The day our baby was due, my mother called to tell me that something had happened. She wasn’t sure what to make of it but she needed to tell me. I knew not to brace myself. A bird had broken its wing and had been fluttering around her front yard. She finished her story, as she commonly does with this sort of thing, with a weighty pause: “I don’t know, honey… I don’t know.” I knew what she was going after here. The bird with the broken wing was an omen of some sort. It meant something for the birth of my third child but I didn’t know what exactly. But seeing as it was an injured bird, no longer able to fly, I didn’t really feel like asking her what she thought it meant.

I remember one time when we were kids my dad telling my brother and I his dream from the night before. Unlike my mother, he didn’t read much into stuff like this. He simply reported the details: “I had wings. It was incredible. I was so excited to fly but every time I tried to lift off the ground, I’d look down and see you two holding onto my ankles.”

I was only nine or ten at the time but I remember being amazed and deeply frustrated that my dad didn’t see the obvious symbolism. Looking back now, it’s quite obvious that my dad knew exactly what it meant, probably didn’t even have this dream, but just needed to tell us, in any way he could, that we were holding him down.

My mom didn’t come out with what she thought the injured bird meant but I suspect it was something similar. She had made it pretty clear that she didn’t think it’d be a great idea for us to have any more kids. It wasn’t that she didn’t love our first two, it was just that with two dogs, a new (very old) house, no money, and me losing my mind as the primary caregiver, it just didn’t seem to make much sense. I was the bird with the broken wing, I suspect. Birds with broken wings shouldn’t be making babies.

The night we conceived baby #3, we had gone out to dinner with Kate’s parents. Kate booked the second most expensive restaurant in Montclair knowing they’d pay. At dinner, the major topic of conversation –at least what Kate and I took away from it—was future children and, specifically, how bad of an idea it would be for us to have them. We were broke, we were disorganized, I was a writer, our dogs were worse than kids, etc. It was all true.

I won’t say Kate and I wouldn’t have gone for it on number three at some point had this conversation not occurred, but the reckless abandon with which we shtoinked that particular night, I have to think, was in direct response to being told we shouldn’t be shtoinking recklessly.

So, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce the newest member of our family…

Theodore Samuel Brashares

Kate labored for 16 hours. At hour 14, she asked for an epidural. The last two hours made me really wonder why we went 14 hours without an epidural. Kate was able to smile again. She stopped sweating and her top lip relaxed back into place. She looked at me now as the father of her third child, no longer just the mother*$#@er who did this to her. My thankless job of getting the bejeezus squeezed out of me during each contraction was coming to a merciful end.

I had told myself beforehand, “stay up, stay up, stay the f- up”. I tried to keep it in mind during the big push. I had gone down there during the birth of our first two and, while incredible and amazing and awe-inspiring, it was also pretty gross. It took a while to shake the image after the first two and I was intent on sparing myself the unnecessary sex-life setback this time around. But then it started happening. The midwife said, “oooh, there’s his head, he’s got a lot of hair…” and I couldn’t help myself. I went down there. He came out pretty quickly after his head poked out. The midwife just laid him, goo and all, right on Kate’s chest.

The first thought I had, thankfully, was, ‘this is my son, wow, this is my son’. The second thought I had was, ‘shit, I did it again. I went down there.’ The third thought I had was, ‘well, shit, our luck’s run out, we got an ugly one.’ Was this the omen my mom saw earlier that day? Not that I was a new father bird with a broken wing but that we would actually have a bird?

As I started thinking more about my mom’s connection to the mystical world, I recalled another topic we covered in that earlier conversation –the reported death that day of Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. My mother very rarely brings up current events or really anything outside of her immediate experience. “Strange,” I remember her saying and then just leaving it at that. Looking at my new son, I realized what the “strange” meant. She thought Kate would possibly be giving birth to the reincarnation of Hosni Mubarak. And, it occurred to me, she might be right.


It turned out the reports of Mubarak’s death were probably false. It was a relief. I didn’t want to have to name my son Hosni or think about what sins he was paying for from his previous life.

Instead, we got Theo. And we couldn’t be happier with him.

Here’s a pic Kate just took of me and him…

Here are some of the sounds he’s making right now… Theo

And so the SAHD life begins a new chapter…so far it’s a good one.



    Congratulations — your mother and I each had four, and I never regretted a moment!
    You will someday be a “well-known” writer!

  2. awwww.He’s the cutest little guy!!!!
    welcome to the world Theo!!!Reading your blog makes me want to spend time with you & your hopefully soon.
    Keep writing.I always look forward to your blog.
    so real,so well written & very entertaining.
    thank you & congrads to u & Kate.

  3. Antonia in (very wet) Scotland says

    Wonderful, wonderful, and more congratulations! If he has a loving family, kind friends, clean water and a roof over his head, what more does Theo need? Lucky little chap with that welcome! Axx

  4. Catherine K says

    Shtoinking spot-on, and hitting the spot!! Have totally ignored the family of beasts I’m at home with to read this and chuckle. Love the bonus audio. I see lonesome Magpies on a daily basis, OMG, but thankfully they don’t have broken wings. When I saw the first pics of Theo my heart turned football size in a nanosecond, you know to me he looked a lot like Louisa AND Edie and Arthur, a familiar little face indeedy. Right must go now, Edie’s just opened the front door….there was more I wanted to say….but we live by a road….xx

  5. Judy Digney says

    I’ll try and keep my mouth shut from now on, but I fear I’ve already opened it. Somehow it seemed a very mellow birth, and Theo a very mellow baby, to use Kate’s word, and somehow the family only now seems complete. Oh bother, I’ve done it again.

  6. Darrah Feldman says

    Congrats on Theo! Ben, you are such a talented writer – thanks for making me laugh so hard. Looking forward to seeing you, Kate, and the kids again soon!

  7. this is very sweet.

  8. Congrats man-makes me think, I don’t use the word schtoink enough (much less…well never mind). Hope everyone is doing well.

  9. Ben – congratulations! Love this!! xo

  10. Ben, This is bloody funny and well written! Congrats on getting Theo, and thanks for a great laugh! You are good.