Great Expectations

The countdown is running. As of today I believe I am 15 weeks into a 40 week timeline. And yes, you read that right, everyone calls it nine months, but it’s 40 weeks.

One of the most frequent questions you will be asked after telling anyone you are expecting a child is, “Are you excited?” It’s such a loaded question, but the expected answer is that you will be absolutely ecstatic. After all, you’re both fulfilling some sort of biological imperative AND you get a cute (maybe) baby out of the deal. Sweet, a two-fer!

To me, that question is far too complex to ever possibly hope to answer truthfully and completely, so I just place my hands in my pockets, shrug up my shoulders, tilt my head, crook the corner of my mouth and say “Oh, yeah. Excited.”

I am excited. I’m pretty good with kids and spend a fair amount of time whenever I’m out spotting and pointing out cute little kids to my wife. But I also am  equal parts terrified, unsure and already not looking forward to certain things, and I think that’s entirely natural. I am excited to welcome a new baby into the world because baby’s are fun. They’re cute and have hilarious rolls of fat in awkward places (fat knees! Who has that?!). They make fun noises and it’s a blast to watch them learn things, especially if you’re the one who taught it to them (a crowning achievement for me remains when I taught my niece to run around going “Om nom nom nom”). I mean, come on, it’s a baby. It’s pretty hard to not find anything at all to like about a baby.

But see where things are going already? I’m excited, but what am I excited for? Cuteness and fun. Those have to rank easily in the top five of things that it’s pretty easy to be excited for. Cuteness and fun do not, for the record, a baby experience make.

I’m terrified about how I’m going to assist a child to grow up into a functional human being. Have no doubts about it, there are approximately eight hojillion bazillion ways to just totally screw up a kid. And I have no doubt that I will instill a healthy numbers of flaws despite any and all of my best efforts. I just hope they’re the small ones. I like to think that I’m good at giving advice. These things are common sense, by and large. When I offer advice, though, I’m shooting from the hip, working on the fly. Frequently I’m postulating ideas about situations and people and the world as I talk, fitting pieces of a puzzle together as I go. A child takes planning. There are behavioral patterns to establish. Examples to set. Disciplinary measures to mete out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any number of books on child-rearing are going to prep me for that.

I’m unsure about how much my life is going to change. Another question you’ll get is “Are you ready for it?” Pfffft. Anyone who says they’re ready is a fool. Hit them in the face, too. They might be on the drugs. You may as well walk up to me and say, “Hey, how are the next two decades of your life going to turn out?” I hope it’s going to be nothing but ridiculous, uncontrollable fun. I know that it won’t be. There are going to be hard times. Sickness and injury. I’m going to powerless to help in situations that will be tearing me up inside many, many times. My wife have been together since May 28, 2001 (note to self: bookmark post in case in a few years I can no longer remember anniversary date). We’ve been married since May 28, 2006. We are not party animals by any means, but we are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. What will happen to my friendships? I don’t doubt that some will change and perhaps even fade away. What will happen to my hobbies? Can I keep writing? What about playing games or watching TV? Reading comics? Hanging out with the guys on Sundays? I don’t know that any of these items will still be things that I can enjoy. I may not miss their lack when the time comes. The decision as to whether or not I can continue them is not mine to make, though. The needs of raising a child will dictate that to me when the time comes.

And what of my wife and I? In close to nine years together, we’ve still never had a major argument. We’ve never yelled at one another. We fight and annoy each other plenty, but they’re the kind of spats you’d have with any of your close friends and forget about as soon as a commercial comes on that you both like. Soon, we’re going to be tired, stressed and opinionated. It’s going to be difficult to tell how we’ll be able to maintain the same degree of emotional involvement and attentiveness with one another. I plan to focus very heavily on keeping this at current, optimum levels, but it might not be possible because that’s just how things go.

I won’t spend too much time on things I’m not looking forward to already, as I have plans for other posts specifically devoted to those items. Suffice it to say that I’m not a huge fan of handling poop.

I’m sure I’m painting the portrait of someone who is not, in fact, jazzed to be having a kid. What I am, though, is a dude who wants a kid, wants to have one around this time in his life, and is trying to be very realistic and very prepared for the ups and downs. I don’t want to have a kid and then be disillusioned by the child. Things are going to change, and be funky and difficult and awesome.

So, am I excited?

Oh, yeah. Excited.

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  1. #1 by Abby on December 12, 2009 - 12:24 AM

    Another excellent post! At the risk of having you say “but how do you know that?!” I would really like to say that I know you will be a great father. And I know that Janelle will be a great mother. And I look forward to reading all it here (until, that is, you turn this blog into a book and become wildly famous for your excellent parenting advice- then I’ll read about it in your books).

  2. #2 by Badmoodman on December 12, 2009 - 5:11 PM

    “Suffice it to say that I’m not a huge fan of handling poop.”

    – – Hmmm, is that big poop or squishy poop?

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