I finally understand. Our little guy isn’t even born and my mind and heart are tearing at each other. How many times did you stay up late, waiting for us to come home, worrying and wondering? How many times did you pack extra apples and sandwiches in our trip bags and insist we wear a jumper? I finally understand why you didn’t let me out ‘til I was a late teenager and why you and dad insisted that I come along to every family visit, even though I’d rather stay home and play games.
Our little guy isn’t even born yet and my mind and heart are tearing at each other. I don’t get it. Every time I feel him kick within my wife’s womb I feel closer and closer to the little guy. Then the harsh worry kicks in. What if everything isn’t okay with him? What if he needs something? The depth of concern I feel for the little guy is clawing at me. Dragging me into a pit of anxiety that I’ve never felt before for myself. I don’t care about myself, I’ll lose my job, all my comforts, clothes, games, car and house – I don’t care, I’ll lose it all, all for this little guy I haven’t even met yet.
Mum, how the hell did you do it? How the hell did you deal with the constant fear that we might not come home one night? That you’d wake to find our beds empty – or worse, while waiting for us to come home, you’d receive that dreaded phone call every parent fears. When I stop and reflect on the little guy, a bunch of stuff you did as a parent starts to make sense to me. You yelled at us and pleaded with us never to fight, to look after each other and be there for one another. To protect one another; and I get it now. It wasn’t because you wanted to sleep well, it’s because you wanted to sleep well knowing we always would too.
I’m sorry mum, I wasn’t easy as a teenager and a young adult. I was always sick as a kid, and I was the one who always complained about his father not taking us out much. You guys did your best and I’m petrified of the idea that one day my little guy would be disappointed with me. But now, when I think about why I was upset with you, it all makes sense. I get why I was stuck at home all the time, I get why you guys were strict on my brothers and I… Why we couldn’t have every game we wanted and we had to eat everything you made at home. You’re a mum, a parent, and you had to do what loving parents have to do. One day, I’m going to have to be the unpopular dad and tell my little guy what to do. One day I’m going to have an awkward talk to him about sex and respecting women and I’ll one day have to drag him to church when he’d rather play games.
Mum, he’s not even born yet. I’m only in the first chapter and here I am thinking about you and your journey, raising three little troublemakers. I’ve never understood you as much as I do now, for years and years you laboured while I just turned a cold shoulder. You loved, endlessly, and I didn’t even see it. I was too caught up in my own world, my own selfish little problems. While I was worrying about collecting all 120 stars in Super Mario you and dad worried about putting food on the table. I was too naive to realise that you were breaking your back for us. I’m sorry mum, I really am. Though I guess I can finally say with confidence that despite our differences, we’ll start speaking the same language. We’ll probably end up worrying about my little guy together.
It’s not easy, and I think I’m slowly figuring out that I’ll always worry about my baby. And until I hear it myself, I suppose the only thing right now that gives me the slightest bit of comfort is imagining him, looking at me and telling me, ‘Don’t worry, Dad’. Right before I eat up my concern and tell him to live his life.
This post originally appeared on The Humble Buffalo, a blog by two young men. The blog focuses on navigating the very real ups and downs of life’s journey.