We’re due for baby #2, a girl who with no middle name, yet, to arrive somewhere around May 1. So, in just a few weeks we’re going to welcome another living soul into our modest home already populated by two adults, one 2-year old, a lazy cat, and an 80-pound American Bulldog who is a girl but bears the name Charlie. We’re farther along in preparing for her arrival than we were for our son’s arrival. For perspective on this consider that while my wife was still in the hospital with our newborn son, I was at home with a small army of family members putting the finishing touches on his room. This time, however, all we need to do is re-hang the curtains and put up the storage cube unit.
However ready we are at home for the arrival of little girl, I’ll maintain that I’m not mentally ready for the arrival of a little girl into our realm. When my wife was pregnant with our son, for me the axiom was simple: I’m ready for the journey of being a father, but I’m note fully prepared for how to be a father. Though I’ve learned what it means to be a father to a son in the last 2 years, a daughter is something else entirely. The same probably applies now: I’m ready for the journey… but I am not prepared for how to raise a daughter.
The truth is when we were going in to learn the gender of our first child, I was convinced it was going to be a girl. I made peace with the idea of having a daughter very quickly, because I didn’t want to be one of those dudes who is disappointed to hear “it’s a girl!” That’s just the wrong foot to start off on as a parent as far as I’m concerned. So, while I thought it would be nice to have a son, I was prepared for a girl and I was completely okay with a girl. Turned out to be a boy, and I was actually a little surprised. I had no convictions about the gender of this second child going in. Boy or girl… I had no real guess as to what we were going to hear. We heard “girl” and I was pretty much just as cool as the first time around. Now, did I have a near coronary as we walked out and the sudden image of dollar signs and a wedding began to take shape in my mind? Yes, yes I did. But lets not talk about that.
While I can’t say I’m mentally prepared for being the father to a daughter, there are some principles that are equal.
I want her to know we’re her family and we love her unconditionally, I want her to know Jesus, I want her to know grace, I want her show grace, I want her to care for the people around her, I want her to respect herself, and I want her to be who she is and not who I want her to be. That last one is important because as a former teacher, it’s hard to see kids who were forced to live their parents’ dreams rather than being kids and living their own lives. For my son, I want him to pursue his own path and learn what his aspirations or dreams are, not mine. As far as trades go, I’m a musician and a designer… but if my son is neither of those then that’s cool too. I often times joke that he’ll probably be athletic, and at that point my usefulness to him will be greatly diminished. Usefulness isn’t even a word I would believe adequate at that point. I’ve made it a point to keep a record of who the athletically gifted people are in my life just in case. He’ll need people those folks to help him because me standing around saying, “Hey, Cohen! Check out the sustain on this note!” or “Yo! Check out what I did using a simple adjustment layer!” from the sideline will be somewhat less than helpful to him.
A girl changes the mix, though, in ways that I can’t imagine at the moment. I have had close friends speak to the joys of having a daughter(s), and so, like the first time, I’m excited for the journey. I’m very thankful that when my son was a baby I never once reached a point of frustration to where I questioned or just didn’t want to be a dad at that moment. Never once called my wife or my parents or a good friend and said something like, “Yea, I don’t want to do this…” or “I can’t do this.” The thought never ever crossed my mind. I’m sure having two children under 5 to deal with at one time will be challenging, but I’ve so enjoyed the time with my son that I’m looking forward to investing time in our daughter as well. I mean… we still have to come up with a middle name, but it’ll come to us eventually. Right?
Chief goal: Don’t ruin our children by being selfish.
Every day as I gaze at the world around us, on TV, in the news… I see people who aren’t really parents; they’re just people who had some kids. They’re way to bound up in their own little universes to know that their lives now require living sacrificially for the sake of that life they brought into this world.
Just a few thoughts on fatherhood, for now.