This Year Will Be Better

03/09/2009 By Shawn Burns

I posted here in this space for the first time one year ago today.

What started as a time-waste turned into an obsession, and then matured into a complicated relationship. I just wanted to tell stories and work out what my opinions were about parenting, and fatherhood, and being a dad in a predominantly moms’ world.

I also wanted to leave little traces of myself around so that I wouldn’t forget, so that Erin would see her dad the way he thought himself.

This was never really a “keep the family up to date” kind of blog, although it works as such, indirectly, at times. It was just this place I could write, I could imprint on culture a little, I could figure out how to get better at manipulating words in order to transform minds.

Before this identity, this Backpacking Dad thing, developed I was always very secretive about my thoughts. This hampered me a lot in academics, because I would turn in papers that had only ever been seen by one person, containing ideas only ever discussed with one person, and I had no desire to participate in the vast feedback loop of academic development. So another thing I planned to get out of this space was to get over my reluctance to share my deliberate thoughts with people and to let them tell me what, if anything, they were worth outside of my own head.

That was a long paragraph about, oh my god, how shy I am, really, no really, I swear I am really. But this activity has really been life-altering, and I came to it not thinking very much of the endeavor.

But I read. And I was read. And I met people. And I argued with people. And I agreed with people. And I made friends. And I made enemies. And I embarrassed myself. And I embarrassed other people. And I became entangled in other lives, just as strangers were getting entangled in mine.

I told Emily once that I don’t like people in my house. That’s still true, to a certain extent. But I think I have all of you to thank for being willing to consider having houseguests.

This year will see a lot more changes. I no longer write about my experience as an at-home dad, because I’m not really one anymore. I will very shortly no longer be able to write about being the parent of a single child. I don’t know whether what seems to be my trademark sappiness will endure, or if being the exhausted father of two will make me want to dive into a six-pack and just watch the game instead of waxing about how much I love my kids. I suppose I’ll just keep writing whatever I feel like writing. Mostly I just like to tell the stories that are laying around. I’m not good at fiction.

I am a dad. I have a backpack. My daughter rides around in the backpack (occasionally….). My son will ride around in the backpack. And you will get to read all about it during the second year.

Thanks for reading. You have made an unforseeable difference.