The weather just can’t make up its mind. Last week it was cold. Wicked cold. Cold like it was in the old days, when words froze as soon as they left your mouth and you had to thaw them out over a fire before you could have a conversation. Before heading out on those mornings I bundled up in layers—long underwear, waffle shirt, tee-shirt, rugby shirt, sweat shirt. I put on a hat (helpful for keeping the ear buds in place) and gloves, something I don’t often wear on my walk. But, as I said, it was cold.

Today? Temperatures are supposed to reach the upper 60s. I mean, WTF?! It’s still January!

As I was walking through the deep freeze the other day the iPod played a song that jolted me back to exactly 20 years ago today—January 30, 1993—when our daughter was born. The song was Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” My wife and I put it our answering machine* as our outgoing message after we brought baby Katherine (she was Katherine then) home from the hospital.

It was cold that day, too. In fact, the low temperatures provided quite the bracing dose of reality when we left the hospital—which was warm and full of people who could answer our questions and quell our panic. I mean, we had read about meconium** but nothing really prepares you for that moment when your brand-new baby starts filling her diaper with what looks the kind of tar mariners once used to seal a schooner’s hull. But the nurses assured us that nothing was wrong and the panic subsided. Then the next morning we were ushered out into the cold and went home to an apartment with no support staff whatsoever. Good lord! You need a license to drive a car but anyone can try to raise a child.

But somehow we managed, and Katie (no longer Katherine) is 20 years old today. A lot of things have changed over those two decades but one thing hasn’t—she’s still lovely.

*Ah, telephone answering machines. It was always fun to come up with a new message. Once I used some dialogue recorded from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It said, “Welcome to Voiceprint Identification. When you see the red light go on, would you please state in the following order: your destination, your nationality, and your full name; surname first, Christian name and initial.” One day we came home to find a panicky voicemail from our landlady. “What red light? I didn’t see a red light? What am I supposed to say? I don’t understand!”” That was about par for the course in our dealings with her.

** Spinal Tap did a TV special once and the funniest joke was a reference to one of their heavy-metal rivals, a band called Meconium. It’s the only time What to Expect When You’re Expecting has been able to enrich a Spinal Tap moment for me.

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