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. The older you get, the more time flies. Right then, I wallowed in agonised self-pity from playing daft and over-vigorous American Football with a grandson. In fact, I’d probably get more sympathy with man-flu (zero at best). 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.
‘Yes, it’s probably a bit early.’ All the same, what he heard was a calm maternal voice. At my end, I saw his mother, a ball of energetic love who expected action. On to the rollercoaster we went!
If you need lessons in sounding calm, I’m your man. ‘Want us to pop over … just in case?’
‘Yes, please, if you’re free.’ Free? Free! Isn’t that so British? Sooo polite? Not exactly an I’m-too-busy moment. Five and three quarter years on, nothing has changed, except (February 2022) the next one is due very soon.
Beside me, a far from easy-going mother/grandmother sat, perhaps I should say vibrated, 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 an unlocked door—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. My playmate grabbed for my glasses.
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 a couple of weeks out after all.)
‘Mum says you’re going back fairly soon.’
‘I’ll just be a spare-part …’ nothing personal, I know my place … ‘Tell me about the contractions.’
‘Every two minutes.’
‘I can call a taxi if you need to get back.’ Fool! My redundancy is after the arrival.
I withheld a pithy comment or two for later. ‘Taxi? Don’t be daft. I’ll get you guys 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 moaning 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. 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 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