Once again Stefi and I could not find a way to be on the same page. And what was the issue this time, you might ask? Three was enough for her, but was nowhere being enough for me.
“No, Jan, don’t even go there,” Stefi said to me along the alley that led all the way to our living room. Our argument had begun while we were in our bedroom. It was only when Stefi felt that she could not stand my persistent proposition that she stormed out and I followed her in a fashion that was more like bumper to bumper as cars in a traffic jam. “Three and no more!” She further said in a stern voice.
“How could you ever say that three is enough?” I countered. “That is ridiculous. We need to have a large family.”
“I have three children. That’s it. I’m done, Jan. No more plans.”
“Jammy is six, Hadley is four and Dick is two years old. That can only mean one thing, Stefi. I want to have more children. What can get in the way?”
“A lot, Jan.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Can you really make babies?”
“Hey, Stefi. I don’t know where that question came from. It’s ridiculous to ask that at this point in time. I’m in great shape. In the best shape a man can ever be.”
“I have three happy healthy kids to prove that.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Stefi. Stop playing games that you hope will steer you away from the reality that we need to make more babies.”
“You are the one not facing reality here, Jan. I’m not interested in having more children!”
Stefi sat on a couch when we got to the living room and I sat on the one that was opposite her. She shot a glance at my face and quickly looked away. She did not need to advertise that she was not pleased with my demand. It was easy to discern from the huge frown on her face. I sensed she was so mad at me, so mad at my demand, so mad at my choice of words. But I did not care because I felt I needed to do what I had to do. My mission was as clear as crystal. I was a man obsessed with the idea of having more children and I was not about to let anything stop me.
“My business is thriving and I will have the means to raise and provide for more children,” I began to make my case. Stefi took one long look at me and laughed. The laughter was brief. I could tell that there was no real humour in it. It felt like Stefi was a huge lion growling and glowering at me for my demand I thought she found insane.
“What if I told you you’re just deluding yourself?” Stefi turned to me and asked. Though I thought her question was insane, it still hit my conscience and briefly got my mind to hover around the possibility that there was something that had gone on or was going on at the time I had no idea of. I shoved that aside as a false construct of my over-worked mind and went ahead to respond.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said. “And stop trying to cover up the real issue here.”
“What if I told you you’re that one that has issues and not me?”
“There you go again talking some nonsense that’s in no way related to the issue we should be talking about right now.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes I am.”
“Look, Jan. I’m not gonna turn myself into a baby factory for any other man or you. That’s what you need to know. Now you know.”
“I can’t simply understand why you need to mention any other man. Is about us. Me and you as married couple.”
“Jan, what if I told you to stop deceiving yourself?”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Stefi looked away from me and stood up. There was silence while I awaited Stefi’s reply. She took a deep breath, and that gave me the feeling that she was about to say something very nasty to me, some secrete I felt would make me so terrible. Saying that I was on edge would be a huge understatement. I felt haunted and absolutely terrified. It was like I was an American presidential election candidate, three days to the election day, leading well in all the polls, and news of my past sexual affair with a porn star was about to get to the press.
“I don’t want any more children, Jan,” Though Stefi’s reply was not nice music to my ears, I was relieved to know that what she had to say was not as ominous as I had suspected.
“We will have more children,” I said, believing that with more pressure and persuasion that Stefi would cave in at a point.
“It’s all about you, Jan,” Stefi began angrily. I rose to my feet in response. “It’s all about what you want, right?” She continued. “Do you think all I want to do with my life is make babies and let my psychology degree be a waste of effort?”
“You can still start to make a fantastic career with that after you’re done,” I said.
“After I’m done?” Stefi asked, looking visibly angrier.
“Yes when we’re done making up to ten babies.”
“I don’t even know why I’m here wasting my time with a man that appears to be so high on drugs that he can’t make any sense.”
“I do not wish to be insulted,” I said in response, my tone high because I got angry.
“I’m not insulting you in any way,” Stefi said in a loud angry tone.
“That’s what you just did!”
“You insult yourself, Jan, for not knowing you’re just fooling yourself!”
“You’re the one fooling yourself, Stefi!” And Stefi was about to speaking more words full of temper tantrums, I believed, when the kids walked into our living room. They must have heard our loud angry voices. That put a stop to the quarrelsome mood Stefi and I had slipped into. I did not want the kids to see us quarrelling. Stefi did not want that too. So we managed to force smiles to be on our faces as our children came to us. I stooped a little and gave Jammy a hug, smiled at him, did the same to Hadley and Dick.
“I love you,” I said to each of our kids, and watched them go to their mother who did exactly what I did.
I still could not help being struck by the fact that my children were growing up strong and healthy and in lots of ways, showing strong facial resemblance to Stefi, Wack and my grandpa. What was still lacking on their faces remained any resemblance of me. Not even the science of genetics would have been able to convince me that whatever had happened made any sense. What the heck happened? I did not know it then. It all looked like one happy family in the eyes of the kids when it was nothing really close to that from the points of view of Stefi and I. I still wanted more babies. Stefi still was opposed to that I idea, and had maintained that I was only fooling myself to the highest degree. It was only about to get worse for me.