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Diary Of A Dad

Part I: The end of my life as I know it

My wife went to the grocery store the other day and brought home 12 jars of baby food. They were on sale, she said, and wouldn’t expire before our baby would be able to eat them. All of a sudden, reality slapped me in the face. In five months, I’m gonna be a dad.

Of course, this wasn’t the first blow I’ve taken. They’ve come sporadically in the last three months—sucker punch here, upper cut there. We’re only halfway to birth, and I’ve already taken more hits than I care to admit. I’m gonna be a dad.

I’ve become accustomed to carrying titles over the past 10 years. Student. Teacher. Rookie. Youth pastor. Big belly. Teller. Uncle. Journalist. Husband. But Dad?

A queasy feeling in my stomach tells me that everything I’ve learned in life is being reduced to a pile of rubbish. Just when I was almost getting comfortable with my lot in life, just when I had finally gained confidence in my talents and abilities, just when I had gotten my life under control, this happens. I’m gonna be a dad.

I have a dad. My best friends are dads. I’ve watched movies about dads—Father of the Bride and On Golden Pond and Ransom. The way I feel right now, my venture into fatherhood will be more like a second-rate documentary called Pseudo Dad.

I’m gonna be a dad. I thought it was supposed to work like school—pass one grade before moving to the next. I planned on perfecting being a husband by, oh, 2050 or so, and then thinking about fatherhood a few years after that.

I’d much rather prefer that someone would have told me several years ago, “Chris, on September 8, 2003, you’re going to become a father, so begin preparing now.” Instead, I get less than nine months to prepare for the biggest change of my life. How fair is that?

I’m gonna be a dad. I hear it’s a package deal. For some crazy reason, I can’t be a dad without changing dirty diapers, cleaning snotty noses, losing hours and hours of sleep, getting stains on all of my clothes, second guessing my existence.

I’m gonna be a dad.

Part 2: A boy—definitely a boy

Color my world blue. The results are in, and they are decisive—the Oakes name will be carried on. Not that it was a surprise. We knew there was a boy in there. We just needed the ultrasound to verify our suspicion. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why they call it an ultrasound anyway. I didn’t hear anything.

Let’s call it an ultrasight. And boy, did we see some things. He rolled. He kicked. He bounced. He played. He made fists. He moved so much that the technician almost couldn’t finish her job.

My in-laws and I found it quite entertaining. My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t laughing as much. Something about the 40 ounces of water she had to drink prior to the appointment.

I think the boy liked the cushion.

He looked right at the screen several times. Either he’s brilliant and extroverted (“I know you all are out there, and I’d like to introduce myself”), or he’s ornery and stubborn (“Quit poking me! Leave me alone! Who do you think you are?”).

Our premonition: he’s brilliant, extroverted, ornery and stubborn, which will minimally make the rest of our lives outrageously exciting. After all, he left no doubts that he is a he.

When the appointment was over, I called my parents in Kentucky and dropped the news that they were going to have a grandson. These are the three-time grandparents of girls—my sister has mastered the art of having girls. So I told them that now they’ll get to spoil a baby boy, and Mom screamed. In my ear. Loud. “Larry, it’s a boy! They’re having a boy!”

Then, she calmly said, “Well, I know that’s what you all wanted.”

What we wanted? This is the grandma who over a month ago bought three little cute outfits for our child. Three different cute little male outfits. I’d say some grandparents have been putting in extra prayers for what they wanted as well.

So now we can refer to “him” instead of “it.” Now we can make the colors a tad darker. Now we can pave the driveway and put up a basketball goal. Now we can start praying for a daughter-in-law.

I know, I know. I’m getting a little ahead of myself. But remember, I’m going to be a dad. I’m going to have a son. And he’s going to be the greatest kid in the history of the world.

Just wait and see.

Part 3: I might as well get used to it

Yep, it’s for sure. My life will never be the same. Of course, I should know this by now, since approximately 12,322 people have told me this upon hearing that my wife and I are expecting our first child in September.

Trust me, y’all. I know this.

Case in point: A casual trip to Nashville one Saturday found us at a favorite store. We spent over 30 minutes browsing and finally walked to the cash register with three items. Our finds were a children’s video, a book of baby names and a pair of 3-6 month overalls. Son, 3 … parents, 0.

To listen to my parents, my in-laws and the great majority of my friends and acquaintances—and even people I don’t know—that was the first of a lifelong string of shut-out losses to the little guy. Not a bad start, considering he’s still got at least 11 weeks in the soft, secure world of his mother’s belly.

Then there’s the infringement on my personal space. I’ve had an office since finishing college in 1996. I had an office in both of my apartments while living in Ohio. I had a whole room designated for office space while renting a house in West Tennessee. After marrying, I had a decent amount of office space in the spare bedroom of our apartment. And the third and smallest room of our house has served as a wonderful office for nearly two years.

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You see, I need an office. I have a few (hundred) books. I have file cabinets. I have a computer with a printer, and therefore several reams and types of paper. I have CDs and tapes, videos and board games. I have folders, journals, in-boxes and out-boxes.

And now I have one more week until I have to have all my stuff out of my office. You already know why.

Junior gets a room to himself—nice and spacious, freshly painted, with decorations aplenty.

Chris gets his desk and one tiny file cabinet relegated to a corner of the already maxed-out master bedroom. I’m already experiencing withdrawal, and the office isn’t empty yet.

Son, 1 … dad, 0. Another shut-out.

I’d really appreciate if you did not laugh. I’m having a mini-crisis here. It seems my days of “personal space” have come to an end, sucked away by the ol’ nursery. The craziest part of it all? Something tells me that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

[Chris Oakes is an associate pastor in Tennessee and a reporter for the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, specializing in education and lifestyles. He spends his extra time ruffling feathers and challenging time-tested truths.]

[Articles previously published in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. Used by permission of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.]

RELATED LINKS:

BEING A RELEVANT PARENT

MIDNIGHT STORM

CONFESSIONS OF A ROOKIE PARENT

COOKING WITH CHILDREN

THE WALK

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