There likely comes a time in every father-to-be’s life when he has a few questions. These questions can be about pretty much anything. They ARE about anything. I won’t say they are random thoughts that pop into my brain because the same ones keep reappearing. I find time in my day to think about everything from my ability to be a father to the amount of poop I will get in my mouth in the first year of Zelda’s life (I guessed 20 ounces, or roughly the amount you can fill in a bottle of Diet Coke). Then there is the big issue of money and finances. Obviously, having a baby begins the slow drain on my already draining bank account (DC living, right?). But that’s okay. That was the choice that Angela and I made when we wanted to move away from Virginia Beach and as far away from the Douchebaggery of Norfolk (if you don’t know about it, imagine hipsters from Brooklyn with three times the complex and half the creativity and/or beard oil). We both have jobs now and are beginning to settle into our life up here in the area, except of course, with the added bonus of caring for a child in less than half a year. No pressure.
The thought honestly blows my mind, and I certainly don’t know where to begin with the many answers to my mounting questions. That being said, there are certain things that I have come to find that I certainly don’t want to hear. Facebook is the worst culprit for this, as it is a direct injection into the vein of unsolicited advice. It’s like water cooler talk with a group of guys who just want to talk about their tribal tattoos. Nobody wants to hear it but the people who are saying it. Now I cannot inject the right kinds of questions into the mouths of friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. What I can do, and do often, is filter them like spam email. I don’t want a miracle cure for my erectile dysfunction, nor do I want to hear about why we are already damaging Zelda’s life by living in this particular school district in Northern Virginia.
I’m not trying to be mean here. This is real talk, and given the growing belly of Angela and my growing concern for my own ability as a father, it’s as real as it gets. I think this kind of stuff is why I wanted to start this blog in the first place – I want to keep it as real as possible and chronicle the experiences I am having, such as they are, while the real work is being done by my wife-turned aircraft carrier. I want to preface by saying that I appreciate all of the help and advice everyone has given Angela and I over the past few months. There are only so many ways I can present a shit-eating grin to someone before I begin to snap. There is a lot of stress floating around right now, and I have to try to remain as calm as possible for the safety and sanity of our growing family. So I write….and I keep it real.
The dialogue of any true unsolicited comment goes something like this:
Me: “So, Angela and I are having a baby.”
Person: “Oh, wow that is fantastic! Are you excited”
Me: “Yeah, it’s great, it’s all I have ever wanted.”
Clearly the conversation is going well here. Solid theme. I like the hypothesis. But we are slowly reaching the climax, and I know already that it’s about to come like a Coen brothers movie. Let’s keep the explosions going, right? The action is high and the tension is low. It’s a recipe for a perfect conversation, or a terrible Michael Bay movie.
Person: “So how is everything going with you two?”
Me: “It’s great! To be honest, I am a little stressed out about it. It’s a lot to think about – the finances, the food, etc. We are even trying to look for a home. I don’t know if it’s a good time for that because there is so much going on.”
As a response to this It may sound like I am fishing for some sort of complement. In most cases, I might be. If I said I was stressed about work or an upcoming lecture I was about to give, I might need a little encouragement. A metaphorical pat on the back if you will. I don’t think that applies for baby advice. Either way, the person will give one of the following responses that I really do not want to hear.
1. “You’re Going to be Fine”
2. “Everything Will Work Out”
3. “Just Relax”
4. “You can do it”
This is always followed by:
“Just make sure that….”
“Just remember to….”
“So long as you…”
Here is where you insert your unsolicited advice. Topics so far range from the CORRECT choice of a baby’s name to the right kind of crib or the dangers or rocking your baby too hard. Oh, don’t forget that the stress environment of a father can seriously impact the health of a baby….what?
This conversation is ALWAYS bookended with:
“That’s what ( ) and I did…and it worked out great…just a thought.”
Congratulations. You just gave me the verbal equivalent of a fish handshake.
It’s not JUST A THOUGHT. This is a command from the gods of parenthood. We can only strive to be Hercules when Zeus and Athena are in control. I’m not going to forget anything. Why? Because I am CONSTANTLY thinking about it, day and night. This only adds to my growing fear of not being a good father. Is this what all fathers-to-be think? Apparently, yes. Good.
These incomplete sentences mean about as much to me as the quotes with a minion poorly photoshopped on it that you reposted on Facebook from a random country station in the Midwest. Inspirational quotes are for people without inspiration. I am inspired…to be a good father. There isn’t a quote out there that says “You are going to be a terrible father.”
Okay. So I made one. It’s comforting.
What would I really want to hear as a response? Keeping with the Michael Baysian philosophy of conversation, it may go something like this:
“Yeah, I feel you on that. We were scared shitless when we had our first kid. It does get better though…and then it’s shitty for the first few months…like really shitty…and then it’s rad.”
We have some amazing friends back home who gave us that exact advice. They have an adorable little girl who is a perfect model for Zelda. I personally can’t wait for them to play together.
I want to hear that it is great and that it is terrible. Nothing great ever comes easy. And that’s why this is STILL the best time of my life, unsolicited advice or no unsolicited advice.
So, in summation, less Coen Brothers, more Michael Bay.