If you're friends with me on Facebook, you may have recently noticed a post by me stating that my wife is pregnant. I'm going to be a father for the first time. And it still hasn't sunk in yet, not completely anyway. Part of me doesn't entirely believe it. Another part of me thinks it's crazy. Me? A father? Preposterous. But it's true. Barring some horrible mishap, I will be a father by early November of this year.
What can this mean for me? For the life I have with my wife and her other S.O. (significant other)? I'm sure if you're a parent you already have some idea of what this will mean for us. At least, I hope you do! But I have to figure out what it means for us, and me, specifically, beyond just the usual generalizations that can apply to any new potential parents. Here's a few thoughts I've had, in no particular order.
-- I'm going to have to give up sleeping pills, at least for a while. I can't be having myself unable to respond to a 3am crying baby because I'm drugged up for sleep. This is an unfortunate truth, as getting proper sleep has been a big part of dealing with my current episode of depression. It's amazing what benefit there is to not being constantly tired. Somehow, I'll have to adjust. The meditation I've started doing might actually help here.
-- I should probably start paying more attention to politics at a local level than I currently do, especially as it relates to education. I still don't know for sure if I want to pursue home schooling, or if I simply want to supplement the schooling that public school would give. Part of this will depend, I think, on the state of education here in Rochester, MN when that time actually arrives. I do know that I intend to support and teach our child about things like critical thinking, healthy skepticism, respect for others, importance of bodily autonomy, philosophy, and other values that I have. My goal in all of that is to teach our child how to think, not necessarily what to think. I may hope that any child of mine turns out to be a secular humanist, but I'm not going to try and force it.
-- We intend to test for any genetic disorders that can be tested for. I honestly don't know what I'll do, or want to do, if they come back positive. But I know for sure that I'd like time to process it first, rather than being shocked by it when the child is born. I know that I hope there's nothing, that our child is healthy, and won't have to deal with the hassles that come from having developmental disabilities.
-- The other day I had a horrible thought. I realized that someday our child will die. This nearly made me sick, having this hit me, and the child isn't even here yet. I don't recall what I was thinking about before that thought came to me, but I do know it was somehow related to death. At any rate, this may be the hardest thing that I will have to deal with: the knowledge that they will die. I already have trouble dealing with the idea of death.
-- Given that both I and my wife have had to deal with depression, it's an unfortunate likelihood that any child of ours will end up having to deal with depression as well. I intend to try and teach them strategies and thought patterns that will hopefully minimize the effects of depression, but let's face it: that hasn't made me immune to it, and won't make the child immune.
These are just a few of the thoughts that have crossed my mind. I'm sure there will be others over time. I find myself happy and scared at the same time as I attempt to process the idea that I will be a father relatively soon. Here's hoping it all turns out well.