May 28Liked by Kevin Maguire

I have been pondering this question lately and I am not sure I know the answer. I am in my late 30a and I became a dad to a baby boy a few months ago. My wife had a hard labor with several complications and her mom and I really had to step up and help as much as we can until she felt better (thankfully she is much better now). I love my son and I think I love my wife even more now that we have this extra bond.

Before my son was born, I would have described myself as a curious person, a voracious reader and generally a team player. About a year ago I started playing drums - making a life’s dream come true - but with my wife’s pregnancy progressing, my drum teacher going on a tour and other things, I had to put my drumsticks away - not forever, hopefully - but it was a sad day and every day I find myself missing playing.

Another thing I loved doing is spending time outside. I hate going to the gym so my exercise was going for walks or jogs. We live in the part of the world that allows us to be outside most of the time and which makes spending most of your time inside a bit depressing. With the arrival of our baby, neither my wife nor I have had time to go outside much and I feel worse for it. I am hoping to instill my love for the outdoors into my son (much like my dad did for me) so we can spend time together in a way that is simple, relaxing and restorative.

I am still the same guy - I still read a lot, play air drums, spend a lot of time communicating with my family and thinking of all the cool places I want to take mu boy to. It’ll just take time to get to it all.

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May 27Liked by Kevin Maguire

Hello, there. As a school psychologist, the writing I most often do is for special education or other evaluation reports. Writing about myself is an indulgence that I rarely get.

By the way, isn't it strange that the first information I offer about myself is what I do to pay the bills? Surely there's more to who I am. But who am I, really?

I am a father to a four-month-old son. Although I miss sleeping, I love the quiet, intimate moments when he's on my lap in the middle of the night. I wonder about how good of a father I am, and I worry about the world my son will inherit with the intensifying effects of climate change.

I am a person who publicly identifies as a "first time dad" even though my wife and I had twins about a year and half ago. The girls were stillborn at 18 weeks. I've been told I'm not a real father until I have a child that survives birth, so I rarely talk about the girls outside of my family.

I am a lover of the outdoors. I feel at home backpacking in the mountains, though my actual home is in the Midwest - nowhere near any mountains. I'm locked in what seems to be an eternal struggle with the various weeds and invasive plants in my yard.

I am a devotee of Arrested Development. It is (and has been) my favorite show. It is the source of numerous jokes and references in my household.

I am an amateur cook. I've never worked in a restaurant or commercial kitchen, but cooking has come to be one of my favorite activities. It's a way for me to be creative and show love for my family.

So, who am I? Just a dad who's trying his best.

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May 27Liked by Kevin Maguire

The answer to "who am I?" make me think like... Cit. "I don't have to think

I only have to do it

The results are always perfect

And that's old news

I can't see the end of me

My whole expanse I cannot see

I formulate infinity

Stored deep inside me"

Sorry, my two cents.

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Cheers to all the folks in this community for sharing, reading, or both! And big gratitude to Kevin for bringing everyone together and passing the mic. Who am I? I'll give it a go...

Hi, I'm Jason Basa Nemec and I have a lot of identities: partner, father, writer, reader, bartender, Ph.D., white man from Ohio, what some people call a stay-at-home dad, runner, introvert who plays well with others when need be, coffee drinker, bass player, therapy patient, learner, privileged American, sharer, failed novelist, unrelenting novelist, traveler, food lover who's turned off by the word 'foodie,' former adjunct college professor who's turned off by the word 'adjunct,' singer/songwriter, Chicagoan, guy who cried when Anthony Bourdain died, former Hongkonger, vinyl listener, fan of The National and Sza and so many more musicmakers, artist, 'good Filipino' (according to certain Filipinos in my life, my partner included), daydreamer, recent entrepreneur, long-winded storyteller.

Phew, that's a lot. Did I overshare? Perhaps, because it's 6 am here and I suddenly want to pour a slug of whiskey into my coffee. I'll resist that urge for now, and instead will add that I really feel some of the struggles that other stay-at-home parents have voiced on this thread and others. As I shared with Kevin once before, I wrote an article for The Washington Post a few years back, about my experience being a stay-at-home dad, and I'll resurface the link here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/06/18/i-love-being-stay-at-home-dad-i-still-struggle-with-what-it-says-about-me-man/

(If you're not a subscriber to the Post, you may have to give them your email to get it as one of a few free articles a month. Maybe it'll resonate with some; either way, thanks for considering giving it a read.)

