People look at me bright eyed and ask "How long until...?" I tell them January 14th and their eyes get wider as they either exhale or inhale dramatically and say something along the lines of "Eee! are you excited?"
Nope. What's to be excited about?
Theirs is a rhetorical question, of course (at least it should be). I find myself falling into an awkward social rut of responding to this reaction/question with some facade of humility and something along the lines of "I have no idea of what I'm doing, but yep, very excited."
Truth is, I've been thinking of this impending due date for quite a while and I should have some inkling of an idea what I'm doing, even if there is a lot of truth to to cliche wisdom like "Your life is about to completely change" and "Your first kid is just practice, nobody knows what they are doing."
On a less-important practical level, I helped change my baby brother's diapers when I was 11 and 12 years old. Jaime has enrolled us in hours and hours of baby/new parent classes offered at the hospital. I've been reading the books and gobbling up resources and info online.
On a deeper level, the passing of my own father in 2009 forced me into a more serious reflection of what kind of dad I want to be and what things in my own life can be sourced back to the way I was raised. My ecclesiastical education constantly stresses and reinforces the simplest yet wisest of principles that inevitably lead to your own brand good parenting. And I've been hearing and reading about it since I was a kid, not just in my adult years.
Jaime and I waited over 5 years between getting married and having a kid. We've spent a lot of time together, shared a lot of adventures and dated our faces off.
There's a lot more of all of this to come, my "training" has only begun, but I do feel like this kid is a very natural next step. So yes, I'm "excited" and optimistically looking forward to the challenges and adventures.
I think I force out the words "I have no idea what I'm doing" as some sort of backwards humble-brag to myself and nod to the "the more you know, the more you know you don't know" philosophy. I spend quite a bit of time introspectively cutting through the clutter of parenting tactics and boiling down to the most basic of principles I would like to govern happiness and love in our home. Here's my first stab at writing them down. I realize this list is likely naive and idealistic. I don't care. That said, this list is bound to evolve. These are the things we'll learn through doing and witnessing, more than being told and formally taught:
- We'll be nice people.
- The world does not revolve around you, but if you're nice enough people may think you're the greatest person in their world. Remember that kind words really do make people feel better, so be that person that says nice things, and it helps if you mean it. Complimenting is easy, free and quick. And do nice things. Give time, effort and charity even when they aren't easy, free or quick - because you're grateful for what you have. Be anonymous. Learn the ironically selfish benefits of warm fuzzies early and replicate the actions that lead to the symptoms as much as you can. Do your part to make the world more civil and understanding. Be nice.
- We'll learn to love learning.
- Or at least strongly avoid any resemblance of an aversion to learning new things). Geek out on at least one thing at a time any given year/season of life. A geek is not socially inept (that's a nerd, btw). A geek simply combines intelligence and passion on a particular topic. This can be reading. This can be colors, gardening, or geography. It can be drums or geo-caching. This will obviously evolve and be different for a 3 year old than it is for a 15 year old, but the point is, learning is cool. Learning is not scary.
- We'll be confident because we know who we are.
- Whether this is on the bicycle at 3 or 4 years old, a long hike with dad at 8 years old or asking out a girl at 16 years old, we'll believe in ourselves because our family has our back and we're Forsyths. We have divine origins and ambitions and can keep a simple and enabling eternal perspective. We'll learn and remember that hard work yields enviable results. Tough life milestones are scary and we may want to find ways to circumnavigate them, but we won't expect special treatment and we'll fight feelings of entitlement if when they creep in. We'll build confidence and independence through a series of victories over life's challenges - both those we volunteered for (e.g. learning a new instrument or sport) and those that force themselves upon us (e.g. middle school in general).
What would be on your little list? Note, the principle should be boiled down to a pithy practice, even if you expound with a sub-bullet like I have. Yes, I want my kids to learn to love and appreciate the outdoors, be independent, learn music, etc. but this isn't that list. This is my attempt to bridle the specific dreams and not live their lives for them in advance. Trying to keep it broad, wise practices and principles
Again, I have no idea of what I'm doing, but yep, very excited.