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Emily at birth Photo: courtesy of Jason Westover
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Nightmare before Christmas
The other day I let my daughter Emily watch Tim Burtons’ The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time. She has developed a keen interest in skeletons, and even though the movie may not be for children under three, I decided to play cool dad, and threw it on.
As soon as the opening song, “This is Halloween”, began, Emily sat up, eyes wide open, her mouth askew. She was mesmerised by the film that I love and have seen 100 times.
I was taken back to when I was a kid, when I waited with fevered anticipation for those once-a-year holiday specials like Rudolph, Garfield, and Peanuts. When that special presentation icon came on the screen my eyes were wide open, and my mouth askew. I was held captive by pop culture magic. I watched Emily as she watched the movie. We were bonding and she didn’t know it.
It’s ironic that I’m able to share a moment with my daughter in the confines of my little family of three, when nine months before she was born I was perfectly content with my wife and our life as a couple. The window of opportunity to conceive Emily was so small I can’t help wonder if there is such a thing as serendipity.
First and foremost, I like kids and families, but growing up I had no interest in being a family man — I enjoyed the independence to do whatever I wanted with little thought or planning. I had been with my wife, Melinda, for quite some time, and in my mid-thirties my stance on “the couple life” was firm. Melinda and I were at odds over it from time to time, but it didn’t amount to much.
In the fall of 2010, Melinda started having a small medical issue with her contraception and had to go off it for a while. Being the excellent husband I am, I reassured her I had no problem “manning up” in the preventative measures department and using prophylactics. This worked out for a while, but without getting too graphic, after a decade of not using them, Intimacy felt a lot like taking a shower in a snowsuit; It took a while to get wet.
One evening in a Herculean night of steamy romance, I vanquished my prophylactic responsibilities to the floor while passion ensued. The next day, I was aware of the slip up, but not worried, it was just once.
What are the odds?
Apparently pretty good because not long after my “mistake”, I fell down our stairs and put myself out of action for a while. In that time Melinda had some suspicions and took “the test” which confirmed that she was with child. When she told me, it was plain as day that I had hit a hole in one.
In nerd terms you could say I blew up the Death Star.
No matter how you phrase it, on that night, after a decade of protection, and no scares, Emily was conceived. Our existence as a couple morphed into a family, and it changed our lives.
Now, I enjoy the past moments of my youth while watching Emily discover new things. I find it hard to imagine I fought against it for so long. Getting to enjoy the magic of your youth with your child is a great perk. If fate does exist, then I thank the powers-that-be for giving me another crack at Hungry Hungry Hippos.