The first time you hold somebody
else's screaming baby, you understand immediately why prostitution is
the world's oldest profession. The first time you hold your own
screaming baby, you understand immediately why a federal prisoner who
gunned down three police officers needs no moral justification for
sticking the sharpened end of a toothbrush into a freshly jailed
child molester's kidney.
It's that first revelation that scares many first time fathers into escaping responsibility like a jackrabbit from a coyote. The difference between the ones who run and the ones who stay, really, is how the news was broken to them: a great comedian will tell you that they key to any good joke is the delivery.
A runner was out on a Tuesday night with some of his friends at a bar, somewhere between his third drink and fourth cigarette, when the girl he'd been fucking calls him up and says that she's pregnant. A dad who sticks around is concentrating on some manly order of housework, like changing the oil in a car, when his wife or girlfriend calls him in to make sure that the little blue plus sign actually does mean “pregnant”, and that she's not just misreading it.
With a baby in the house, the bedroom is going to lose its understated but victorious smell of Astroglide and unwashed sheets in favor of a strong presentation of rancid breast milk. When there's a child to take care of, getting falling down drunk to the point where you're willing to argue with a street vendor over the price of a 2AM hot dog isn't really an option in the list of things to do this weekend. With a baby, all of the money you used to spend on video games and car accessories is going to be repurposed for child care.
When a man runs from fatherhood, he's not really running from responsibility, he's running from the guilt of a mediocre life.
Without the responsibility of a baby, there's still time to salvage it. A month after disappearing, though, a runner realizes the vicious truth: that no amount of time or things-not-to-be-responsible-for will turn an unaccomplished life into one your eventual children will look up to. Fleeing your responsibility and making that new year's resolution to get your life on track is as effective as telling yourself that you have the courage to ask out a girl as you masturbate. No number of promises will ever amount to motivation.
For those of us that stay in the picture, ambition has a new meaning. I'm twenty five years old, a software engineer on the startup circuit in Silicon Valley. I'm not in the business so that I get invited to speak at conferences. I'm not an entrepreneur because I want to feel important. I'm in this game now to provide for my family. At first, I thought that a startup was the only part of my youth left breathing, but now, I know that having a picture of my daughter stuck to my monitor is the best motivation there is. If you're the type to man up to what's demanded of you, a baby won't throw your entrepreneurship game off.
Just make sure you're funded.