With this Sunday being October 10th , 2010, or 10/10/10, I had a special post over on TechyDad.com, titled Plus or Minus 10 Years, where I looked back at my life ten years ago and looked forward at my life ten years from now. Looking forward, I realized that, in a decade, NHL and JSL would be teenagers. We will have to deal with hormones, girls, high school and all the other complications that those things bring. While writing the blog post, I began to remember some of the worries that I had through the years.
When B and I were deciding on whether or not to have a child, our first worry was a financial one. Would we be able to afford a baby? We crunched the numbers, figured out some budgets and then finally came to two realizations. The first was that we weren’t sure that we were ready financially. The second was that if we waited until we were sure that we were financially ready to have a baby, we would never have a baby. So we hoped for the best and took the plunge.
Soon after B got pregnant, I began to worry about taking care of a teenager. I suppose that, because my teenage years were rough, that was the age range that my mind focused in on. I worried about handling bullies, rejected crushes, dates, “the talk” and all the other pitfalls that the teenage years entail. When I calmed down a bit, I realized that I was worrying for nothing. Sure, I’d eventually have to deal with that, but it was years upon years away. By the time we would have a teenager, I told myself, we would be expert parents. As beginning parents, I thought, we’d have an easy baby to take care of.
Of course, my pre-parenting assessment of babies of being easy to take care of was quickly corrected once NHL arrived. Sure, they might not run through the house, ask to borrow the car or stay out beyond curfew, but babies come with quite the large set of worries. By far, the most frustrating thing is that they can’t tell you what’s wrong. They can only cry. So you need to become a master of deciphering screams that all sound virtually identical, oftentimes at 3am when you’ve had only 5 hours of sleep total over the past 3 days. There were plenty of times when I wished NHL would get older quicker so he could tell me exactly what was wrong.
NHL did get older, of course, but that just brought it’s own set of challenges. Specifically, toddlers develop super powers of sorts. Non-parents might not know this, but you can measure their arm, place an item on a counter beyond their reach and their arms will somehow stretch to obtain the forbidden prize. Don’t ask me how they do this. Perhaps their arms are actually made of rubber. And forget about hiding the item. Spiderman has his spider-sense to help him avoid trouble and toddlers have Toddler-sense to help them find things and situations that will get them into trouble.
Now that NHL is in grade school, I worry about his education, how he is fitting in with the other kids, and a myriad of other items. At each stage of his growth, I’m reminded that parenting isn’t something you get a manual for. It isn’t even something that you perfect through the years. It’s a job that you learn on the fly. Every time you think you’ve got it figured out, a new and unique challenge appears and you find yourself making it up as you go along.
Being a parent, to a child at any age, is anything but easy. Nothing in life that is worthwhile is ever easy. And my boys are two of the most worthwhile people in my life. Even though I’m sure that the future will bring challenges, I’ll meet them head on and work my hardest to ensure that things turn out for the best for my boys. That’s what fathers do.