I'm excited and nervous these days as I'm entering what feels like a new phase; both of our kids are now in school/pre-K, and that newfound free time has allowed me to finish a novel - it's about an expat in Hong Kong who becomes a father and gets wrapped up in the pro-Democracy movement there. I'm trying to get an agent now (if anyone has connections in that world, please share!) and since that process comes with so much rejection and/or radio silence, I'm also starting up a new business as an in-home craft cocktail bartender (I've worked in a number of really great bars over my 43 years), in part to give my busy mind something to chew on other than the obvious difficulty of publishing a novel and being the primary caretaker for two brilliant but demanding little humans.

I'll stop there for now. Any like-minded folks who want to connect, I'm on Instagram at @inbarcocktails and @jasonbasanemec. And who knows, maybe someday I'll resurface my old Substack...

Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are!

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May 27·edited May 27Liked by Kevin Maguire

Brilliant question, Kevin. I am touched by reading many of these stories, all these humans in various states of learning and growing and being and sorting this who am I and why am I here business.

I am a puddle of murky stardust and conscious awareness slowly making its way down to a river, then the ocean.

So grateful for this life thing.

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May 27Liked by Kevin Maguire

I’m a dad of two, a boy who just turned 3 and a little girl who is about 17 months. I am a powerlifter and an aspiring boxer, which at 38 is daunting to contemplate but I really enjoy it (I picked it up to lose weight. Forty lbs later, I’m about to have my first fight.) I quit my job of ten years in October ‘21, a job for which I pursued two masters degrees and put myself in serious debt, because it was killing me. For the first year of my daughter’s life I was a stay at home dad, simultaneously overjoyed to be with her, and depressed out of my mind because my former job was my identity. I started work in a new field this past December, and although it is an entry level position I enjoy it and think I have a real chance to advance to better paying opportunities. I don’t know many dad’s with young children around where I live, so I read parenting Substacks to get a sense of what other dad’s out there are thinking--and to get better insight on how I can best support my wife, who sometimes finds being a parent and holding down a full time job (being the primary breadwinner) challenging. I’m grateful for her, my kids, my family and friend support system that kept us going while I was out of work, and Tears of the Kingdom.

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May 26Liked by Kevin Maguire

What an iceberg of a question @kevin. Can I be Schrödinger’s cat? Confident and unsure. A life long resister of peer pressure and the status quo, yet my interests are coffee, photography, cooking, tech (gadgets)..

A 35 year, adult, husband, dad of 1, who feels like a kid himself.

This is all before we get anywhere near work, and creativity. I work in news product/ journalism and it demands a lot emotionally from people on top of the work itself. While I feel my work life balance is good. I’m not over worked, I don’t stay late, work weekends or holidays (I’m currently on 3 months pat leave) but I am conscious how much of ‘myself’ is tied up in my work.

My wife and I will be moving with our 18 month old to NYC next year. I suspect that is going to raise 1000 new questions as we switch from ‘my’ homeland to hers.

I suspect I’ll find out how much London plays a role in who I am too when we move.

A long and meandering answer that answers nothing really.

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May 26Liked by Kevin Maguire

I’m a dad to a 4-year-old boy and our new daughter born just a few days ago. Getting to relearn the early stages all over again!

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May 26Liked by Kevin Maguire

So, I had brain surgery 7 years ago to remove a tumor. This was the same time my son was born premature abt 5 1/2 weeks. I'm recovering but it's slow. I was in rehab in the hospital for about 1 month and when I went home I was in wheelchair. Since then, I've upgraded to a walker, then a cane, and now nothing but my lack of balance is still noticeable. The surgery paralyzed the right side of my face, much like a stroke victim (at rehab after the hospital, there were a lot of stroke victims) and speaking is difficult for me. (Enough of my sob-story)

But that stuffs not a big deal to me. The physical things are most important to me. I used to be athletic and a quick learner with things like sports and other physical stuff. Now, I cant really do that stuff. So, a big motivation for me is my son. He only knows me of this disabled person. I dream about being able to throw a football with him or kicking a soccer ball or riding bikes. Its getting better...the other day I was actually playing soccer with him and he was surprised by my mobility and said 'Howd you get so fast?'. That reinforced to me that things are getting better for me physically.

