When my wife got pregnant, she kept a journal about the experience. I decided to do the same. Below is excerpt from the journal, as well as what the current version of me would say to the scared, childless dude who wrote it.
… Lately, it’s just been me waking in a panic over the gravity of the situation: “Oh Shit, you’re gonna have a baby! You’re not ready for that. You’re a mess!” Some nights I lie there thinking of all the horrible things that can go wrong [during a child’s life]. I remember all the stupid thing I did growing up – the near car accidents, the reckless behavior, the drinking, and the drugs…and I wonder how she [the baby] will ever make it to adulthood okay. And how I’ll be able to get through the next 20 to 25 years without living in a state of constant panic over the all the minefields around her.
Dear Childless Jared (CJ),
Before I get into the content of this woe-is-me entry, let’s talk construction. First off, who uses a colon in a journal entry? You really come off looking like a pretentious asshole when you do things like that, CJ. If you’re not in the moment enough to avoid using grammar that’s meant for whitepapers and inter-office memos, what’s the point of writing at all? Also, the use of the word “minefields” made me want to punch you.
That being said, I know what you’re going through (I was you, after all!). Here’s the thing, CJ. Your anxiety is adorable compared to what I’m dealing with. On top of all the usual stuff new parents worry about, I get to fret over the biggies. I worry about money, I worry about my health, and I worry about the world I brought Emma into.
And by the way, the normal anxiety I have about raising a happy, healthy kid pales in comparison to the anxiety I feel about the state of this planet.
Where to begin… Okay, for starters, England shocked the world when it decided to divorce itself from the European Union. We call it Brexit (get it, Great Britain + exit?) because we’re so busy as a society that it’s imperative to combine related words into one cute little combo – à la Brangelina. (Oh, by the way, those two split as well.) And that’s not all.
Donald Trump’s president now. I know, I know, I’m not exactly sure how it happened, either. But the final stretch of the election season made for crazy reality TV, complete with spies, leaked emails, “pussy grabbing,” candidates passing out in the street, and the unexpected fame for a fat man in a tight red sweater named Kenneth Bone.
If you thought politics divided Americans before, you won’t believe how bad it is now. Facebook (Families, Acquaintances, and Co-Workers Embattled in Bitter Online-Only Knockdowns) has devolved into a terrifying forum for misinformation where people – Republicans, Democrats, and annoying Independents with man buns – spend their time saying horrible things to one another, sharing dubious “news” stories to back up said misinformation, and posting adorable pics of their children, who are blissfully unaware of how terrifying their world is.
Meanwhile, people are protesting at unprecedented rates, California is talking about secession, and some NBA players may not be able to travel to away games because of a horrifying ban on refugees.
In the midst of all this insanity is a leather-skinned succubus introducing the world to the concept of “alternative facts,” while an extremely scary administration is quietly trying to silence scientists from sharing the opposite of alternative facts on critical issues like climate change.
Oh, and George Orwell’s “1984” is selling like it’s the new Harry Potter book.
So, CJ, if I could go back in time and tell you a few things to better prepare you for what lies ahead, here’s what I’d say:
I know you feel stupid doing it, but trust me, it’s only going to get more stressful from here on out. You’ll thank me for this advice later.
Don’t take that Ambien on January 8, 2016
Before bed, Liz is going to say she’s not going into labor that night, but then she’s going to wake you up a few hours after that sleeping pill kicks in, and driving to the hospital is going to be trickier than it needs to be as a result.
Stop worrying about getting “through the next 20 to 25 years without living in a state of constant panic over the all the minefields”
Instead, focus on being a great dad – a “This-Is-Us”-caliber dad – on a day-to-day basis. Like I said, things wind up getting pretty scary. There’s a very good chance you’ll only have to worry about keeping Emma healthy, happy, and safe until the apocalypse – something that looks more and more like it’s right around the corner.