The following was originally published in “The Good Life Men’s Magazine”
For the regular readers of this column (hi Mom and Dad!), the following announcement will come as no surprise by the time this edition of “The Good Life” hits the stands. Nevertheless, I have news: Macklin is getting a baby brother sometime mid-summer. My apologies to the relatives and in-laws who are just now finding out… I only had so much patience for actual phone calls.
That’s right, folks, Mr. Full-Time Dad rides again in 2020! It’s time to put the crib back together (hopefully just once this time), dig out the onesies and wash some bottles — life’s about to hurry up and slow way down, as I make the transition back to my all-time favorite role as primary caregiver.
Much has changed since “The Mack and Daddy Show” debuted during the holiday season of 2015. Mack’s now in full-time preschool, I’ve come out of early retirement and we’re in a new house in a new neighborhood full of unexplored parks and paths. My reaction to the positive pregnancy test also changed… I did not go mute and there were no tears of dread. I’m not sure who’s matured more, me or Mack.
Some things, though, have remained the same in regards to baby #2. My wife, Emily, and I put in as much, if not more time contemplating the decision. We’re not ones to rush into anything. It took us years to convince ourselves we were ready for parenthood, and my borderline meltdown of a reaction to the news then shows just how unprepared I still felt. While I have settled the debate about my parenting skills (in my mind, at least), deciding to try for a second presented a whole new batch of questions.
Are we pushing our luck?
Macklin was a great baby. He started sleeping through the night within weeks, almost never got sick, rarely threw up and basically put himself to sleep whenever you laid him down in his crib. As a toddler, he was a delight. His sense of humor came out quick, he relished spending time with mom and dad and adapted quickly to whatever changes came along. Now, as a preschooler, he’s becoming an absolutely beautiful human being. His vocabulary is rich (thanks, NPR), his social skills are impressive and his daily display of empathy is a constant source of pride.
In short, we’ve been blessed. Overwhelmingly so. Naturally, my inclination towards pessimism constantly shouted the question in my brain: are we pushing our luck if we try for two? It’s hard for me to imagine a better parenting experience than the one Mack has given us… so what’s going to happen if our second child somehow doesn’t match up?
I know that’s saying the quiet part out loud and it’s a horrible thought to have to reckon with, but it’s the truth. Overcoming that “what if” fear was hard for me, and if I’m being honest I’m still not completely over it. But fear is a lousy reason not to try.
Are we getting greedy?
Because of everything I outlined above, I also struggled with the idea of simply being content and thankful for what we already have. Being a father to Macklin has made me a better person. It has brought my wife and I closer together as a couple. It’s made my extended family relationships stronger, too. So, as one who is well aware of his privilege, I wrestled with the idea that we needed anything more.
But it’s not all about me (shocking). The more Emily and I pondered this question, the more our conversations shifted to Macklin. We decided he should get the opportunity to have a sibling, and selfishly both Emily and I are more than eager to watch him grow into his new role as a big brother. When approaching the decision from that perspective, the choice was easy. And now, when those fears and doubts re-enter my mind, I am comforted by future scenes of Mack teaching his little brother how to play his latest made-up game.
We’re not “trying again”
I really dislike that question: “oh, you’re trying again?” No, we’re not trying again. Firstborns are not an experiment, and their siblings are not a redo. While it may sound like I’m hoping for a Macklin clone, I am not. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for another carefree infant, joyful toddler and kind young man, but these are the wishes of every expecting parent.
I’m sure there will be comparisons made between Mack and his brother. It’s inevitable. Human nature is to judge, and I’m as guilty as the next. Luckily, the most likely comparison I’ll make will be to decide which kid has the better sense of humor… I mean, how else would you suggest I pick my favorite?