My wife and I were childless at the time, still trying to start a family of our own. I was still as much afraid of being a dad as I was excited. And I was deeply skeptical that dinner with friends, who had recently become parents, would be any fun at all. My impression of parenthood, built over many years’ observation, was that the first few years of the parent-child relationship consisted of tearful, nightly negotiations over when and even if said child would sleep.
As a result, I expected our dinner with friends we’ll call Claire and Joe to consist of frequent interruptions and forced smiles. But they had other ideas. Joe offered me a beer and opened an accompanying bottle of wine. Claire professed to be well rested and as happy as ever. Gallows humor, I thought. A stiff upper lip before the war. It was nearing 6 p.m, when Claire said she would put her little one to bed. Clearly, they were girding themselves for the sobbing sure to follow. But Claire was boastful.