Now, this may seem odd given that I have a 5 (almost 6) and 7 year old. After all, I have been a Dad for all of those years.
But, becoming Daddy is about something altogether different.
I have talked over these 7+ years with many friends-turned-Dads who sheepishly divulge their struggles in parenting, the desire for the freedom they once had, time alone, the changes in their relationship with their spouse, and the overall life-turned-upside-down that happens when you bring a child into the world with you. Granted, after a beer or two, most of those conversations end in raucous laughter and funny (usually crass) stories about the mistakes we have made or some embarrassing thing that had happened with our kids that hilariously shamed us as parents.
In these conversations, we were still Dads-in-limbo - caught somewhere between the inertia of a previous life and the possibilities of a new one.
Because of these conversations and the general lack of access to candor about being a Dad - empathy as much as guidance - I committed years ago to writing about my experiences, particularly the ugly parts that people think only happen to them - but rarely only happen to them.
So, here I am 7.5 years in to being a Dad finally (maybe still a touch sheepishly) divulging: I am Daddy. I have become Daddy. When I think of myself and reflect on my life and purpose and where I want to grow and learn and improve, what I want my future to be and why, I think Daddy.
This is a big shift. And sorry, girls, I am just being honest - it took awhile.
Back in 2014 with a 2 year old and an infant, I saw this early process unfolding, but I wasn’t there yet, and was clearly struggling to navigate it. In fact, the process I was struggling with was in becoming a Dad. The notion of becoming Daddy hadn’t even surfaced yet.
Back then, I started and never posted a blog - left only as incomplete thoughts - called “A Dad Becoming”. Here’s a bit of what was becoming in 2014:
When my girls were born, I loved them, but I didn’t instantly feel like their Dad.
As I changed their diapers and fed them, I became invested in them.
With investment, their lives claimed space in my identity.
Through shared identity, we both began to grow.
In growth, I started to become a Dad.
As they grow, they want to do for themselves.
They seek independence.
They demonstrate their unique personalities.
Through their demonstration, I get to know them.
Knowing them, our relationship becomes an exchange.
As we exchange, I still say I love you, but now they express it back.
In expression, love itself deepens, but so does the responsibility.
The responsibility: the weight of being a Dad.
As the weight increases, so does the need to model personal and relational health.
In modeling, a discipline of patience and unconditional love.
The discipline, failure.
So, for now, this is where I am: a Dad becoming.
Five years later, I do feel like I know my kids (and I’m crazy about them even when they drive me crazy); I am not just their caretaker.
Five years later, our relationship is an exchange, a genuine, learning, growing relationship. It has a past, a present, and a future.
Five years later, my patience - well… I’m still becoming.
Five years later, the weight of being a Dad is still there, but it is counterbalanced by the unparalleled joy of being Daddy.
Five years later, here I am again trying to put my parenting experience into words, but instead of struggling to understand the process, I am whole with the reality. While I am and will always be a “Dad becoming”, I have also become Daddy.