I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to hear my wife is pregnant. To see her for the first time knowing we’ll be a full family soon. She and I will get to wait together. She’ll get bigger, and I’ll build the crib. We’ll find out if they’ll be a boy or girl, and buy paint accordingly. The guest room will become the baby’s bedroom. My wife will tell me what to do, and I’ll end up painting the entire room, but that’s okay. All of our friends will come over and feel her belly. At night, we’ll sit on the couch watching television. The baby will kick, and we’ll both freeze and look at each other. Each day the pregnancy will become more normal, until suddenly, we actually become parents.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to look into my child’s eyes for the first time. The crying will stop, and their eyes will just barely open. They’ll be blue, they always are. All the noise of the hospital will go away, and for a few seconds, we’ll look at each other. They’ll see that my eyes are blue too, and that we’re not so different. I’m excited to see myself. I’ll look at my wife sitting in the hospital bed. I know I’ll have tears in my eyes. Without even being aware, or doing anything specific, the page of our lives has turned for good. Neither of us is ready, but we’re ready to try to be.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited that it could be a boy. His room will be blue, and every present he receives for the first two years of his life will be blue. I’ll watch him play with cars and draw pictures. In the morning, he’ll stand at the side of his crib, waiting for me to come get him. I’ll walk in the door, and he’ll smile. A few years later I’ll show him how to play catch. He’ll only be a few feet away from me. I’ll throw the baseball to him under hand and he’ll still miss. I’ll laugh and he’ll get frustrated. Walking inside, I’ll tousle his hair and we’ll watch one of his favorite shows together.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited that it could be a girl. Her room will be pink, and every present she receives for the first two year of her life will be pink. I’ll watch her get her first doll and take it in as her own. At night, she’ll get cranky. I’ll pick her up and bring her to bed. She’ll fall asleep on the way upstairs, and slowly, carefully, I’ll set her in her crib. When I leave for work, she’ll want to come too. I’ll tell her I can’t, but we will soon. I’ll almost be to my car, but run inside quickly to make her smile and give her one last hug. Through the window, she’ll wave to me. Backing out of the driveway I’ll wave back, only looking forward to being back home.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited for their first school choir. He’ll be standing behind some taller kids, mouthing the words, looking around sheepishly. She’ll be in the front, smiling and singing louder than everyone. He’ll see my wife and I in the crowd and wave. She’ll see my wife and I in the crowd and jump for us and blow us kisses. Afterwards, we’ll take them out for a milkshake. They’ll feel like a celebrity, everyone was there for them. And when we’re driving back home, and they’re asleep in the back, I’ll be scared. I’ll be scared to see them grow up, and for me to become smaller.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to see him off to his first school dance. His date will be someone he’s always liked. He doesn’t talk to her much in front of us, he’s too shy. My wife will take photos until he can’t smile anymore. His date’s mom will have gotten a limousine for them and their friends. My wife will be taking photos as they get into the back, but I’ll just be watching. He’ll look out of the car window at me. I’ll wave, and he’ll wave back. The limousine will pull away, and I’ll stay up for him to get home.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to see her off to her first school dance. Her date will be someone she was praying to be asked by. Her date will knock on our door with flowers in his hands. My wife will answer it, and my daughter will walk down the stairs in her extravagant dress, making a show of it. I’ll wait for her date to introduce himself. I’ll act like I’m judging him, but I’ll give my daughter the thumbs-up no matter what. Some older friends will pick them up, and I’ll watch her leave. Before she gets in, she’ll look back at us. I’ll yell that I love her, and she’ll say she loves me too.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to see them get in trouble, and I mean big trouble, for the first time. Some kids at school will have thrown a party or be smoking pot. They’ll try it, they’re curious. My wife and I will catch them, parents always do. My wife will cry, yell, and then hug them for hours. I’ll ask if they want to get food with me. We’ll drive, just the two of us, and we’ll talk about nothing. I’ll casually bring it up, wanting them to just be honest with me. Our conversation will last through dinner, and I’ll say I love them, and that I always will no matter what.
I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to see them go off to college. My wife and I will drive help them pack. The day of, we’ll all pack into the SUV and head off. Their roommate will have already moved in, so they’ll have no choice in what side of the room they get. We’ll unpack their things and make sure everything is organized. They’ll be coaxing us out, excited to turn the page. My wife will cry, and we’ll hug them goodbye. Leaving, I’ll be fine. Driving home, I’ll be fine. Saying goodnight to my still crying wife, I’ll be fine. But, when it’s midnight, and I’m downstairs alone, I’ll be waiting. Not consciously, but I’ll be waiting for the sound of the back door to open, and for them to get back from their friend’s house safely. I’ll finally go to bed, and for the first time I’ll ask myself if they’re okay. They will be, but I won’t.
But that’s what being a dad is.
more by TYLER CLIFTON
photograph by Giu Vicente