When I was writing this month's piece, I was at first reluctant to write about my upcoming child. After all, Michelle just wrote about
raising her boy, Jason wrote a letter to his unborn child, and Julianelle started a blog on being a dad. And this is far from an exhaustive list on articles about children on this site. I'm just saying, the competition is stiff; Maybe we're not Salon or the Huffington Post, but our staff here is not a bunch of troll slouches.
However, at this juncture, it's difficult to think about much else. So, I was sort of stuck. I figured that if I could offer anything unique, it may be because I was someone who originally did not ever want to have a child, but was won over.
“I don't want to have children.” Every girl I dated most certainly heard this proclamation early in our relationship. Some women left me because of it; some were drawn closer.
The reasons I didn't want kids were varied: the financial strain; the emotional strain; my fear that this world is not a place for kids; et cetera. Frankly, despite my sometimes happy-go-lucky demeanor, I am a pessimist at heart.
I also didn't suffer from the instinctual male need to procreate, nor the overwhelming desire to keep our branch of the Walker family tree growing (Being the only male son, were I to have opted not to have children, the last name "Walker" in our family would have ended with me).
When my wife, after several years of marriage, began pressing the issue, I remained firm. At first.
But like any good spouse, I listened. I considered. Then, I did what seemed the most logical step: I took it upon myself to ask a bunch of fathers I knew what their thoughts on having kids were, particularly seeking out those I felt may have not wanted kids.
With one exception (which I took with a grain of salt considering its source), all fathers gushed at being fathers. The harsh realities (sleepless nights in infancy, diapers, talking back, teen angst) were admitted; anyone considering kids should consider those things.
But without hesitation, all those asked said that it was one of the greatest things that ever happened in their lives. Words like "magic", "miracle", and all sorts of other things that I would usually mock like, Insane Clown Posse were liberally used, across the board, and in earnest.
I was, at one point, convinced that this alleged "magic" produced by having a kid was simply a ploy to trick those people without kids into making the same mistake. Sort of like the, "this tastes awful - try some" mentality. But those I quizzed were people whom I by-and-large respect. So how could I discount their assertions?
I struggled with my feelings for some time. Could my reservations stand against a wanting wife and claims of magic and miracle?
Given the title of this article, no. The overwhelming claims of joy that having kids reportedly offers, and the desire to give my wife (and even myself) such joy such as it may be, defeated my resistance.
This is not to suggest that overcoming my fears was easy, and it's far too early to tell if this was the right decision. But so far, besides confirming the overwhelming number of people who proclaim that children bring magic, I offer the reluctant father this much:
Last week when I was with my wife for the exam when they (among other things) reveal the baby's sex, I felt something greater than I would have ever expected. As the midwife passed the corded device over my wife's expanding belly, the screen above with its greenish-tint revealed all. Fingers, toes, a spinal cord, his sex (male), the face: the final blow to my heart being a moment when my upcoming son, seemingly trying to avoid the device scanning him, raised his legs and put his knee and lower leg in the main frame. As I was thinking, and as my wife later also confirmed she was thinking, our little boy has my skinny legs, oddly short from the kneecap down (one of the few people I ever met with the same length leg from knee to ankle was a Japanese girl in college who was like 4'11", I'm 5'8").
Reason enough to have a kid? Perhaps not. But the high from that visit has not passed. I find myself more determined to be a good dad when the time arrives. I find myself working harder at the office, so that I can give my child a stable home life. I've felt an increased sense of responsibility around my life's actions: "I will always wear my seat-belt; I will not speed; I will wear my bicycle helmet; I will put on a raincoat before going out in the rain; The social cigarette will no longer be part of my occasional tendencies."
More than any other time, I am experiencing a "grown-up" feeling, but one that is settling on me well. And I can only thank this kid for making me feel this way. It's his magic that's brought this change, and I think it's for the best.
But, for the still unsure would-be dad, I promise to periodically keep you informed on this experience. If it is magic all the way, or if it really is all a trick, you'll hear it from me here as time moves on. We're due the end of April, 2011, so stay tuned!
A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.
ABOUT JEFFREY D. WALKER
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
12.15.10 @ 7:37a
Nicely done, Jeff.
12.15.10 @ 8:51a
I just want to say congratulations to you and your wife, and that this was a super sweet piece. Wishing you the best. :-)
12.15.10 @ 9:49a
And I never thought of you as happy-go-lucky.
katherine (aka clevertitania)
12.15.10 @ 12:19p
As a woman who eagerly awaited the stereotypical gush of emotion from a father-to-be in the sonogram, and instead had to endure the ass arguing with the machine operator... I'm so glad this moment was everything for you and your wife that it should be.
But to ladies dating anti-procreation men, remember... we are the rule NOT the exception. :)
12.16.10 @ 4:02a
Congratulations! Don't blink, and take lots of pictures. Each moment by itself might seem to stretch out forever, but as a whole they whip right by you like a race car. One day you're running a baby wipe over his butt; the next thing you know, you're helping him with his spelling homework. This, too, is magic.
candy green gustavson
12.17.10 @ 11:24a
Yes, your heart is forever--and I mean eternally--kept by the Rule of Love now. Welcome to the human race!
12.19.10 @ 4:34p
I am so happy that I get to be a great-aunt once again. This will make #8 for me. I'm thrilled for you both.