I remember vividly how it felt to be an expectant father for the first time. It was scary. I was 25 and still trying to get over my troubled adolescence; how would I be able to process my shit while trying to raise a child? I was not afraid of changing diapers or feeding this little being; the fear I had originated in my emotional instability and that all my prejudice, scars and fears would get transferred onto him.
The step I took, which is probably the best thing any new parent can do, is to admit that I was ignorant then, I started reading every handbook on parenting and father hood I could get my hands on. I worked at a great bookstore....shameless plug.....called Sam Weller's, at the time, so had access to several titles, bad and good, about parenting.
At the time I was reading almost anything with the words Zen, Buddhism, and meditation in the title so, when a book with a title that was something like; Zen and the Art of Fatherhood came into my view I read it. I hated it. I did not get it at all. Now, twelve years, three kids and a couple of years of Zazen practice, I might have a better understanding of what he was trying to say. (I know it might be helpful if I could maybe give a glimpse of the contents of that book but it has been almost thirteen years since I last saw it, and that I hated it is what I remember.)
From what I remember the premise of the book was: that you don't know what you are getting into but don't worry, if you are aware you will know what to do, and you will notice when you have messed up.
I was much more aware of my lack of knowledge back then, my first child benefited from my state of mind, I was much more engaged; even now as I am trying to shift to parenting a 12 year old I am still more involved with him than I am with the younger ones.
The challenge for me is to keep remembering that, despite what I know about taking care of kids, I still need to pay attention to them as if they both are my first. (my kids are now, this second, trying to get my attention from my all important blogging...sigh. Don't they know that writing about my philosophy of life is so much more important than living it? Durn kids.)