Oh, to be expecting. A magical time, really. Nine months of mystery in which parenthood is a locked door and you spend most of your time imagining what it’s like on the other side.
Having now lived nine months on the other side, I have some insider information.
My earliest memory is moving into the home I’d eventually grow up in. I was probably two, maybe three. I remember the kitchen counters being as tall as the Eiffel Tower and I remember the backyard was dirt.
That’s it. My earliest memory and that’s all I remember.
I don’t remember my mom or dad. I don’t remember diapers or teething. From age zero to age four, I don’t remember anything.
This is nothing shy of a tragedy. I understand that now. I understand that the hardest years of my parents’ life were the ones I don’t remember. At all.
So, Mom and Dad, accept this as a belated thank you. Because I understand now what you went through and it deserves recognition (albeit 32 years late).
Before having a child, I had a lot of questions.
What will she look like?
Will she be healthy?
How will my wife handle labor?
Who will I become?
Let’s be honest: the first few weeks with a newborn is strange. You’ve waited nine months imagining your new life ahead of you, and somewhere in that wonder world fantasy of flowers and rainbows was your doe-eyed newborn child sitting calm as a monk in a Moses basket. And every time you looked at her, you couldn’t imagine loving anything more.
The reality of this fantasy world is your house is a mess, your newborn seems to be forever crying, and that doe-eyed look is really just a blank stare that says, “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”
Labor is a shadowy figure. For months, it peers in your windows at night. It hides under your bed and in the closet. It’s faceless and unknowable. At times your imagination gets the best of you and your fictitious labor suddenly becomes some torturous scene from the movie Saw. And I’m just a guy. I’m not doing the heavy lifting. I can’t imagine the kinds of horrors women dream up.