Of all the questions I hear most often these days – “How is your wife feeling?” and “When is the baby due?” and “Wow, have you been working out?”- the one that gives me the most pause is “Are you ready?”
Sometimes that’s followed with “to rumble?” and then things get real in a hurry, but usually it’s obvious that they are really just asking me if I’m prepared for the awesome responsibility of becoming a father.
Most of the time, I acknowledge the person’s superficial interest and half-hearted feint at concern by offering one of three quick responses – “Yes?” or “I hope so!” or “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess” – and then moving on to something else. After all, most people that ask don’t really care. They’re just being polite. And nosy.
The question is the dad-to-be’s equivalent to the constant “how are you feeling?” query that pregnant women are faced with, and – as I mentioned above – it’s easy to dismiss. But should I deign to give it some real thought, it can send me spiraling into an existential black hole that can only be filled with crying jags, drunken fisticuffs and some cutting.
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Is it even possible to really be ready to become a parent?
For women, it’s different. Their bodies start gearing up immediately and they have no choive but to confront the changes head on. But for a guy it’s all largely theoretical until the little creature makes it’s way out of the darkness and into the light. And no amount of study or visualization or whatever can match up to the real thing. It’s got to be a bit of a shock.
Believe me, I’ve prepped a fair amount. I’ve read some books, seen some videos, gotten advice from friends; I’ve stocked up on baby supplies and put together a crib and decorated a nursery; I’ve even made a list of all the awesome things I have to stop doing once the baby lands, and I’m sure I’ll even get around to stopping doing them at some point. But even with all that preparation, can I ever be ready?
I don’t think so. Ready or not, he’s coming.
I don’t care if you’re a 45-year-old guy who’s been raising other people’s babies for twenty years or a 15-year-old kid with a pregnant girlfriend; when the baby is born and you’re faced with taking care of a brand new human being FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, there’s no way to feel ready. Nothing can prepare you for this except this. You’re entering a whole new world and there’s little you can do to ease the transition. Which is kind of terrifying…
Except for the fact that I am so fucking ready I can’t believe it. I’ve never so much as touched a diaper in my life but when this baby comes I’m gonna set records.