As Amps and I stood around in the kitchen waiting for the results, I was going through all the possibilities in my head – is she or isn’t she? If she is, what are we gonna do? Can I handle this? I’d only gone through this once before, and in hindsight I probably didn’t make the best decision. It still nags at me sometimes. I checked my watch – time was up. Amps went in the bathroom and took a look. She came back with a look of trepidation on her face.
“It’s looking like it’s positive,” she told me.
We were going to be parents.
How do I describe the feeling, Alarmers? Relief at finally knowing, uncertainty about the future, but I definitely remember the initial fear. When I first went through this at age 21, I was scared too, but for a different reason. I was a knucklehead, bouncing from college to college, dead-end job to dead-end job, and yes, from woman to woman. I wasn’t ready to be a father, and I knew it. I didn’t want to be one yet. I was a frightened child, and I was relieved when the young lady agreed to get an abortion and never speak of this epic f**k-up again. At 30, things were much different – I had a steady job, a steady life, and a steady girlfriend. We often talked about marriage and children… in that order. But it was always in some vague future. Now it was staring us right in the face; the future was here. This was not a drill.
Most folks who know me know my parents divorced when I was three. I only got to see my father on weekends, and later on, on weekends that suited him. Neither I nor my mother was happy about a father who picked his spots, so I often vowed that I would do better. By hook or crook, I’d stay with the mother of my child. I’d be in my child’s life, providing, protecting and teaching. I would be the man I wished my dad was. I think this is a common wish for men; we want to be as good as or better than the men who raised us… or didn’t raise us, depending on the circumstances.
Naturally I married Amps and moved to New Jersey to prepare for the life of a “traditional” family, and provide the kind of two-parent home I’d never had. I was still nervous and scared, though. What if I screwed up as a father? What if I didn’t know what to do, what lessons and values to teach? What if I flaked out like my father?
Amps, as always, was amazing during this time. We found strength and reassurance in each other, and I eventually found enough strength to provide input, help make decisions and take initiative in our household. Don’t get me wrong, Alarmers, I’m still nervous, but a good kind of nervous. I wonder how much our child is going to resemble my wife, both physically and temperamentally. I wonder how tall she’s going to grow to be, whether she’ll inherit my love of music, things like that. I talk to my wife’s growing belly every day, speaking words of love that she won’t understand, but that I hope she’ll feel. That’s the most important thing I want my daughter to know, that she’s loved.
I see too many parents who seem to meet the material needs, but not the emotional. That’s important, especially for a young girl, and it has an impact throughout her life. Miss O often speaks fondly of her stepfather, and in those moments I can imagine her as a little girl, placing unfathomable amounts of love and trust in the man who chose to help raise her. When I see Mr. L’s daughter, I don’t just see the beautiful young woman she is undoubtedly becoming, but the energetic child so anxious and eager to spend time with her father. That’s the kind of relationship I want.
So wish me luck, Alarmers. Everything changes early next year, and I can’t wait. This is not a drill.