We are two weeks away from the due date of our little girl. My mental state has been hitting extremes; at times I am exuberantly happy about where I am in my life, what I’ve been given, what I’ve accomplished, and what’s ahead. Other times it truly begins to dawn on me that in a very short period of time, I’m going to be completely responsible for a helpless child, an actual human being that has a brain and a soul.
And one isn’t the positive extreme and other a negative; I’d almost say more that these are just corollary emotions. They aren’t the same but they are very closely intertwined.
As I look back over the last 27.5 years of living (about 20 or so years of memories to reflect upon), I’m realizing that the life-changing events that happened, I wasn’t aware that I would be radically changed by them, let alone how they would change me. Missions trip to Mexico at 15, moving to Kansas City at 17, transferring to UNI in the middle of college, studying abroad in Spain, becoming a husband. These are formative experiences in my life that changed me at a fundamental level, and I had little to no idea that change would occur.
One of the most humbling parts of getting ready to have a baby is trying to prepare for change to occur again. It’s the first time in my life that I am so utterly cognizant of the fact that my world is about be torn apart at the seams and everything I know and am used to is going to be flipped upside down.
And I can’t prepare for it. Not fundamentally, anyway. Practically, sure. We’ve spent 8.5 months getting ready for our family to grow; putting a crib together, taking classes at the hospital, figuring out new work schedules and childcare and trying to settle as best as we can in our home. But with this first kid, there is such a gigantic variable that we can’t prepare for. Basically, the little kid herself.
What is she going to be like? Is she going to be fussy, a good sleeper? Will she have curly, blonde hair like both me and Colls did? Will she find us funny? What will she become passionate about that isn’t like us at all?
I am looking forward to getting to know our little woman. And it freaks me out to think about how Colls and I are both going to change as a result of growing our family. I’ve never been more lucid or aware of the fact that I don’t know what’s about to come.
And we’re getting down to the wire here. When I’ve thought about big moments coming up in my life, like graduating, getting married, buying a house, retiring, they’ve always felt so distant, like I couldn’t totally get my hands on the concept of the event actually happening. Colleen and I have been talking about having kids since before we were dating (I guess that’s how church kids flirt?) and even after we started talking about it once we were married, it always felt so far off, like it would always definitely happen, just not right now.
And wouldn’t you know it, all of a sudden, it is right now. I can tangibly count down to when our baby will be coaxed into the world if she hasn’t decided she wants to arrive of her own volition.
So here are my last rites. This is my prayer for me, and this is different than my prayer for my child. I’m calling it my last rites not because I’m dying, or I think having a kid is ruining my life, but because for the first time, I am 100% aware that the Jon writing this right now is not going to be the same as the Jon writing about his new baby in a month. I’ve been excited to meet this little woman for a long time, but I’m surprised to find I’m getting more and more excited to become this new Jon too.
I pray that God is preparing me to be a good father, one who is present, loving, listening, communicative, and strong. I pray for acceptance that the life I’ve known for a long time is ending and a desire to fully embrace and experience everything about this new chapter that is beginning. I pray for humility in accepting that I cannot be a perfect parent, and that God is using my role as a father to teach me to more fully realize and accept the love He has for His children. I pray that I can throw away any sense of self-consciousness and be a dad who isn’t afraid to play and imagine and encourage and talk with his little woman. I pray that God gives me a childlike heart to experience the world like she does and provide her with opportunities to feel and embrace, with everything she is, the overwhelming beauty of the world God has given us.
And I pray one day she finds me interesting enough to want to read this. I love you, little woman. I will always do my best for you.