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As a man | Baby comes, a parent goes

Published:Monday | May 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke

There is no greater evidence of an intimate relationship between a man and a woman than a child (that is, if they want children).

Not a ring, not a car, house, financial instrument, bills from a marriage counsellor (yeah, that happens, too), anniversary pictures, living-room set or any of the other things that human beings accumulate as the natural part of a relationship.

It is a child which is the ultimate, lasting symbol of that connection (given that the couple wants one, as there are quite a few who choose not to and are blissfully happy). But so many times, a strange thing happens when a baby is introduced into a relationship - the couple of breaks up. The ultimate permanence between them - a breathing, pooping, bawling, sucking 'likkle suppen' weighing less than a decent-sized dumb-bell - is the catalyst for them to go their separate ways, making contact only because of this life they had created in the first place.

There are so many women who are in a stable relationship until a few drops of urine turn up a plus sign, and by the time the doctor holds up this new life kicking and screaming, the parents move from having an intimate relationship to one that is barely cordial.

It is easy to write off the men involved in these relationships as worthless and irresponsible. But it is more than that. I have long mulled over the situation, gone up into the mountains and meditated barefoot, inhaled numerous puffs of wisdom-inducing haze, pored over yellowed sheets containing ancient wisdom and come up with the answer.


The irrefutable permanence, which a child presents a couple, exacerbates the fissures in their relationship, leading to irreparable fractures in their bonds of intimacy. A child makes them think this is it, until death do us part (whether or not they have made a vow). Then the things that they may have been able to live with when they could call it a day at any time, become burdens which they just can't carry around any more.

So, he likes to go out with the boys on a Friday night and come in at 5 a.m., under the influence. It was OK before, but now that this permanence arises, the lady starts to ask herself if she can tolerate Friday nights alone for the rest of her life when she is supposed to have a man in her life. Then she figures that if she is going to be alone on Fridays, she may as well be alone all the time. To hell with him, let him be with the boys since he prefers the company of men.

From the male perspective, that little action of raising the toilet seat (something he should have been doing from when he was a boy) every single time he takes a leak, in order to avoid an argument, moves beyond nagging to irritating to infuriating to intolerable. Can he take this forever? This adjustment of a toilet seat for simple relief, which is reflective of all the compromises he will have to make forever and ever and ever?

No way, Jose, hit the road Jack. And Jill and the little one go on alone.