My Name Is... Matthew Sweetenham

British-born lover of Wild West confronts greatest adventure: fatherhood

American man
One of the first things people notice about me is my British accent. After a decade or so, it’s a boring conversation. At least my accent tends to make people think I’m smarter than I am.
My family moved to America when I was 16, which is 20 years ago now. I still watch a lot of British TV, and I keep up with British news, but I’m an American. My girlfriend is American, and so is our son.
I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled to maintain friendships here. I lived in San Antonio for a few years, and I still stay in touch with people there. There’s an aloofness to people in Denver.
I love everything about the West: the landscape itself, the mythos, the open road. I’ve walked in the footsteps of legends. I’ve drunk at the same bar as Doc Holliday. It’s all so much more recent than so much British history.
Finding community
Now that I’m a dad, I’m trying to figure out where to push forward my chips. What’s a sustainable lifestyle? How do I become part of a community?
My girlfriend Rachel and I went on a road trip not long after we met. We visited friends in Olympia, Washington. They were punk rockers, living on a rural proeprty with a huge vegetable garden. We were welcome to stay as long as we pitched in. It was awesome — they had figured out community in a really positive way.
As a dad, now I see the sacrifices parents make. It makes me feel more connected to my own parents.
It’s like the Wizard of Oz — once you see the man behind the curtain, you can’t unsee him. You understand that parents are scared but doing their best.
Women obviously go through biological changes when they become mothers, but men do too. Your entire priority list and direction in life changes.
Watching the days go by
Now, what I like the most is just hanging out with my son. Showing him the world and watching him come into new understanding is my purpose now. The other day we got him to pass a ball back and forth between us. I’m already nostalgic about it, and it just happened this week.
My mortality is more pronounced in my thought now. I don’t mean thinking about how I’m going to die, but more a realization that the days are going quicker.
These are strange days. Fatherhood is like a rebirth, and this is a weird time to be reborn. The world is changing in major ways, and hopefully we come out better for it.
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