Baby Daddy

Derek Hunter
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Posted: Feb 12, 2017 12:01 AM
Baby Daddy

It’s been a weird couple of years for me, a time of adjustment, if you will. Nothing overwhelming, just nothing that comes naturally.

In September 2015, I got married. It’s a scary event for a lot of people, but for me, it was simply fun but a lot of work and a relief when it was done.

But come the end of May, I will cross another bridge. I will become a father for the first. And to say I’m a little freaked out by the prospect is an understatement. What I tell my listeners and friends is, “You spend your whole life trying to avoid something, then you go and do it on purpose…”

Yeah, I’m nervous. No bit of advice, no reading, no nothing is going to prepare me for the gathering storm of crying and diapers, or crying over diapers.

We know it’s a girl. That’s another area about which I know nothing. The journey into parenthood is a mystery my wife and I look forward to facing together, but at least she is prepared on that front. Well, as prepared as anyone can be to impart knowledge you don’t even know how you acquired.

Still, I couldn’t be more thankful to have her. She’s handling this much better than I am. She’s nervous, yes. But she’s a voracious reader and, unlike me, it helps her.

We have our parents, thankfully. We’re two rarities in the 21st century whose parents not only are still married but still in love. Hers have raised two girls; mine have three to their credit.

Unfortunately we are both the youngest in our families, so we didn’t witness raising girls, even though she experienced it firsthand. We’re in need of getting to the other side of a frozen river in a hurry and spring has sprung; the ice is thin. Thank God she’s several steps ahead of me.

We’ll get to the other side, but the creaking of the ice leads to some tossing and turning at night.

I asked my parents if they had any advice for raising a girl. I think they’re enjoying my panic, to be honest. After the obligatory “You’ll do fine,” my father offered more of a statement than advice. He said, “Girls are easy, until they’re 13. Then they think they know everything and will act like they hate you a lot.”

Well, that didn’t sound very promising – a decade and a third of joy to come crashing down when the teen years hit. But my father wasn’t done. “Around 18 they realize they don’t know everything, and they become fun again.” He then laughed. There must be something about being a parent that gives joy in seeing your child worry over things in which you have complete faith in them. I don’t know it, but I look forward to ribbing my own children one day.

But before that day, I imagine there will be many others of panic, joy, laughter, confusion, contentment, as well as lots of diapers, tears and smiles. I don’t know about the order. I don’t know about the frequency. I assume many will come in bunches, sometimes all at once. As terrifying as it is, I’m very much looking forward to it.

The end of May still seems so far away, but with the shadow cast by every setting sun, I know it grows closer.

My wife is showing in the middle, like she ate a volleyball. Otherwise you’d never know there’s a storm gathering inside her. We’re moving to the stage of discussing names.

Ok, not discussing, really. It’s more like we are both supposed to come up with a list of five and sit down to discard the filler and sell the other on the one we really want. It’s bizarre to think you have the power to decide what another human being will be called for her entire life. How do you do that right?

If given the choice, I don’t know that I would have gone with Derek. Nothing against it; it’s much better than the runner-up – Scott. Nothing against Scotts out there; I’ve just never felt like one. But I’ve spent a lifetime correcting people who misspelled Derek.

Actually, I probably would choose Derek, if only for the stories. My best friend’s mother, before she passed away, never spelled it right when she’d write on a scratchpad that I’d called. She also never spelled it wrong the same way twice in a row. I like being able to tell that story.

But what to call my daughter? I don’t want it to be common, but I don’t want it to be something Gwyneth Paltrow would name her kid either. There’s still time, I guess.

That’s not really true, I have my list already. Four fillers and the favorite. The trick now is to convince my wife that my favorite is her favorite, that it was almost her idea, while not tipping my hand. I assume she’s plotting the same.

As the summit nears, so does the baby’s arrival.

Such a weird, weird feeling. You spend your whole life trying to avoid something…

I can’t wait.

I hope she takes after her mother and avoids guys like me. At least until they’re old enough, smart enough, to be ready. Or I hope she becomes a nun. Either one.