In this blogisode we discuss how I got engaged.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have been absent from the blagosphere [sic] lately as I was somewhat distracted with the birth of my son, Patrick Dylan Carr. Having recently gone through the frenetic and confusing dance that is childbirth, I thought that it might be timely to write down some of my thoughts. By its nature, I expect fully that there will be graphic things covered within these posts so if you are squeamish then be warned. As well I should note that I am not a doctor nor am I a lawyer - I try to cover the medical issues as best I can as a layperson. No guarantee is implied. :)
I must confess that a year ago I had no idea what was coming. I was living with my girlfriend Carol and my roommate Jon. Life was relatively peaceful and wonderfully mundane. Carol and I had gotten over the normal adjustment period that comes with cohabitation with your partner, Jon and Carol were getting along splendidly, and I was filling myself on Carol's beef roasts and stews. Life was good.
I had been asked earlier in the year by our mutual friend Darcie Fillion how serious my relationship with Carol was: "She's going to be my wife and the mother of my children", I had casually remarked. At the time, both my sister and Darcie thought I was being my usual smart aleck self but there was a kernel of truth in all of this. At girlfriend #10 I was beginning to believe that I was through with the obligatory nonsense of dating, coming up on 30 I really was finished with this all, and I did believe in Carol as a permanent fixture in my life.
Why is this exactly? There were many factors but the one that I like to personally think of was four legged in nature. Carol and I share a love of dog training, particularly in the form of her dog, Erik Von Schnauzer (I didn't name him) who is a non-papered purebred miniature schnauzer. Training a dog is a difficult enough process when you're one-on-one with the dog but becomes orders of magnitude more difficult with the more people you introduce. There must be some form of common goal, some common understanding and reinforcement of the shared authority between co-trainers. To pick trivial examples, I can't be calling the dog while Carol is telling him to stay. Vocabulary needs to be shared - "off" and "down" are two very different commands - the first meaning "get out of my lap" or "quit trying to climb me" while the second means "drop onto your haunches". There needs to be some common respect - it can be challenging to train a dog to new commands (or to maintain existing standards) and often one needs to positively reinforce both the dog and co-trainer.
In short, co-training a dog generally leads to frustration for all involved. However, Carol and I quite naturally picked up on each others positive traits and both grew as trainers and owners. I think this unusual and for me was one of the strongest indicators that she was a person who would raise our children.
Don't get me wrong - Carol is smoking hot, incredibly mellow and easy to deal with, shares musical and artistic taste with me, is passionate about a number of my core hobbies, is a great cook, and has many other positive traits. These all combine to lead to her being a great girlfriend, but not necessarily a great mother. The dog training was more relevant for that, for me.
(As an aside, I bring the dog training up to communicate that everyone is different in what makes that special person click for them. I don't know anyone else, or have heard of anyone else, who found that dog training led to that "magic moment where they just knew" but for me it was as simple as that. The old cliche that "when it's meant to be, you just know" is unbelievably true, not that it's any consolation to the many painfully single emo people out there.)
I was content to let the relationship develop as it may. We were both regular Toastmasters members and we both pushed each other to develop our skills both in communications and photography. Life was good.
I remember quite clearly driving home with Carol one evening after a Toastmasters meeting... the dialog went roughly like this:
Carol: So funny story, I'm pregnant.
Mike: Oh, are you sure?
Carol: Yeah, pretty sure. I tested positive about twenty times with three different kinds of tests.
Mike: Well, we'll go to the walk-in tomorrow to get an official test. If you're pregnant do you want to have a baby?
Carol: Yeah, pretty much.
Mike: OK, marry me.
Carol: OK, sounds good.
I wish I could pretend that there was more drama, and don't get me wrong there were tears shed and much driving around town aimlessly ensued, but we were really quite OK with it. I know some people get panicked and verbally shoot from the hip, and some people get panicked and run, but we were pretty much OK with it all.