day he proposed spiking his wife’s drink with fertility drugs because she doesn’t want as many kids as he does. These comments slithered from his mouth and caught me off guard every time, and he took great pleasure in watching my head explode.

My Hispanic friend has always wanted to be a surgeon, possibly plastics. When someone tells you what job they are considering, you can’t help but do an evaluation in your head. Does it seem to be a good fit? Can you see them in that position? Would you go to them for their service or advice on that matter? In this case, the answers were yes. He’s a macho guy, has a big ego, but likes to joke around and poke fun at people. Seems to fit the personality. And, of course, he had the requisite distaste for clinic and preference for quick examinations that revealed something that he could fix. Check, check, check.

However, one day one of our interns was telling us his story, including that he had strongly considered surgery but chose Peds instead. My friend was horrified that someone who leaned toward surgery could land in such an specialty, and questioned our intern’s board scores and interviewing skills. Our very patient and forgiving intern told us that while he had always wanted to be a surgeon, he found that he “loved [his] family more than [his] career” and so chose Peds.
Hmm, we said, isn’t that interesting.

But my Hispanic friend was silent. For the rest of our time together, he obsessed over this.

“You don’t understand,” he moaned, “my wife and I are best friends. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t be with her or if anything changed between us.”

This comment made my breath catch and I wondered if I should say anything about his plan to have seventeen children. Talk about changing as a couple.

Before Colin was born, Patrick and I were close. We’ve always been close and have been together for long enough to feel each other’s needs and adapt to meet them. We didn’t fight a lot, we didn’t have a lot of “relationship” conversations. Though I always felt that we were constantly working and adjusting to make the Us better, it wasn’t something we discussed much. In short, we were very comfortable.

And then, Colin.

Even starting with the pregnancy, things changed. Being Patrick’s wife was no longer the highest priority; being the mother to his child quickly took that spot. Along with this came a necessary selfishness, a need to care for myself before Patrick in order to care for the baby. And so it has been and continues.

I don’t know if things stay this way or if Patrick will someday slip back into that top spot. But I know when my friend asked me, “So, if Patrick and Colin were hanging off the side of a cliff and you could only save one –“


It did not even take a moment of consideration, only the amount of time to say my son’s name. That was and is my answer.

My friend was incredulous. He could not imagine that anything would or could ever mean to him what his wife did. That something might mean ever more to him that she does was simply inconceivable.

When I posed this question to Patrick later that night, he hesitated. He said that he would probably choose Colin. He said, “Maybe I’d pick you so we could make another Colin.” We laughed and looked at each other knowing that we would each choose our son over the other if necessary.

That is a brand of intimacy, a kind of trust, that you simply cannot put into words. None that I know anyway.

2 Readers rock!:

Janka said...

Thank you. That was beautiful.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.