When I was a carefree college girl, I went through my share of boyfriends. Or as M seems to think sometimes, more than my fair share. But one stands out above and beyond all the others. Although the length of the relationship was on the shorter side, it was fast and furious and it took me years to get over him. Alex (not his real name) called me to break the news of his engagement just days after I realized M was the one. Had it happened even weeks earlier, I’m not sure I could have handled the news so well.
During our relationship, Alex confessed to me that because of an unusual condition, it was unlikely he would ever have children naturally. I took the news well, sure that our undying love would endure such an ordeal and that I would be fine with adoption when we decided to have children. I’m glad now that I wasn’t put through that trial, but I think the thought of not conceiving children was a relief for Alex. He confessed as much to me once during the “friendship” period of our relationship (call it friends with benefits), after dating but before we met the lucky people who became our spouses. He never saw himself as the married, father type.
So I was surprised enough when he called to say he’d finally found the woman who could convert him into the married type after all. But he stuck to his guns about the father idea. He could tell I was thrilled to have kids when I did but was firm in his assertion that kids were not for him. I shrugged every time he repeated that, relieved that I hadn’t committed my life to him when it turns out I was so eager to have kids.
We still keep in contact with short e-mails a couple of times a week, mostly sharing pretty mundane details about what’s going on with us or our families. He gripes about being busy at work–or not busy enough–and I whine about the toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor. (Yes, M knows about the e-mails and our former relationship. He says that if I’m comfortable with it, so is he. Have I found a keeper or what?)
Today, though, that all changed. I got two short e-mails from him. The first was one of disbelief. It said simply, “My wife’s period is three weeks late…” The next came a few hours later confirming what we’d all suspected. Alex is going to be a father. The man who never thought he could naturally conceive children is now forced with accepting the fact, due to a faulty condom. And he sounds upbeat about it, as though this new twist in his life is something to anticipate after all.
And I cannot begin to sort through my emotions. Why should I even have emotions at an announcement like that? That worries me more than anything else. I feel something that reeks of jealousy. Is it because she’s pregnant, or that she’s pregnant with Alex’s child? At the same time, I feel excitement for him. I think he’s going to find that he really likes being a father–anytime the child isn’t screaming, that is. I’m excited to see how fatherhood changes him, hopefully mellows him. I’m worried for both of them, that this pregnancy will go smoothly and they won’t have to feel the devastation of a pregnancy gone wrong.
I guess most of all I can’t decide whether I’m disappointed I was never that woman who could change his mind about marriage and parenthood or thrilled that he found the woman who could. If I didn’t have M around, it would be the first. But my marriage to M has matured me enough to recognize that I’m feeling some emotions from my many years of obsession with Alex. These are only habitual emotions, and when I evaluate them, I can see them for what they are. And in the end, I can be truly happy for the life changes ahead for my good friend, Alex.