It was a Saturday in October and I was working outside. I was up on a ladder moving my way across the front of our house clearing wet multicolored leaves from the gutters. I had the ladder on our front porch and was scooping the leaves into a garbage can next to me when Ashley opened the front door next to the ladder. I was focused on my task when she exclaimed, “I’m pregnant!”

I nearly fell backward off the ladder, off the porch, and onto ground. Thankfully, I clutched the gutter when I lost my balance, and then regained my composure. Shocked, I looked down at Ashley, smiling with a pregnancy test in her hand. I was elated, but I was also immediately afraid. Could I really be a good dad? Am I capable of raising a child? Despite being 32 years old I still felt like a kid at heart.

Well, I’d have nine months to try to prepare myself and I knew I could lean on my wife and depend on her to show me how to care for a child. Ashley is almost five years younger than me, but it was obvious she would make a magnificent mom.

We were married just over a month and while we weren’t to the point of totally trying to have kids yet, we had “pulled the goalie.” We decided we were ready to let nature run its course, and it certainly didn’t take long for that to happen.

When we first found out Ashley was pregnant there was no hiding our excitement. Expecting families typically wait a couple of months to share their big news, but Ashley couldn’t wait two days to tell her parents and best friend. I felt the same way. We were so thrilled and ecstatic that we just wanted to spread the news. We managed to hold off on telling most people for a few weeks.

Once the initial shock wore off I was overcome by a wide range of emotions. While I always remained excited, I also became nervous, anxious, and at times, downright scared. Despite being 32 years old, I still felt like I was young to have a child. Maybe I was still a little immature. I’ve had a decent amount of experience with children. I have two older sisters who have five kids between them. I have babysat plenty of times, but that was always only for a few hours at a time. After a short time I always got to return the kids to their parents and go home and rest.

Now I would have a child of my own, there would be no breaks in responsibility. As much as I wanted to believe I would make a great father, I was still worried that I wouldn’t do as well as my friends, family, and I expected. I knew it would be a very difficult task, and I didn’t want to let anyone down; especially my wife and new baby.

Thankfully that feeling passed as the pregnancy progressed. Ashley and I babysat a couple of our friends’ babies a few times. We both did some reading about parenting and talked to friends and family about it. I eventually came to the realization that no matter how much I could read or research I would never be truly prepared to be a new father. I would generally say that practice makes perfect, but no matter how much you babysit it’s not the same as having your own kids. So, I feel like there isn’t any way to really practice being a dad until it actually happens. I tried to simply be as prepared as possible and crossed my fingers that instinct would do most of the work.

My wife is five years younger than me, but I have never doubted that she would make an amazing mother. While there are no young kids in her family like there are in mine, she worked in a daycare when she was younger and later worked as a teacher. So, she had more than enough experience with children. She has an undeniable passion for working with and teaching children. Spend an hour or two with her and it’s easy to see how great she would be with her own kids.