A home truth. I am terrified, *terrified*, of being ill. A cough which lasted more than a couple of months over the winter had me convinced that it obviously was the early stages of lung cancer. Rather than, say, a winter cough.

When I finally wanged up the courage to go to the doctor in the spring – after having to first register with the doctor – I was told that I might have to go in for an X-ray, rather than just be given a manly dose of antibiotics. My reaction wasn’t to take this news in my stride, like, y’know, a father would. It was to leave the doctor’s examination room and, in the waiting room for the surgery, have my debut panic attack. And rather than go back to my doctor and tell him, in the gentlest terms that I AM ABOUT TO DIE OF PANIC, I did the honourable English, northern, thing and dragged myself outside to the car park and curled up on the ground. Better to embarrass myself by being found having fainted on the tarmac than cause a fuss.

I tell you all this not to over-egg my own uselessness as an adult – that’s for the memoirs – but to emphasise quite how unready I am to be a father of an actual human child. I had a cough for eight weeks and thought I was going to die, how on earth can I even *possibly* begin to look after a real-life human child without assuming it was dying every time it rolled its eyes in frustration at my paternal ineptitude. Or had mumps, that kind of thing.

How on earth can I begin to look after a real-life human child without assuming it was dying every time it rolled its eyes in frustration at my paternal ineptitude?

And it’s not just ineptitude. The truth is, I’m self-centred and selfish. Possibly no more so than your average youngish person, but still. Indeed, I’ve mooted this personality assessment to friends and they assure me it’s a critique mined from my brain’s imaginarium, which is some respite or salve for my conscience I suppose, but that’s all. I mean, yes, I’ll get a round in if it’s my go. But when it comes to remembering my friends’ partners birthdays then I’m out. In fact, when it comes to remembering my friends birthdays I’m out. The idea of going to a close relative’s 40th birthday or kid’s christening when there’s a chance of a ticket in the City end at Spurs? I’m out. Sorry guys.

But mine is a very base level of selfishness. I can move this on. My rationale is thus: I’m an only child who gained a triptych of step-siblings in his teens. This is not a recipe for selflessness, brewing as it does a heady mix of classic only-child selfishness with the grubby individualism of a stepchild. As a result it took me five years of being in a relationship to accept that, yeah…, it’s probably best if I let the other person know if I’m going to be back alive that evening. But I’ve learned! I can be selfless! I can be good! I think.

I should point out here that I don’t think my feelings of impending something-ness when it comes to fatherhood are remotely unique. I’m a nearly 30-year-old professional with an OK salary, a long relationship and all that other boring shit. I’m as ready than you could ever be, really. But, fucking hell. Honestly? You want me to look after this thing. This thing I’ve only met twice in the grimy cyberspace of a General Electric ultrasound? I mean, I will, but really, me?

It’s not that I’m scared. It’s just that that I’m having a tremendous difficulty in believing for a second that this is an actual thing that’s really actually happening.

It’s not that I’m scared. Honestly, I’m not. History must have witnessed millions of fuckwits less witted than me who’ve managed to not drop their first borns in a sinkhole. It’s just that that I’m having a tremendous difficulty in believing for a second that this is an actual thing that’s really actually happening.

In an attempt to convince me that having a baby is less a theoretical exercise and more of an actual bloody ordeal, I was sat down on a recent Saturday evening in front of a DVD from the National Childbirth Trust entitled (urgh) Daddy Cool, in which a load of men in ill-fitting polo shirts (including the de facto host, who was apparently a runner-up or third placer in a semi-recent series of The Apprentice and thus clearly a man from whom I must listen to to learn the basic tenets of fatherhood) talked through their feelings viz the birth of their child. It was in four parts. I gave up after part one, mainly in an aesthetic funk about the low production values, but more about the idea that these fucks could tell me anything useful about this whole business. All were keen to discuss how they Feel about being a father but – frankly – I don’t care how they feel. And I’d be happy to talk about my feelings, but I’m just not sure if I have any yet.

And I suppose that’s the crux. The beauty of having kids – alright, *one* of the beauties of having kids – is the way it can almost instantly make us (and by us, I mean exclusively my emotionally-closeted male friends) into fully functioning humans. Obviously we still only talk about life’s insignificances (sports, essentially) but I see a humanity in my pals’ eyes that – while it was obviously there already – now seems to sparkle. And I want a bit of it.

The beauty of having kids is the way it can almost instantly make us (and by us, I mean exclusively my emotionally-closeted male friends) into fully functioning humans.

The fact that this thing is coming, in a few weeks, into our lives is like wafting a geiger counter at your own humanity. Shove it near me eight months ago and I’d be beeping, but only just about. Now? Now I’m radioactively humming about the fact that there’s a baby – my baby! – coming in November and dropping that very fact into conversations with my colleagues, my, hairdresser and the bloke fixing my exhaust. This is happening.

I think that late-onset emotionality suggests I’m ready to embrace fatherhood, even though my major preparation so far has been to buy a cuddly dinosaur toy and creating a Spotify playlist of music not necessarily for the baby but at least to remind me my own state of mind at the time of its emergence (a weird mix of Loudon Wainwright, Gershwin, Regina Spektor and the only Aphex Twin track unlikely to terrify the poor sod). I suspect neither activity is going to prepare him or her for the cruelty of the 21st century Earth, but, whatever, it’s a start.

@WillyDean

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