There’s nothing quite like that magical moment that you become a dad for the first time. Becoming a father has helped me evolve into a better version of myself. From the moment I held each of my children (a bonus son and newborn twins) in my arms, I instantly fell in love with them. I had heard about this feeling, but I honestly didn’t really believe it was possible to actually love and want to care for anyone upon first sight. But just looking into my children’s eyes and knowing they were a part of me, and that they needed me as much as I needed them, instantly awakened something beautiful inside of me. Just like that, I knew that I wanted to—needed to—protect them at all costs and provide the absolute best possible life for them that I can.
As good as that feels daily, this year has been one of highs and lows. My wife and I’s new twins, Logan and Emery, a son and a daughter, were born, Dec 27th, 2019, sending 2020 off to an incredible start for our family. My photography business was also growing at a pace I had never experienced before. The trade-off was having to sacrifice important quality time with my beautiful family. For the first 2.5 months of my twins’ lives, I had missed more than half of the milestones because of my hectic work travel schedule.
Then, just like that, everything changed overnight. The coronavirus pandemic hit, and the world stopped. Initially, the sudden halt in life as we all knew it was very hard for me to adapt to and accept. Judging from my Instagram feed at the time, I wasn’t alone in feeling that way. The truth is, the found time at home was a blessing, and it didn’t take long for me to come around to recognizing and appreciating it. I was given the gift of an abundance of uninterrupted time to cherish and spend with my newborn twins. I was able to watch closely as they developed and grew and to have time to bond with them too. I often refer to it as forced paternity leave, and I’m grateful for the slowed pace. In the past, I would have never even thought about taking this much time off from work, but now having lived it, I realize how incredible this bonding time with my children has been, and I would not trade that for any job. Raising Black kids, I have a duty to be there, as much as I can, to help cultivate their lives and growth.
When you are raising Black sons in America, a level of responsibility to educate them about the realities of the world comes with the territory. Now, more than ever, as Black people, there are constant threats to our lives from so many directions: police, racists, the criminal justice system—I could go on. I try not to allow it to give me anxiety but instead to let it propel me to develop the mental fortitude needed to battle these obstacles head-on, daily. I want to protect my sons and prepare them for the world while at the same time, not ever robbing them of their sweet innocence.
Like so many other Black parents, I’m sure, I have not yet figured out exactly when to begin those hard “what it means to be Black” conversations that I know I must have with my sons to prepare them for this harsh world. Right now, I am focusing on building their self-worth and confidence. One thing’s for sure: My five-year-old son knows that he’s a young king, his brother is a prince, and his sister a princess. He knows his mother is our queen too, and that I am her king. It is important to me that he believes he is royalty. One day when he has his own family, he will be a King too. We must uplift our kids to combat a world out there that doesn’t.
The Black Lives Matter movement ad all the progress it has made thus far, makes me optimistic about more change in our future—their future. Hopefully, my children will not have to fight the same fights we have been fighting for generations and are still fighting now. I am doing everything in my power to ensure that there’s a better tomorrow for my children. I lost my father when I was 13, but he instilled in me that I must provide a better life for my own kids one day children than the one I had. I am willing to do whatever I must to ensure that happens, and to me, that is what fatherhood and the celebration of Father’s Day is truly about. Being present, protecting, and providing a better life for them.