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The Dad I Didn't Have

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash
Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

I’m going to be a dad. And I’m going to be a dad to a boy.

Erin and I found out that we were going to have a baby back in December. When she called me, in a bit of a panicked state, I was completely calm–almost excited.

I’m 34, that’s not old but I still started to feel that if I were destined to be a dad it would have happened by now. And, this is only biologically speaking. I’m still close with my ex-girlfriend’s daughter, Laila. I’ve been in her life since she was one and she’s going to be seven. She’ll always be my Bug and even without a biological connection I’ll always love her as if there was one.

After the initial unexpected moment of calm when Erin told me I was going to be dad and a couple weeks had passed, it began to sink in a bit more and panic accompanied the realization.

I didn’t think that I was ready to have a kid. I mean I still haven’t written the bestseller, I haven’t bought a house in the Hamptons, and I don’t have millions of dollars saved in the bank. Those are the things you need to be a good dad right?

If there is anything that my somewhat broken past has taught me, it’s that simply being there is the greatest gift you can give a child. Doing what you say you’re going to do. I think that’s something that’s so important and special because it’s something that I’d never experienced. I wish that I had–might not be dealing with these insecurities that I deal with.

But it can’t be that easy can it? Just be there? What about the bills? Shouldn’t every duck I have be in a row before I’m a dad?

There’s no such thing as having every duck in a row. In fact, there are no fucking ducks. Just embrace the blessing and responsibility of being a parent. And just simply be there for your kid.

That’s the advice I’m giving myself.

There also seems to be something serendipitous about the fact that we’re having a boy. I was raised by my mom, my aunt, my cousin Vicky, and my grandma. There was never a strong male figure in my life. Most of my best friends are women. I was a bridesmaid in my friend Caitlin’s wedding.

I’m comfortable around women. So having a little girl feels pretty natural–comfortable. But a boy? I don’t know if I know how to do that? I mean, I hate sports and boys are supposed to like sports so I’m already behind.

But the thought hit me on my drive home from work yesterday that what if this is my chance to take care of the little me how I wish I would have been taken care of. To be there in a way that I so desperately wanted a parent to be there for me. Especially a dad. What a foreign concept to me as a child; a dad.

This isn’t my attempt to throw my mom under the bus. She had me when she was young. We were never close and we still aren’t. Unfortunately she fed me a lot of empty promises growing up which created more distance, more callousness, and more, on my end, insecurity.

But I’m a man now and it’s my responsibility to work through and rebuild that which was broken in my past. It’s my responsibility to know what it means to be there for my kid(s). It’s my responsibility to be a dad. The pain of my past and brokenness that I experienced does not excuse me from being a good dad. So, I will be.

Erin has two kids, Cole and Ada, to a previous marriage. Their dad is in their lives and someone that I would say is a good dad. Erin is a good mom. She’s a very good mom and someone I’m thankful that I’m experiencing being a parent with. Her kids are great and though I didn’t know them when they were one, like I did with Laila, I’ll always love them as if I had.

I guess, when I think about it, I’m already a dad. And I haven’t yet caused any deep emotional scarring to Cole, Ada, or Laila (at least that I know of) so I guess I’m doing alright so far. As long as I keep this up with my baby boy, I guess I did get those imaginary fucking ducks in line.


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