It was another dull January evening. I was sitting in my home office. I had just finished putting the final plans together for a retreat I was organizing. I was staring blankly at my computer screen waiting for inspiration to come crashing down. Instead, my wife walked in. She said she had something to show me.
Inspiration seemed a far way off so I followed her mutely. She took me into our washroom and showed me a device I had seen once before. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but she pointed at it and smiled. I looked back at her and smiled. I was trying to be empathetic – I had no clue what she was happy about. I thought this might be some kind of new make-up applicator and she was happy to have it. If she was happy about this new eyeliner applicator, lipstick protector, then so was I. The whole scene felt a bit “Oprahish” but I tried to roll with it. I was still smiling at the simple happiness I thought my wife had gotten from this new device, when she said the four words that changed everything,
[WE’RE HAVING A BABY] What?!?!?!? How did this innocent would be make-up applicator be capable of such life altering news? I stared at it dumbly; I looked back at her smiling face. I looked back down at this magical device. I stared back at her smile, which seemed to extend beyond her face. My mind started to do back-flips.
And then I started to run. I ran all around our small apartment. When she tried to grab me, I said “No, no! That’s how this all got started!” My body was moving as fast as my brain. Thoughts were racing through my mind. I could not sit down! This was really “the big one.”
It’s now been a few months and finally I am able to gather some of my thoughts together on my pending fatherhood.
We all go through a lot of changes in life. We go to school, get married, get jobs, have kids and then retire. We watch loved ones die and soon we begin to ponder our own mortality. But I am pretty sure nothing changes us as much as having a kid.
Just think of it – you are the primary agent of formation in this new life. In 20 years this person could be in therapy or in medical school, depending partly in how you do as a parent. Normally, I love new challenges but this … come on it’s a baby!
I start to think at how selfish I am. How am I going to help this little person get through life when I struggle so much on my own? This new human is going to change everything. It’s no longer about me, or my wife or our life as a couple. It will now be all about the baby.
My sister had her daughter two years ago. She also had a son just recently. While I was recently playing with my niece and nephew, I stumbled onto something truly profound. Children cause you to discover a deep type of love that you never thought you had. When I am with those kids I find that I love them in a way I have never felt before. It is a nurturing, deep love. It is different kind of love that I don’t even have for my wife. I can’t imagine how my heart and mind will register when my child is slipped into my arms for the first time.
Now I have to confess another unexpected change. I know the woman is supposed to get emotional because of the hormonal revolt that takes place inside her body. But I never imagined I would be getting so weepy all of a sudden. I try to be fairly stoic when it comes to crying. However, I’ve been crying during movies, sad songs and even commercials. Again, this kid is affecting my life in deep ways already.
My mind floats back thirty-four years ago when my Dad discovered he was going to be a father for the first time. What were his thoughts? Did he run around his small house in India? Was he filled with dread, excitement and … fear?
My dad did the best he could. There are not too many classes on rearing children out there and we seem to get mixed messages from the “experts”. The only thing that I am learning is to do everything in stages. One step at a time.
Right now we prepare the best we can for a safe delivery. Make sure the little guy has as smooth a ride into this world as possible. Later we will get into diapers and mid-night feedings. Then we move on to first steps, first words. Soon after, there’ll be the first day of school and then the awkwardness of the teen years … college, marriage.
And before you know it, I’ll be on the receiving end of a phone call from a young man or young women blurting out the words: ”Hey! You’re going to be a grand-pa!” And the whole scene replays itself once more.
Am I going to be a good dad? I’ll let you know in twenty years.
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