And Baby Makes Three
I'm gonna be a dad. As many times as I tell myself that phrase, it still doesn't quite seem real. Regardless, two months from now at this time, if all goes well I should be knee-deep in diapers and relatives who know so much better than me about what to do for this and that.
For those of you already versed in the experience of being a parent, let me apologize in advance for what surely sounds naive and goofy -- but I'm gonna be a dad, and I really haven't been able to wrap my arms around that rather awesome concept.
Until now, that is.
Over the past few weeks, a nursery has steadily taken shape in what was our study. My wife and I moved out what had been a gargantuan collection of garbage in that room -- old receipts, photos, chewing gum wrappers, atlases featuring nations that no longer exist, unopened boxes of items that Mrs. Chase had once deemed indispensable (a candle-making set, greeting cards for every occasion and, so help me, a bingo kit) -- and slowly filled the room with a crib and bassinet and assorted frilly frills fit for a baby girl.
And so it is starting to sink in that, come Christmas, I will have a daughter. Even writing the word -- "daughter" -- is both exhilarating and scary (much like every female I've ever known).
I was awake this morning before the sunrise. When I went out to get the morning paper, I ended up fixating on a single star in the sky and subsequently freaked myself out with the silliest of daydreams. How will I first tell my daughter about what it means to make a wish upon a star? Will she know what "wish" means by then? If not, how do you really explain wish? And will it confuse her later when she is introduced to the more pop culture notion of what a "star" means? And how easy will it be for me to keep her from following in her dad's footsteps of watching too much damn TV? And how difficult will it be to clean up my language?
Etc., etc. The worries and little anxieties tumbled through my head and out my ears and made little splat sounds on the driveway. I could not curtail the swirl of thoughts that came a-pourin'.
For those of you who have already gone through the new parent routine, I have what might be a strange question: In the countdown to Baby Day, did you find yourself suddenly musing on all the experiences, be them pivotal or innocuous, of your childhood and adolescent years?
That has certainly been my experience. I find myself thinking about aspects of growing up that I took for granted and hadn't really considered, that I will now have a role in shaping for my to-be child. Things like sleepovers (or slumber parties -- I forget what term is appropriate for what gender), that terrifying first day at school, forming a crush on someone, eating dinner together as a family, Saturday morning cartoons (is there even such a thing anymore?) and the like. I remember how everything seemed so big, so important, so interesting when I was little. And I wonder about all the weird and wonderful imprints that the world of 2006 and beyond will have on a life for which I'm partly responsible.
I catch myself thinking about what a monumental influence my parents were, and still are, in my life. I fret about whether my daughter will inherit some of my less enviable traits: crummy vision, asymmetrical thumbs, allergies, a weakness for plastic bubblewrap. I worry about whether she will be self-confident. I worry about whether she will torch a building for the insurance money. I worry about how I will handle it when she reaches adolescence and is as embarrassed and revolted by her parents as I was of mine when I was at that age.
Yeah, yeah, I know: The worrying will never stop. That's what they tell me, anyway.
Our nursery is beginning to take shape. Baby gates are now up in some doorways of the house. Our two spoiled-rotten-to-the-core dogs are starting to sense that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Good God Almighty, I'm gonna be a dad.