Sometime late this summer, my life is going to change in the most spectacular, delightful, crazy and poop-filled way possible. I am going to become a dad.
It’s hard to describe quite how this makes me feel. Perhaps the great Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant said it best:
I didn’t know whether or not I was ever going to be a dad. And I was more than OK with not ever being one. A consolation prize of total freedom and multiple trips throughout the world holds a certain appeal. But now that our child is on the way, I’m glad we picked the door we did.
I clearly remember the night I found out.
Unfortunately, I was in a tremendous amount of pain when my wife dropped the P-bomb. (I don’t think that is going to catch on as a euphuism for pregnancy, but it was worth a shot.) I had pinched a nerve in in my lower neck/upper back a few days before and after eight hours of sitting upright in an office chair I was not in the best of moods. I could not move my head in any direction without pain and just wanted to go home, lie down and try to forget that my neck once could function properly.
I picked up my wife – who works in the city – from the train station, as I do most days on my way home from my job, and we stopped at Starbucks before finishing our trip. I was grumpy. I don’t think I even ordered anything just to spite my neck as grumpy people in pain tend to do irrational things.
She then told me the news. (The P-bomb, as it were.) That we were going to have a child. That I was going to be a father.
I no longer felt any pain. It was gone. Just like that. (It would soon be back. I discovered that night euphoria kills pain for just about 10 minutes before it returns with a vengeance, angrier than ever because you didn’t order that mocha from Starbucks.)
But, for those 10 minutes, I was pain-free and ecstatic. (I was still ecstatic afterward. Just also in pain again.) Me? A father? It just felt so right.
It’s been about three months since that night. I’ve read about our child’s development as the weeks have gone by. One week a blueberry. Another week a tangerine. I’ve seen our child do flips inside of my wife’s belly during an ultrasound. I’ve waited uncomfortably as we went through genetic testing.
Through it all, I’ve kept my feelings slightly below the surface. While I am excited, I have tried not to show it too much. There is still a lot of time before I get to meet our child. And I am a realist. I know that things can go wrong. But – as I told my wife as were waiting for the genetic results – I have hope and faith that all will be well. And I will continue to hold to that as our child continues to grow. Because, well, it’s all I can do.
I’m sure some people will ask me whether I’m nervous about becoming a father. I’m not. I feel like I’ve always been prepared to be a dad.
The rational part of my brain (yes, it does exist) reminds me that there will be sleepless nights, tantrums, a hole in the bottom of my wallet that will continue to increase in size. The rational part reminds me that there will be days when our child will be terrible, horrible, no good and very bad. Maybe even in that order.
But I feel prepared for all that. And – more importantly – excited for all the wonderful, spectacular, good and very awesome moments that come with having and raising a child.
I’ve always been someone of few needs. I’m a pain to shop for because I rarely ever want anything new. My Christmas lists usually looks like this:
But I couldn’t ask for a better gift that this. I’m going to be a father. A dad. A daddy.
And you know what?
• Joe Grace is a longtime journalist and writer who lives in the Chicago suburbs. Please support Going for Gusto by liking the Facebook page at Facebook.com/GoingForGusto. You can write to Joe at email@example.com.
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