Lazerus: Counting down to fatherhood
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or firstname.lastname@example.org January 25, 2012 11:18PM
Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune Mark Lazerus Post-Tribune sports editor
Updated: May 9, 2012 10:12AM
A little more than a year ago, after a thorough (read: horrifying) review of our finances, I looked at my wife and fellow Post-Tribuner, Christin, and said, “Well, we can either finally go to Italy next year, or we can have a kid.”
Christin paused. Her train of thought stopped dead in its tracks. Suddenly, that biological clock — which had been ticking for a few years now, but not quite as loudly as Marisa Tomei’s in “My Cousin Vinny” — got awfully quiet.
“I think I’d pick Italy,” she said, seemingly surprised by her own response.
“Me, too,” I said.
Yeah. About that…
Our first kid, a daughter, is due to be born on March 8. Arrivederci, Italy. See you in 18 to 22 years, I guess.
And that’s how I’ve looked at this whole sword of Baby Damocles hanging over our heads these past seven months — the End of Fun was near.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted to be a dad. We’ve always planned on having a kid.
I just wasn’t done being one myself, yet.
Sure, we’ve been married for nearly five years now. We’re homeowners. We’re parents to a cat and a dog. We’re responsible adults.
But no kid means no complications. We go out when we want. We travel when we want. We have fun when we want. We play and watch sports when we want.
So throughout Christin’s pregnancy, I’ve approached the whole countdown thing this way:
I have X months left of normalcy. I have X months left to not worry about money every second of every day. I have X months left to be in softball leagues, to go bowling once or twice a week, to go to college football games and hockey games once in a while. I have X months left to do this and do that and sleep in and go out and take one last vacation and yadda yadda yadda.
It’s not that I haven’t been looking forward to the kid being born — of course, I’ve been looking forward to the kid being born. It’s just that I also looked forward to the months in between, to enjoy the things I’ve always enjoyed, the way I’ve always enjoyed them. I was grateful for the fact that I had several months to get things out of my system, to mentally adapt to the idea of a very different lifestyle, to prepare emotionally and financially.
In short, I looked at these nine months quite simply: I have X months left before all the strings are attached.
Well, I have less than two months left. And I think the switch has finally flipped. Now, it’s: I have X weeks left before I get to be a dad. I have X weeks (well, years, maybe) before I get to coach Little League and show my daughter how to swing a golf club and teach her to root for the Islanders (poor kid). I have X weeks left before I don’t have to count down the days anymore.
Don’t get me wrong — I still dread the inevitable lack of sleep, the inevitable lack of money, the inevitable lack of simple freedoms like being able to run to the store for a snack without it being a big production. Nobody looks forward to that. Nobody enjoys that. Everybody worries about that.
But the excitement’s starting to overwhelm all the other noise.
Maybe part of it is because the basement’s starting to fill up with baby stuff. When a tiny little mattress is sent to your house — not to mention a tiny little Mets hoodie (poor kid) — it’s kind of a slap-in-the-face, holy-cow reality check.
Maybe part of it is because Christin’s in her eighth month now and I’m visually reminded of how close we are every time I see her; and I can feel the baby kick every now and then; and at 34 weeks, it’s not just some tiny blastocyst anymore.
But I think the biggest part of it is how many of my friends have had kids so recently. Five couples we know have had kids in the past five months. On Facebook, in e-mails, in person, I see the progress their kids are making — the developmental milestones, the recognitions, the interactions, the subtle advancements past the simple eating/sleeping/pooping/nothing-else phase.
And I’m finding myself jealous — I want to be there already. It’s not a big deal that my kid will always be up to six months younger than everyone else in this current kid explosion (I’ll teach mine to fight dirty so she can hang with the bigger kids). But I’m ready and eager to get to that point with my own kid. Ready and eager to see her recognize words. Ready and eager to hear her speak words. Ready and eager to hear her curse at Northwestern’s latest loss (poor kid).
It might be different if nobody I knew was having kids these days. Might not. Who knows? All I know is I’m ready. Well, I’ve always been “ready” — after all, this was always in the plans. But now I’m really ready. Mentally ready. Ready to give up the easy-ish life, and ready to start the new life. Excited, even — if not still a little horrified. (Especially by the soccer. And the dance recitals. But mostly the soccer. Poor Dad.)
So, yeah. I have about six weeks left. But not six weeks I have left to check things off my bachelor-esque bucket list.
No, just six weeks I have to wait until I finally get to meet my daughter.