As a young man I never once thought about having children. As a young adult I never once wanted to have children. As a man approaching middle age I resisted having children to the best of my ability. The only reason that I have children now is because I loved my wife enough to do things I said I would never do. A nice sentiment but when the reality of being a resistant father hits you head on it can knock you back a few paces.
I was very involved in my wife’s pregnancy and support, reading and studying alongside her, or vicariously through her as it may be. I was there during labor offering what vain support a human being can give while his wife goes through the twisted agony of childbirth.
It only got ugly when the babies arrived and I was expected to accept this change in life. I am so deeply selfish that I wasn’t prepared for the letting go it took to care for another human being. I resisted it with all my being and really didn’t like much of it.
The animate blobs that were my babies and who lived at my wife’s boob didn’t stir me as they stir some. I would hear other dads spout the cliché of standing over their sleeping baby overcome with love and emotion. If I had to put my kids to sleep, which as was my pattern, I tried to avoid doing, I could not wait to get out of the room and have a couple of hours to myself.
What can a person do? This was why I never wanted to have children in the first place. And being the horrible soul that I am, I have a distinct memory of telling exactly that to my lovely wife when my daughter was about four months old and I was miserable. My wife, being the saint of the universe, let me be who I was through all of my childish pain and suffering.
My kids are now four and a half and seven and we are having a great time together. Their age and being able to relate intellectually has been key to the evolution of my happiness in being with them. They didn’t interest me much before they talked. Now I spend as much time with them as I can and am freaking out about how fast they are growing up. Something else happened. I now stand over my children’s beds overcome with love and emotion. Who cares how long it took, the payoff is pretty sweet.
I am just amazed that it has happened. This isn’t to say I am a cold person— I am who I am and I didn’t see it coming. But I am that glad it did.