Justin: Sara has spoken of her experience of life as an expectant mother over the last couple of weeks, so we thought it might be interesting to focus this week on life as an expectant father.
I have noticed how different the experience of “expectation” is for me as a man versus the experience for Sara as a woman.
St. Paul says faith is the belief in something unseen. In many ways, this has been my experience of fatherhood.
I think the experience is much more surreal as a man. The idea of being a father is definitely less concrete for me. Sara is intimately linked with our baby already as each day our baby depends on her for nourishment. The expectation has changed every aspect of her life, from the way she eats to the amount of energy she has.
My life has remained very much the same. I have tried to take on additional chores and make sure I am pulling my weight around the house, but as yet I have not really felt the demands of fatherhood.
It is easier for Sara to talk to the baby. Sara constantly refers to the baby. It might be for silly reasons or for serious. She is constantly aware and constantly in contact with baby. I have to be reminded. Sara continually encourages me to talk to the baby, to say good night to baby, ask him/her how they are doing, or to give the baby a pat (I think she just wants me to rub her tummy). It just doesn’t come as naturally.
Sara knows she is talking to our child. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to her stomach.
I have heard it said that women become mothers when they become pregnant, men become fathers when their baby is born. I see motherhood in Sara in many ways. For instance, we have a new niece, Joanna, who is 3 months old. Over the holidays and at the baptism, Sara was immersed in Joanna -even fighting for the right to change diapers.
I think that women are at a distinct advantage. The changes women experience in their bodies provide them a concrete experience of the baby. Men have to wait. Hearing our baby’s heart beat at our last doctor’s appointment was a very powerful moment, but I am very much looking forward to the day when I can hold my baby and put a name with a face.
One thing has changed. I feel greater responsibility in my life. I used to joke with my friends about what I called “responsibility years.” We used to say that getting married added 5 years to your biological age and that you got another 5 years for each child due to the extra responsibilities.
I definitely feel the responsibility of providing for a family. Sara and I are still discerning our plans for after the baby, but the possibility of becoming a one income family is very real. This will require sacrifice and it makes me constantly confront my fears and desires for comfort.
On the other hand, I think the opportunity to sacrifice is one of the great blessings of parenthood. We live in a culture which is consumed by instant gratification, and try as we might, we can’t help but to begin to live this way. The constant desire for comfort has the potential stunt our growth. Trials are almost always transformative in the spiritual life. As such, I am looking forward to fatherhood as a great opportunity growth. You might say I am looking forward to it with great expectations!