I also just got a new job about 1 year ago. As an engineer like I was before my surgery, so thats a step in the right direction. So my advice to everyone else is something I learned as an engineer...just take things one day at a time. Something may seem like a huge mountain to climb on day 1 but if you just climb that mountain a little every day, sooner or later you'll find that you climbed that mountain. It may take some time but you'll make it, just take things one day at a time.

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A mum. Here because I enjoy your writing and I'm grateful that there's a spot for dads somewhere on the internet. I usually stay away from commenting because I want to leave the space sacred for dads, but I interpreted your response as open to all.

Big questions in life are usually related to my longevity. My responses range from panicked, "I have to control everything NOW", to "meh, does this mean I can have a chocolate croissant?"

Bigger questions are about building a lasting, sustainable way of relating to each other, across the globe, in a way that works for everyone, not just cis-, able-bodied, tall, straight, white males.

I believe an acupuncture point for a new way of global being is children. So I am shifting generational patterns in my own home and writing about it through the lens of Nonviolent Communication. Also holding classes about it, while I can, which is super fun. One of the highlights of my week. This is *my work*, where I find purpose and meaning and joy and creativity.

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I’m a husband, father, brother and son. I’m a military man from the UK. I’m a geek at heart and currently watching Critical Role and Tim Pool on YouTube.

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May 26Liked by Kevin Maguire

Thanks for the prompt, and the space, to share. I’ll share fully, so be warned this is a LONG comment. Also, I’m a parent but not a dad. I tune into this newsletter because I like to have a balanced perspective on the experience of parenthood and so much “parent” media is motherhood-focused. I’m still looking for the place where the joint experiences of parenthood are explored. So far the best I can do is just tune into both sides of the conversation.

Hi, I’m Sam. I’m a parent of one (2 year old) and expecting another in December. I just completed my master’s, which I battled through covid times and new parenthood to finish, and I’m getting comfortable feeling proud of myself for it.

I lost myself in 2010, during my second semester of undergrad. I haven’t gotten back to who I am, but after a lot of work I can at least see that person from a distance and work toward her. I am just starting to understand how ashamed I am for my choices back then, and how much self forgiveness I will require before I can get back to myself.

I went to school to draw, to paint. The fear and uncertainty of being a career artist with 80k in debt came to bear on me during my second term when I had to declare my major. I felt I was deciding the rest of my life, whether I would suffer--poor in a gutter-- or survive--mediocre job but food on the table.

I declared illustration, thinking at least there was a market for this work that was buoyed by more than the gallery world. Over the next few months my fear built into an overwhelming bubble, which popped when I returned to campus from a summer nannying abroad in Spain. I switched to architecture, following a misguided idea that the profession would offer me security. Well, no profession can offer anyone security if they can’t bring themselves to learn the trade, and I was so miserable and lost I spent the whole year sleep deprived, depressed, and furious. Needless to say I did not learn much about architecture and I was terrible at it.

I had to leave the department but was completely confused about who I was and blinded by hurt pride, which I had wounded in my failure to do what I had set out to (a hitherto unknown experience for me).

My best friend and I fell in love that spring. I sank into the comfort of his adoration and rested in his self-assuredness. Jamie knew who he was and he seemed to know who I was, too. We had been best friends since the first day of school, two years earlier. I trusted him implicitly.

I still held tight to my fears of poverty and suffering that were attached to the fine arts, and my pride begged me to put some of what I had learned about design to new use, so I spent the summer considering jewelry design, industrial design, and furniture design. Jamie was in the furniture design department and he was as in love with furniture as he was with me. He gave me the inside scoop, and after the bloody crits of the architecture department, the furniture department sounded downright cozy. I couldn’t resist.

I transferred to furniture and did well. The department was small and family-like, the professors as interested in philosophy as I and taught through a pedagogy that made room for all kinds of work. My identity had room to struggle there. I learned a lot, made good work, and felt at home. But, when I graduated, I felt like a fraud. I didn’t feel like it was me who did any of the work that had earned me my degree, but someone else. I was pretending to be a designer.

