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Unpacking my Mind

Exploring the emotions of a soon-to-be father

By Joe FaulkenberryPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
Unpacking my Mind
Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

I am not a frantic man. Anyone who has ever spent more than half an hour with me would likely confirm this with conviction. However, were they to spend half a minute in my head, they wouldn't believe it was the same person. It's as though a kindergartener was given the responsibility of organizing my thoughts, and they simply jot everything on a sticky note in crayon and toss it into the air. They don't use nice, small crayons either. They exclusively use the giant ones whose only redeeming quality is that they aren't a choking hazard. This child has horrific handwriting and even worse working conditions because it is incessantly windy. When I am having a conversation with someone, I pluck the closest one I can out of the air. Eight times out of ten it is a joke (three times out of ten it's a good joke.) This makes me a likable person, but it doesn't fully reflect who I am.

I'm drawn to writing because it allows me to sift through the sticky notes. It allows me to lay them all out on the table: throw away the bad jokes, tell the good ones to myself, and chew on the remaining thoughts to discern how I truly feel. I haven't written in some time, and there is A LOT to sift through. The most pressing of issues at the moment is my pending fatherhood. It could be unpacking my first year of teaching, reflecting on athletic achievements, or figuring out how to get Mac to stop barking. But it is probably the birth of my daughter.

"First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand." -C.S. Lewis

Unprecedented Fear

As we get closer to meeting Harper, I must admit that I am afraid. I'm afraid of things people don't discuss. I'm not afraid of losing sleep or being incapable of taking care of Harper when she gets here (although I probably should be.) No, nothing normal, or sensible like that. In no particular order:

I fear I will fail to nurture my love for Savannah (my wife) in the shadow of Harper's needs.

I fear for everything that will ever happen to her. The first fall, the first drop of blood, the first sickness, heartbreak, all of it.

I fear for all of the good intentions I may have for Harper.

I fear that I will develop expectations or wishes that might dilute who she wants to or could become.

I fear that my enthusiasm for something she once loved may deter her from admitting that she's lost all joy in doing that thing.

I fear the consistency that is required of a parent. Outside of breathing and eating, there's nothing I've ever done for a lifetime.

I fear that I'll fall into the trap of prioritizing my career, fitness, or self and, worse still, trick myself into calling it provision or love or sacrifice.

I also fear that I'll forget to take care of myself in any way.

I fear dying. Leaving Savannah and Harper both in the wake of my premature death to figure it out on their own.

I fear the expectation. Everyone tells you, "you'll never know a love like the love for your child." What if that doesn't come right away? Seems like a lot of pressure to put on something that's been primarily described as a variety of fruits and vegetables over the course of the last 8 months.

Childlike Excitement

In spite of every fear I have for Harper's life and my role in it, I am overcome with excitement.

One of the greatest joys in life is meeting new people. I've met thousands, but this meeting is special. This first impression is with a human that God used me (albeit in brevity) to help create. Savannah and I are two of my favorite people; I can't wait to meet the basketball-sized combination.

I'm excited to see Harper's face... and her belly... and her hands... and her little toes.

I'm excited to hold her.

I'm excited to watch her sleep.

I'm excited to see her sense of humor and her mind.

I'm excited to hear how she laughs. Will she have my generic "haha" laugh? Will she be a chuckler? Whether she has a boisterous, choking heehaw or a cute giggle, I hope she is blessed with an infinite supply of laughter.

I'm excited to fall in love with everything she loves.

I'm excited to watch her grow.

I'm excited to play and dance and sing with her.

I'm excited to watch Savannah be a mother and to fall in love with that version of her.

I'm excited to see how I change: my priorities, perspectives, and patience.

Simple and sincere HOPE

Prayers, wishes, and dreams have flooded every recess of my brain over the course of this pregnancy. (As though my five-year-old office manager wasn't under enough stress. I hope he is a better swimmer than I am.) Most of my aspirations for Harper involve her character. I don't care so much about what she does, as who she becomes.

I hope Harper is healthy.

I hope Harper is kind.

I hope she has Savannah's self-assuredness and self-efficacy.

I hope she loves Jesus and knows Him well.

I hope she loves herself and talks nicely to herself.

I hope she loves me and Savannah.

I hope she likes us.

I hope she talks to us.

I hope she bathes daily in gratitude.

I hope she feels as loved as she is.

I hope she likes hugs.

I hope she feels safe.

I hope her dreams come true.

I hope she sees me cry.

I hope she doesn't grow up too fast, and that she doesn't have to.

I hope I don't get ink stains on her clothes.

I hope I'm slow to anger and quick to listen.

I hope we're good at this.

immediate familyparents

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