Three years in. Two children, the younger being just over one year old. Lessons learned? Yes. More to learn? Certainly.
On Fathers’ day (in UK and US; in Germany it was back in May), when I started this post, many newspapers were carrying articles about Fatherhood. They covered topics such as not missing too much of your children’s youth (Times), changes to fatherhood in our generation compared to our parents generation (Times and Telegraph), various articles about Fathers’ day presents, and numerous of other ‘Father’ related articles. Given the topic’s current broad coverage, I thought I’d begin to reflect on the last three years, and share my views.
Anna, born 19 April 2006. Excitement. Joy. Uncertainty. Adventure. MBA +, Work +, Babies +, Friends -, Sleep -, Sport, -.
Conor, born 12 February 2008. A boy! More excitement (not diminished). Joy. Experienced? (a bit). Tired. MBA+ (still …), Work +, Friends -, Sleep -, Sport -.
It’s difficult to put into words what Anna and Conor mean to me. How you can love a child so much, and when the second comes your love is expanded, not shared. How their development is so important, and how it can be so wonderful, and frustrating to see yourself in them. How they can be the love of your life and make your life so difficult at the same time. How your emotions can be tested in opposite directions.
Today I watched Anna working around our garden watering flowers with her toy watering can, and I felt that suddenly nothing else matters. Not what comes next, what has passed. The immense love that one can have for one’s children overrules everything else. The moment is what it’s all about. But then the moment passes, and life carries on – places to go, schedules to keep (at least, mealtimes and bedtimes), changes in mood, etc. But the moment re-occurs, over and over again.
Anna sleeping on my chest, 1 week old. Conor watching Anna’s every move as she Dances round the kitchen with more energy than a puppy. Anna watching TV at breakfast one weekend, telling me that she wants to do springboard diving like in the Olympics that we were watching. Driving Anna to school and seeing her in the mirror chatting to me. Watching Conor stand in the middle of the garden and cheer himself as if he just lifted the gold medal at the Olympics. Anna coming in to show me her new party dress and willing me to tell her how beautiful she is. Conor driving a Bobby car before he can walk. Conor kicking a football, Anna playing Tennis, Anna learning to swim, Conor (“Splash boy”) in the bath. Watching Anna and Conor sleep.
It really is wonderful, but I don’t think I’ve ever known anything to be as difficult as raising a child … not work, not sport, not exams, not bungy jumping. Particularly at test are one’s previous priorities, overcoming habits built over 20+ years, giving up (or reducing) things that you previously took for granted, time management skills, and maintaining energy. Over and over again I reflect on how good a father and husband I am, and wish that I could do better, and do some things differently.
Getting the balance right will dictate your, and your children’s happiness for the rest of your life. But it’s not as easy as giving everything to them. There are also other commitments and the need for some personal time. It’s all about balance, but finding that balance is really tough!