It’s a Shocker, Folks

This one’s going into overtime.

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When my wife and I were in our late 20s/early 30s, we had three kids in fairly rapid succession. Think semi-automatic pregnancies. We knew we wanted a biggish family. But we also wanted to cram the frenzied Diaper Life into a relatively short window, then sit back, relax, and let the iPads and neighbor kids take over parenting duties. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM—done. When you’re going through hell, keep going. Quickly. No dawdling.

And, like good soldiers, we stuck to that mindset. Though, for a few brutal years, that meant we’d be surrounded on all sides, pinned down by a dangerous crossfire of diaper explosions and whooping cough, and swamped with 3-a.m. runs to CVS for Infant Tylenol. There were also multiple ER visits packed in there, if memory serves, as well as lots of puke. So much puke. It was a blur of chaos—terrible, wonderful chaos. But somehow we succeeded and things eventually returned to normal. No more cumbersome car seats or strollers or awful Doc McStuffins binge sessions. It’s been that way for some time now. We even began leaving the kids at home for short spells without a babysitter (aka, “PARADISE”).

Fast-forward a billion years. To right now. I’m 41, my wife 40—and we just found out we’re due to have Baby No. 4 this summer. Our third son.

We took precautions to guard against this, of course. We had a Plan. A defensive rim-protector, so to speak. Life, however, saw that plan and ferociously dunked all over its stupid face. Life was Tom Chambers, it seems—our plan was Mark Jackson.

Never mind those plans, right? You’re taking joy in the news, right? You’re grateful that you’re even in this position, right?

Yes, yes, right. Of course. ALL of that is correct—we are beyond excited and grateful, eager to move on with the new plan, and so forth and so on. Those are the givens—the canned platitudes—but they are boring and nobody cares. This isn’t Instagram. But do you know what else is true about this situation though rarely discussed by someone standing in my supportive, reasonably priced Nike Monarch #DadShoes? This whole thing is terrifying. TERRIFYING.

That is a boorish and over-the-line thing to say on a mom-blog like this, but it’s the truth. From the inherent high-risk pregnancy to the potential for delivery complications to SIDS—which I all but forgot about—to the general exhaustion of that first year to the horrors of dealing with a 2-year-old again, the whole lot of it is unnerving and worrisome in a way that none of the previous three were. Maybe that’s because we’re not immersed in pure chaos anymore. Or perhaps I’m just old and this is what old people do. We think about the little things too much. Consider this:

Assuming all goes well, when this kid is 10 and immersed in video games, I’ll be 51 and completely, hopelessly lost playing him on “Xbox HYPERSPACE” or whatever: a six-dimensional gaming platform whose controller has 2,000 different buttons, none of which I’ll understand or be able to press in a timely fashion. I’m barely hanging on now, on Xbox One. My God, it’s so remarkably complicated. To hell with that thing. (“IN MY DAY WE HAD AN ‘A’ BUTTON AND A ‘B’ BUTTON AND THAT’S ALL WE NEEDED.”)

In the Year of Our Lord 2027—if I’m still alive—I will officially be “Old-Man Dad.” I’ll be that dad we all knew growing up, that guy who may as well have been our friend’s grandpa visiting from Tucson, more titanium than bone … more Kohl’s denim than man. On the couch after dinner, I’ll be a cacophony of terrible, alarming noises and/or asleep. Social media will have long passed me by, as will the indie band scene and the ability to care what people think. On the plus side, my #DadStrength will be at its PEAK; I’ll be able to carry nine bags of mulch over each surgically repaired shoulder.

All of which is okay by me, the more I think about it. In fact, I’m totally fine with being an old-man dad, if only because as a young dad I didn’t appreciate what my wife and I thought was our final trip down the parental drive. I will this time.

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