This is not about me. The baby, I mean. I have said before that having a child is largely conceptual for me at this point. I’m preparing as much as can be expected: reading the books, researching the necessary equipment, preparing the house1. I’m measured in my enthusiasm largely because of the biological circumstance I’m in due to being a man2, but I am looking forward to getting down to the day-to-day of fatherhood.
In the meantime, however, I have been granted a long, quiet eye of the storm. My time with my job officially ended over a month ago, and so I have, what amounts to, all the time in the world to gear up, wind down, prepare, relax, or do whatever I want. Some days it’s great because I have little formal responsibility. Other days it’s agonizing because the lack of functional things to do sometimes drives me up the wall. Sure there are daily chores around the house, but short of cleaning every square inch of the house with a toothbrush, it doesn’t take that much time to keep the house presentable3.
This downtime leads to a lot of introspection4 and prognostication. What kind of dad will I be? How will I connect with my child when Kathleen has had a nine-month head start on me? I have a vision for how I want to keep connected with Kathleen as a husband, but how will we keep our heads on straight when we are dealing with stressful first-time parent things? When will this “being a dad” thing kick in on a gut level? Because, let me tell you, it’s not an instinct that has emerged yet.
The next milepost on the road to fatherhood is Wednesday: Kathleen and I find out whether Creature is a boy or a girl. Then, in all likelihood, we’ll pick a name and start referring to Creature as something other than “Creature”5. I’d like to think that’s what snaps the picture into focus for me, but I don’t think it will.
Don’t get me wrong: I am, on a conscious level, totally game for the next stage for our family. But, deep down inside, I’m still feeling like things are how they’ve always been6. If I were still going into an office, the routine would probably carry me quickly through the next 20 weeks, but that’s short-sighted. I’m not looking to wish this downtime away; the storm is going to come with fury soon enough, so enjoying the last few months of quiet comfort is right at the top of the priorities list.
There’s a quiet concern, a touch of self doubt, perhaps, that I’m not cut out for this7. But I know we’re all adaptable to new circumstances. The “new normal” will look vastly different. Frankly, this period of in-betweenness is not normal, nor was it ever meant to be. If there was no baby on the way, I would still be at my old company8. This thing I’m in–this mental state– this is the transitional phase. Just a very slow, quiet one that gives me the freedom to stare at myself in the mirror for way longer than I probably should.
- Though a lot of this may be window dressing. This is one of those you-won’t-know-if-you-can-swim-until-you’re-dropped-in-the-water-type situations. Nothing can prepare a new dad for the experience of having a child except actually having a child.
- Whether you consider this to be an advantage or a disadvantage is entirely dependent on your personal perspective
- I’m also trying to establish somewhat of a sustainable house maintenance routine. Though having articulated this in written form, I now realize how ridiculous it is to try to establish any sort of routine. (shrug)
- AKA: navel gazing
- Yes, that’s actually what we call the baby right now
- And by “always,” I mean the past two years, or so
- I try not to take this feeling too seriously. It has followed me around to every life decision I’ve made, so it could just be a natural state of existence for me
- Or more likely: actively looking for a new job elsewhere