I’ve never be one to do things the traditional way.
For two years, I lived in a small house that was a converted convenience store—my bedroom was once the freezer. Painted on the outside wall that faced the highway was the cartoon character that served as the store’s mascot. Occasionally someone, still thinking the store was open, would stop to buy milk, but I’d have to turn them away with a smile and an apology.
I didn’t get married until I was 37—not because I was sowing oats, but because I had never found the right person. I was engaged, but that relationship ended badly.
Then I met my wife, Dahn, who nearly stood me up before our first date.
I’m glad she didn’t. She was perfect for me. She’s an angel. She knows just the right things to say and just the right things to do to put me at ease and make me feel loved. I am thankful for her every day.
We decided to enjoy being married for awhile and the years flew by.
We didn’t start trying to have a child until I was 40.
Little did we know it would take eight years for our dream to come true.
Now, I’m a 48-year-old man with a first child on the way. Tomorrow. And I find myself gushing with anticipation.
I was given just two weeks to prepare for fatherhood. You see, for the better part of eight years my wife and I have tried to have a child. It’s been a rough road. We’ve battled infertility. We withstood a devastating and gut-wrenching miscarriage and then the uncertainty and minefield of adoption.
I was on the verge of giving up.
Until 11:48 a.m. on Oct. 1.
“Think pink,” the woman from the adoption agency said. “It’s a girl.”
And think quickly, she added. We had only 14 days to get ready for the arrival of our little girl.
I always wondered how I would react upon hearing that news. I thought of it often during those three years. I played out scenarios in my head. Some were good. Some, as my brain is wont to do, were bad.
I feared I would be depressed to hear it—depressed because I wouldn’t want it for a variety of reasons.
My age. My lifestyle. My insecurities.
I was pleased when a large smile bloomed on my face and my voice cracked with excitement.
Then reality set it. Not only were we becoming parents, we were becoming parents in 14 days.
A whole new set of thoughts cascaded through my brain.
When my father was 48-years-old, I was a senior in college and living on my own. I had my own car and my own apartment. I had a job and a full course load. I was self-sufficient and independent.
When my daughter is a senior in college, I will be 70 years old.
I know. I know. Age is but a number. I feel good for 48 and there’s nothing like the thought of keeping up with a little rambunctious girl to prod one into getting into better shape, eating right and being as fit as can be.
It still concerns me.
In fact, a lot has concerned me these past two weeks.
There have been times during these 14 days when I wondered deeply and profoundly, “Can I do this?”
What if I’m not a good father?
What if I can’t handle the stress and the sleepless nights and the worry?
What if I fail?
I know my wife will be by my side through it all. I know she is the most caring and nurturing person I know, and I can lean on her for support (and she can lean on me for the same), but it doesn’t diminish the unease I sometimes feel that I won’t be good enough.
Then I see that baby girl’s face.
The foster mother sent us nightly pictures and updates of the little button. Every time I see her face, a giddiness washes over me. I look at her big eyes and her tiny fingers and toes and I can’t imagine loving another thing in this universe more.
Now, on the eve of her arrival, I can’t think of anything I want more than to hold her and raise her and be her father.
I can do this. No doubt now. I can do it because I would do anything for the precious girl. And that is probably all that matters.