Five years ago, two weeks before Detective Munch was born, I wrote a post about whether I felt ready to be a parent. I did not feel ready. I knew nothing about babies, and the fact that I thought babies were the hard part proves I knew nothing about parenting.
In that sense, nothing has changed. I still don’t know what I’m doing, and it’s been long enough since I’ve held a newborn and changed a diaper that I might as well be starting over.
Next week, after five years of being a dad and (give-or-take) four years since I’ve had a baby to care for, we’re hitting the reset button.
I can’t lie; I’ve been freaking out.
When I wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night (I’m old!), already exhausted without a newborn, I often wonder what the hell we’re doing. I’ve aged a fair amount in the five years since the last baby, thanks to that last baby, and while I’m “only” 39, I’m no spring chicken anymore. Getting up every two hours to feed a baby is not my idea of a good time (yes, I’ll be handling my share of feedings, Mom and Buried gets tired too!).
In those hazy, half-awake hours, I can’t see the forest for the trees. All I have are nerves.
It’s not so bad during the day. The stress is still there, but the excitement is too. Free from the shadows my anxiety prefers, I can remember the good stuff about having a baby and a toddler. In fact, despite what my tweets (and countless older blog posts) may indicate, five years later I mostly remember the good stuff. Which is part of the reason I’m so nervous! Without much in my memory about the late nights and exhausted days and crying it out and trying to feed, I feel as unprepared as I did the first time.
Hopefully the experience we’ve gained will help us weather the storms a newborn brings, but in truth, nothing prepares you for having a baby, not even already having had a baby.
I know it will be fine when he arrives. I know I’ll love him, even when I don’t, and my anxiety will fade away. Partially because it won’t matter anymore, and partially because it will be a luxury I simply can’t afford!
Before you have kids, you worry about how it will impact your life, what will change, what you’ll have to sacrifice, who you’ll become. After the kid is born? There’s no time for such speculation. Once you’re in the shit, it just becomes your life, and you have no choice but to live it. And we will.
I can deal with reality, and I’ve dealt with this particular reality before. Yes, I was younger. No, I didn’t have a five-year-old who is dealing out increasingly more “real” challenges every day. But I still have my wife, and she still has me, and despite the fact that Detective Munch won’t be changing diapers, he’ll still be able to help out a little (whether he likes it or not). When The Hammer falls, we’re going to have to take shelter in each other. I think we’ll be fine.
But the waiting is killing me, far more than the ensuing vasectomy will (that’s right; there’s no way I’m hitting the reset button again!).