The Mad Dash to the Beginning
On the cusp of fatherhood, how the past will help with our future.
As I sat down to write out my feelings about “impending” fatherhood, I thought it would be a fairly easy assignment. However, until I actually put pen to paper (as the old phrase goes), I hadn’t realized the impact my own upbringing had on my reaction to — and expectations for — being a parent.
When my wife, Marla, told me she was pregnant, I was in shock. It took a while for the idea that “our lives would never be the same” to sink in, despite the number of people who offered that advice, verbatim, over the last several months.
I feel a guarded pleasure about growing our family. I am nearly breathless with the anticipation of meeting this person. Yet, having the utter and complete responsibility for his or her well-being is one of the best anxiety-producers I can imagine.
However, I also feel lucky. While still abstract, I’m confident I can do right by this newest family member because I have both a great partner and two incredible role models: my parents (my mother Ava, passed away a few years ago).
My family is relatively small and very close, and my parents always included my sister and me in their free time (e.g., weekend activities and vacations). In turn, when we were at the age when we made our own plans, we naturally chose to include our parents.
Now, with my first child’s arrival so near, I appreciate more than ever the impact being unconditionally loved and supported by one’s parents had on me. My parents always made me feel secure in who I am and loved me specifically because of that. I definitely want to have the same type of relationship with my child.
Four years ago, I married my brilliant wife, Marla. These first years together have been more fun than any time in my life preceding them. While I always thought I had it pretty good, it was Marla who made me realize how much better it could be.
Until now, we’ve enjoyed the spontaneity and freedom that couples without children experience. Now that we are so close to bringing a child into this world, our focus will recalibrate from solely ourselves to our child and us. It is surely bigger than I can really imagine, at this point.
Many of our close friends already have children. My sister, Stacey, also recently had a baby. Watching my sister more than anything else so far has made me understand what becoming a parent will mean.
I see Stacey with her child and feel … immense pride. Stacey used to live the same way Marla and I do — going and doing as she pleased. However, in an instant, I saw her priorities change; and I’m not surprised that she seems to be handling motherhood well.
My sister had a great role model in our mother, who gave us both quite a bit to emulate. The values and life lessons she taught us shape our lives every day.
As Marla approaches her due date, I’ve begun to miss my mother more than ever, wishing she could take part in celebrating her son’s first child. I know she would have added so much richness to her grandchildren’s lives and shared many useful “tricks of the trade” for our benefit.
Because there is, seemingly, safety in numbers (we have many friends also starting families), I’m not as nervous as I probably would be if we were entering this family-expansion episode alone.
Marla and I are very fortunate to have a group of terrific friends — and a wonderful family — to turn to for advice and help (or, a few hours alone?!). We also feel blessed to live in this close-knit community, where there are abundant opportunities awaiting our child.
Having a child will bring plenty of challenges, but I look forward to growing and learning with Marla as we handle them together. To me, the most exciting thing about upcoming fatherhood is the knowledge that Marla and I will be able to pass our values on to the next generation, and our children will have the opportunity to impact our society and our world in their own positive way.
I’m looking forward to seeing Marla as a mother and watching her share her warmth and love with our baby. I’m also looking forward to seeing myself as a father. RT
Brian and Marla Tapper Young reside in West Bloomfield. Young is a field director with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. He grew up in West Bloomfield and is a 1993 graduate of West Bloomfield High School. At press time, Marla had not yet delivered.