I don’t blog much anymore, but for the five of you who still check in I thought I should provide a small update. As you probably know, I was out of work for 18 months. I say “was” because I recently accepted a position at a Bible software company here in Austin. It’s the first job I’ve had since graduating from college that is not a writing position. Instead, I’m putting my web coding skills to work as an e-book developer. It’s a nice change of pace, as I had pretty much burned out on writing every day.
I realized recently that unemployment has been a recurring theme in my adult life. I quit a job two weeks before my (May) wedding, and found employment in September. Since my new bride worked in the public school system at the time, those three-and-a-half months of not working were like an extended honeymoon. I kept that September job until shortly after we moved to New York, when the company laid off 1300 people, including me. That was in March, and I was working again by May. I kept that job almost five years, but then lost it in another round of layoffs. One week later we found out Tater was on the way. Nine months later, he arrived and I still didn’t have a job. Six months after that, I still didn’t have a job and…
Our other bit of news is that we’re expecting another baby. Pregnancy literature states that it shouldn’t be possible to conceive while the mother is nursing, but that’s no guarantee. We are living proof of the second part. Tater was six months old when Mrs. Happy took a home test and discovered that another little life was growing inside her. Our (first?) two children will be 15 months apart. I hope that means they’ll be close friends as well as siblings.
We devised an ingenious method of announcing the new arrival to our parents. We bought a little shirt for Tater and designed an iron-on transfer telling the world that he was no longer an only child. Since the shirt was small and we wanted the message to be subtle (so the grandparents would have to think about it a little and kind of earn the knowledge), we simply printed the word brotobe in a wacky font across the chest, with two little faces on the shirt pocket. We set up a dinner, ostensibly for my birthday, where the happy in-laws could see the shirt at the same time as my mother. I also took a photo of Tater in his special shirt and e-mailed it to my dad, who lives about 250 miles away.
The big moment came, and we presented a message-bearing Tater to his grandparents. We expected them to take a moment to absorb the meaning of the cryptic word. I thought I would sense their thought-gears pulling brotobe through a series of possible pronunciations and then producing a mental flowchart of word associations while a curly flourescent bulb hummed to life just above their heads as they realized that if Tater is to be a brother then they would be having another grandchild. That’s what I envisioned, anyway. What actually happened was nothing. The shirt might as well have read If it’s too loud, you’re too old or Love the baby, ignore the tee for all the reaction it elicited. No one spoke of it all the way through dinner. I was so excited I could barely eat, but the oblivious grandparents all enjoyed a fine meal.
After the dishes were cleared, I picked up my son and said, “Has anyone noticed this shirt?” That question, at least, drew blank stares. I started walking them through the process. “It’s pronounced BRO-too-bee.” No reaction. “As in brother-to-be.” Brows furrowed, but made no sound. “Which is to say, Tater’s going to be a brother.” I didn’t know how to be any more clear without producing the pee stick. Finally, father-in-law looked at Mrs. Happy and said, “So…are you pregnant?” And there was much rejoicing.
I then called my father. He had gone to church straight from work, then out to eat with friends, so he hadn’t been home to check his e-mail. I eagerly described for him the photo. He said, “Well, that sounds neat. I’ll be sure to check it out when we get home. So, how’s everything else going?”
I intuited from his response that he didn’t understand the message any better than the other grandparents, so I elaborated: “That’s BRO-too-bee…as in brother-to-be.” He responded, saying, “Yeah. That’s cool. So we’re out having Chicago-style pizza. I’ve never had that before…” And he just blathered on about how he was standing in a Chicago-style pizza parlor set in an unlikely East Texas town. I interrupted:
“Do you see any significance in the message that Tater is a brother-to-be?”
“Yeah, I see significance in that. That’s cool…So these people we know are the ones who run this pizza place—”
“Dad! What sort of significance are you talking about?”
“Well, he’s in a Christian family and probably one day he’ll—”
Thankfully, my stepmother (inaudible to me) interrupted him, curious to know what he was talking about. He described for her the photo exactly as I had described it to him, even including the emphasis on “brother-to-be.” Though she was several feet away from the phone, I heard her response: “So you’re saying she’s pregnant again?!”
To which my father responded, “No, I’m saying…wait, is that what you’re saying?”
And there was, at last, much rejoicing.
It was frustrating, and I now question the wisdom of attempting such subtlety, but at least we have a story to tell.
When my wife was pregnant last year, we gave the baby the nickname of Tater, which was short for gestater. This new one we’re calling Tobe (pronounced TOE-bee).