Parenting

Dear 30-Year-Old Man-Child Who Got His Girlfriend Pregnant and Can't Handle It

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I saw your self-indulgent post on Reddit, where you opened up and shared your innermost feelings about that time you got your girlfriend pregnant when you didn’t mean to and now you’re just wrecked. Well, sweetheart, sex makes babies. You didn’t wrap it up or wait for the perfect mate and now you’re fathering a child with a near stranger you met six months ago. It’s not ideal and it’s understandable that you’re worried. But here’s the thing. You’re not special. You weren’t going to be the next Bill Gates. You don’t have a right to an unencumbered life, free from consequences. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: You are going to love your baby, and God-willing, you are going to feel real guilt about wanting your girlfriend to kill it.

I know you are a victim of your culture that told you it’s okay for a thirty-year-old man to behave like a fifteen-year-old, avoiding responsibility and indulging yourself on Starbucks, free sex, and designer eyewear for all of your adult life instead of doing your duty as a man and making sure the species lives on. You weren’t told that it is your duty to make sure the species is protected and sheltered within an intact family with you at its head, leading and guiding and rearing and loving. You were told you could wait for that as long as you wanted. That children are something to be planned and brought into the world only when you are exactly in the right spot in life and you feel it’s time for the baby fairy to plop your progeny into your lap. But science is against you. Your 25-year-old girlfriend’s eggs are dying every day. Her refusal to abort could be the result of her inner knowledge that she doesn’t have much baby-making time left. This could be her only shot. You’re not getting any younger, either, and contrary to popular thought, you’ve probably already peaked. Your sexual currency is lowering by the year. You’re thirty. Thirty is middle-aged. You know that business you wanted to start? You should have done that already (not that you can’t still do it, but what the heck are you waiting for?). You’re very concerned that this baby is going to bankrupt you. Do not believe it.

The first four years of a baby’s life are pretty inexpensive. First of all, encourage breastfeeding. Formula is ridiculous. Your girlfriend (who you should make your wife as soon as possible) can feed that baby for free for the first year of its life. After that, toddlers barely eat anything. Mine eats crayons, cardboard, and pretzels. He’s cheap. They don’t really start eating you out of house and home until they’re on a football team of some sort. Further, cloth diapering is back. You can get them used on eBay for a song. I probably spent $150 for one year of diapers. That’s a huge savings. Then there will be people bringing boxes of baby clothes to your door for free. Just let any mother know you need baby clothes and she will dig around in her basement and bring you beautiful barrels of clothes. I have three years’ worth in my basement for my son. I paid $0 for his wardrobe. You have insurance, so doctor visits should be covered. The birth itself will be a little pricey, but after that, you have about four years before that kid is going to take any classes like gymnastics or dance or jiu jitsu (which will start to add up). But what I’m trying to say is that you have time to figure it out. You have a lot of time.

There is a vicious falsehood infecting our vernacular that says “babies ruin your life.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Babies are the reason you exist. It is your most basic purpose in life. Procreate. All the other existential BS is just that. What makes me happy? What is the meaning of life? Is God dead? You’re about to find out the answers to those questions in a solid and life-changing way and it’s all good. I promise. I’m actually a little excited for you because you have no idea how great your life is about to become. You’re like a guy in a blindfold who thinks he’s in a snake pit, terrified to see the monsters around him, but not realizing he’s actually standing in front of unimaginable treasures.

You wanted to travel Europe? Well, it’s crawling with terrorists now, so don’t be stupid and pretentious. Go to Epcot instead like everyone else. You can see nine or ten countries in an afternoon and not get sold into slavery. It’s fabulous. (And make sure to have the margaritas in Mexico—they are muy bien and Montezuma’s revenge-free.) But if Europe (the real one) is really something you have to do, it can be done. Go while the baby can still share a plane seat. You don’t pay extra! Babies love riding in backpacks and hiking outside.

In your post, you kept saying you are “young and free” and that’s what’s hanging you up. But you’re not young. Thirty is not young. You only think it is because Barack Obama made a law that said you could stay on your parents’ insurance until you were 27, so 27 became the new 18. But 30 is not young, sir. By 30, humanity expects you to be adulting all the time. You are supposed to be financially stable, responsible, dependable, and someone’s dad. You’re not supposed to be wandering from bar to bar in Europe. You missed that window. That was supposed to be your year off after college, not the year before your midlife crisis.

“You only get one life, why not be selfish with it?” you asked. What if I told you that you don’t have 100 years, but that you have an eternity? And the way you behave now during this life is going to affect your afterlife? You might not believe it, but just stop to ask yourself, what if that’s true? Do I want to stand in front of God and say “well I only had one life so I thought I’d be selfish.” One doesn’t have to believe in God to know that selfishness isn’t the path to a happy life. Or do you really want your tombstone to read “he was selfish and pleased himself all the time.” I can’t think of anything worse.

Fathers don’t get enough praise in our culture, and I get the impression you are feeling the weight of that. Instead of fatherhood exciting you as it would have a century ago in any culture, today you feel overwhelmed and scared. But this is your birthright! This is your moment! Let me tell you how important you are. You are the glue that holds all of us together. You are the lovers of women who adore you, the protectors of the weakest and littlest among us, and the leaders of our nations and communities. Without you, our world would fall apart. It’s not an easy job. You are like Atlas holding us all up. You are vital, important, capable, and undefeated (though forces are trying their hardest to convince you you’re disposable). And your children are arrows in your quiver. They make you stronger, not weaker.

It’s unfortunate that at 30 you are still a boy, but it’s not too late. Refuse to be a boy any longer. It’s time to put aside childish things and take your rightful place in this world. Be a man.