Today my oldest child is turning 21.
Feels like a big deal.
What’s so strange is that it’s hard for me to feel much older than the guy who held her for the first time in that Seattle operating room.
But while it’s easy for me to identify with who I was 21 years ago today, it’s actually harder for me to identify with who I was BEFORE Kelsey was born.
Because in that moment something deep and permanent shifted inside of me.
I became a father.
And something about that new identity eclipsed who I was before.
It was as if I suddenly had a new pair of glasses through which to see the world.
Before I saw the world as something I was encountering.
After I saw the world as something she was encountering.
When I considered all the problems and dangers in the world I no longer asked how they would impact my experience; I asked how they would impact her experience.
And even more strange, I felt somewhat responsible for the way things are.
She’s just a few hours old, but I’ve been here for 25 years.
What was I going to do from this moment until the time she had to deal with the world as it is to make the world a better place?
And I remember having a choice.
I could take these new glasses off and go back to who I was before.
We don’t have to accept these new identities.
If they make you feel uncomfortable you can just reject them.
“Just be yourself.”
But I remember choosing to keep those glasses on.
I’d rather be Kelsey’s dad than just Jeremy.
I’d rather become the kind of man that worked through my identity as a father than through my individual identity.
And all I’ve done and become and the reason I’m writing this now and the reason you’re reading this now is because of who she made me into at that moment.
And every time I see this happen to another man, every time a man has his first child, I think to myself, “watch out world, a father has just been born.”
This entry is a part of Jeremy’s Journal, a newsletter Jeremy sends out every Wednesday morning to encourage you on your parenting journey. You can sign up to get them every Wednesday here.