Saturday, November 05, 2005

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.


At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully said, Chase. All those pesky thoughts and worries that fly through your head are pretty universal through most soon-to-be and new parents. The gift of life is one of the greatest gifts you can give. And yet, everything you give your kids, they give back to you a thousand-fold, from the very first moment. Yes, a parent's job is an awesome one in many respects... and yet, you learn so much from them as well. Good luck to you and Mrs. Chase! Can't wait to "impose" all my experiences on you and Mrs. Chase! Add me to the mix!!!

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous L 12 said...

aw, that was so sweet! Those are the kinds of thoughts that make me either really want kids, or want to avoid being near kids for the rest of my life (depending on the day). Clearly, you have no choice :)

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Larry Mondello said...

You're not just going to be a dad, Chase. You're going to be a GREAT dad!

Every kid should be so lucky!

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Tina said...

My kids are 20, 18, and 14; I am not going to be gentle with you, because that sweet little baby girl isn't going to be. Run, run for the hills - but leave your wallet behind.

By the way, if my kids gave back a thousand-fold of what I give to them, I'd be on my privately owned island right now.

Sorry, but with the other comments being so sappy, I felt it my duty to tell you the truth.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say hello to Tina Downer

At 3:04 AM, Blogger Tina said...

(If spoofing the Debbie Downer bit from SNL, I think typing the musical sound really brings it together)

At 9:47 AM, Blogger CGHill said...

It's a full-time job from now on - my youngest is 24, and while I don't have to pick up after him or anything, he's still The Kid - but you won't mind it at all.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pass the tissue Tito.. I can't take it.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Dr. Pants said...

Loving your children is so gay.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Ed Hillary said...

What Dr. Pants actually means is it is so Norgay, as in Tenzing Norgay, meaning you act as a sherpa leading your child through his or her experiences on life's escalation to the summit, or some shit like that.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should print this blog beam out, Chase. Ideally, it would last forever, floating somewhere in ever-expanding cyberspace. But to be sure it doesn't get sucked into a black hole, print it out, save it. Not for yourself. But for her. Not for when she's 10 or 20 or even 30. But when the time is right. When perhaps she herself faces such universal questions. Imagine how precious it would be to have the musings of your own father pondering the same questions before you were born. It is important. It is something she can hold onto even long after you're when your daughter looks skyward and wishes on a star, she and remembers you, she can look at the paper in her hands and read and re-read the the fears, hopes and dreams of her father...

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Conrad Spencer said...

It's cool that you already have a baby picture--ultrasound technology has come so far.

As the proud father of a five year-old, I can say with certainty that, yes, there are still Saturday morning cartoons, but they're not nearly as good as the ones I watched. Regrettably, my son has no clue what a Smurf is.

In answer to your question, of course you muse on your childhood. You think back so you can figure out how to re-create everything that was great about your childhood and how to fix everything that wasn't so great.

Everyone seizes upon little, insignificant landmarks--a particular Christmas ornament, a favorite recipe, a well-worn children's book--that help us to define our childhoods. It's a natural tendency to try to relive our own idealized memories. Some things you can pass on (like my son's newly-formed love of Star Wars), but the past being what it is, some things are gone for good.

You can’t make the world perfect for her, and you won’t be a perfect parent, but that’s okay. Your daughter will develop her own memories and she'll have her own great childhood because she has two parents who love her. Kids are resilient, and as long as they have a loving family they can survive our parental gaffes and missteps.

Don't worry so much. You will be a great dad. Enjoy it.

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Reesha said...

What a lucky little girl. Love, Reesha

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Token Liberal said...

Who the hell is the frightened baby pictured at the top of this bit of overwrought sentimentality?

Did you use clip art to make the column even CUTER???

At 12:23 PM, Blogger aka_monty said...

Please let me offer some belated congratulations (and sympathies) :)

It's going to be a wild ride, daddy-o. You'll love (almost) every second of it.
Pretty soon the worry will just be second nature~~my kids are 10 and I still feel it every morning when I watch my daughter ride off to school. Especially when I saw her riding double WITH. A. BOYCHILD.

My advice~learn to braid hair. ;)
Way to go, Pops.


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