I was following Aaron up the stairs of our hotel in Florence on our trip last month, while he juggled our enormous bags, and I was thinking out loud. "You know," I said, looking on the bright side of my slower, less ambitious traveling style, "being pregnant is teaching me how to be more careful about health, sleeping, eating--how to take care of somebody, really. It's good training for motherhood." "Grunt," said Aaron.
"Do you think taking care of me is teaching you about fatherhood?" I asked. Aaron rested our bags on the stairs and looked at me. "YES. Definitely."
Since then, he has picked me up in a cab when I came down with a stomach flu and was afraid to go home on the subway, then made me Jello and encouraged me to stay hydrated through one very long night; he has squeezed my hand through the horrible tour we just had of the dreary, patient-oppressing hospital where we definitely DON'T want to have our baby; and he's been studying a mysterious tome entitled The Birth Partner every night before bed. The man is in training.
In fact, Aaron has been helping me since before I really understood that this pregnant me needed extra help. Anticipating someone's needs to such an extent is a new talent for him. For me, knowing I need help is a still-developing skill. I find it very confusing to be unsure about how I'm feeling. "Woozy," I'll say. "Do you want to try toast?" Aaron will ask. And I won't know, so I'll try it. He's been right enough that I am learning to trust his caretaking abilities--a set of skills I never really noticed in him before (not to belittle him, he's always been a wonderful partner, but I never needed, well, something akin to parenting, so much until now).
Stepping Up to the Plate
In hindsight, I recognize early signs of Aaron's transition during my first trimester, when thinking about food was a challenge for me, and waking up to an empty stomach was a daily emergency. While I was struggling ineffectually with this new state of affairs, Aaron pulled The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham, off the shelf and learned how to make the loveliest buttermilk pancakes I've ever had. He started making them regularly, before work, and they never failed to be fluffy, tender, flavorful, and beautiful.
Aaron comes by this newly-discovered skill through his Dad's side. Our little boy will likely grow up eating his Dad and Zayde's griddled breakfasts and assuming that pancake-making is just one of the manly arts.
I decided to step up to the batter bowl recently, since we haven't had a pancake morning for a while. But you know, I couldn't bring myself to follow the recipe. Instead I made it my own, reducing the butter a tad, and subbing in whole grain flour and oat bran for the white flour. They were delicious--a testament to what a great recipe it is to begin with. And I have to admit that I felt relieved to know that I can be a good pancake maker too, in my way. I'll be the workaday, healthy breakfast cook, while Aaron brings out the fluffy white cakes for special, indulgent mornings.
Who knows, now that he's retired, maybe my Dad will get back into the habit of spelling out letters in Bisquick batter. If he starts practicing now, I'm sure he'll be up to speed by the time his grandson takes a place at the breakfast table.