Life: Fatherhood

Knights Baseball Game  May 2023

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be a Father this November of 2023. There are many steps between now and November to guarantee this event but like billions of men before me, I’ll be father to a baby girl who will most likely live until the 22nd century (around year 2020). I will not live beyond this century. It’s medically impossible. She will and so my DNA, family name and pieces-of-me will persist beyond my life. That’s wild to even ponder for just a few minutes.

There will be much more written on this subject but I’d like to make this more about the changes it will have on my life for now. Talking more about her will come later.

I was born in 1986 to a man and woman who were members of Future Farmers of America. My dad was the son of a milk truck driver and my mom the daughter of a dairy farmer. They dated and were married in high school and at age 21, they had me. A year later, they were separated, divorced and my mom remarried to a free-spirit from Birmingham Alabama. That man would become my dad and my biological father would honor is end of the required visitation but we’d grow apart and I’d change my last name from Jackson to Chandler later in life to reflect the family unit I knew as reality.

My high school graduation class of 2004 statistically was full of teens who would marry and have children between the ages of 18-24 years old. Many started while still in high school and they’d never leave town or get a college education. Because of this culture, my parents and grandparents stopped asking me about marriage and kids around age 26. I was statistically never going to get married or have kids.

I was more likely to have my sisters (born in ‘96 and ‘00) have children before me. They were still in florida and in committed relationships. I would say for their future, it’s good they didn’t. They have not yet gained that financial independence or life-plan that I have. I’m not better than them, i just figured things out much earlier. I knew at 12 years old I’d live and breathe technology. This was 1998. I knew computers were it and everything took a backseat.

I finally got married at age 35 to a woman I’ve now known for 10 years. To share with you all the love and gratitude I have for you here could fill volumes of printed hardbacks. I would be me without her, no doubt but would I be here without her? No way. I owe her everything. If we get divorced (lawyers take note), I’m happily giving her half. She has changed my life and to have a child or spend my life with anyone else would be unthinkable. I’ve befriended hundreds of people and she is #1 before parents and my longest lasting friendships.

I don’t believe that life’s protocols should be executed in order. It’s not school, college, dating, marriage, kids, house, save save save, retire. You can do these in any order you want. I skipped college and my life as a homeowner was unintentional and accidental. Meeting Heather was serendipity although marrying her wasn’t. Going camping and proposing upon a mountain in northern New Hampshire then uprooting us a year later to Charlotte for a job and find ourselves with a child on the way just 4 months later wasn’t on purpose in that we had some master plan. If my kid is reading this, you weren’t some accident but you were not unwanted.

As with most of my life, I let fate/nature/karma do its thing. I stopped trying to prohibit a child from happening and 2 weeks later, it happened.

Being a Father will be easy. Roll your eyes all you want. Life is hard. A lot of life really sucks. the same will go for parenting. Every single day will have little challenges that feel HUGE in the moment. In aggregate, it’s like a job or project or life itself. There’s a lot to cherish if you just step back from the big picture.

Heather is doing really well. She’ll be a 33 year old mother and our intention is that we’ll have just one child who will earn 100% of our love, resources and abilities. It may be lonely sometimes being an only-child but we have our own life goals that still need realizing and just one child is all we can afford if we’re to travel the world, learn to fly, retire early and give the kid the education, car, fun, etc she deserves.

Barring any medical issues, I’ll be called Dad in November of 2023. It’s really easy to get caught up in that emotion. Honestly, my parents raised 3 of us and we’re doing okay. Fatherhood is easy as long as you’re wired for the most essential parts which is empathy, compassion and trust. My child is going to grow up and be amazing in her own way. I’ll understand and listen to her as she becomes a human and navigates her life and I’ll be compassionate to the challenges she’ll have to endure to be successful.

What would life be like having never taken this leap into parenthood? Note, it was completely optional for Heather and I to make that jump. We didn’t need a child. Our life was great without one. There’s no white-board analogy I can publish for you. This wasn’t a way to ensure my DNA lived on, nor was it a way to ensure someone would come visit me in hospice or call me up on Sundays or comfort one of us when the other one passes away. Having a child was a choice I made (as I don’t want to speak to Heather’s driving forces) to share with the world a person who has the potential to invent and contribute in a really great way, to put a bit of good into the universe. Every human contributes even if society doesn’t see it.

She’s going to do something great but it’s going to take me until I’m around 60 years old to see what she does next.

Heather and I will delay our retirement by 5-8 years with this kid in the way and I’ve already started to think and look at the cost of school and think about what value she’ll bet from a private school in New Hampshire instead of public. To think about giving up fancy wine, cameras, computers, cars in order to allow my kid to earn an education like that just shows that my mindset is already altering.

It feels weird…fatherhood. I’m not doing anything to bring this child to the world. My wife is bearing the entire job. I can continue drinking and living without any changes at all and she’s the one who is suffering. She’ll bear childbirth, nursing, possibly (statistically) being looked over for promotions and such but she’s making that sacrifice for our family.

I WILL write more about this throughout the year. The main reason I bought my first Leica is in support of this next stage in hopes to property document every moment over these next many decades.

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