Being happy is the best advice from mum

When I was young and ambitious, my mum must have noticed that the lack of success was weighing down on me.  As her way of making things better, she said something that at the time seemed totally useless and naive to me, she said:  “I just want you to be happy”.  The thing is, at that time I didn’t want to be happy, I wanted to be successful. I wanted the world.  After decades passed by and success eluded me, success no longer became a goal; my aspirations were about more tangible things.  I then had a child of my own, and began to understand what real happiness is all about.  I then understood what mum was talking about.

The thing is, being happy is not easy, you only have to look around you to see how many miserable people there are.  So I feel a pretty successful human being to be able to say out loud: “I am happy!”

And I now appreciate fully what my mum was trying to get me to understand all those years ago.  Your dreams, ambitions and goals should always have being happy as the top priority, then it does not matter what you do, you will be happy first of all.  If I had been successful, like I planned, I would have been a miserable rock star.  Now thankfully I am a happy and successful dad and husband, everything after that is not important.

Eating

No soon as I utter the words ‘everything is all right’, something does not work. I don’t mean ‘not work’ as in something is terribly wrong, just something is not happening the way it has done for months!
I am referring to Theo’s eating habits.
Theo has always eaten very well. He has always wanted food and always eaten almost everything we have placed before him. He has been eating pretty much what we have been having ourselves and has had a varied diet: pasta, curry, chilli con carne, roast dinner, spag bol, stew etc etc. We have always been very encouraged by this and always thought his eating was down to good parenting. We looked at other families with fussy children and thought they must have done something wrong… But now Theo is being fussy. Things he has always eaten in the past now are not to his taste. What has changed?
On some days he just seems to have less of an appetite, others he is just defiant – No, is a word learnt and now well used.
It is a worry only because I want him to not be hungry. I also of course don’t want to make eating a big issue for him and he associate mealtimes with when he is under pressure to eat even when he doesn’t want to. That can have major repercussions later in life. I myself remember stomach churning meals out where you must eat because it is paid for.
I will keep an eye on things and hope he regains his old appetite. If anyone has any advice, please let me know.

The deafening silence

Sometimes I am amazed how quickly time flies. A blog like this at least shows when the last time you wrote about your life, and I see I have neglected this blog for too long.
My son Theo is now just over 18 months old and since my last blog, a lot has happened. A lot of normal things and I guess that is why I haven’t felt the need to share my concerns with you. We have been really fortunate that our son has not fell foul of any serious accidents, illnesses or lapses in good parenting and we have been all doing really well indeed. How very boring and conventional.
Suffice to say the day to day things are running smoothly and nursery drop offs are a breeze with Theo walking into the room with hardly a backwards glance. Yes he is walking after a period of time we thought he was way behind his friends. Theo seems to only do something when he knows absolutely he can and as soon as he starts he goes from zero to sixty in seconds. It was the same with stairclimbing, he stayed on the first step for weeks and then one day scaled the lot in moments. Happy times.
Happy times indeed. When I am with my son it is the best of moments; when I am tired away from him, within seconds of being back in his company, I am revitalised – what could be better.

Pride

Pride

It is one of the seven deadly sins, if you believe in that, and something I swore I would never be guilty of in my relationship with my son.  Pride is also only a short distance from disappointment and you can so easily end up there when situations don’t quite meet expectations.

I remember my mum and dad’s whispered conversations from my teenage years about whether I was doing better at school than my brother and how they would like me to make them proud.  Later in life I recall conversations with friends, who had children way before I did, about how well their kids are doing in school, or what a great job they have now, and I admit I thought it very superficial.

I guess their attitude is to do with that whole ‘he is a chip off the old block’ mentality – that your offspring’s successes are in some way a confirmation of how amazing you are yourself.  And I hate that.  I believe we all stand or fall on our own merits, not by association.

However, as a recent father (my boy is just 18 months old), my attitude has altered a little.  Now, I am always happy to talk about my son’s first steps, or his first teeth, or how he knows his animals, vehicles and numbers up to ten.  And there is a part of me that is swollen with pride and the twisted logic that he is amazing because I made him that way… no!  He is an individual and I am constantly supportive and attentive, and maybe this has had an impact, and maybe genetically he has something of me swimming around in his DNA, but he will decide how he wants to do things throughout his life, for good or not.  I can’t take credit for everything he does that is wonderful, can I?  If so, I must equally take responsibility for all the terrible things he does too – that is only fair.

I guess I must fight this daily battle, between my emotional side that is riddled with pride, and my rational side that appreciates that I can only ever be my son’s guide through life – ultimately he will grow, as I did, in spite of the guidance of my nearest and dearest.

