One thing that is strange about becoming a parent: you get to live childhood again, but this time on the other side of a divide you faintly remember.
I don't know about you, but as a dad I often find myself thinking back to my own childhood, and referencing what my parents did, or must have thought. I contrast and compare my children's experiences with my own childhood.
But this time I'm the one loading the car for a weekend trip, or trying to soothe a child who skipped his nap. This time I'm the guy with whiskers. I remember that guy, but last time he wasn't me!
Or another example of how things have changed... When I hear a new song these days, I often think about whether my children will like it. And this often leads me to speculate about what kind of songs they will dance to someday at their teenage parties. And so a train of thought takes off... before I ever seriously considered my own relationship to the song, what it evoked in the first place for me.
The most interesting thing about this change in outlook, I think, is that I see the same data in a completely different way. As I said, I listen to music differently than I did before I had children. But it holds true for almost anything: books I read (What does this signal for my children?), food I eat (Is this healthy? Can we afford it?), world events (How will this affect their opportunities?). Even my most private emotional experiences -- say, a work-related disappointment or success -- have a different quality now that I know they may have relevance for my children.
There is a slight, ever so slight, separation now between me and the constantly changing, churning world. I'm one step removed, on the other side of the divide.
I guess it's called being a dad.
I have, for your enjoyment, two videos which I think demonstrate this change in outlook, this transition from one side of the divide to the other.
You have to watch them back to back to appreciate it. Note that the words are exactly the same in both, and yet the meanings conveyed by the words are completely different.
The times they are a-changin', indeed.
The first (Bob Dylan, 1965, pre-children, when he was the one doing the changin'):
The second (30 years later, now a father... and the one observing the changes):