At 8:37 tonight, I will turn 29 years old.
I can think of three 29 year-old first time dads right off. John Krasinski playing Jim Halpert on The Office. Zack Braff’s character, Michael, in the movie The Last Kiss. And Kevin Bacon playing Jake Briggs in the movie She’s Having a Baby. And now I shall be among them.
Of course, I’m not an actor or a character in a movie or TV show. But it’s natural to look at them and think, “Hey, I can relate to them. And if they can pull it off… so can I.”
I have a habit of subconsciously giving myself reassurance based on the lives of actors and fictional characters. The truth is, we all do. I admit I used the characters of Stephanie Tanner (from Full House) and Winnie Cooper (from The Wonder Years) as the standard of the girl I wanted to marry.
Mission accomplished. My wife is a fun-loving all-American middle child from northern California (like Stephanie Tanner) and sweet, respectful, and passionate (like Winnie Cooper). I can’t deny that my personal life is affected by fiction.
So I put myself in the shoes of the average guys I see on my TV screen every week. I am average, like them. Arguably normal, like them. Clueless to fatherhood, like them.
And from what I’ve learned so far about being a first time parent is this: Being clueless is sort of the whole point. No one actually knows what they’re doing. It’s a character building experience, just like marriage.
I think of this banking commercial that was airing a few months back. A first time dad brings his newborn home and holding the baby up to his eye level he says, “I know. It’s not about me anymore.”
Yes, my life as I know it is ending. In November I will begin Life: The Sequel. I will instantly be transformed from Married Guy to Married Guy With a Baby. Totally cool with me.
Because I can easily admit that the transition from Single Guy to Married Guy has done nothing but make me a better person. I’m less self-centered and more easy going because I have less personal expectations to be met. My expectations revolve around someone else, as a Married Guy. I am a helper and a partner. I don’t mind those roles.
So how much more will I improve in my journey of becoming a more giving person once the baby gets here? I can only imagine: that much more.
Born into this world as a baby who was completely dependent on others for everything, I have spent 29 years learning to do things on my own, having no choice but to realize it’s not all about me, more and more each day.
I had nay sayers trying to warn me before I got married how much I would miss the single days of answering to no one. But almost two years into being married, I don’t feel that way at all. I was not cut out to be a Single Guy. So glad those days are over.
While I am fully aware that having a baby changes everything, I welcome this change. What good would it do to spend the next five or ten years just trying to save up money to try to afford to have a kid? I would never reach that point of affordability or personal readiness.
I was married at age 27, the average age for an American man to be married. And I couldn’t find Internet research to back it up, but I would have to assume that it’s safe to say that age 29 is the average age of a married, first time dad. Despite my overawareness of my own quirkiness, I live a pretty normal life.
And that’s what I want. A normal life. Dirty diapers and all.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: