Almost nine weeks ago now—on Father’s Day (how poetic)—Corinne and I found out that we’re going to have a baby. Wow. That’s actually all I said when we found out: “wow.” You always hear about people “trying” to have kids. With us…there was no trying. It just happened. And all I could say is “wow.” We had always dreamed and talked about being parents but who knew it would…actually happen. But now that some of the edge of the surprise has worn off we are absolutely elated. I can’t believe we’re going to be parents (!!!). I was talking with Don, my father-in-law, about how I just don’t feel like it’s hit me yet and he said that it never really hit him until the baby actually came out. I guess that kind of thing can change your life.
I’ve been sort of taking notes about things that I’ve wanted to remember and that I’ve wanted to write about ever since we found out. There are so many thoughts, conversations, and prayers that I just wish I could somehow record or keep track of but it just seems like this baby stuff goes at a million miles an hour. All you can do is hold on for the ride. Having a baby is such a life-changing and sobering event (here I am in my second month of being a…um…prenatal father and my life is already changed).
I have this great book called “Becoming A Dad,” and in it, one of the authors, talking about something completely unrelated, mentions how many sacrifices that fathers make. I can’t remember what he was talking about, but he really empahsized that as a father (or a mother) we will make a lot of sacrifices: we will sacrifice free-time, couplehood, money, privacy, sleep, freedom, and quiet, just to name a few. As our baby develops more and more, and grows inside Corinne, these sacrifices are imminently approaching. It’s like getting on a roller-coaster: you know as you slowly climb to the top of the apex, that the drop to come is inevitable; it’s only a matter of time. And after that, our lives are completely changed.
This leads me to the first major issue that I’ve dealt with, not just in this whole pregnancy thing, but also in my life, as I have graduated school and look towards getting a job and moving to a new city: loss of control. Donald Miller has quickly become my favorite author over the past few months and he opens his book “Searching for God Knows What” with this author’s note:
“Sometimes I feel as though I was born in a circus, come out of my mother’s womb like a man from a cannon, pitched toward the ceiling of the tent, all the doctors and nurses clapping in delight from the grandstands, the band going great guns in trombones and drums. I unfold and find flight hundreds of feet above the center ring, the smell of popcorn in the air, the clowns gather below amazed at my grace, and all the people chanting my name as my arms come out like wings and I move swan-like toward the apex, where I draw my arms in, collapse my torso to my legs, roll over in perfection, then slowly give in to gravity. My body falls back toward earth, the ground coming up quick, the center ring growing enormous beneath my falling weight.
“And this is precisely when it occurs to me that there is no net. And I wonder, What is the use of a circus? and Why should a man bother to be shot out of a cannon? and Why is the crowd’s applause so fleeting? and…Who is going to rescue me?"
I absolutely love that quote. When I first read it, I had just graduated and was looking for jobs. I could so identify with his feeling here: I had just gotten out of school, I had done well and my family was proud. Expectations were high, and I was—or, thought I was—well-prepared for my smooth transition into the working world. And as everything climaxed at the peak of the excitement, I looked down, and…no net. There wasn’t a job waiting for me. There weren’t people calling me and begging to work for them. There were a million places to work, and I really had no idea which one was best for me (or for that matter, which one would actually hire me). I was met with a cold, and emotionless job-market with little sympathy or need for an excited, idealistic, fledgling designer. I had somehow lost control. My fate was in the hands of someone—anyone—who was desperate enough to hire me.
So that sets the stage for the big news that in nine months, we were going to be parents. I mean, when it rains, it pours. This all further solidified this harrowing and relentless…loss of control. This baby was coming in nine months no matter what we did. It was coming, and when it came, we’d better be ready; put another way, something had better save us. Just like when you hope that you'll survive that inevitable drop down the rickety rails that forces your stomach up into your throat.
But amidst all of this chaos and loss of control, I remember hearing these words to a song play over and over again in my head; literally, this chorus was everywhere I went:
Give to the wind your fears.
Hope, and be undismayed.
For the Lord, He hears your sighs
and counts your tears.
And He will lift up, He will lift up…
He will lift up your head...
...And so shall this night,
Soon end in joy.
It will soon end in joy.
And that’s what I repeated over and over as I started looking for jobs, as we prayed for our baby, and as asking God turned into begging God, and as we faced the inevitable drop that we hoped and prayed we'd be ready for. Hoping and praying that it would soon end in joy.
So despite this loss of control and frightening anticipation, I knew that we’d be okay. It might not be fun, and we might have to eat lots of spaghetti-o’s, but we were going to make it. Eventually, we would be okay. And this is when I started thinking about the responsibility that I had taken on when I got married. My wife, in, now seven, months, is going to be professionally incapacitated. She will take on her beautiful function as a mother (possibly the most noble profession that I can think of). And she is so excited! And I’m so excited for her! This is something that she has wanted ever since she was a little girl. But with that, comes my responsibility to provide for my family. Put bluntly: by the time the baby comes, I have to have a job.
I've thought about this a bit before, but I'm realizing it only now, that this time in my life—getting married, graduating college, getting a job, having a baby—is my passage to manhood. I know, I know, that probably sounds really goofy. But I really believe that every man goes through a time when he realizes that he’s no longer a boy. He graduates to being a man. For me, I realized that this transition from serving myself and looking out for number one, to having to be a humble servant to others (mainly my wife and kids) is my rite of passage. Up until now, either someone has taken care of me, or I’ve taken care of myself. Now, I realized, my most important responsibility is to take care of and serve these other people in my life. What a realization! It’s really pretty cool. I don’t think you’re ever a man until you actually believe it yourself…and once you do, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. I am a man. And I serve my wife and soon, my kids. I have put aside my previous ways, and have a new set of priorities. And I am a man. *maniacal Tarzan yell here*