Last night, the mother of my kids signed the lease on a new apartment and moved ten minutes across town. Now it’s up to me to take over all the responsibilities of running our family home, which we had lived in together for ten years.

Because I was the one who asked for this in the first place and we worked collaboratively on a plan to make it happen, feelings aren’t as bent out of shape as they might otherwise be. But it’s still a big change! And one that won’t really be fully understood until it is experienced, I suppose.

The most promising aspect of this huge transition is that it’s an opportunity to start fresh and figure out who exactly I want to be. Anybody who spends a long time on a rocky road of a relationship, and anybody who is run through the wringer of adapting to parenthood experiences a certain amount of identity erasure. In some cases it’s survivable. In my case it was for a while, until it wasn’t.

But I am someone who thinks super-long term about things. And so while I don’t regret a single day of the last decade or so, I also know that as my kids grow up, their needs will be quite different in the decade to come. They will look at their mom and dad and see more of who we are as people rather than just thinking of us as protectors and providers.

If we don’t know who we are, or if we’re not happy with who we are, or we’re not excited about who we’re going to become in the years to come, then our kids are going to pick up on that. And what kind of lesson would they learn from that?

It is that question that kept me up at night for far too long.

So who do I want to be, then? It’s still an open question to explore, but the rough contours of the path are already known. Being a good dad is a huge part of it, but now I get to do that in the way I think is best, rather than worrying about what somebody else’s opinion on that idea is.

But I also will have a lot more time each week, during the 3.5 days where the kids are with their mom, to forge a path through life on my own. Right now the only things that are certain about that time is that there will be a whole hell of a lot guitar playing, a ton of time spent cooking for the love of it rather than just out of necessity, and also… as much time as possible spent on deepening my existing friendships and forming new ones.

The rest of it, I’ll figure out as I go.