I have been wanting to write this column for several months, but have been waiting for just the right time to do it. With a little less than six weeks to go, my wife and I are preparing for the arrival of our first child.
Just reading that back to myself is strange. I am going to be a father ... I am going to have a child ... I am going to be responsible for someone other than myself, and that is the scariest thing I can think of. Heading into our marriage, my wife and I agreed that we would be open to having children whenever it happened, and without wasting a second ... we are expecting little Max nine short months from when we were married.
When I heard the news that my wife was pregnant, I took it much better than she or I had expected. I am a very anxious person, and news of this magnitude would normally throw me for at least a day or so, but when she told me I was calm. I was even excited because I have always wanted to have kids.
Over the next few months, we began, as all first-time-to-be parents, getting our house and our lives ready for baby. It didn't take my wife very long to start planning out the look and feel of the baby's new room (a.k.a., the room where all my stuff was). We waited impatiently for the first few weeks, waiting to find out if it was going to be a girl or a boy. Naturally, I was hoping for a boy because girls terrify me to a point I can't even explain.
Something I need to explain before I go any further. If you are about to have a baby and you want to make a deal, think it over real carefully. My wife was sure it was going to be a girl. So sure, in fact, that she made a deal with me that if it was a boy I could do the baby's room in all Cleveland Indians regalia. Well, she was wrong, and I won.
Now that we knew it was a boy, we started picking out paint and so on to decorate his room. Now, something that is critical for all guys in the world to know when expecting a baby. Use the word ''WE'' properly. WE decorated the baby's room. WE aren't having this baby ... SHE is. WE are excited. I may think that WE can't sleep, but it is SHE who can't sleep. It's just my job to get up when she can't sleep because the baby is kicking her in the lung. I know, it may seem like a silly difference, but believe me, it can make a world of difference as time goes on.
So, I ... I mean, WE got the baby's room prepared by painting the walls red, white and blue and picking up as much Cleveland Indians child decorations as we could. Blue letters spelling MAX are hanging on the wall as is a panoramic photograph of Jacob's Field. (I won't call it Progressive Field, so don't expect it.) It looks great, and we both love it, but it wasn't until a week ago that it really hit me ... I am going to be a dad.
My wife's best friend came to town from New Jersey, where her husband is stationed with the Coast Guard. She recently gave birth to their first child, a daughter. It was during this three-hour visit that I began to feel the weight of our situation hit me. This little helpless baby is completely dependent on me and my wife, who I have to say is completely ready and made for this. We watched a short video of this friend in the delivery room (it was only her face, so it was OK) and it took one statement from a nurse to bring everything home.
''It's time!'' was all she said, and in that moment I realized what I was getting ready for. I am preparing my life right now for something that lasts forever. Maxwell is going to be a part of my life forever. "It's time" encompasses so much. It is time for me to become a true adult, someone who knows that his life is no longer just his, it is ours. The room I ... sorry, WE spent two weeks painting (it involved a pinstriped wall that took forever) will probably not be the room he grows up in, and if it is, it will be changed so many times that I won't recognize it in 15 years. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that I give this child every chance that I can.
So, right here and now, for the couple people who read this column, I am going to make a promise to Max, and you will be my witnesses. Max, I can only promise you that I will be the best father I can. I will do everything in my power to make sure that you become a good and decent man. I promise to show you how to treat others and what love should look like by treating your mother like the gift that she is. I can't promise that you will never feel pain, but I will do what I can to keep it from you. And I promise to love you for the rest of my life.
Now, it's time.
Joshua would be happy for any words of wisdom. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org