Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the very definition of fear.
Look at me. Just look at me. I’m white as a sheet, my hair is all messed up and an absolute rictus of terror is painted on my face. It’s embarrassing, but I thought you needed to see this; if anything, to drive the point home that I’m not Father material. Merely clutching a baby is enough to send me into a panic spiral worthy of the strongest of medications.
You know, I have a very short list of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. I’ve nearly drown, suffered multiple car accidents, stood in dozens of weddings and once ate at White Castle. But the amount of responsibility and trust that goes into caring for another human life is far beyond the reaches of what I can accomplish as a man. Even learning to play the drums was a real pain in the ass for me, how could I ever reach the level of awareness necessary to raise a kid?
I give my sister all the credit in the world. The way that she expertly handles and cares for Evan must closely resemble the way my own Mother cared for me. He’s showered with attention, always safe from harm and learning from the best. Obviously, this is a hereditary trait that men usually are born lacking. That’s fine with me, however, because I don’t want it. I have plenty of other things that I’m good at, like alienating friends and going to Best Buy every time I get drunk.
That’s how I ended up with the entire Mama’s Family DVD boxed set. I highly doubt I’m going to watch that, sober or otherwise.
I know the plan, though. Me and the Missus are more than likely going to have a baby one day. When that day comes, a switch of undying love and admiration will flick on in my head, instantly transforming me into the amazing Father I thought I never could be. I’ll change diapers, stay up all hours of the night and swear to the Heavens that I will protect and love my child until the end of time.
Until that day comes, I’m perfectly content in being terrified. Suits me just fine.
The Missus is scared, too. She fears that she lacks the Motherly genes necessary to perform at such a demanding level. I always remind her that she’s been wiping the crust out of my eyes for 8 years now, so having a baby might as well be a vacation for her. At least with a baby, there won’t be any sass-back and nightly propositions for sex. We hope.
We have a game plan when it comes to the idea of having children. About once or twice a year, we revisit the Baby Conversation. We take a look at our standard of life, our debt-to-income ratio, our overall goals and plans for the upcoming year and other contributing factors. We take into consideration what we want to do as a married couple, what kind of life we can provide a newborn baby, and if we’re ready to accept the most important responsibility in the world. We use dry-erase boards, transparencies and multiple-colored markers. It’s a good time.
So far, it’s not part of the cards. Five years from now? You never know. The Missus is 23 years old, so it’s not like we’re anywhere near approaching a deadline. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was more sterile than my kitchen countertops. I’d prefer it, actually, so we could adopt one of those Chinese babies I keep hearing so much about. They come pre-equipped with Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
Look at that picture again, though. What an adorable, tiny baby. It’s almost like a slight-of-hand parlor trick. “Never mind the money and life-changing responsibility, he’s so cute! We just have to have one!”
I always try to keep level-headed about this. Babies grow up. They start talking back, running around the house and breaking your breakables. They get older and start getting into trouble at school. They begin hanging out with the wrong crowd. Before you know it, they’re living in a refrigerator box behind the bakery, straining Rubbing Alcohol through yesterday’s toast, and you’re left to wonder where you went so very wrong.
Furthermore, I work over 8 hours a day, sleep 8 hours a night and watch at least 40 hours of TV a week. Throw in some time to eat, pee and work out, and we’re actually approaching what Stephen Hawking likes to call ‘negative time’ at this point. It’s universally impossible, and might actually suck the entire planet into a vortex of darkness and Fisher-Price toys.
People always tell me that if I wait for the right time to have a child, it will never arrive. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with that. I always wait for the right time to do everything, why would I break tradition on the most important decision of my life? Any time I’ve ever jumped head-first into a hastily-made decision, I always end up without a car or in prison.
I think part of the problem is that I get most of my parenting skills from my dad. If you knew my dad, you’d know that he could teach me everything he knew about children during a commercial break. When he was to babysit Evan last weekend, he called my sister and asked if Evan was able to eat steak. My dad also bought Evan a hunting knife for Christmas.
Now that I think about it, I probably inherited my sense of humor from my dad. He knows exactly what he’s doing, which is far funnier than if he was just being lazy and ignorant. I never got the joke when I was younger, but I’ve grown to understand it as an adult. The illusion of ignorance creates a protective shield around you, which allows you to get away with doing things you couldn’t normally do if viewed as a respected and intelligent parent.
This is currently where I stand. Holding that damn baby gave me a feeling of connection and love that I honestly didn’t think I’d ever have. The realization that it’s my destiny to one day have a child scared the holy hell out of me, and now I have to understand that it’s inevitable. That photograph was taken during a split-second moment of clarity, for better or for worse.
Through it all, this was never a question of whether or not I could be a good dad, it was whether or not I could admit that I wanted to be one.
So, do I?
Of course not; are you on crack?