I moved to New York with Jamie to work in the design industry. I found no joy in any of my jobs or in the design community, and no interest whatsoever in making my own work. I chalked it up to having no free time, what with hustling to pay my New York rent and grocery bills.

Three years later, I was miserably plugging away as a production manager at a small lighting design studio. I hated New York, hated who I was there, hated my work, hated myself.

I told Jamie I had to leave. What I meant was, I have to re-start. I have to figure myself out and I have no room to do it here. But, I didn’t see that at the time, I just felt an intense need to flee the city.

We got engaged and moved to Toronto, Jamie’s home town, six months later.

The relief was overwhelming. Also, I had no idea what to do. Waiting for a work permit, I rented a studio and started making work at random. I picked up a client, flopped the job, started a few sewing projects, and eventually gave up. Paying rent for a studio in which I spent my time flailing around doing aimless projects felt wrong. I spent the winter indulging in anxiety about the environment and getting used to being married. I decided I was not meant to be an artist or designer at all and started looking for new career paths that could build on my BFA. I settled on environmental planning--very practical. I got into a two year program at a local university and eagerly began my studies. I was very ready to remake myself and leave behind my identity crisis. I relished the chance to explore all the other sides of my intellect and passions, which had been ignored in my quest to define my “creative self” over the previous years.

With COVID restrictions and a year of parental leave, I had lots of time to explore. I had the incredible support of an advisor who could see me better than I could myself, and who had the patience to let me wander around my studies. She validated so many parts of me that had been hiding away, waiting to be appreciated.

I found the mental space to reflect on the last decade, and began to understand how angry I am at myself for letting fear and self doubt deprive me of the incredible opportunity I had to study what I love most and accept myself for who I am--someone who loves to draw.

I can’t do it over. And on top of that, I’m a parent now. There’s no going back to the freedom and passion of being 19. And I’m still grieving for that.

I’m working on finding a little room for that self among all my other selves. Parent, partner, environmentalist, theorist, social scientist, artist. But, it’s really difficult. For all my hard earned perspective, I’m still afraid to just be. I’m still looking for what I should do, rather than what I want to do.

If you’ve read this far, wow! Thanks for listening. If you can relate, please reply.

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I’m Lou, a guy who tries to think deeply about the world and lightly about myself. I have two kids -- a toddler and a baby -- a dog and a great wife. I like to be outside, cook, do hard things, and write.

I think I’m closer to enlightenment than not, but still not there yet.

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May 26Liked by Kevin Maguire

I am NOT a dad and never will be a parent. I AM a fan of good writing and big ideas that make me think, synthesize. I also like men and I’m intrigued by varieties of masculinities, so there’s that.

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I’m Brad. I’m 32 years old, and dad to two daughters. One is three years old, and the other is one month old.

For a long while, I had no notion whatsoever of who I was. I’d go along with the crowd, checking the boxes and doing the things I thought I was meant to do. I endured high school and the harsh, critical voices within. I did the school subjects that everyone I hung around with did, and the same followed me into university. I started working in a job that could very easily have swallowed me whole and digested me for the next 45 years.

I don’t know what changed, or when it did. It probably has to do with my wife—most good things do. I had to do a lot of hard work unpacking why I felt so disconnected from my sense of self, and really figuring out what it is I wanted from life.

I became more comfortable in my own skin—I still have challenges with pleasing people and social anxiety, but I’m working on them, and realising just how much of what we all face is generational. When I became a dad three and a half years ago, I realised just how important it was for me to address the baggage that I’ve dragged with me for so long, for the sake of my kids. I might not be able to solve everything, but it’s a start.

I discovered writing myself around ten years ago, and I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. I started out writing fiction; mostly science fiction and fantasy, basically the kind of things I liked to read myself. I have a few finished first drafts sat on the digital shelf, reminders at how the laborious editing process defeated me. I have a long way to go before realising my goal of being published in some form, but I’m in it for the long haul.

Now I write about parenting as well; my passion for writing took a kicking during the early days of fatherhood combined with the pandemic but more recently I’ve found writing about my own experiences of the challenges facing us as parents has been so important for both my love of writing and for my own personal development.

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I am a dad & husband outta Winnipeg, Canada, and I write and read and work with the Post Office during the day and tend to drink a few beers at night.

I like your stuff.

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