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Japan Diary

Until Death. Really? (Part 1)

Until Death. Really?

This is part one of a two part series.

When my son was first born ten years ago (his birthday is February 15th). It was of course both a glorious and frightening time. Glorious because we had a miracle baby. Sure, all parents say that, but in our case it was true. My wife was forty five years old at the time. We tried numerous attempts at IVF with no success. To top it off, it was our last egg and so much could have gone wrong in the process. Beginning with the last egg and leading to complications related to age for both mother and child. I think it is fair to say this was a miracle baby.

The terrifying part had to do with not only the myriad of potential problems along the way, but also selfishly my life would change forever. Don’t get me wrong at forty five years at the time I had already done most of what I wanted to do in life and felt settled down. I heard life would never be the same after a child is born. It isn’t until you experience it firsthand that you know what it means.

My son was born in Japan, so there’s that added piece of information. This extra bit gave new meaning to the word terror. You see, my wife went into mother mode and I was relegated from top dog to whiny puppy having no idea what I was doing.

In Japan, when a child is born the wife’s mother comes help out. I heard horror stories where the mother would stay for months at a time. If the relationship between husband and mother in-law is fraught with tension, this makes for an especially challenging period of time. I was spared this experience because her mother was only ten minutes away by car and we got along great.

My problem, I hadn’t a clue my role in all of this. Sure the label Father applies, but being an American raised on independence, with a dash of pull yourself up by the boot straps and a pinch of the male get of out my way and let me do it, did not apply in Japan. I was outnumbered and out-languaged.

After a few days of whining to myself, I just let it go and learned to step out of the way and be on call. For the first six months I was never called upon, which did not help my self-esteem in any way. I wanted to know exactly my role. I’m one of those guys who refused to ask for directions when lost and the same goes with asking my wife what I am supposed to do. The result, a lot of standing around and annoying looks from women of the house.

Part 2 of the series continues tomorrow …

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