On the phone the night he spent in a neighboring Gulf state for the visa renewal, the same day we found out the baby's gender:
Me (on a friend of his who is having issues with his gf): Does he love her?
K : Yes. But when is love enough for you women?
Me : Of course it is.
K : No it's not. Yeah, you'll say that at first, that all you want is to be loved. But when you find someone who loves you to death, it's not good enough because then you want marriage, then one kid and then another and then a big house in the suburbs etc.... And then you forget you only wanted to be loved. And these other things wind up being what it's all about, not the guy himself anymore.
Me : K, that's not going to happen to us.
K : Tiftikri?
Me : For me, it will always be about you. The marriage was just a legal way for us to be together without having to look over our shoulder, or hurt other people I love very much. I wasn't looking for a husband when I met you. I married you because I couldn't stay away from you and I couldn't be with you any other way.
K : Yeah, I remember. That's how it started and...
Me : And that's how it's going to be. You're my husband because I love you. Not the other way around. Have I done anything to make you think my feelings have changed?
K : In the future, if things aren't as good between us as they are now, won't you be thinking I have to stay with him because of the kid?
Me: No. I'll be thinking I have to stay with him because I love him. We've had bad patches before. You and me is not always pretty is it? And there was no baby and am still here aren't I?
K : Well we haven't been together very long as relationships go, L. And most of it you spent trying to have a baby.
Me : And your point is?
K : I don't know. Doesn't matter now anyway.
Me : K, if it doesn't matter then why did you bring it up? If it's important enough for you to start something then why don't you finish what you started?
K : It's not that important.
Me : It's important to me. I want to know what's going on in your head. What are you so afraid of?
K : Afraid?
Inside, I am kicking myself. I should have known better than to suggest to Mr.Macho that he might actually have fears. I'll be lucky if that doesn't make him clam up again just to cover up what he would see as a lapse into weakness and sissyhood.
Fortunately it doesn't. Whew. Better be more careful next time.
Me : Then what exactly?
K : I just wish I could have had you to myself a little longer before we had to get into all this. Is that so bad?
Me : Oh K, you do have me. I wouldn't want to have your baby so much if you didn't have me. I never wanted children until you. I want your child because I want more of you. It's all the same thing. Why can't you see that?
K : More of me? You mean like a clone?
Me : Something like that. Only he won't be just a clone. He'll be his own person too. But he will always be a piece of you and a piece of me. A human being who exists only because we're together and we love each other. I mean, doesn't that blow your mind?
K : It does, when you put it like that. I guess this is all just going to take some getting used to.
Me : I wish you were here tonight.
K : I miss you too.
Me : See? We're still in love.
K : Sure we are. Sorry if I made it sound like we're not.
K : You still think the baby will look like me?
Me : Yes. All our children will look like you.
K : All our children? Na3am yakhti? How many are we having ISA?
Me : Just one ISA. K, it was just a figure of speech.
K : So what makes you so sure he will look like me?
Me : Am not sure wala shi. It's just a feeling.
K : I don't really want a clone you know.
Me : Even if he looks like you, he still won't be a clone. I mean, people are more than their looks. But I think it would be good if he looks like you.
K : Ishmi3na ya3ni?
Me : Because I think you're gorgeous. Your eyes, your smile, your coloring. You're just hot. You know that. Stop fishing for compliments.
K : Can't stop fishing now. I have to get what I can before the competition gets here.
He says it like he's joking though. So I decide to let it go.
On the phone from my office a day or two afterwards:
Me : How do you like (boy's name)?
K : Who?
Me : The name, K. For the baby.
K : Oh. I thought it was (another boy's name I mentioned to him the day before)?
Me : Well, I always like (first boy's name). Bas I like what this one means bil3arabi. And it's easy to pronounce for non-Arabs. Today I thought that since he's going to grow up in Europe, he shouldn't have to deal with everybody mispronouncing his name.
K : Yeah. Sounds like a plan.
Me : That's what you said when I asked you yesterday about the other name.
K : Ma3laish ista7milini. Ana sa3at kida ab2a mokarar wi momil.
Me : I didn't say that, K. I just wondered which one you like better.
K : They're both good names.
Me : Or maybe you prefer something else altogether?
K : No. Nothing comes to mind right now.
Me : Ok, let me put it this way. Am having trouble deciding between these two names. Can you help me? You know, being the father and all?
K : L, just go with both names. Lots of people have double names.
Me : I don't want to give him two names.
K : Well, then it sounds like you've already decided.
Me : Do you want to talk about this?
K : I thought we were talking about it.
Me : You're not contributing much.
K : What do you want me to say exactly?
Me : Tell me what you would like your son to be named. Come up with at least one idea of your own. You do that easily enough when other people consult you about their kids. Am your wife. This is your child. You should have at least one idea.
K : 7abibti, we still have 2 months, right?
Me : Yes?
K : So why do I have to answer this now?
Me : You don't have to do anything, K. I just thought you might want to.
K : You know, you should talk to my mother. She's got lots of ideas.
And I wanted to strangle him. Instead, I let it drop.
Late last night:
Me : What are you looking at?
K : You.
Me : Why are you staring like that? You've seen me before.
K : Not like this.
Me : Like how?
K : Don't think I've seen you as happy as you are these days. It's just nice to watch.
Me : 7abibi, aren't you happy too?
K : I am if you are.
Me : You know, you really scare me sometimes.
K : Leh ya 7abibi?
Me : You make me feel like am going to have to do this alone.
K : Do what?
Me : Raise our son, K. Be a parent.
K : Hey, come here.
Me : What?
K : Come back to bed.
So I do. And he takes me in his arms.
K : I will always take care of you, you hear? Always. Tool mana 3ayesh, you don't have to do anything alone. Not unless you want to. And maybe not even then if I don't like what you're going to do.
His lips are on my forehead at this point so I can feel him smile with that last bit. He's trying to calm me down, to defuse the tension.
I want to say to him but it's not just me I need you to take care of. It's not just about me and you anymore. There's someone else. Why isn't he as real to you as he is to me? Why can't you see him?
But I don't say any of that. Have been trying not to get frustrated with his lack of enthusiasm about impending fatherhood. It's the least I can do for him given how good he's been to me lately, how well he's taking care of me. My husband deserves that I should give him time, try to understand where he's coming from, to help him adjust.
Sometimes though, I do get a little sad and anxious for my baby. I want things to be perfect for him when he arrives. And a father who is still dragging his feet this late in the proceedings is not perfect by any means.
Seriously though, what makes some men so resistant to the idea of fatherhood? I mean, it's not like my husband is some wild, selfish, irresponsible adolescent worried that children will cramp his sytle. He's a grown man who has had family responsibilities for years. He's used to taking care of others and he is good at it. And he generally likes kids and is liked by them. So what is it about having his own children that puts him off?
Still, I can't help feeling optimistic these days. I am in such a good mood. Like he said, we still have 2 months. I'll keep working on him.