You don’t really want to hear the rest, do you? Suffice it to say, twenty minutes later, James was out cold. I kiss his forehead and lay him back in his crib. Then I go out to the living room looking for some quality time with my girlfriend. I find Kate on the couch, with a still-half-full basket of clothes next to her.
She doesn’t acknowledge me right away—and she’s not folding clothes anymore. She’s holding a pair of baby socks in each hand, unnervingly staring off into space. In deep thought.
Usually for guys, when our women are contemplating something serious? It’s a bad sign.
Cautiously I sit down next to her. “The baby’s asleep.”
Her blank expression doesn’t change. “That’s good.”
“Kate? You okay?”
Snapping out of wherever she was, she turns to me quickly and tries to blow it off. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”
Fine—a red flag if there ever was one.
I don’t waste time with pleasantries. “Fuck fine—what’s wrong?”
She focuses her attention on the socks. “I just realized . . . this is my life now.”
I try hard to decipher the hidden female message in that statement—and come up with zilch. “O-kay . . . and . . . ?”
“And folding clothes, dirty dishes, afternoon walks, naptimes, changing diapers . . . that’s my life. That’s what I have to look forward to.”
“Well . . . changing diapers won’t last forever. And in two more weeks I’ll be able to make you cum again in numerous, illicit ways—that’s something worth looking forward to.”
That gets a chuckle out of her, but it’s halfhearted. “I’m a terrible person.”
I rub her shoulder. “If you’re a terrible person, I’m in some seriously deep shit.”
This time her smile is a bit more genuine. “I love James, Drew. Love . . . isn’t even a strong enough word . . .”
I nod, because I and any parent know exactly what she means.
“. . . and I know how lucky I am. Lots of women would kill to be able to stay home full-time with their kids. I really am grateful for the life I have—but I never thought this would be all I’d have.”
And the tears start to fall. Big ones.
In the days after James’s birth, he wasn’t the only one on a bawling binge.
Kate was a mess.
I thought I understood the havoc hormones can wreak on the female personality—but I didn’t understand jack. Pregnancy hormones are a whole other animal entirely. She cried because James was beautiful, she cried because she loved me so much, and because of how much I love her. She cried when James cried, and when he slept or if he sneezed. She cried because she hadn’t lost all the baby weight two days after he was born, the way those motherfucking evil, narcissistic celebrities make women feel they should.
Even though I’m accustomed to my son’s crying jags, seeing Kate cry will never be something I’m okay with.
My chest tightens, squeezing my heart as she wipes at her cheeks. “I feel so guilty for missing work—for watching you walk out that door in the morning and wishing it was me. How screwed up is that?”
I rub her back and tell her the truth: “It’s not screwed up at all.”
Kate looks at me with surprise in her eyes.
“I wouldn’t want to quit my job, either—I’d be a miserable bastard if I couldn’t go to the office anymore.” Then I ask, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“I thought it would pass, once I got used to being home—had a new routine going. But it’s just gotten worse.”
The strange thing is, I know just how she feels.
“To be honest, I’m not exactly thrilled with the arrangements we have now, either.”
Thankfully, her tears have dried. The vise grip on my heart lessens. “You’re not?”
I shake my head. “I’m missing all the good stuff. I go for days without seeing James awake even for a minute. It sucks ass. Like the other day, when he smiled for the first time.”
She tries to make me feel better. “That was just gas, Drew.”
“Of course it was, because boys think passing gas is funny.”
“I sent you a video.”
I shake my head. “That’s not the same. At this rate, I’ll miss everything—his first word, his first step, the first time he realizes he can aim and piss on things—all the big moments.”
Kate takes my hand. “So . . . what are we talking about here? Are you saying you want to stay home part-time?”
Once the words are actually said, I realize that’s what I’ve wanted all along. “And you’ll work part-time. I’ll go the office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday . . . because I’m still the frigging man in the relationship . . . and you’ll do Tuesday and Thursday.”
“Some of our clients aren’t going to be good with that. Jefferson Industries’ CEO is a prick—he’ll have major issues.”
Like I give a damn. “Whoever isn’t okay with it, I’ll make sure they stay in-house. Pass them off to Jack or Matthew—and if we lose a few, my father will get over it. Nepotism has its advantages, Kate. I say we f**king exploit them.”
“Our bonuses will take a hit.”
I shrug. “It’s only money.”
If you don’t have a boatload of extraneous cash and investments lying around, I wouldn’t recommend adopting this attitude. But since I do . . . I can.
Then I point out, “In six or seven years James will be in school, then we can both go back full-time. Unless we have a few more kids between now and then—and since the activity that gets them here is at the top of our Favorite Things to Do list, that’s a definite possibility.”
There’s a light in her eyes that wasn’t there when I came home. Knowing I help put it there makes me proud of myself—not that that’s an unusual feeling, but in this case it’s especially awesome.
Kate squeezes my hand enthusiastically. “So, we’re doing this? We’re really doing this?”
“You and I and James will go into the office tomorrow and have a sit-down with Dad, George, and Frank.”
She throws herself at me—chest to chest, arms around my neck, legs straddling my thighs. “I’m so excited!”
“As excited as you are about getting the go-ahead from Roberta in two weeks?”
Kate squints. “Ah . . . not that excited—but very close.”