I remember the day I truly became a parent. The day I totally lost my own identity and became identified by my kids. It was, honestly, traumatic.
You see, my four oldest boys are my step sons. Yes, that means I went from 0 to 4 basically overnight. Up until they moved in, I had been a bachelor. I had bought the house next door to my Grandfather, and across the street from my parents, and was living quite comfortably. I was "Doug" to everyone that knew me, even my (soon to be) kids.
Then, they moved in. Jory (then 8), Adam (6), Julian (4), and Ethan (18 months). And Christina, my loving, supportive, wonderful (soon to be) wife! One warm sunny day shortly thereafter, I bought squirt guns for all of them so they could go outside and make a racket somewhere other than in my living room. Seemed a wise investment at the time.
Having bought the house I did, I had basically lived in the same spot for 15 or more years when my kids moved in with me. It means I knew that there was a youngster across the street who would want to play with. He was the son of my mother's best friend. He was about 9, and we had known each other since before he was born. I had been "Doug" since he could pronounce the word. I bought him a squirt gun, too, so he could join in the battle raging across my front yard.
All seemed to go well. The kids got wet, they didn't fight (oh, how I dream of those days), they came in exhausted and crashed on the living room floor. It was exactly what I had wanted. Until the next day when I was talking to the across-the-street youngster's mother. You see, she explained, laughing at me the whole time, he came home exhausted and wet, gun in hand, smiling from ear to ear. She said to him "You look like you had fun!", to which he replied "Yep." Then she asked "Where'd you get the squirt gun?" And that was when it happened. Out of the mouths of babes.
He responded ...
Adam's Dad ?!? When did I become Adam's Dad !?! For 9+ years, I'd been "Doug", and overnight I became Adam's Dad ?!? All over a lousy squirt gun. My mother and her best friend cackled like hyenas when they told me this. I sulked into the corner. It had happened. I had totally lost my identity.
So take heed, new parents. I won't say it could happen to you. I'm telling you: It will happen to you. Your identity will get wrapped up in your children for the rest of your life. Hope you're ready.
I wasn't. But I survived.