A due date is like the first day of school. Waiting for it so long. Stuck dull on the end of summer, looming. Until finally, it comes, madly slumping over the horizon to fill up your life. Watching it highway, you get that same mix of excitement and anxiety. You have the same hope that you will get to be friends with the new people you will meet. The bored receptionist, the fat nurse, your daughter.
You have hopes for her. That she will be bilingual. That she will have her heart broke early, but that she will persevere, find someone she loves, realize that son-of-a-bitch wasn’t right for her anyway. That she will be healthy. That she will be a boy. That, even though she will be poor, she will be happy. That she will master a martial art and one day defend herself against an attacker, and even though you were not there to protect her, it will be like you protected her because it will have been your idea to send her to those classes to begin with.
Before she is born, it is easy to finally let go and admit to yourself: this is as far as you got. This is all you were able to do. This is how much money you have, this is how many books you’ve read, you never ran that marathon, you don’t talk to your mom enough.
I wanted a child. I did not want a child.
I let this duality drive me for a long time. I wanted all that time and money for myself. I did not want to have to take the blame for all the mistakes I would make. I did not want to be beholden. I wanted to be untethered and young and floating forever, with the weekends opening up like split rocks and the damage done settling like dust kicked across the road.
When you have a child, you name them after yourself, but you rename yourself too. You become Sr. You take a new last name. You become Dad. You remake yourself when something like that happens. You can’t help it.