When I wear a t-shirt, I like to think I get noticed thanks to my engorged biceps. I call them my guns.
But these aren’t just your garden variety guns — they’re Stroller Guns.
Sure, maybe they’re only impressive or even noticeable to me. I used to be the scrawny guy who got sand kicked in his face at the beach — if I had the nerve to show up at the beach in the first place.
Which I didn’t, because not only did I grow up Scrawny in Saskatchewan, I grew up pale. As a young man, I lurked in the shadows; darkened music venues, subterranean bookstores and record shops with windows covered in enough gig posters to block any sunlight. It’s no surprise I ended up in Vancouver. When someone threatens to put their foot where the sun don’t shine, they might just be talking about going for an afternoon walk in Vancouver.
Then, POW! Fatherhood. The changes started after my first daughter was born; a slow accumulation of body mass thanks to scheduled meals and regular activity. I even got accustomed to daylight and triple-digit SPF.
Then, POW! POW! Twins. Within a month my back was noticeably broader, figuratively and literally. Fatherhood was turning me into a manly man!
The biggest change happened after last September, when my daughter started kindergarten at the school uphill from our East Vancouver home. Twice a day, three to five times a week, I push a double-stroller loaded with toddlers up the hill and then down again.
Uphill, there’s no missing the parallel with Greek mythology — except the boulder Sisyphus pushed up his hill didn’t grow incrementally heavier with every passing day. Also, no version of the myth I’ve come across has the boulder pooping halfway up the hill.
And guess what? Taking a double-stroller downhill? Not any easier than pushing it up.
At the top of the hill though, after the five-year-old is dropped off at school, beckons a typically East Van oasis of hip coffee shops, Italian delis, and Chinese bakeries. Sisyphus might have been a less tragic hero if he’d had access to caffè macchiatos.
Guns by stroller.
Belly by Mortadella and Siopao steamed pork buns.
Look, nobody wants to talk about how having children changes a man’s body. Least of all my wife. My wife who — did I mention? — gave birth to our first daughter without so much as a Tylenol? Deep breathing and intense looks, that’s it. And then, not even three years later: twins.
She carried them 37 weeks. Two people, she grew two people inside her at the same time. And grew them big. And she was prepared to deliver them as naturally and without pain killers or medical intervention as the first one — right until a last-minute complication led to an emergency C-Section. A procedure that involved severing her abdominal muscles. It took months for the tissue to reconnect, leaving those muscles pretty much useless in their usual role of lifting things (like newborn babies), standing straight or breathing.
So she’s not interested in hearing about my Stroller Guns. That’s fine.
Besides, I’m not calling them Stroller Guns anymore. These bad boys right here, bursting out of my sleeves? These are my Baby Bumps.