I have tried to have as few expectations about my son’s future direction as I can, not wishing to load onto him my own emotional baggage concerning my own ambitions and failures.  I have to stop telling myself how happy I would be if he was musical, or artistic, or whether he likes Bowie, or Star Wars, or Liverpool FC, or motorbikes.  I suppose that stems from a desire to have something in common to share with him later in life, rather than my way of judging if he is a good son or not.  And I can’t help feeling the ugly presence of pride in me, knowing that if a day comes when we can play guitars together and he is the Mick Ronson to my Bowie, my heart will explode with pride.

I will endeavour not to be too disappointed if his musical taste differs from mine, or if he prefers soap operas to movies, but I will consider disowning him should he ever support Man Utd!

I suppose at the very least I would like my son to not have all the faults I have, as if he is the new, improved version – now more dynamic, more focused and better than me, the earlier model.

Regardless of all my deluded fancies, I do think that I should be allowed to be proud of the small but important things in life – when people say how happy and content my son is, I class that as a personal victory and something I am most proud of, without any trace of shame.

Point of View

Something happened that led me to revisit my earlier blogs and read the things that I had written.  Some of it was me just speaking out ideas, some of which were riding high on emotions and not well thought out, and I didn’t ever really fully consider the feelings of others.  Here I was trying to make a journey from un-selfishness and forgetting those closest to me.  I realise now that I never fully considered the events that took place or people’s feelings – I never truly understood a particular point of view and as usual I only thought how circumstances were affecting me.  I also rather cowardly never approached the problems I saw head on, and let them go on with my own version playing in my head – a version that would have been very different had I given time to appreciate their point of view.

I want to state for the record now that reading my thoughts in those early entries, of how I felt back then, fills me with shame.  I hope I have grown in the last few months to fully appreciate all perspectives; and although I cannot physically feel those events, I do understand.  I guess a blog is so personal that you will always get a blinkered view:  the writer’s opinion.  I will try in future to be more professional about this.

So, Willy, my darling wife, I said some hurtful things I wish I could take back and I apologise wholeheartedly for not considering the things you were going through.  As I have grown this last year I am on the road to understanding the things that happened.  I think you have done an amazing job these last 11 months and our beautiful son is the physical proof of that – you are the best wife and best mother anyone could hope to have. Please don’t ever forget how much I love you, and remember I said things in the heat of the moment that I regret and now take back, unreservedly.

Dreams

Well, I am actually talking about nightmares.  The dream I had last night had me waking with tears in my eyes.  I have had dreams before concerning Theo, where I have woken in terror, or confusion, and these are normally dreams in which I am holding Theo in my arms, I wake during this part of the dream, find my arms empty, and then spend a few frantic seconds trying to find him in the bedclothes.  Only to wake fully and remember Theo is fast asleep in his own cot in the next room.  This situation usually means I wake up Willy who wonders why I am searching the bed for something.

Anyway, last night’s dream was more real.  In it I had a different wife and a young daughter, who in the dream was about 3 or 4 years old.   She was saying to me how she couldn’t play girly games with me and had to do that with mum.  While she speaks to me I recall a dream in which I had a young son called Theo, and how I had his picture on my VDU at work.  While my daughter continues talking, I remember Theo’s wide grin, his blond hair and that I loved him dearly.  I looked at my daughter and realised I wanted the family in the dream, and not the one in front of me.  I then break down crying saying how much I miss my son Theo and that he was more special and more real to me than my wife and daughter.  During those few moments of tears I actually feel as though my real life was the dream, and the dream was real, and that I had actually lost my son altogether – that he no longer existed, or in fact had never existed at all – I recalled everything about him in the dream within the dream and it broke my heart to realise I had lost him.

I now wake from this dream, back into this life, confused and upset.  My brain trying to work out whether I am still in a dream, or actually awake.  When I come to, I realise Theo is in his room and this is real – Theo does exist; I am his father; and he is the best thing in my life.

When Willy wakes in the morning, I tell her about this dream and am still so upset about thinking I had lost Theo, I cry again.  When Theo wakes later on, he probably wondered why I hugged even more than usual.  The thing is though, Theo will also be cursed with this over active imagination during sleep:  my mum had it, I have it, and I am sure Theo will too.  He will rush into our room on many occasions I am sure when he is older, and describe dreams even more odd than my own.

It is amazing that a brain can have a dream in which the subject has a dream and confuses dream from reality: a dream within a dream within a dream.  I was just so thankful and relieved that I woke up in this one, still with my Theo.

Please add a comment about any of your own crazy dreams, just so I don’t feel alone.