Here’s the thing I didn’t realize about becoming a dad. For the nine months leading up to D-Day (delivery day, due date, dad day — take your pick) nothing changes for me.
I can still drink beer and eat sushi, and I have a built-in designated driver.
My belly’s not getting bigger. OK, maybe it is, but not because I’m growing a tiny human in there.
My wife’s body has been steadily changing to prepare her for bringing another life into the world. Meanwhile, my body has just been trying to cope with the excessive amount of fried chicken being put into it these days.
Here’s the best analogy I have come up with: For my wife this feels like the beginning of a rollercoaster. Sure, a big, scary fall looms ahead, but there’s this steady build-up leading up to it. You know it’s coming.
For me, it feels like the Drop Zone at Carowinds. Right now, I’m perched at the top of the ride with my legs dangling over the edge. Nothing’s happening. But at some point, around July 20, without warning, it’ll send me hurtling back down toward Earth.
And I’m fucking terrified.
Dang it, I probably shouldn’t have cussed there, since this is the first thing I’ve ever written about my unborn child. I’m off to a great start, huh?
I had this existential crisis when I turned 27 because that’s how old my parents were when they had me. Holy crap, I thought, there’s no way I could take care of a child right now. I can barely take care of myself.
Now here I am, three years later, and I feel exactly the same way.
I’m not worried about my wife. She’s going to be an incredible mother. Shoot, she deals with dozens of high school kids every day as a teacher. A kid? No sweat.
Me, on the other hand … I question my instincts. One day I forgot to go to the bathroom before I left the office. I thought I’d be able to ignore the call of nature until I got home. I was wrong. I had to pull over into a hotel parking lot and make emergency use of the two empty Diet Coke cans that happened to be rolling around in the back seat of the car.
This happened less than a month ago. And I’m supposed to be raising a kid in a few months? Good lord.
I already feel like I’m running around like a crazy person, overwhelmed with all of the things I’m doing and have to do and want to do. Shoot, I told my co-editor Katie that I would write this for her at the beginning of April. And, well, here we are.
But I’ve seen my friends grow up and have kids, and they haven’t royally screwed it up. In fact, they’re doing a pretty darn good job of being dads.
The friend that hosted hot tub parties when we were home from college and facilitated me getting drunk for the first time? He’s got a cool kiddo running around.
The drummer in my high school garage rock band? He’s got a little drummer boy of his own.
The friend who I once watched double fist a half gallon of Bojangles’ sweet tea and a handle of whiskey while watching a basketball game? His beautiful daughter will get a little sister later this year.
If they can do it surely I can too, right? Right?!?
Here’s the thing about the Drop Tower. The wait at the top gives you a lot of time to think about what’s coming next and, sure, the prospect of the fall is terrifying — but it’s also exciting.
Then the drop comes so fast that you barely have time to think about what’s happening. It’s exhilarating. You yell or laugh or scream or some combination of the three. Before you know it, your feet touch the ground and you realize you never had anything to worry about.
And you actually had fun — so much fun that you want to get back in line and do it all over again.
So yeah, I’m terrified. But I’m also really excited to see Baby Inscoe. I can’t wait to dress him/her up in Carolina blue onesies and take him/her to breweries. (Yeah, that’s definitely happening.)
And I hope I can teach him/her a few things I’ve learned along the way, like to always make sure to use the bathroom before you get into the car.
Photo: Courtney Inscoe