All jokes aside
JAMES COLLEY’S STRUGGLING TO STIFLE HIS SILLINESS IN THE FACE OF IMPENDING FATHERHOOD.
I was ready from the first moment. That’s not to say I expected it. When my wife walked down the stairs with tears in her eyes, I didn’t know they were happy tears. I’d assumed I’d screwed something up, which wasn’t a particularly outrageous assumption to make. Instead she held me and, at last, the moment we’d waited so long for finally arrived: “I’m pregnant,” she said. Then came the real moment I’d dreamt about: “Hello pregnant, I’m Dad.”
Or at least, that’s how I wish it had happened. In reality, the moment was too much for me and the joke I’d waited my entire adult life to make – my first official dad joke – was lost to the joy of the event. If you’ve never experienced this moment (and importantly, you want to experience it), I highly recommend it. It’s by far the happiest you’ll ever feel about someone waving a stick they pissed on in your face. Usually when your life changes, for better or worse, it happens in an instant. A car crash, locking eyes across a bar, a phone call with awful news or a dream offer. One second your life is one way and the next it’s completely different. What’s so strange about this type of change is that it happens slowly.
That night, the countdown clock started. We knew our lives would never be the same, but this new addition didn’t come with overnight shipping. There were some immediate changes, of course. Physical, emotional, financial. Elaborate preparations that we’ve been assured will not actually prepare us for anything. But it’s suddenly all very, very serious. And I am not. And that is a challenge in and of itself.
The bar is already so low for dads that you could trip over it. The pregnancy books go from describing all the painful and incredibly frightening changes the person carrying the child has to go through to reminding the partner that, if you see piles of laundry lying about, you should maybe pop on a load if you can bear it. Consider, they suggest, making a meal every so often. Or if that’s too much, order a pizza. It gives me comfort to know that I will not be the worst dad, in all statistical likelihood. But the seriousness, that’s still an issue.
When the doctor – who kindly read the results of blood tests and tried to calm our worst fears, while also revealing the reality of our particular situation – asked if we had any questions, it took my entire force of will to keep from pointing at the anatomical model of genitalia on the shelf behind her and asking, “What the hell is that!?” I’d hate to break new ground in self-knowledge here, but it’s almost as if I use humour to deflect from intense situations. Also, I love making doctors laugh. They’re so serious, what with the whole ‘life and death’ thing.
Perhaps my immaturity will end up being a strength. Having never really aged beyond five years old mentally, it won’t be long before this future child and I are on an equal footing, truly understanding one another. If I’m honest, my worst fear used to be that I’d intentionally teach my child lies as a joke. They’d grow up thinking the sun sets at night because it’s scared of the moon or that I invented the maracas.
I wish that were still my worst fear. Now, with nights spent under halogen lights watching infomercials for a ‘wet vacuum’ on loop from the other side of an emergency room, there are certain thoughts I can’t escape. One of them is that you should be able to sue everyone who writes about the “magic and beauty of pregnancy” in those baby books. Another is that the wet vacuum really does seem to get stubborn stains out of the carpet. And then there’s the other thought: I can’t wait for things to be silly again.