You may have thought this post was a clever way to remind you that my new book, The Expectant Father’s Activity Book, came out yesterday. You probably figured I would post my affiliate link with big capital letters that say CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY NOW! Then I’d tell you that aside from Amazon, it’s at Target, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and other great places before asking you to pick one up, post a review, and tell your friends and neighbors. Ugh. How cynical of you.
Sure, all that’s true. You got me. Just like clever word play, you knew what to expect. My latest book looks at the ramp up to fatherhood and the one thing most dads-to-be rest their dad hats on – the fact that they will most likely be holding a kid within the next year or so.
But other than that, “expectant” is an ironic choice of words since there’s nothing else they can say for sure.
Having a baby is scary because you literally have no guarantees of anything. When the journey begins, even the gender is a secret. You don’t tell anyone until a few months go by and your constant worries are only balanced out by your confused acceptance that life, as you know it, is about to change drastically.
If you’ve read my blog, you know that my son being non-verbal with autism plays a big part in my uncertain parent narrative. I’ve written at length about how that fear of the unknown affected my mindset in his early years. To those outside my home, that type of thing must be clear. A father to a child with special needs has to learn to accept the unexpected.
Don’t, however, limit that twist on a Big Brother slogan to my son. I have two kids and my daughter, despite being considered neurotypical, presents her own unexpected moments. I never know what fatherhood surprises are lurking around the corner.
Maybe it’s a story about kids from school that seems much more grown up than I had expected or a Tik Tok video with a not-safe-for-work song blaring in the background. Either way, you can never rest assured of anything as a dad. The moment you rest, you get woken up for sure.
It’s been like this for both of their lives. I have been left in shock on many occasions. As they’ve gotten older, the unexpected moments have been more about seeing who they have become. It’s been centered around their personality quirks and the things they like. I have had to come to grips that my kids are their own people and those people can be quite surprising.
Today’s shocks are big picture things. When they were younger, it was all about the little things. It was wondering why their hands were sticky or how a two foot tall person smeared peanut butter on the top of an eight foot bookcase. It was about bath toys in the toilet and fishing plastic fruit from their mouths. Life, as a young parent was much more straight forward.
One of my favorite moments was when Lucas was barely a year old and Olivia was just about four. They were circling the drain on their daycare days and taking one of the final trips there.
I forget what my daughter was mad about, but it was something. She was entering a sulking phase and had begun to master a crossed arm pout that could melt your heart. Still a few years from her wonderful skill of fake-crying-with-tears, she was just learning her craft. Her go-to line in fits of anger: “I’m not your best friend.”
This morning, she was not my best friend. Annoyed, I stuffed Lucas into a tiny little red outfit as she moped around the living room, barely making eye contact with me. I then tossed both kids in the car and began driving over as the debate continued.
Olivia. You are being rude today. Why are you so upset?
I don’t get you.
I’m not your best friend!
I know. You said that before.
It’s not fair!
I know. You said that too.
Then, there was a pause and she unleashed the kill shot. She didn’t even realize it.
…And why does Lucas get to wear pajamas?!
I nearly stopped the car dead in the street.
Wait, those are pajamas?
Through an angry glare, she eeked out a yes.
Why didn’t you tell me?
Because you’re not my best friend!
Best friendship had serious benefits that I was just becoming aware of. It was too late to drive home, so Lucas spent the day in pajamas. I can still see him all jolly in that fuzzy red suit. We coined the term Baby Santa Claus that day. We called him that every day he wore it from that point on.
Or night, rather. It was pajamas.
Parenthood is filled with unexpected moments. You never see them coming and, even as they grow up, the hits keep on coming. Keep your chin up and enjoy your days as an Expectant Parent. Because once the kids come, nothing is expectant ever again.