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A juxtaposition in any other context

October 02, 2015 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category : , , , , , ,

There I was after y shower, hanging up my 2.5 year old’s underwear (“panties” as we call them in this family) to dry in the bathroom. As I stood there naked and dripping wet, picking her clothes up off the floor, I thought to myself, in any other context this would be unacceptable. I stood there, betwixt two disparate realities: that of me being a 35 year man in possession of children's underwear and being naked. This meeting pointed out how my relationship to the outside culture and its mores had fundamentally changed. 

Not only was it acceptable for me to have children’s underwear on my person, but hanging it up in the nude, was also something that just happens. Like mother, father and toddler all having a chronic case of flatulence, together, in the same room. 

I wondered if I could explain this, or if I’d have to, the next time my daughter’s panties fall out of whatever backpack I’m using.

Random stranger in public: “Excuse me sir. Sir! You seem to have dropped this pair of children’s underwear.”

Me: horrified and trying not to look suspicious even though I have a perfectly good explanation, “Yeah… This backpack is normally used to pack all my child’s things… I need these to… Uh, whatever… fuck. Thanks for picking those up, buddy.”

No doubt my beard, piercings, mean mug and tattoos don’t register on anyone’s stereotypical creep-o-meter.   

Yet, this moment is only one of a seemingly infinite number of juxtapositions that started back before my wife gave birth to our child. At least every other week has brought me face to face with some socio-cultural thing that I didn’t (or shouldn’t have) fit with before. 

And, this example is not the most jarring confluence of conflicting relationships found between things in the married/ parenting realm.

There have been plenty of everyday occasions where I’ve veered out of the act of living and into the act of watching myself perform tasks. The little person working the switchboard in my mind suddenly realizing himself and is like, “Whoa dude… This is odd. Hey, why are y’all looking at me?”

I realize that there are stranger juxtapositions abounding in the world. But, maybe few as sublimely profound as those found in the deeper depths of the slow personal transformations that result from creating new family units (that’s a mouthful). This is a newer place, where you can’t persist as you persisted as a bachelor/ ette. Eventually, all your shit, from your smallest idiosyncrasy to your general philosophy on life, will meet with someone else’s shit out under the streetlight.

This will literally happen.

Do you find yourself averse to other people’s bodily odors, especially including liquids and solids that come out of other bodies? Great! You’re like many people out there.

Culturally, we’re taught that these bodily functions, while natural, are somewhat dirty and should be kept private. We just aren’t a society that intimately watches other people relieve themselves (unless you’re into that, then, you know, whatever floats your boat).

But, don’t think you can keep this sort of propriety up after you have kids. You may be able to “maintain” with your spouse, but all cultural mores of this sort go out the window when that first parasite arrives.

For example, recently it’s been my daughter’s desire to have my wife and I not only smell her stinky poops, but also watch them in progress. We’ve sat there, watching with rapt intent, as a particularly large turd makes its way out. Afterwards, the befouled air is punctuated with a happy declaration, “I have a big poop, daddy! Eww! It’s stinky!”

Indeed it is, little one.

What is the lesson here, you might ask? On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be any deeper meaning to be gleaned from having your loved one’s stink up in your business. After a while, this is certainly the case; it’s just another fart or another floater in the porcelain throne.

But, I beg to differ with my second to last point, here, and add something to the final point. Just like with my daughter’s underwear (that doesn’t sound right), there are profound implications to being comfortable farting around your spouse and watching your toddler take a dump.
Before that epiphany struck you getting out of the shower, before wiping butts and noses, before the birthing room, before all of this, none of this was normal. You lived in a world of rigid cultural mores, where children’s underwear and other people’s bodily functions were off limits, but now… Now, my friend, you are… You are… Shackled to the oddities of parenting life?

No, that’s not it.

Ah, that’s right! You have been liberated from the shackles of cultural mores and are no longer in juxtaposition with your child's underwear (...)(that's definitely much worse). 

In fact, parenting life, nay, even life within a long term relationship can be boiled down to this condensed, and probably idiotic axiom: there are no (healthy) committed relationships that exist independent from all juxtapositions. But, each juxtaposition will free you more from socio-cultural constructs. These perpendicular relationships you find yourself in with the outside world will eventually align, giving you a new perspective. It's science.   

Maybe after years of navigating awkward and odd juxtapositions, you’ll finally develop the parental version of the thousand yard stare, a look that all real parents seem to have. It can even be used effectively on other legitimate adults, who have no kids, in order to get your way. One look, and they'll crumble. No one wants to be told they need a time out. 

You, sir, have become a Parental Jedi, or a Sith- whatever your predilection. A power derived from navigating new or odd juxtapositions, willingly or not, with the world and its constructed norms.

Bravo on your accomplishments.

That being said, if you don’t have kids, or professionally care for them, then you probably shouldn't have children’s underwear on your person.

*All opinions in this "piece" are from the point of view of a man. Not only are they all conjecture, very little of this might be true for women. That's also conjecture.