I have a habit of downplaying things.
Upon eating a delicious food object, it’s highly unlikely I’ll say something like “Oh my God, that’s amazing! This is the best!” but rather, “Mmm. That’s good.”
Perhaps it’s due to my Midwestern, even-keeled, pragmatic roots, observed my California-born and bred wife, that I tend to temper my reactions. That doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings or passions or enjoy food any less, it’s just that I often reserve large demonstrations advertising them.
She will sometimes become perplexed at my, and many fellow Wisconsinites, subdued reactions; misunderstanding our less than enthusiastic responses as disinterest. Not the case.
This would explain my (under)reaction to when Meghan first told me we were pregnant. As she came hopping down the sidewalk with a huge grin and bounced into my surprised arms and shrieked, “We’re pregnant” and I replied, “Unh, Unh.”
Not exactly a big Youtube shareable, 1 million hits video reaction. Make no mistake, I was hoping for this good news, of course, from the moment I thought of proposing marriage or even years before this moment, to be a dad. Couldn’t wait. Got good training as an uncle and youth sports coach and teacher.
To be fair, we got pregnant on our honeymoon, so it felt a bit abrupt, that’s all. My “unh, unh” was not believing how lucky we are.
“We’ll see” has been my steady mantra. Trying my best without requiring success as the outcome to define worthiness of any particular venture.
When the publishing of my book was in the editing and verification phase, others would be very excited for me. They would observe my stoic nodding and say “Come on, you are going to be a published author! Aren’t you excited?!” Sure but to focus on the excitement was to potentially lose focus on more important things like being responsive to the publisher requests and lining up fall book tour dates and interviews and travel plans.
Those who were worried I wasn’t enjoying the bucket list dream experience of publishing my “Great American Novel,” and surmised I’d really “feel it” when I finally held that printed book in my hands for the first time. Then I’d be hit with a wave of ecstasy and accomplishment, jump in the air and triumphantly ‘spike’ the book like I was in an end zone celebration.
When that moment did come, in the offices of my publisher, after I’d been handed a box cutter to ceremoniously cut open the dense, brown cardboard box that contained some first-print fifty copies of the book I’d spent a year and a half writing and another six months to get published, I reached down and grabbed it, smelled it, held it up, looked back down at the opened box containing a lot unsold books…I thought about all the other boxes of books at the warehouse, “Wow, there are a lot of copies that have to be sold now…I better line up more interviews and book signings…”
I never got that “Oh, what a feeling, Toyota” jump in the air feeling. But, that’s ok. I feel a steady, baseline, sense of accomplishment virtually every day since. I’ve gotten some financial and all of my emotional monies worth, so don’t cry for me…you know I won’t cry for myself.
So, as it goes with my drastically discovered daddyhood, meanings tend to seep in more than drown me in the moment. When life floats moments at me, I tread to get my bearings and take in everything.
I like to think my poise is mistaken for fear or trepidation. I feel I’m good under pressure because of my even-keeled attitude.
With the pregnancy, I didn’t want to envision that healthy baby boy with a pleasant, fun-loving demeanor, sharp wit and athletic build for fear if there were any complications, I’d be setting myself up for unnecessary disappointment.
The deal is, our baby boy, Cash, was going to be what he was going to be and the least amount of pre-conceived notions I put on him, the better off he’ll be and the more open-minded parent, I’ll be. And while I enjoy and appreciate and thank God for him, I also need to raise him, change his diaper, teach him right from wrong and how to throw and catch a ball, study for his tests, and put money away for his education.
What is exciting is I have a more amazing kid than I ever could have imagined in my limited brain. I couldn’t have foreseen the feeling I’d have when his eyes find me in the room and upon recognizing me, breaks into a grin that takes up his whole face. No “pre-kid” projections could possibly understand that feeling.
Ultimately, what I downplay is my expectations, not my excitement.
David Mamet, one of my favorite writers wrote, “Wisdom lies in wishing for things to happen as they do.”
Whether I demonstrate or downplay it, I’m living the life I wished for.