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Some days, I hate Happy Fun Guy.

Sure, I've had my own moments of Happy Fun Guyness, but, with me, it's a transient state rather than a permanent one. HFG -- otherwise known as my husband -- is in there with Baby M now, buying me a few minutes to scribble down some thoughts. Melodic peals of laugher are wafting from the nursery, gently popping the surface of my awareness like perfect bubbles of champagne.

Apparently, I'm not the type of mom who encourages such frivolity, which is weird, because, of the two of us, I am the one most people think has the more robust air of joie de vivre. While my insouciance will never be mistaken for Goldie Hawn's, I am remarkably easy going, quick to smile and joke, and friendly with most strangers. The spouse, on the other hand, is as reserved as I am outgoing. He's shy -- if a man in his 30s can still be called "shy" -- around other adults until he gets to know them a bit. A co-worker of his once asked me if he ever loosens up. "He's hysterical," I told her, "but it has taken a decade for him to shake his hair out near me."

With the baby, it took all of ten minutes for him to turn into Happy Fun Guy, the parent who tosses her in the air and who teaches her how to blow raspberries and who enables her torture of the cat. All of this is met with smiles and wild giggles, especially the torture part. When he comes home from work, you only have to watch her beatific face to know that Happy Fun Guy has entered the building. One day, I shall make him a red superhero shirt, with HFG emblazoned across the chest in big, friendly gold letters. And this gift will be given with only small dollop of sarcasm and spite.

Most of the time, Happy Fun Guy is cool with me and anything that keeps our niblet amused for several minutes on end is a blessing. I'm glad that someone is teaching her the finer points of life on this planet, like blowing spit bubbles and drowning tub toys. I'm tickled that she loves the roughhousing, chortling when he flips, rolls, and tosses her, eager to be manhandled again. They came through this room earlier, him following behind the crawling child, who, every second or third "step" punctuates the achievement with a loud farting noise, made not with her bottom but with her mouth, air and spit. The sight transcends mere cuteness. It is one of those moments that you treasure later -- and we have HFG to thank.

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Despite that, some days I want to punch Happy Fun Guy in the neck. If I were a color, I would be green, that bilious shade that characterizes gut-churning envy. Some moments I resent HFG with such a passion that I can, almost, taste it. And it is not ambrosia. It is a bitter mouthful, one that shocks me with its intensity. Rather than satisfy, it leaves me feeling more empty.

Why does HFG engender such jealousy? I am the one, after all, who gets to spend more time with our precious tot, the one who spends a fair amount of my day schlepping her to and fro, spooning various sorts of mush into her mouth, and, subsequently, wiping down every surface in spitting distance. I give a fair percentage of the baths and, in the last nine months, have lugged her to every last pediatrician's visit, most of them solo. When she gets sick, I am the one whose schedule is fashioned from raw chaos and covered in snot. I am the one who makes her take her medicine, forcing it into her mouth and making her swallow every last vile drop. And, incidentally, I am the one who went a bit mad after her birth and still carry the legacy of that around, in addition to an extra 20 pounds.

In exchange, HFG takes the late- night feeding, during which they watch Sportscenter.

Honestly, even to me, the above reads like a whiney laundry list of complaints. Many women would kill to be in my position. I am lucky to have such a wonderful, healthy baby and a loving, supportive spouse. Rest assured that I am sure that payback for my good fortune hides around the corner, ready to pounce like our cat on a ball of tinfoil.

Still... still... HFG pisses me off. In exchange for taking on most of the drudgery that babies naturally generate, I get to be the one Maddy clings to when she's tired or afraid or uncertain. I am her comfort and more reliable than a favorite blankie. Which means that, frequently, the face I see is one that has tears running down it. I can make her smile and giggle, but Happy Fun Guy can always elicit exponentially more. He's a stitch, in her eyes, a regular Jerk-era Steve Martin or a pre-Majestic Jim Carrey.

Parenting isn't the kind of game where one should keep score. I know this. Yet there is a tiny little troll who lurks in my psyche, chalking down another tiny little hash mark whenever HFG gets to experience our child in a way that I can't. I expected to be better than this-but am continually disappointed to discover that I am only human after all.
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About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper, and a pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and is gainfully employed as an editor at Metro Pulse, Knoxville, Tennessee's weekly voice. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, who will be a big one- year- old in June, and wife to Scott, who declines the mention of his age. Email Adrienne at: shaken@austinmama.com



 

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