When it comes to parenting, does financial responsibility trump quality time?
Any day now my first child is due to be born. It’s hard for me to know where the excitement ends and the fear begins.
When my wife announced that we were expecting, our friends and family were as thrilled about it as we were. At the end of the congratulatory banter and their unsolicited sharing of parenting tips some couldn’t help but add with a chuckle, "You can’t even imagine how hard it’s going to be. But it’s sooo worth it."
The you have no idea how hard it’s going to be theme has definitely been repeated over and over again throughout our pregnancy. Even strangers in the grocery stores find it necessary to warn us about the utter exhaustion and delirium we are about to face.
I have to admit, hearing that this is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done is freaking me out -- a little.
Thus far, I’ve been really enjoying the prospect of fatherhood. You know, fatherhood in theory. I see my beautiful wife, with her gorgeous belly stretching halfway across the room (is it weird that I love the way she looks pregnant?) and I feel proud of how well she’s doing and how strong and healthy she is while growing our child.
I never thought I could feel so much love. My baby girl is moving, kicking and rolling inside my wife – how cool is that?! I know that our child will only bring more good things and more joy-filled moments into our life.
(Cue the feel-good music...) I know, right?
And yet, every morning when I wake up, I can’t help but lean over the bed, over my wife’s belly, and sing a song of affirmations to Isabella, our little girl soon to be born. "You are healthy. You are beautiful, and smart, and successful, and safe. Your life is filled with joy. And you sleep through the night!" I sing with a laugh.
But despite all the hopeful wishes and loving feelings, I can’t help but feel a ball of fear in my own stomach growing larger and larger the closer we get to the due date. As excited as I am, I’m still really worried.
As a coach and motivational speaker, I always tell people that the best way to deal with fear is to face it head-on and challenge its validity, which means naming the fear and talking about it.
When you do, you may find that your fears are unfounded, or at the very least, grossly exaggerated. That’s what I’m hoping will happen if I name my daddy-to-be fears aloud. So here goes:
My 3 Biggest Fears About Fatherhood Are:
1. What if I can’t be there as much as I want to be?
My parents worked a lot while I was growing up. I was a latchkey kid who came home to an empty house every day after school. I don’t want that for my child. I want to be there when Isabella takes her first step. I want to be the kind of dad who helps her with homework, teaches her to ride a bike and reads her a bedtime story every night before tucking her in. But I know myself and I love my work. I love coaching people. Currently, I work too much to be the kind of dad I want to be. What if changing the amount of hours I work proves too hard? What if consistently providing for my family means that I can’t be there for them as much as I want? I’ve got some big changes to make in this department, and that worries me.
2. What if all my preparations aren’t enough?
We’ve taken a birthing class and read all the books our friends recommended. And yet, I still hear, Nothing will prepare you for this. Wait, what?! Are you trying to scare the crap out of me? What is it that I’m not prepared for? If you know this, why don’t the books cover it? Ughhhh… I’ve been told that when you have a child, some previously hidden extra gear kicks in to provide you with the energy you need to take care of that baby. I really hope my “extra gear” works properly.
3. Will I be the great dad everyone says I’ll be?
I have eight nieces and nephews. I’m known as Super Uncle. I’m the one who chases the kids around at barbeques, constructs giant slip’n’slides in the backyard, and makes everyone laugh. But at the end of the day, I can hand all those kids back over to their moms and dads. And I'm glad because keeping kids entertained is exhausting I tell ya! But when I’m a dad, I can’t just hand over my child when I’m tired and need some recovery. Hey, maybe that’s what makes it so hard? Ya think?
Despite my fear of the unknown when it comes to being a father, I can’t help but be overcome with excitement.
I know deep down that I’m going to be a good dad.
What I’m most excited about is discovering life again through the eyes of my daughter. I’m excited about who I am going to become and for the amazing qualities she will challenge me to rise into.
I hope that through my wife’s and my example, she will learn to do what she loves and not what others expect her to do. I hope she chooses the thoughts that bring her happiness and to be grateful every day for what she has and who she is.
I hope she will learn to master fear and move towards love. That means living completely, so that at the end of your life, you slide into your grave sideways, dirty, scarred and having used everything that God gave you.
We will teach her to never settle for anything less than her biggest dreams.
Above all, I want her to be happy and know that I will always love her.
Welcome to this world Isabella.
From your excited, very proud, very nervous, prepared-yet-unprepared dad.
I love you!