Five Years …
Almost five years ago, I had the drive of my life.
When your first baby drops her dummy, you sterilize it. When your second baby drops her dummy, you tell the dog: ‘Fetch!’. Bruce Lansky
Five Years ago a baby came
Five years? Goodness. For sure, the older you get, the more time flies. Right then, I wallowed in agonised self-pity after doing daft and energetic stuff with a grandson. In fact, I’d probably get more sympathy with man-flu. Ouch, every aching part of me justified the late breakfast. In considerable pain, okay-okay, self-inflicted, I moved, groaned and eased my backside into a chair.
In fact, I must have looked a bit like Welshman Dan Biggar preparing for a kick. Sometimes we older guys do foolish things. In my case, I’d been over-stretching myself throwing and American Football. At the table, I’d no sooner got my left elbow planted exactly right and almost pain-free when the phone rang. Our lad’s name appeared on the screen. I put him on speaker. ‘It may have started.’ His mum jerked upright: tuned-in, sharp, ready for action. His tone communicated all. ‘It’s probably nothing.’ Truth to tell, he didn’t believe it, and neither did we.
‘It’s probably a bit early.’ All the same, what he heard was a calm voice. At my end, I saw his mother, a ball of energetic love. In the blink of an eye, on to the rollercoaster, we went!
I’m your man if you need lessons in sounding calm. ‘Want us to pop over … just in case?
‘Yes, please, if you’re free.’ Free? Free! Isn’t that so British and polite? Can you imagine the reaction if I’d said I was tied up? Five years on, nothing has changed.
Beside me, a far from easy-going mother/grandmother sat with her fuse well lit. Imagine being on the launch pad when a moon rocket achieves pre-ignition. ‘We’ll be over soon.’
‘Thanks.’ Somehow, you always know what a quick click of disconnection means. Barely an hour’s drive away, I could sense Dad, two-year-old tucked under his arm, rushing back to the action.
Meanwhile, a conference
Inevitably, our considered discussions lasted 30 seconds and ended with a plan–I’d drive. Whoosh, a tornado left to grab an overnight bag (or three?). Aches? What aches? The dash began.
From the outside, their house looked peaceful, but with the door unlocked—unusual. Once inside, a bouncy two-year-old charged into my arms for a hug in giddy excitement about something. Weary faced, Dad said a quick ‘hi, help yourself to drinks’ and performed the upstairs two-step. Greased lightning? Sort of … only faster.
Electric calm, wild excitement
Naturally enough, granny and I made a too-normal coffee, with the electric calmness of the wildly excited. In moments I played the serene grandpa, half-reading a story to a wriggle bottomed little-one as Granny rushed upstairs. Looking back five years, I didn’t mind holding the baby.
Just to ease the pressure, Dad came in. ‘We think the baby might be coming. The contractions are getting closer.’
‘Right.’ (I thought: maybe it’ll settle down, we are three weeks out after all.)
‘Mum says you’re going back.’
‘I’ll just be a spare-part … you know how it is. Tell me about the contractions.’
‘Two minutes, I could call a taxi if you need to get back.’
Silly boy, I barely resisted giving him a pithy comment or two, and I’m mostly polite. ‘Taxi? Don’t be daft. I’ll get you three to the hospital.’ It’s a simple job; sound calm, suck up the pressure. What’s all this twaddle about due-in-three-weeks?
Hamilton? Fangio? no chance
Ten minutes later, we turned right across hectic traffic, parents in the back. Mum-to-be moaned in an agonised, primal rhythm.
Fast as safety allowed, I drove citywards. From the back, more groans. With each spasm, the car seat beside me took a few kicks and the floor pan banged from stamping. Glancing up, I saw the pain in my mirror. A spare part for the moment Dad was ever so supportive of his moaning wife, a lovely man.
A trusted driver, I negotiated corners in cool control. In heavy traffic across a busy city, we contended with road works and stupid driving. At one point, I started barking fruity advice at other drivers. Half-forgotten expletives burst from emotional lips. Goodness, did a speed camera flash?
As part of this exquisite dance, my emotions rose. Please, God, make everything okay. A drawn-out wail from the back eased, soothed by a gentle baritone murmur. We turned right onto the key main road, and the ***** Council had dug it up. Detour. Frustrated wrath. Intemperate words. Calm down—my job is a safe delivery.
Right turn. Right Place?
‘Where’s the entrance?’ I received conflicting instructions. AHHHRRRgh! Fortunately, my calm duck stayed on the surface. Not a ripple. ‘No worries.’ At last, we stopped at a big sliding door. OMG, another just like it stood 30 yards away; as another groan and reedy puffs of breath added pressure, I jumped out. ‘Stay there, I’ll check.’ The door mechanism worked well. A nurse walked by. ‘I’m having a baby in the car.’
The medic diagnosed me with half a smile and pointed. ‘Wrong door. It’s over there.’
Seconds later, we arrived. Mum and Dad climbed out with great care and, arm-in-arm, entered the reception area. I lifted the rear door as Dad reappeared for the luggage. With a casual swing of my hand, I shooed him away: ‘Go look after your wife, I’ll fetch this.’
At the reception desk, Mum leaned on the counter, doing her breathing. Suddenly surplus, I dropped the luggage. With little fuss, I reached across, rubbed Mum’s wrist, our eyes connected ‘love you.’ I gave Dad, holding Mum, a squeezy arm around the shoulder. ‘Love you too, big man, bye.’
I walked away with distracted murmurs of thanks fading away. Imagine me, John-Wayne-like to the end, no longer needed, strolling away in total, manly, control.
Big boys don’t cry?
Back in the car, I wept from the emotional charge, the pure joy of a family event and other stuff I’m not sure about—thoughts, anyone?
Later that day, parents and baby returned home, pictures of health. As for me, by then a confirmed (and not sad about it) spare-part, I drove home and toasted the new arrival a few times.
Of course, Granny stayed and fulfilled more of her life’s purpose. Alone, happy with my bit-part, I played a long game of love, daftness and being there at the right time. Before long I had another chance to connect with family … ouch!
© Mac Logan