My name is Adio Trice and I am the 23 – year old loving father of a beautiful baby boy, Damani Khepri Trice.

But like any young father will tell you…you’re never ready when the time comes.

This is my Crystal Stair.

Like any young man, this story starts with a young man being blindly and madly in love; the only thing I thought about was her.  The thought of having a child wasn’t foreign, but we both had our own goals that we were passionate about, so of course, we didn’t need a child.

And then BOOM, we were gifted a child, and everything changed.

My first thought was; this little person now needs me.  I think the thing that is most terrifying and beautiful to young fathers is this journey of self-discovery.  At 23, I’m still figuring out who I am, but I also have my son, who is helping me find myself as well.  Every day, he helps me define and redefine who I am, what I like, what I dislike, and my new habits. From the moment he was born, I didn’t struggle with loving him, I struggled with the responsibility… I was lost and scared that I would run away from that responsibility.

Initially, I was insecure in my abilities as a father.  I needed guidance, but I also wanted to raise him my own way.  My own insecurities held me back from taking care of myself and I recognized that I could not take care of him if I didn’t take care of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I was excited about being a father.  I get to teach him how to be a gentleman, I get to teach him how to be carefree.  I also get to teach him how special he is, and I think that’s something many of our black boys miss.

Society doesn’t paint us as emotional creatures, except when showing anger.  They don’t see that we laugh, cry and feel emotion or that we experience heartache.  After having a son, my views of masculinity have changed completely.  I hug my son, I kiss my son, and there is never a doubt that I love him.  But this new relationship has also reshaped how I interact with other black men.  It’s okay to hug, it’s ok to say “I love you”, it’s ok to be emotionally vulnerable and cry to one another.

To the young black fathers out there, this journey of fatherhood is not meant to be straightforward, you’re meant to learn, stumble, and succeed…but always remember to be present.

Sincerely, A New Loving Dad