1. You will fail them. They will emerge into this world limited only by their DNA and you will add to their problems by not being able to immediately and precisely rise to the challenge of meeting their needs with grace and foresight. You will yell. You will cry. You will swear. Exhaustion will override common sense. You will hear your mother’s voice scolding them and marvel that you are doing the same thing to your own children you hated having done to you. You will, one day, sympathize with your father’s decision to depart your family and start anew. Certainly you could do better given a second chance, too. You won’t know what to do, often, and will either freeze and do nothing, or do the wrong thing. The times you get it right will be taken for granted; your mistakes will live on through every holiday dinner, state-long road trip and 2 a.m. bout of insomnia.

2. They will make a liar of you. You will, as love floods your heart and makes your mouth run without thought, tell them you will always protect them. That you won’t let anything hurt them, ever. But you won’t be able to. Things, and people, will hurt them.

3. You will be inviting worry the likes of which you have never known. You will learn again and again how huge the world is in proportion to your small child, how much there is to fear. You will find yourself at the ER. You will find yourself at the ER. You will find yourself at the ER. You will lose track of how many times you find yourself at the ER. Strangers will honk at you as you space out at the intersection, wondering if your children will live up to their potential, pondering all the things you should have done differently. You will cry. You will fear bad things happening to them because bad things happen to children every single day. And just when you’ve achieved enough trust in the universe to believe they’ll be okay, one of them will get in a car wreck. Or diagnosed with an incurable disease. Or mugged. Or arrested. Or worse.

4. Money matters. Love matters more, but having the cash to provide enrichment/distraction through sports, music lessons, martial arts, etc., gives them, and you, an advantage. Being able to afford family vacations to interesting places enables you to bond over happy memory-making and, later, to whisk them away from the bad influences loitering around through the summertime. A lack of money leads to family stress, boredom, frustration at all the things you can’t provide – including, at times, birthday presents and steadily functioning utilities. The water will get shut off one Christmas. That story will never get any funnier with the retelling. If you don’t have money, you will need to be really, really good at managing it.

5. You will sacrifice sleep, food, dreams, a significant portion of your brain and most of your looks and still you will love them. Until they’re teenagers and then you might finally question what it is you’ve done with your life. But mostly, you’ll love them.