In seven short weeks (or long weeks if you ask my wife) I’m going to be a father for the second time. This time around I’m much calmer and have far less anxiety about the whole process. Maybe because I’ve long since accepted I have no idea what I’m doing. I think fatherhood works more smoothly that way.
Not that I’m ignorant or don’t try it’s just that child rearing is a curve ball followed by several curve balls. You rarely hit one out the park. You never know what’s going to happen, when or why. I didn’t want to accept that initially. My know-it-all nature fought back against the idea that parenting couldn’t be mastered.
At first I read everything in sight. I may be the only man ever to read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” cover to cover. I devoured baby websites; really I was on Babycenter.com every day! Yes, I’m still ashamed. I took copious notes and prepared for Lamaze class like I prepared for exams back at Howard. I subsequently annoyed my wife (and later my sister-in-laws) with my newfound baby knowledge.
My first clue should have been how wildly different my daughter’s birth process was from the books, websites and classes. About two weeks into fatherhood I realized nothing prepares you for being a father. One sleep deprived night the kid, after waking from a relatively long nap, being fed and wearing a clean diaper, cried uncontrollably for ten minutes straight. I threw up my hands and surrendered to my ignorance. She stopped crying almost instantly and looked at me and said, “Daddy, I’ve been waiting for you to admit you have no idea what you’re doing. Now convince mommy of the same and I think things are going to work out with us.” We’ve been good ever since.
Which brings us to baby #2. As I said earlier, I am much calmer about becoming a parent again. I haven’t even looked for a book, website or class on raising child #2 though I’m sure several exist. I’m also spending far less time visiting baby websites, though my well known affection for message boards still draws me to baby sites occasionally.
Part of the reason for my calm preparation is that I have two and a half years of on the job training. Obviously my unknowns are knowns now (huh?). The other part of is having realized parenthood is not a test you can prepare for I just want to enjoy the process.