It’s amazing how different I see things because I’m a dad. I look at outlets differently. I watch television wondering if this is something I want my son to remember. I listen to the radio with an ear toward what will aide me in being a better parent. I drive slower because I’m always thinking that my son is behind me, even when he’s not. That seat presses into my shoulder, always a reminder that the car is tight, yes, but also that my boy could be there. Indeed he is there in some way.
I have a lot of reasons to change from one year to the next. I want to be a good husband, a great one, because it pleases my wife. I want to be a great teacher, one who listens and learns with students. I can go on about how that same thing applies to my work in the church. But a huge area of motivation is the simple, ever-present identity I have as a father. I’m not just a man anymore. I’m Bryce’s father.
When he was born, I heard somebody say something to the effect that kids were a parent’s replacement. It stuck out. I still remember the language, though I can’t place it or tell you who said it. But it got me wondering what kind of person I was. Other things pressed the same point: a friend’s piercing question; a minister’s sermon; something I read; my own prayer. But being a father is one of those daily reminders. What would be my replacement’s assessment of me? What was my own self-assessment as I thought about who my son was and who I was to him?
I’m changing, being reconstructed, because of fatherhood. Most times I don’t like the process. It hurts my ego, more than bruising my pride. It’s pulling up the roots and foundations of who I was in a way that a tiny number of other experiences have. On my best days I’m grateful for the entirety of the construction zone. But then there are, also, my worse days.