I can’t wait for this kid my wife’s carrying around in her belly to get here. I can see the day in my head. It will be a great day, a joyous day. It will be the day that people finally stop asking me if I’m excited about being a father.
Because here’s the deal people. No. No I’m not. I’m not excited at all. I’m terrified.
This is a child. An actual human being. A messy, complicated, screwed up person. And I’m the one who’s supposed to be there for him? To teach him how to live? To give him the cognitive and spiritual tools he’s going to need to succeed as an adult? I’m the one he’s going to look up to and think, “Some day, I’m going to be like that“?
No. No no no NO NO NO.
I mean, I get by, okay? I like to think maybe I have a handle on some stuff in my life. But I’m still learning, still growing. There’s so much I don’t know about how to be the kind of man I should be. How am I supposed to help my kid turn out okay, when I haven’t even turned out okay myself yet?
And you know the weirdest thing? When I talk to actual parents about my concerns they’re all, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll figure it out. It just comes naturally.”
Are you KIDDING me? Because I’ve met your kids, and let me tell you something, just because they’re not torturing puppies and making bombs in the basement does not mean they’ve turned out okay. (Actually, strike that last one. Bombs in the basement wouldn’t be so bad. I wanted to build bombs when I was a kid. It shows a certain level of scientific curiosity. Also, I wish I had a basement. Basements are cool.)
I want to raise a son with a work ethic, a son with an inquisitive mind, a son with a kind heart. A son that will one day be a good dad when his turn come around.
So don’t tell me it comes naturally. I’m not the wisest man in the world, but thus far in my life I’ve found that nothing worth having comes naturally.
Lately I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs in my Bible, and while I’m in awe of the wisdom recorded there, for me as a father there’s a tremendous fly in the ointment. Because each new section of the book begins with the phrase “My son…”, and I know who wrote the book of Proverbs, and I know how his son turned out. The wisest man on the earth wrote a book specifically to teach his son how to be the man he should, and that son turned out to be one of the worst kings the nation of Israel had ever seen.
And I’m supposed to do better than that?
So no, with all due respect, I’m not excited. And I’m not going to assume fatherhood will “come naturally”.
I’m planning. I’m reading parenting books, and psychology books. And I’m trying to become the kind of man I would want my son to look up to.
I know there are no certainties in life. I know that at some point he will have to make his own choices whether for right or for wrong. But God help me if I don’t do everything in my power to set him on the right path.