About two years ago, my wife and I bought our first house. A few days after closing, we went to the pound to pick out a dog. Now my wife did not truly want an animal to take care of at that time, but she had a plan for the dog. If I could take care of a dog—another living, breathing, bile-excreting being—I would be able to take care of a baby. She, ultimately, wanted to know if I was ready to be a father. Two years have passed, and we are expecting our first child in September. While I passed the dog test with flying colors, I do not know if I am ready to pass the baby test the same way.
In December we became expectant parents. Over the following months, my wife and I, along with many others, continually believed that we would have a baby boy in September. This belief did not prove valid; instead, we found out about a month ago that God has decided to bless us with a little girl.
Now this realization did not bring about a series of negative words strewn throughout the air; however, while my wife’s shock lasted about a day, my shock brought about a cavalcade of fears. When we were certain that our baby would be John Connor (I know the Terminator reference is there, but honestly we had the name before we realized the reference), I hardly had any apprehension or fear about his life. Now with the coming of Juliette Geniece I am pondering things that I have never thought about before.
While boys carry their own sets of problems and instill fear into their parents for the actions they may commit, I never thought about the problems or fears until I found out God was giving us a baby girl. Shadowing over the joys of having a “daddy’s girl,” thoughts of not having a child who can play baseball professionally crossed my mind. This thought, of course, was and remains a stupid one. However, it started my realization of what I am in store for as well as the sexist connotations I personally have placed on the idea of having a male baby over a female one.
With a boy on the mind, I never thought, What if my son gets pregnant? When can he start dating? or What do I do when he hits puberty? These thoughts, along with others, never entered my mind. Instead, I had selfish thoughts like I can get out of cutting the yard in a few years or My boy can be a professional athlete, not saying that girls can not do these things.
These thoughts may have surfaced because I am a male and an only child; whatever the case, these thoughts did not transfer over to my daughter. The optimistic thoughts turned to pessimistic fears. I began to think along the lines of Weldon Kees, who in his poem “For My Daughter” states the various reasons he does not have a daughter. I began to think about the heartache she will cause me; my dog can’t do that. My daughter will leave me, and I will give her away. It is my job. I started to feel more of a protective instinct instead of one that would allow me to let her do what she wants.
In many ways, I became a sexist father. Before my son even entered the world, I beamed with joy at the thought of wrestling, fishing, playing video games, etc. When my daughter came into view, I did a complete 180. What does this say about me? What does it mean? Personally, I think the normality of this occurs more than individuals want to admit. Being a man, I know what boys enjoy doing. Being an only child, I have no idea what little girls want to do or what they enjoy. In the years to come, I will learn these things, and she will hopefully learn the things that I enjoy. Hopefully Juliette will look forward to learning how to play the guitar with me, beating me in Madden (as if that will ever happen), or learning how to fish with me.
Juliette has not arrived, completely, in this world (she will be here soon), however, she has arrived in my heart. Even though she still resides in the organic material that my wife carries, she has taught me a couple of valuable lessons. She has shown me the reality that God knows what he is doing in our family’s life, and she has ultimately shown me that as much as I try to not stereotype or judge groups of people, I do. This realization shocks me, and I believe that I am not the only one that felt this way. I hope that I am. For the rest of my life, I will experience the ups and downs of parenthood, no matter what happens.