With a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, I like to say I’m an amateur writer and that I’m learning to become a better runner. The truth is, I don’t really practice either affair with much focus. They’re sort of the hobbies I always tell people about but never really spend time on. Sure I write every so often, I’ve been running with barely a once a week frequency lately. Those aren’t really at the hobby level. I can’t even honestly say I dabble.
Coming soon, and in short order, I will be adding amateur parent to the list of things I haven’t practiced enough. My wife and I are expecting our first child this October, a girl. I have a lot of work left to do and it has all found its way to the bottom of my to-do list. Baby books to read, baby name lists to peruse, nursery furniture to browse, probably more I don’t even know about yet.
I haven’t been completely oblivious to it all yet, I have read what to expect. I feel a little sorry for my wife because so far everything has been on her shoulders. My part appears to simply be moral support and “no, you don’t look fat.” (She doesn’t.) All that aside, I still feel woefully unprepared for the literal shit storm that is coming our way. I have never changed a diaper in my life. I don’t even know where to start. I feel like the first few times I will be covered from hand to elbow in some form of excrement or body fluid.
I wonder if my daughter will know that I’m absolutely awful at changing her diaper. I imagine her looking at me with some wide eyes and a smirk that says “really, dude?” Or maybe she’ll be as oblivious as me and it will be the shit leading the shit wearer. Hopefully ignorance truly is bliss. For both her and I.
In an effort to explain myself to my daughter, I have started keeping a journal for her. Sort of an open letter to her from me with the story of how she came into this world. A dash of explanation, a pinch of apologies, and a heap more information than she probably wants about her mother and I meeting and our lives before her.
I have been trying to convey to her how much I love her mother and where we came from before we met. I apologized for all the ways I will embarrass her (including this diary) and all the important days I will miss. Hopefully I will be able to hand her this book one day when it’s right. Hopefully she won’t receive it after I’m gone and before I can give it to her.
It’s funny how different your worldview becomes once a child enters the picture. It wasn’t as much at first. When we first learned Ericka was pregnant, it didn’t really compute to either of us. From the outside, she didn’t look pregnant. She just looked normal. I didn’t feel much different, besides a tinge of excitement and a pang of nervousness. However, as the weeks have ticked by, and more milestones have been met, she’s looking more and more pregnant. The images from her belly are more and more infant like and less lizard like (sorry).
Now it’s starting to feel a lot more real. I look around our new home and imagine what it will be like with a baby crawling around. Our baby. Our child. Slobbering all over the place just like our dog, but in a much, much, cuter way.
I started asking myself within the last few weeks, “what have you done for her today?” I’m a pretty selfish person and this internal dialogue is very new. So the irony so far is this, I answer that question with “I wrote to her.” And “I went for a run today.” There is no better motivation to cultivate my so-called hobbies than to share with my daughter a part of me and to stay in shape so I can be there to hand her that piece.
Pretty soon we’re going to start filling out the nursery with her first things. A baby shower is coming up quickly later this year. Very soon after that we’ll hopefully be holding our happy and healthy baby girl. Asking ourselves, “what can I do for her?”