My wife is pregnant with our first child, which means that soon I will become the World’s Greatest Dad. I know this because I have done all the self-work necessary to understand how my parents failed me in my childhood. Using this self-knowledge, I will not make any of the mistakes my mother and father made. With mistakes eliminated, all that will be left is a good, healthy childhood. I just really want my children to have to “unlearn” as little as possible, you know?
Now to buy a baby book. Which one will show me the correct way to raise a human child? I can get one geared to men or I can just read the book my wife already bought. I wouldn’t want to prop up the gender binary, so I guess I’ll do both. And buy three more books. Multiple opinions are always best, right? Oh, this book has a list of which baby books are printed on organic paper!
Boy, I’m tired.
All I want is for my life to look like a magazine or the Gaines family. Is that too much to ask? I want to give my wife a night off to add finishing touches to our renovation project. She can call it her “me time”, which I’ll interrupt with all the kids and pizza! #Blessed
The baby books told me not to worry too much, but I should have all my baby supplies six months in advance. We should also be on track to have a savings account with 50% of our lifetime wealth for those *little* emergencies. Plus, who knows how much college will cost in the future, so I might as well tuck away a couple million, just in case.
I want to write notes to our baby. Nothing too serious, just something small like Karl Ove Knausgaard’s four-book series of books addressed to his unborn daughter. That shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll just take some time each day to write an essay on the intricate drama of an early morning birdsong before heading into the office.
I’ll need to work on my emotional availability. Good thing I learned that lesson from my dad! Our baby will know every single emotion that I feel. You make daddy so happy, nervous, excited, anxious, and nauseous! How can someone who hasn’t been born make me feel complete and terrifyingly inadequate at the same time? It’s the miracle of life!
Cloth or disposable diapers? I’m not sure. The extra time to clean cloth diapers might be worth the smug satisfaction I get knowing that I am that much better of a father.
I wonder which Instagram filter will best suit baby. Gingham is nice, but Lark is always a winner. Should I warn my friends about the tidal wave of baby pictures coming their way or do you think they’ve already unfollowed my social media accounts?
This is exhausting.
Names! We need a name. We need something that honors both of our families but also sets our child up for a perfect life. What is a name that is sweet, sentimental, impossible to make fun of, and immediately hireable? Gethsemane Promise, that’s a good one. How about Juno Ladybird? Willow Stigmata has a nice ring to it. Lord knows we don’t want to force our child into anything. A child should be able to choose every aspect of their identity. Perhaps we should wait to let the baby choose a name, just like in the movie Big Daddy!
I guess we should go ahead and sign baby up for daycare. And sports. And chess club. And AP classes. Early bird gets accepted to their dream college, right?
You know what I’m most excited about, as the World’s Greatest Dad? I am excited that I will have another human on which I can project my hopes, dreams, and aspirations that I never got around to. Good thing ladders to success can be passed down to children!
This baby is so lucky to have such a self-actualized father.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the head of one soon-to-be father.
The truth of the matter is that Law disguised as parenting advice or any other form self-help is still Law and the outcome is the same: burnout, failure, and death.
I will never be the world’s greatest father. I will only be my child’s father.
In the same way, I will never be the world’s greatest priest, writer, or dog-owner. (Though my dog is the world’s greatest dog.) The only title I can claim is the Best at Self-Deception or perhaps World’s Greatest Virtue Signaler. In all my attempts to be the best in a public way, I am internally raging against the restraints of time and mortality. I am looking to hold onto control with a white-knuckle grip. I am seeking to make myself like God. The problem is that I am not the world’s greatest anything and the solution is to simply admit it.
The world’s greatest sinner is a title that we could all fight over, but the Gospel says that those categories need no longer apply. The grace of God reaches each person where and how they are. The scorecard has been done away with. The ladder to success has been taken down.
Which is Good News, because I cannot read another damn baby book.