Dear as-yet-born baby,
You are really freaking me out. I mean this in an incredibly loving way, but here in the waning days before your arrival, I am suddenly seeing you at six years old, screaming your brains out at me because I didn’t put the right lunchpail in your school satchel, and it’s all quite chilling.
We watched The Happiest Baby On the Block DVD today, and I prayed that one of the “5 S’s” would be able to quell your shrieks. Or will you not shriek at all? You won’t be a boy, so there will be no urine on the ceiling, but I have heard tales, O, such tales!, of babies with colic who scream for three solid months unabated.
I hold your mom’s belly, massaging it, hoping that it will relax those ideas out of you, but it’s really just superstition. They say that in order to have the brains of a homo sapiens, we had to come out of the womb early, so the first three months will actually be a “fourth trimester,” with you as naught but a fetus on dry land. I have lowered my expectations; like all humans who watch movies, I had been convinced that babies come out looking like – well, what five-month-olds actually look like.
I should be ready for this. I changed diapers three times a day for my sister, I assuaged the screams of about 20 of my newborn cousins, and I raised our next-door neighbor from about ten weeks to two years. I have seen it all. I have seen my sister’s pinkie dangling from her hand when Sean shut the door on it; I saw Sean’s bloodied face when he rolled his walker down the basement stairs. I have been on a road trip to New Mexico in a Winnebago with five toddlers screaming in blood-curdling tandem. And still I’m afraid.
A few years ago, I would not have brought you into this world. I thought this place was so awful, a rotten country with moronic leaders and terrorists willing to blow us to bits. I told your mother that there was no way we were bringing you into that atmosphere. The world hasn’t really changed, so I guess I have.
I had to realize that my existence wasn’t going to last forever, my petty theories were worthless, and that the best moments came in glances rather than declarations. When I got my act together just enough, someone as fantastic as your mother agreed to hang out with me for life. Since then, I had to find the fine line between my Mormon survivalism and my laissez-faire nihilism, and when I did, finally, I knew it was okay to hang out with you for life too.
This is going to stop being about me, I swear. You have to understand that when you fight for emotional survival the way your mom and I did, the way I had to negotiate myself out of the school playground without getting traumatized, the way your mom had to outlast the cruel vicissitudes of her father, it has taken all of our wiles to get here. Further, we decided to be “artists,” for lack of a better word, which hinges our financial future on things that are, well, “all about us.”
I know you’ll cure us of that solipsism right quick. But understand that your parents are going to need a while to get used to the new arrangement. I can’t wait to meet you. Come out soon, and come out as painlessly as possible, as your mother will not be taking any drugs.
Oh, and shoot for April 6 or 7. You know, if you can.
your future dad