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The clueless anticipation of a soon-to-be father - Jason Smith

Lately, it seems whenever my wife and I talk to people about how thrilled we are to be expecting a baby, we encounter a recurring theme in response.

A number of friends and family members have shared with me that I should rethink any notion of getting a full night's sleep for a while. From feedings at 3 a.m., to the baby waking up every hour for no apparent reason, virtually everyone around me cites a different frustration which I can look forward to, in the days and months to come.

Part of me becomes frustrated when I hear such things. It's like certain people think I have no idea what I've gotten myself into.

What many of them don't seem to realize, is that I am well aware of my utter cluelessness. While I have several people in my life who view me as a dad-like figure, I know nothing compares to being an actual parent.

I've never raised a child from birth. I've never changed a diaper in my life, and I don't know how long a baby's nap is supposed to be.

Fortunately for me, my wife has considerable experience in dealing with little ones, dating back to when she was a teenager.

With that being said, we know being a parent, full-time, is a different animal entirely.

While my wife and I are no strangers to financial struggles, we know a baby adds a whole new element to our need to be responsible with our money. Still, I'm sure we will be blindsided by expenses we aren't necessarily expecting.

Truthfully, the concept of being a parent scares me to death. I'm going to have this little life in my house, depending on every move made by my wife and me.

Anyone who isn't scared by such an idea, has an underdeveloped sense of fear in general.

At the same time, though, I've never wanted anything more. For every frustration which comes with being a new parent -- lack of sleep, a nonexistent social life, and the incessant wailing of a child, among them -- there are even more rewarding aspects of being a father, which I cannot wait to know more fully.

I don't know if the friends and family members who have offered words of advice -- well-meaning though they may be, and I love them for it -- are trying to scare me, or simply trying to prepare me for what lies ahead. What I keep telling them, though, is that I am not going anywhere.

I know the experience of parenthood is going to be unlike anything I have faced in the past. I know I am woefully unprepared for what will happen in the days after I hold my child for the first time.

But, I want this more than I've ever wanted anything. Whatever I have to do, is worth the reward.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.