A Lovely and Terrifying Fog of War
I was once a new parent. She and I started a little young, thinking about “more playtime later”. So we were barely adults when we decided to start trying to have a kid. Plus, we sort of guessed it would take a little time (it didn’t). We didn’t really have careers yet. They were kind of Jobs With Potential. We lived in a cute little one bedroom flat. We’d walk to our neighborhood market for groceries and talk about our grown-up plans. Kids, careers, vacations, houses. It was all super exciting for a couple of kids who didn’t try gyros until they were in their twenties.
There are lots of things you don’t know as a new parent. Though it could be that there are lots of things YOU knew as a new parent that I didn’t. But I’m going to assume that I’m not more ignorant than most because I have the power to do so, since its my blog.
Day 1 of being a parent is a heady rush of panic, pride, love, confusion, and hope. You see, there’s this new human, and this is where it got really weird for me. It’s not a new human to me, it’s a new human to EVERYONE. He was brand new. He didn’t exist before that moment when he came, bloody and surprised, out of my superhero wife. He was a new person, someone who was going to make new ripples in the pond. He was going to be something the world hadn’t had before. And she and I made him from scratch.
I worked hard in the months between positive test number 2 and Birthday Zero to learn how to be a father. Not a Dad really, because you don’t really learn that until you’re a father. And you don’t really learn how to be a father until Birthday Zero. You take in information, listen (willingly and unwillingly) to advice being power-vomited out at you from all directions, and you dwell constantly on what’s about to happen. And what was about to happen seemed scary and awesome. The arrival of a shiny new human. But all that information is valuable, so it’s a good idea to consider it. But in a lot of ways, it’s just theory. A fiction foretelling some insane new life obscured by a lovely and terrifying Fog of War.
And you can’t stop it or slow it down.
So he showed up. Late. Almost two weeks late. By then pregnancy was interminable for me and excruciating for her. She had to be induced, and while the birth was quick, it was dreadful for her. She was given medication she was allergic to, so she was sick through it all. And the artificially induced contractions were breathtaking in their intensity. But she powered through it and ate a turkey sandwich afterwards. She’s not one to be trifled with. He was small, skinny, perfect. He had this full head of strangely dark hair. And while I’d always pictured newborns as kind of chubby, he was really skinny, like a noodle. A goopy, dark-haired noodle. They handed him to me and asked if I wanted to cut the cord. I declined as I was already holding him and had no need to do anything other than that. So they cut the cord. And I left. Walked out of the room, carrying my goopy, bloody and uncovered son with me. Obviously I only made it a few feet before they stopped me, and took him. But I left nonetheless. I tend to wander off when I’m unattended. And I was thinking about some serious shit.
“Hello new human. It’s good to meet you. My name is Troy and I’m your dad.” He of course had no idea what the hell was going on, and I was only marginally more in the know. But we figured it out slowly. I became his (and two years later, his brother’s) dad. We’ve never been error free, but we’ve always been perfect.
And now she and I are empty nesters. And like preparing for Birthday Zero, I’ve been taking in information, listening to advice, and dwelling constantly on what’s about to happen. And what’s about to happen is scary and awesome.