You never really realize it until it happens, but my youth (which I consider having extended all the way into my early 20’s) was a series of events and exercises that prepared me to become the man, the husband, and the father I am today.
I’m convinced that if I were to visit the 14-year-old me, I would see someone so self-interested that even the prospect of the the life I now live would be impossible to believe. Each morning I get into my car and I drive from my home to a job that provides me pay. On its face, that doesn’t seem odd to you, me, or my teenage self. Where the 14-year-old might take issue is that I do each of those things not so that I can buy myself the newest video game release or to obtain those hockey skates I had my eye on, but that my family couldn’t afford. No, I willingly sacrificed my youth and its pursuits so that I could provide for and protect my wife, my daughter, and my son.
Truth be told, my warped sense of my own masculinity extended from that 14-year-old kid until about 6 months before I married Catherine. I can almost pinpoint the day that I awoke and realized I could no longer only live for myself. That was the day that I knew Catherine was the person I would willingly march to my own death in defense of. That is an important day. The lesson is, I have come to understand, primal in its origins. Author and educational consultant James B. Stenson addressed this phenomenon, indirectly, in his book Father, The Family Protector. I highly recommend a quick read of his description of primal masculinity via an anecdotal account occurring on a leisurely walk in Boston’s Back Bay.
My drive to protect Catherine was both heightened and diminished on the very same day. When my wife became mother to our first child, Anna, I couldn’t ignore the feelings within me that were stirred. Where once I saw the sacrifice of my own life for hers as reality, now I knew that my drive to protect her was equaled in my desire to prolong my own life for my own child. Woe be to the individual or animal that tried to harm either one of us. On that same day, as a beautiful, pink mush of skin, fingers, and toes, Anna took top billing. Catherine, perhaps willingly and certainly unknowingly, hopped off the pedestal that was now meant for Anna. Anna’s life was and will be forever safe from harm if my life is ever asked to be the cost for that security.
IShieldTheFamily.com was started to explore the phenomenon of the male evolution from relative self-centeredness to self-determination, especially as it pertains to the advancement and protection of the family. I should caution, this is just my journey. Of course, I would love to learn that my thoughts and experiences resonate with men and fathers everywhere. However, if your own journey differs from mine, I would love to hear your thoughts.