Life has a funny way of disorienting you. It can grab you, blindfold you, spin you round, and shove you forward in directions unknown. Then you remove the blindfold and look around wildly at your new reality and maybe there's a moment of confusion or even mild terror. But you stop. You take a deep breath. Maybe you close your eyes, count to ten. Then you look on your new surroundings with new eyes and you smile and you think, Yes. I can do this.
Realizing I am going to be a father soon has been one of these disorientating moments. Not in a panic-laden oh-my-god-what-am-I-going-to-do kind of way. Nothing so dramatic as that. Just, you know, a little dizzying.
Don't get me wrong. I'm extremely happy and excited. Whenever I look over at the ultrasound photo taped to my cubical wall--the one showing a clear profile of my baby with what looks like a subtle smile on his or her face--a warm feeling of love wells up inside my chest and into my throat.
As happy as I am, let's be honest here (nothing wrong with that, right?). It's a frightening thing, learning you're now going to be one hundred percent responsible for another human being. One who starts out so fragile and dependent on you for its very survival.
The strange thing to me is how I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the big picture. Not the birth, or the feeding, or the diapers, or the long hours and lack of sleep. I'm strangely not bothered by these things one bit. It's looking beyond all that. It's daydreaming of this new person becoming a kindergartner, a teenager, a high school student, and so on. It's the very idea that I have invited another person into my life. It's a commitment that goes beyond any relationship you'll ever have.
They are a part of you, always.
Again, I don't mean to sound apprehensive. I'm not. I just can't help but dwell on these things. My mind is a whirlygig of swishing and spinning thoughts, flying past each other and sometimes colliding in bright bursts of colorful worry.
Silly, I know. Sometimes I just have to process and work through all of my fears and self-doubts until I reach a conclusion on the other side. In this case, my answer is simply this: This new person, this baby... he or she will have a firm hold on my heart and I won't have a choice in the matter. So quit worrying and enjoy it, jackass.
I blame nature for allowing me the time to dwell. While the mother has--at least biologically--an instant bond to the child growing inside her, the father waits. He waits to finally see and feel this new person who has stubbornly remained tucked away for so many months.
For now, I have this ultrasound photo. I swear he or she is smiling.
I know I am.