My friend Eric Lackey told me that when he and his wife left the hospital after the birth of his son, he looked down at this tiny human being in his arms and said, “They’re just gonna let us walk outta’ here with this?”
In just over three months, we will be taking home a newborn baby from the hospital and will probably be asking the same question. I’m reading a book right now by Stephen James and David Thomas titled Becoming a Dad. It’s been good to think through the questions they ask with each chapter. Some of the better questions include:
- Do I want to be a father?
- What if I screw up another person’s life?
- What if my house is too small?
- What if something terrible happens to my child?
- How do I prepare?
Along with the the questions have come some guidance from the authors, both of whom are therapists and fathers. They’ve brought up two important ideas which have reverberated in my mind this week.
First, my role as a husband is my first priority, since “the most effective thing we as men can do as parents is commit to growing an maturing as husbands.” As all-consuming as this newborn will be during the days ahead, if I lose focus on my priority role as a husband, then I will be less of a father.
The second point is about whether or not I’m ready for this. For most situations, I don’t like going in unprepared if something is going to be expected of me. I hate impromptu speeches or time-sensitive situations that require a quick decision without all the facts. But put me in front of a group of 10,000 with all my ducks in a row, and I’ll be fine. With just a few months to go before Jude’s arrival, I can say with all confidence that the ducks are scattered all over the place with little hope of lining up nice and neat any time soon.
So I’m not ready, and I won’t be in June. But that’s okay.
There are some good books out there on being a parent and everyone has an opinion about the best way to do things. Fact is, nobody has universal expertise on raising children. What worked for them might turn your home into a portable zoo. With every parent I talk to, it is becoming increasingly clear that this venture into parenthood is full of mystery, wonder, and unpredictability. The authors of Becoming a Dad made it clear that I have “some idea about what to expect and no idea at all.”
Ultimately, they are not trying to provide a definite answer book on dadhood, but they have done a fine job of breaking apart some of my naivete and misguided expectations, while also giving me hope that the difficulties ahead are filled with purpose, even if that’s hard to see with only a few hours of sleep.
And yes, I’m savoring every zzzzz while I’ve got them.