‘Oh my god, this is real. There’s a baby in there!’: A stroll through the head of a first-time father-to-be

by DGO Web Administrator

Will Pasternack cuts an imposing figure – until he begins to speak. He has a wheezing, breathless laugh that has the range of a trumpet – quietly peppering along, and suddenly roaring. It’s ceaseless, convivial, and puts the listener at ease. I ask him what he’s been learning recently, and our conversation takes a quick turn when he tells me that he and his wife are expecting their first child any day now. I tell his story here, in his own words.

I don’t have a goal in woodworking. I just like the idea of spending less money on things that I can build and do for myself. I’ve been feeling pretty conscious of my spending habits lately. I’m about to have a kid, so I’m imagining myself doing this stuff with them. My dad always had knowledge to deposit. Whether or not it came in handy then or now, I really value those moments where I was learning and working with my dad. I’d like to share with my kid who I am, as opposed to what I do professionally. I’m looking forward to that, to having an opportunity to shape this small human being [laughs]. And whether I do an OK job of it, or a shit job of it, [laughs] there’ll be some influence there. Who knows? Maybe nothing becomes of this little woodworking project. Maybe when I’m older, my kid’ll come to me and say, “Dad, all those hours you made me spend in the shop were awful. Why did you make me do that? I’m never working with wood again.”

My dad was – is – supportive, but pretty hands off. There was plenty of space for me to make my own way. He’d give me nudges every once in a while. I hope that I’m supportive in the same way. The last thing I want to be is a helicopter parent – a tiger dad [laughs]. One of the best things that my dad ever said to me was, “I have 30 years on you. I’ve probably been there. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I’m here for you with 30 years of experience on top of your 29.” That’s all I want to be to my kid. Just help ’em out. Not tell them what to do or how to be or how to live, but give that guidance, if they need it.

People keep asking my wife and I, “Are you ready to have a kid?” No! [laughs] Of course we’re not ready to have a kid! Are you kidding me? That’s a terrible question to ask someone. But I can tell that my wife is 180 degrees from where she was when we started dating, when we first got married, and when we first started thinking about getting pregnant. It’s been such a weird ride. The first time we went into the doctor and heard the heartbeat, that was such an intense moment. It has been, and will be, one of the coolest moments of my entire life. Even though we knew that she was pregnant, you hear that heartbeat, and it was like a light switch. “Oh my god, this is real. There’s a baby in there!” [laughs] I’d never heard anything that incredible in my entire life.

There are all of these little moments that reaffirm that there’s this little human being that wouldn’t be possible without me and Hannah. But then, along with the excitement is the crushing responsibility. “Oh, it’s a kid! … Oooohhh, it’s a kid.” I have these moments where I think about these incredible kids that I’ve met … and all of the shitheads. Or, not shitheads, just the clueless kids who, through no fault of there own – OK, maybe some fault of their own – are such space cadets. And then the sense of entitlement that some kids have. It’s really important to me to learn how to raise a self-sufficient kid, especially in current … climates. I don’t want to tell them what to believe or how to believe, but just point the direction toward a wider understanding of humanity, the world, how we fit into it. I want them to know that this isn’t the Will Show, or the Will’s Kid Show.

And then, when my kid asks me something that makes perfect sense to them, and absolutely no sense to the rest of us, I can say, “I have no idea. Ask your mother.” [laughs]

Cyle Talley is looking forward to April 2, and the beginning of the Cubs’ defense of their World Series Championship. Email him at: [email protected]


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