May 4 2011 12:00 AM

The ultrasound of silence & Mommy dirtiest


Q: My 27-year-old girlfriend has
two kids (ages 10 and 5). She is financially stable and owns her own
house. We began planning to get married, but then she said she didn’t
want any more children. She cites the financial burden, the time a baby
would take from “us,” how she’d be starting all over again, and not
wanting to do that to her body again. I think she’s being selfish,
seeing me as good enough to help raise her two girls but not good enough
to have a child with. I want a child who’s genetically related to me,
who I can raise and form from the start. I told her, if she won’t have a
baby, I won’t take the next step and get married and purchase a house
together. Am I in the wrong here, or is she? 

—Feeling Used 

A:  It’s always so cute when a man announces “WE’RE having a baby!” —
as if “WE” will be getting huge, bloated, and hormonal, and nuzzling
the toilet bowl for nine months. And then there’s the really fun part,
when WE get strapped to a table, legs spread, and we’re surrounded by
strangers shouting “Push! Push!” (As if it’s sheer laziness that keeps a
person from squeezing a Mack truck out a carport-sized opening.)

Your fiancee was a teen mother way back
before you’d get a reality series for that and has now spent over a
third of her life being somebody’s mommy. Not surprisingly, she isn’t
into having yet another human being to be responsible for for the next
20-plus years —
understanding all too well that “Hey, can we get a new person?!” isn’t
like getting another kitten (as in, what’s one more once you’ve already
got two shedding on the couch?).

Unfortunately, it seems you assumed
there’d be some sort of kid pro quo here: You drive her kids to soccer
and admire their crayonings, and she’d make you a kid of your own.
You’re right to expect some really big hugs for doing the stand-in dad
thing, but just because she has the womanparts doesn’t mean she owes it
to you to fire up the assembly line and give you an heir. What you’re
calling selfishness on her part is actually a sign of emotional health —
not being so needy that she’d agree to be your baby vending machine,
only to end up resentful and angry (“Here’s your lunchbox, you little

You don’t get a kid out of her by acting like one —
sniffling that you’re “not good enough to have a child with” and
announcing, “No baby, no marry, no housie!” Instead of trying to pout
and guilt her into more motherhood, discuss this like adults to see
whether there’s any wiggle room here. (Don’t get your hopes up.) As for
your question about which one of you is in the wrong, you’re probably
just wrong for each other. Ultimately, this could be one of those
unfortunate situations where love just isn’t enough. Two people also
have to want the same major things: Must love dogs. Must want kids. Need
to be horsewhipped daily. 

Should this relationship crash and burn,
try to learn from it: If you really, really want to be something’s dad,
prudent family planning involves casually putting that out there as
early as the first date. This isn’t foolproof, but it beats the other
kind of family planning: planning to swap out the wife’s birth control
pills for 30 days of Tic Tacs: “Gee, my Ortho-Novum tastes minty-fresh!”

Q: Last week, my 25-year-old
daughter’s ex-boyfriend said hi to me in a bar, and one thing led to
another, and we ended up in bed. I felt absolutely terrible about what
happened, and then my daughter, out of the blue, announced that she’s
finally over him. In fact, she insisted she is. Is there any way I could
keep seeing him, and if so, should I tell her? 

—Don’t Want To Lose My Daughter

A: A mother doesn’t risk her
relationship with her daughter for just anything. In your case, somebody
has to say hi. (One wonders what you’d do for “Lovely weather we’re
having” or “Have a nice day.”) If you care at all about your daughter,
think hard about what creepy, narcissistic competitiveness led you to go
home with her ex and how creepy you’re still being, wondering how you
might snag her okay to go back for seconds. Sure, your daughter said
she’s over the guy. And she could be — more than anybody has ever been over anybody — and still never get over hearing her mother say, “Oh, sweetie, I bumped into your ex…and then I ground into him for hours.”