A few months ago, my wife and I found out that we’re expecting a baby. Above all else, we’re very excited.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m also scared. (Can I say very? I probably shouldn’t…) I’m guessing most dads-to-be won’t admit it in writing, but I will. I think it’s a reasonable reaction.
The craziest part is that I’m scared even though I always knew this would happen! So why am I scared of something that I’ve always known and wanted to happen?
The obvious answer is that this is the most important, irreversible thing to happen to me. So it makes sense.
What am I scared of? Mostly the loss of freedom.
But here are the ways I’m coping with my fear:
1. Trusting parents that kids improve their lives
Whenever I see a thread on Twitter about the decision to have kids, I almost always click.
As usual there’s the “anti” crowd. But the replies from some of the smartest people I follow all say more or less the same. That they can’t explain it to people without kids, but having them makes their lives immeasurably better (albeit harder).
If I try to live by the “regret minimization framework”, not having kids would be the one I would regret the most.
I’m trusting that this is true for me too.
2. Not having kids means you don’t get the full human experience
I follow someone on Twitter who used to not want kids.
She explains why in Deciding to be Child Free
When she first asked on Twitter why she should have kids, one answer stood out to me that I haven’t forgotten.
Having kids is part of the full human experience. We only have one, short life. There’s nothing more human than raising another human. (Or so I’ll find out soon)
Recently, she completely changed her mind, planning to get pregnant in 2022
I want the full human experience.
3. I’ll never be ready, so I might as well start now
There’s no perfect time to have children. You can always be richer, more emotionally ready, have a stronger marriage, etc. But if you wait for the perfect moment, you’ll either never have children, or you’ll be an old parent. And while the ship has sailed on being a young parent, I’m now determined to try not to be an old parent. Which means starting a family as soon as possible.
4. I’ll be more ambitious and productive
The jury is still out on this one, but I’m hoping I will become more ambitious and productive. I’ve never had to work for anybody other than myself which makes me lazy. Having a purpose, I hope, will give me a career drive I didn’t know I had. On a more practical level, I will have no choice but to put the fewer hours I have to myself to better use.
Besides, there are plenty of very successful people who are also parents. (Maybe even because they are parents)
This gives me hope that I can also have a fulfilling career while raising a family.
But who knows. Maybe after laying eyes on my baby, all my career ambitions will take second stage forever.
5. I never used my freedom anyway
I’m stealing this one from Paul Graham who wrote an excellent essay about kids. He writes: “The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used.” Reading this makes me sad about how I’ve wasted my time in the past, but it also gives me relief. If freedom was so important to me in the past, I would have used it.