One thing I've noticed recently is that over the different phases of our lives, we introduce ourselves to others differently. For example, when you're in elementary school you typically introduce yourself to your classmates by your first name: "Hi, I'm Eric. You want to share your juice box?" Maybe in high school or college you develop a nickname that you go by instead - something less formal: "Hey, I'm Meibs. Want to split a case of beer?" Then as you move into the professional world, you typically go back to the formal naming convention of just your last name: "Hi, I'm Mr. Meibers and I'm here for the grown-up job interview."
Sometimes it's hard getting away from the less-formal nicknames that you've grown accustomed to using and getting called for so many years. You might even catch yourself introducing yourself by the former nickname only to stop mid-word and correct it. Women have it even harder after they get married - assuming they take their husband's last name. They've spent 20+ years going by the same first and last name combination, only to have it change on them. Not to mention writing it on official documents.
Once you've been in the "adult world" for a while, you get used to introducing yourself a certain way. For example, Mommy B and I have been married for almost 3 years now and I've gotten very used to introducing myself to her friends and colleagues like this: "Hi, I'm Eric - Brittany's husband." Even though most of them already know she's married, I always like to cover my bases and to fend off the potential cougars ahead of time.
However, the other day I found myself introducing myself in a way I hadn't experienced yet. I was dropping Alli off at daycare and one of the other dads from Alli's class was dropping of his kid off at the same time. We made a couple small jokes about the kids, and I reached out to shake his hand. And for the first time in my life, I introduced myself like this: "Hey, I'm Eric - Alli's dad."
Woah... I'm someone's dad??
When did that happen? And why did just introducing myself that way make it sound so official? Wasn't her birth enough to make it official? I guess just talking about fatherhood to family and friends doesn't quite drive the point home like it does when talking to strangers. To be honest, I think I might have actually hesitated a fraction of a second while my brain stopped my mouth from following up with "Brittany's husband" and changed it to the appropriate relationship for the situation. This guy doesn't know my wife (hopefully), but he certainly knows my kid who's in the carrier right next to me. Well, that and that she's the cutest kid in the class, of course. Amazing how fast the brain can work sometimes - even when you're not conscience of it.
While it probably didn't register to the guy I had just shaken hands with, it was a moment I won't soon forget. It made me realize that I'm going to be introducing myself that way for a very long time. If Alli turns out to be the social butterfly we all think she's going to be, I could be introducing myself that way a lot.
Of course, I'll still be "Brittany's husband" and "Scarlett's owner" (we'll see how much I admit to that)... but now I have to add "Alli's dad" and eventually "(insert second child's name here)'s dad" to the mix. And I was just getting used to not having to think about it...