I am part of a writer’s group on Facebook, and today someone asked for advice to help young fathers make the transition into parenthood. I offered to answer some questions for them, but it got me thinking: what advice do I really have to give?
Let’s find out.
First, let address the more socially acceptable scenario: you and your wife (long-time girlfriend, whatever) have decided to have a baby. What is the first thing you should know?
Well, it’s all your fault. I’m not trying to be funny here, but when a woman says that, it’s true. We, the men, get off light in this whole “creation of life” thing, because aside from the initial effort, it’s all on the mother, who has to carry that burgeoning little human being around for 9 months, while being simultaneously overjoyed and appalled the entire time.
Yep, dads: we suck. Accept that, say “I know” and “I’m sorry” and “I wish I could do something for you” just as often as you can. It might not seem like much, but it is.
Second, the instant you decide to have a child, you are no longer in control of your universe. Your universe will, for at least the next 18 years (and likely longer), be ruled by someone who depends on you for EVERYTHING. Food, shelter, love, clothes, entertainment, wisdom, compassion, discipline: all of it. So if you can’t get behind that facet of the job, I highly recommend that you don’t take it up. Your wants go out the window. All that golf you used to play? Gone. All the high-dollar sporting and event trips you took with your buddies? Gone (or at least severely curtailed, but presume gone). “Alone time” with the wonderful woman who, for some reason, cares about you and stays with you? Yeah, pretty much round-file that for the foreseeable future, too.
Now, assuming that you’ve gone ahead with it after all of what you’ve just read: congratulations. You are in for the ride of your life. No sporting event, night out with the guys, week-long hunting, or whatever is going to be able to compare with the experience of watching a child—YOUR child—grow up.
A break, for a moment, to recognize the other scenario in this little mini-drama: the unplanned pregnancy. If you are dumb enough to not even try to avoid having a baby, and you wind up fathering one, guess what? You STILL get to go through all of the things I outline above. You don’t get a choice. Your penis chose for you, and you get to pay the price. Think on that all you playas, and despair!
An exercise in contradiction awaits you in the early years. You will want them to learn to walk, and then they run around like crazy people! You want them to talk, and then they won’t shut up! You want them to use their brains, and then they start to reason with you like little lawyers!
It’s awesome. Seriously. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without this experience. My own daughter is about to graduate high school and heads to college this fall. Somehow, without my realizing it, I had a role in creating a complete, caring, intelligent, wonderful, human being.
To be fair, I was absent during some of the early years, thanks to Uncle Sam, but I tried to make the most of it when I was around.
In the end, though, remember guys, if you are in this thing, you have to be in this thing. 100%. But never forget that no matter how much effort you put into this thing, that child will still be the mother’s baby. You cannot replace those 9 months of womb-time. My wife and daughter call it their “psychic connection,” but whatever it is, it’s real.
So today, though I have tried to offer some advice and insight to potential fathers, let us not forget tht today is MOTHER’S DAY, and wish all mothers everywhere, from California to Cambodia, from Phoenix to Prague, from New London, Connecticut, to old London, England, a wonderful day full of love from us, the men who are in awe of all they do and have done, for ourselves and our children.
Thank you, moms! We love you!