At some point it hits you. Fuck. This is actually real. This is actually happening. I’m going to be responsible for an entire living breathing human baby. Fuck. What? We’re having a child. We really are.
Even if you’ve spent years trying and wishing and hoping, the fact that it’s happening is still a surprise. You think, no, maybe it’s all going to go wrong. Maybe it’s only slightly true. Maybe it won’t last. So you don’t contemplate it at first. You’re waiting for something to change. Except it doesn’t change. You’re still going to be a parent.
I don’t know if it matters what age you are. I’m heading for 40 in a month or so. But I don’t think it’d matter if I were 18 or 25 or any age. You’re. Never. Ready. Bang! You’re a parent. A parent. A father. A dad. Fuck. Really? The months are counting down. Four flew by, five to go. Locked and loaded. Get ready or go home.
I don’t want to write this next bit, but I will: I think I’ve changed already. I don’t want to admit that because it removes a couple of jenga blocks from the cosy certainties I’d grown throughout my adult life, namely parents aren’t that special and epiphanies aren’t real. But maybe I was wrong all along. Because I cannot help but feel like I’m changing. And that change can only lead me towards asking a kind of epiphanous question: is this what I was always meant to be? Is this the most important thing I’ll ever do? Is this – oh god, here it comes – my destiny?
Well, I’m not sure about that last part. It’s pretty far from your destiny to be a parent if your baby-making equipment is damaged right out of the box and you rely on advances in science unthinkable a couple of generations ago – and a lot of money – to give yourself a forty-five percent chance of succeeding. And if you’d asked me when I was 20, or 25, whether I thought I’d ever be wanting a baby at all, let alone desperately trying to have one, I’d have said no in pretty unequivocal terms.
But now, here we are. You do change and that change can be for the better. Or if not better just different. You change. The things you want and need and care about change.
Fuck, a baby? Me?
One nice thing about being a bit older – or maybe having been through some of those changes – is that you’re not careful to conceal your terror. It’s terrifying. It’s scary and brilliant and amazing and one great big horror show all at once. It’s everything you want and everything you worry about. It’s knowing you can’t ever be just you ever again, but realising you’re glad about that.
Fucking hell though, me a father? Really?
Again, you get older, you see yourself fail at a lot of things you thought you’d coast through; you watch yourself be surprisingly good at things that other people find impossible. You realise you have capabilities and strengths. You learn what you can and can’t do. You realise there are more cans than can’ts. You feel ready.
Ready. Ready at last. It won’t be easy. That much I do know. But I feel a strange warmth. From everyone I speak to. You can do it, they seem to be saying, you deserve it, they say without saying it. People I hardly know wish me well, and I know they mean it; people I’ve known for years wish me well, and I know they mean it to.
Nothing else will ever be the same. Good. Bring it on, baby. I’m ready for you.