I’ll let you in on a little secret: My life changed the minute I decided to become a father. The freewheeling, devil-may-care life I used to know soon took on a radical change, the way a huge rock rolls down the side of a mountain. There is absolutely no way for me to stop it.
At first, I thought it would be possible to ease myself back into that strawberry-shortcake kind of life. Get the best of both worlds, why not? As a busybody father I could still probably wing it, you know, as a bachelor, with the ease of a falcon in flight. I raised my first two kids as a single dad for the most part. No one would be wagging the frying pan at my face even if I choose to party way into the next Ice Age.
Besides, my mother was all gung-ho about raising my kids while I busy myself with pen and drinks. She was a lot younger back then, and sweetly enamored at the thought of being their grandma.
Little did I realize that compromising my responsibilities could spell disaster for both me and my little ones. Good thing that from the start, I already knew what I was getting into, thanks to my near-feline curiosity.
And I was, and still am, willing to pay the price. And boy did I pay it.
The first few months nearly killed me. Getting the usual eight-hour sleep was like a hike up Mt. Everest without the gear. My kids hollered and screamed, wept at the top of their lungs in the dead of night, without so much as a warning. They were like bombing raid sirens with a maniac at the button.
Every parent knows that children can suck all the patience out of a mom or dad—or both. Especially when the kids found out what a fist is actually for. It was a rather humid afternoon when my daughter Rei punched her younger brother Lenin in the face using a coffee mug as a boxing glove.
Nearing their teenage years, imagine yourself the single father of a daughter whose idea of the best cartoon was a condom commercial. My son, on the other hand, was totally curious about his first honest-to-goodness erection while watching Baywatch.
Take it from me, it wasn’t the easiest thing to explain to a 12- and a 10-year-old what sex was all about. Birds and the bees my butt. All that impaling motion, exchange of fluids, the groping and judo moves appeared like a bad rendition of a Chinese kung-fu film. Too violent for kids to even imagine.
Luckily for me, I was, and still am, a science nerd. What was turning out to be a touch-and-go situation soon became a slumber party, thanks to my longwinded elucidation of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Teenage angst, first menstruation, tendencies towards self-harm, unrelenting depression, online trolls, bullying in school, youthful stubbornness, smoking and drinking, late-night parties, the possibility of being lured into dangerous drugs, schoolwork, floundering friendships, false information, trouble with strangers, computer and phone addiction, the first kiss, failed courtships, and wanton and gratuitous sex, for cryin’ out effing loud: these and more constitute the kind of problems a single father like me had to deal with in my kids.
Funny, some say it takes a village to raise a child. That’s fine and dandy for as long as they pay for it, too. Which they won’t. You’re now stuck with having to foot the bill.
Ergo, there’s nothing wrong with having second thoughts on wanting to be a future parent. It’s a life-altering event, thus the need for some serious contemplation. You cannot simply rush into places where even angels fear to tread.
Which is why any insinuation from family members that you should have kids should be taken with a grain of pain relievers. It must be totally up to you to decide which way you must go. If you think you do not have what it takes, then take what you have and make the best of it. There is nothing wrong in that.
My choosing to be a dad was my choice, and no one can say I made the wrong or right decision. Simply said, nothing could ever take away the joy I feel each time I am with my kids, regardless of their age. It’s simply indescribable.
I stand by my choices, no matter the outcome, but so should you. Having kids or being childless have enough troubles of their own. It’s your life, no one else’s.