Things I'm Learning

For those of you who don't know, I'm slated to be a father in a few short months, and I could quite possibly, if I weren't restrained, dance in the streets every day, shake hands and hug everyone I meet, and whistle myself into a silly little happy-pile. It's my hope that every father-to-be feels the same way when they hear their littles are on their way. I know that some aren't. So, here are some things that I've come to learn as this process continues.

1. Do the right thing. I love my wife, wildly, passionately, and with every fiber of my being. Mainly, it's because she's awesome. Secondarily, it's because we've been through a lot together, and the spark still sparks. We talk to each other. We make each other laugh. We learn from each other. I'm lucky. I want to be here. I know some of you guys out there approach pregnancy with a cross, holy water, strands of garlic, and a plague suit. That's actually how you should approach the reason for pregnancy.

If you're going to sleep with a woman (meaning: have sex), be man enough to know the difference between being a douche-bag and being a gentleman. Sex should be reserved for those women who you believe would make great partners. LIFE-partners. I'm not talking about those one-night-stands. You need to quit doing that to those women and start treating them like the people they deserve to be treated. Show these women respect, pull out chairs for them, stand up when they enter a room, tip your hat. There's a lot to be learned from those old black-and-white movies. Never kiss them unless they want to be kissed. Hold her hand, for Chrissake! Then, and only when she's ready, and only when you've decided you want to spend the rest of your life with her, make whoopee.

Then, if you find out you got her pregnant, don't be that guy who turns and runs. You had something to do with that. You have to accept the consequences of your actions, gladly or not. If nothing else, perhaps you'll think twice before "sticking it in."

2. That in there, that little thing, is a life. Despite what your beliefs are, that little thing in her womb is a life, and at 5 weeks there's a heartbeat. You helped create that! Celebrate it! Let all those emotions of uncertainty and anxiety and happiness and joy wash over you. Laugh-cry, dance, and know that you've done something that's still considered a miracle. Soon, it'll be out in the open, and you can call him or her by her name. I say all this to let you know that it's okay to plan. Treat your future child like a child. Read to him or her. Sing. Make sure that your voice is heard. Put your hand on your lady's belly and let that child feel the warmth. All that anger and aggression that you may have will rub off on your child, so don't let it. You'll need to "get your head right" ("Cool Hand Luke," Guy Movie #3). Tap into your inner handyman and start fixing up the place. Your Man-Cave can wait.

3. He or she is your child and the woman you're having the child with will be a part of your life forever. Hopefully, this is a good thing. You have to get one thing through that skull of yours: whether or not the mother-to-be wants you there, you are connected to both of these people for the rest of your life. Realize, too, that you have rights as a father. The mother can't shut you out completely. Take this time to get reacquainted if you're not speaking with her. Your kid will fare better if you man-up and work yourself into his or her life. You have to be a good man, though. You have to realize that the harder you work on being that good man, the greater the payoff will be.

On a brighter note, if you and the mother are on good terms, smile. It's time to start planning for forever. Do you have a bank account with your child's name on it? Have you started a savings plan? Have you taken up any hobbies? DO IT NOW! 9 months is plenty of time to teach or reteach yourself something that you and your kiddo can do together. Mow the lawn, replace the shingles, learn how to cook the father-foods (Mac 'n' cheese, pancakes, burgers), and by all means grow a beard (then shave it off; infants are grabby)!

4. It's a process. You're baby will be here when he or she decides to be here. Be patient. I know it's uncomfortable. The mom gets all the cool stuff, and we're stuck out here on the sidewalk, our breaths fogging up the window to the candy store. That means we have to do our best to make that sidewalk so attractive, people will want to stop by there first.

5. Date the mother. She's carrying your progeny. She's carrying your progeny through 40 weeks, give or take, of aching back, swollen ankles, and an innie-turned-outie belly button. Rub her feet, start the bath, light some candles, and keep the toilet seat down. Wash the dishes, do the laundry, and tell her you love her. Tell her every day that she's gorgeous. When she calls your name, show up. Be there for her. She's carrying your kid! It's the least you can do.

6. Take care of yourself. Now's a great time to go visit the doctor for a check-up. You want to be there for your kid, and it's tough to be there if you're dead. Get over your anxiety about needles and let the doctor look you over. If you smoke (tobacco or MJ), quit. If you drink, back off. If you do any hard drugs, stop that shit now. You're going to have a little human relying on you for cues for his or her life. Would you want your kiddo drinking until his or her face falls off? Would you like to see your kid's arms marked with the same needle tracks on your arms? Perhaps it doesn't make a difference to you whether or not your kid smokes pot, but at least get educated on the effects drugs can have on the developing brain. Remember, what you do, your kid is likely to do too. Be an example of stand-upsmanship, meaning be the best person you can be. If you can't be that person, then be someone else who can.

7. Start getting excited. Fatherhood works best when you're excited to be a father. Regardless, that child is going to come, so the only variable is you, my friend. Get excited.

I'm utterly amazed every day at the changes my wife is going through, and she's mastering the art of pregnancy. Just a few more months. I think I can wait. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go dancing in the street.

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