“The most extraordinary thing in all the world is an ordinary man, and an ordinary woman, and their ordinary children.” - G.K. Chesterton
I’m going to be a dad in a little over 20 weeks.
I suppose I already am, I just haven’t seen the full fruits of my labor except for those murky, ultrasound photos that come on the rolled paper.
The idea of becoming a dad fills me with terror and buckles my knees with tears that something could be so pure and good. The whole thing is unbelievably surreal and horribly adult. Grown-ups have babies. Grown-ups are dads. So with fear, trembling, excitement, and a healthy dose of ‘what have we’ve gotten ourselves into?’ - I now join the ranks of fathers everywhere.
When I first came across the Chesterton quote in grad school I immediately brushed it off as hyperbole. How does being ordinary make you anything more than just plain old ordinary? And what does any of it have to do with a wife and kids? Yet now that I find myself on the edge of becoming a father, I think I understand a little of what he was trying to say.
I’ve lived much of my life in pursuit of the extraordinary. While some of my pursuits were in good faith, others were just ugly. In truth, most of it was vapor - very little of what I reached for was grounded in anything meant to last for long. And now, something that will hopefully outlive me exists because I’m choosing first to be ordinary myself.
A husband. A friend. A worker. A dad.
It seems that being ordinary is about imagining a life lived not solely for yourself. It is visceral and scary. It is painful and it is undeniably filled with joy. How something as unremarkable as another baby being born can be so supremely extraordinary is completely beyond me.
Philosophy aside, I’d be lying if didn’t admit to a strange, caveman-like pride lurking. As if I had just sparked the very first fire, I want to beat my chest and yell to the heavens, “Look what I made!!!” But as I finish my bellow, I realize the supreme blessing of being allowed to make fire at all. Not everyone gets to create. Countless friends around us have experienced infertility and miscarriages and we are deeply humbled that (so far) we are carrying a healthy baby.
And so I write this to you today as both an announcement and also as a plea for your grace and prayers.
Chances are good that I will write more about becoming a father in the coming weeks and months (the connections between making a baby and making a piece of art are endless). As I write, I hope that those of you who are parents might find a renewed connection to the life you’ve made and the work you do (I also look forward to some good, old-fashioned advice from your camp), and to those of you who are not parents, I hope you will grant me a post or two on the subject of how the unglamorous discipline of changing dirty diapers is a lot like the unglamorous discipline of sitting down to do the work.
In the end, I write this to let you in on the extraordinary/ordinary journey that M and I are on and for you to know that we long for your thoughts and prayers.
Here’s to making good things and to blogs about spit-up.