I used to watch shows like 16 & Pregnant or Teen Mom and see how blatantly obvious it was that these people shouldn’t be having children. In most cases the dads are just boys, totally unprepared for suddenly being catapulted into manhood. That’s the whole premise of the show, they’re young, they have a whole list of experiences ahead of them that are made complicated or completely derailed by their decisions. Graduation, attending college, getting a job, moving out and living on your own, getting married and learning to live with someone else.
Our society has a structure to how things are suppose to go for young adults.
It’s not as if once you’ve achieved those milestones or that you’ve reached a specific age that you’re ready to be a parent. I wasn’t ready to be a dad two years ago. I always knew I wanted to have kids, but I knew I wasn’t ready. Sure, I was married, we had the two dogs, the house, the cars, we both had good jobs. But we weren’t ready. Part of it was being terrified from what I’d seen the experiences friends had with parenting. A lot of them were tired, grumpy people. I had some friends and family who’s kids seemed to be a total nightmare to deal with. Unable to leave the house, for fear of having a total breakdown. All of these people loved their children, no doubt, but for some I just couldn’t help but feel like they loved them in spite of it all, instead of because of it all.
Having few people my age to look up to when it came to having children I wasn’t sure when I’d ever be ready to take it on this responsibility. I didn’t want to be an angry, tired person for the rest of my life.
When I went to go work at Perceptive Software back in 2010, I met my friend Chris who was my team leader. Part of his leadership and team building process was to have weekly half-hour “one on one” meetings with us. At first I thought they were awkward and silly. I had a great relationship with my previous manager without the need for such structured and scheduled one on one. Eventually, I warmed up to the idea as the topics of conversation eventually started to focus on building a friendship, discussing ethical/moral topics, and less on “what are you working on this week?”
Part of those discussions was about having kids. At first, when he asked me, I had no real interest. Having no point of reference in my peer group as to what kind of father I wanted to be, I just wasn’t going to entertain the idea. Eventually, that position began to thaw as Chris talked about his family over the course of the year we’d work together. Here was a guy a couple years older than I was, who was happy at home, who had insight into his children, who understood and acted on the kind of things that I feel a father should do for his children, and who made the kinds of sacrifices needed to provide for his family.
He also talked about the real struggles of parenting, not just about losing sleep to a crying baby, but in his experience coping with the death of his third child. I started to see what kind of father I wanted to be to my kids, and eventually started to come around to the idea that it was time to start a family.
Fortunately, it was about this time that Sadie was ready to start to.
I will admit, even after deciding I was ready, the idea was still terrifying. I remember the night we tested positive. Sadie was so sure that she wasn’t pregnant, so she made me go into bathroom after a couple minutes to check out the stick. I stood there for what in my mind only seemed like a couple seconds, but which Sadie says was an eternity. At that moment, I was the only person on the planet, except for Pearson, who knew I was going to be a dad. I walked back into the room and shared the news.
It’s been a learning experience ever since, and every night I go to bed thinking about how I’m the luckiest dad and husband in the world.