My brother Kevin is my senior by less than two years. His wife, Whitney, by less than one. But they have been married for more than a year, and just gave birth to their first daughter this past September. They both have stable jobs, and they’ve even purchased a starter home, a nice townhouse in western Pennsylvania.
I have had conversations with my brother about fatherhood and how it’s changed his life, and I can say I with the utmost confidence that Whitney and he are phenomenal parents, and that they did an excellent job of getting themselves ready for the very drastic—yet very positive and beautiful—life change they embarked on.
One thing that happens to them a lot is that people asked them if they were ready to be parents, and then before Kev or Whit could answer, they followed up with something like: “Well, nobody ever really knows if they’re ready, do they?”
This is probably true.
But I’ll tell you that I know I am certainly not ready for marriage, and I am much less ready to be a father. The following reasons — presented in no particular order — are how I know.
- I have always had a penchant for running screaming in the opposite direction of commitment. I once dated a woman who told me after we went our separate ways that I am “unable to commit to a pair of socks.” (She is married now, by the way.) I don’t argue her statement at all. Except for the fact that I almost never wear socks, and as such do not have to worry about committing to a pair.
- I feel as though I am a pretty self-centered person. I haven’t had a serious girlfriend in six years, and I’ve adapted to, gotten used to, and have been clinging to a lifestyle where I do pretty much whatever I want whenever I want. I often imagine myself in a serious monogamous relationship, but am also very attuned to the fact that I’m probably not really ready for one. Sometimes I call this independence, but it’s probably more a story of emotional immaturity that blocks me from entering a serious relationship. I’ve grown to enjoy being alone, and it won’t be until I find someone who makes me feel differently about spending time cooped up with my own self that I’ll know I’m ready to move into a more adult way of life.
- I don’t take the best care of myself. I drink too much and eat too much. I do both of these things often, and am the kind of person who feels like I should stop being such an individual mess before I am able to give a big chunk of myself to another person. And sometimes I do stupid, immature things. Last weekend, I did a bush-dive for no other reason than I wanted to.
- My main focus in my life right now is a career. I want to be a good writer who can make enough money to sustain my own life and whims before I take on the task of sharing my financial life with someone else.
- When I am making decent money, I’m terrible at managing it. I impulse spend. Sometimes I go out, throw caution to the wind, and spend a small fortune on enjoying myself immediately, instead of saving up for something that might make me happier in the grander scheme of things. Nary a day goes by that I don’t contemplate cashing in my IRA and buying all of the pairs of Vans I can get my feet on.
- I have never lived with a woman before, and I believe that living with a woman is excellent practice for being married. When people tell me they didn’t live together before marriage, my head damn near explodes.
- Young children are kind of foreign to me. I haven’t spent much time amongst them at all. I’m pretty sure I don’t even know the proper way to hold a baby, which can’t be all that difficult. I feel like small children are something I should get acclimated to before trying to make my own.
- My eyes wander a whole hell of a lot, to the point I’m not sure I could shut it off if I were to meet someone I wanted to be monogamous with. I fall in love 80 times a day during my subway commutes alone. I’m sure when I meet the right person, this will lessen, but since it hasn’t I’m convinced I’m not ready for a serious relationship.