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Week 31: How to @#$% Up

After much research, I have finally learned the absolute worst thing to say to one’s pregnant wife. With just a few simple words, you, too, can tear into your beloved spouse’s every insecurity and lay them bare at a exact moment when she is at her most vulnerable!…

After much research, I have finally learned the absolute worst thing to say to one’s pregnant wife. With just a few simple words, you, too, can tear into your beloved spouse’s every insecurity and lay them bare at a exact moment when she is at her most vulnerable!

Listen closely, here. Because you have to say this phrase with the perfect mix of built-up hostility and casual derision. Amateurs might benefit from practicing in front of the mirror, but for the more seasoned husband, just pick a moment and try it out, unrehearsed, to ambush your wife. If you have children, be sure to say it in front of them for maximum effect. I think you will be surprised with the dramatic results!

Ready? Here we go!

In our house, every day is mother’s day.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? In the right context—say, one that included breakfast in bed or a surprise bouquet of flowers—it could be incredibly thoughtful. It might even qualify you as a DH. In the wrong context, though—say, in a home where your wife is on bed rest and has been relying on your generous nature more than usual—it is more dangerous than Those stretch marks are worse than I thought and Your ass looks like that girl in “Precious” combined. It’s probably not as painful as We never should have had this baby, but it is effective because it ties a husband’s every selfish impulse into one nice, neat passive-aggressive package. And it has the special bonus effect of making your wife wonder all over again if you lack the maturity to be a good father, thus calling into question her choice to marry you, much less procreate with you.

I dropped the offending phrase over dinner last night, just after my daughter said something wonderful about some amazing thing she planned to do for Sarah on Mother’s Day. That’s when it slipped out: In our house, every day is mother’s day.

At the time, I wasn’t sure whether I meant it as a joke or an indictment, but I knew I wanted to grab my tongue and shove the words back down my throat, where they could get chewed into oblivion, digested, and be evacuated from my system within 24 hours. My words sort of hung in the air for a moment, then flew across the dining room table to slap the face of a woman already feeling helpless because of this bed rest, a woman of action who has been told by doctors to deny her strongest impulse: the impulse to do. To act, to go.

Sarah could have responded: “The day your uterus squeezes your lungs tight against a wall and puts your diaphragm in a chokehold and your back feels like giant monkey fist, then it can be father’s day. Until then, you’re goddamn right every day is Mother’s Day.” Instead she quietly excused herself, and I knew I had fucked up. Even the kids, who are starting to understand sarcasm and use it in a way that finally makes me understand how infuriating it can be, sensed that something had gone wrong. “That was mean, Dad,” Hannah said. I tracked down Sarah and apologized, and I meant my apology, but it was too late. And too soon. She was not ready for an apology.

I walked the World Dumbest Dog and took charge of the kids’ ever-lengthening bedtime—PJs, toothbrushing, books, water, lecture on Sith rituals and practices—while Sarah disappeared into the bathroom for a bubble bath.

After tucking the kids in, there was only one thing left to do. I abandoned my family. Walked two blocks to pick up something that would hopefully make everything all right.

When I returned home, I grabbed my guitar, took a deep breath, and entered the bathroom. What was said, and brought in, and what song I played in that bathroom is between my wife and me. If you’re interested, you may venture a guess; the best guesses will get posted in the next blog entry. And it’s safe to say that until someone out there guesses correctly, every day in my home is Mother’s Day.

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