It was early Summer 2012. I had just returned home from yet another work trip, this time from Brazil. Despite the stamps on my passport, I was in the early stages of not liking my job so much. Professionally things felt stale, despite the traveling perks. Financially, my student loan debt seemed insurmountable. The only savings of any kind I had were in the form of Delta SkyMiles. Despite the doom and gloom of a somewhat underachieving adult life, I knew then as I know now that summers in New York City are unpredictable.
And then the unpredictable happened. “You are going to be a father.”
My recollection of the moment I received this news is murky at best. I was happy. Not happy like watching Eli Manning beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl kind of happy. A different kind of happy. Unexpected happiness is the strangest kind of happiness. It’s paralyzing. But in a good way.
The world was different then. Very different. The daunting news of becoming a dad wasn’t daunting at all. I was ready.
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Now it’s eight years later. I find myself slowly phasing out of a four-month long quarantine. I’m 40 years old, which is like 62 in dad years. I’m unemployed. Nobody is hiring. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Shootings in NYC are at an all time high. Karens are going wild. There’s an 11-year old man in the White House. His potential replacement, Joe Biden, has trouble speaking words. Our favorite celebrities are either a sexual misconduct case or a short tweet away from being “cancelled.” We still don’t have Jeffrey Epstein’s list and George R. R. Martin still hasn’t finished his books.
Long story short, things are not going particularly well. But, like I said, summers can be unpredictable.
Well, the unpredictable happened again. “We are having a baby.”
This time though, I’m paralyzed by a different range of emotions. Fear. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Anger. Angered, not by the news I’ve received but by the world into which we are bringing a child.
Eight years is a wide gap for anything. That’s two Olympics, two World Cups and eight full seasons of the Mets not winning the World Series. That’s one three-peat, a retirement, a short Minor League Baseball career, a comeback, another three-peat and another retirement. Eight years is basically the entire plot of The Last Dance. You get the point. A lot can happen over the span of eight summers.
The world is different now. Very different. The daunting news of being a father of two is even more daunting than being a father of one. Am I ready?
Eight years later. My daughter, now seven, walks around proudly sporting a “I’m going to be a Big Sister” t-shirt. She has completely redesigned our entire three-bedroom apartment (in her head) to accommodate her new sibling. Her “slime” room will turn into the nursery. The coffee table in the living room will be put in storage. The TV stand and couches will be rearranged back to the way they were when she was about 2 ½ years old. The walls must all be painted white, even the ones that are already white. These are her temporary demands until I, as she quite seriously puts it, “find a job that pays me a lot of money so we can buy a house in New Jersey.”
A house in New Jersey? My sweet child has the vision that I’m currently lacking. It’s been said and repeated before, “we can learn a lot from our children.” Children have an incredible power to ease their way through all kinds of circumstances. It’s her sense of optimism that has gotten us through a quarantined filled Spring now Summer. It’s her eagerness that turns the most mundane tasks into an adventure. She’s the kind of child that’s always looking forward to something.
“How many more days to school?” she says. A question I never asked once in my life.
“When’s Halloween?” “When’s Christmas?” “When’s my birthday?” she asks constantly.
“You skipped Thanksgiving,” I reply. “Do I get presents for Thanksgiving?” she responds.
“No,” I say.
“Then I don’t care,” she says emphatically.
Well now she has something really big to add to her list of things to look forward to. The biggest present an only child could ever ask for and we can’t wait. Even if it’s eight years later.
Cesar Suero is father of one (soon to be two) living in Brooklyn. Since recently being laid off he now happily enjoys golfing as often as his 7-year old daughter’s schedule allows him to.