Three and a half years of joy


Here we are all these months later and all the silence in between did not mean there were torrid times, we were just too busy enjoying ourselves to update this site.  Of course there were hard days and sleepless nights, there were tantrums and tears, but really everyday is a joy with my boy Theo.  I love you son.

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.


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.



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.


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.

The Missing Months

For those eagle eyed readers out there, you will have noticed a gap
between the entry in March and the next one in July. Thank you to all
those concerned folks out there who messaged me with their concern
that my blog had gone quiet.
You may think the silence was due to problems and lack of time keeping
up with the blog, and that is only partly true – as a new parent you
never have time to do anything. There were no problems as such, just
life. As a writer, I know that most of the work you do happens before
you start typing – it is the process of collecting your thoughts.
This generally requires moments of quiet contemplation – if you are a
new parent and you can find a minute’s silence, tell me how you do it.
So what happened in those months?
Well the most important event was learning in April that the nursery
we had planned taking him to, did not have any available places. This
was a big blow, as the nursery was at my place of work, so it seemed
extremely convenient being in the same building as Theo. We had a
Plan B luckily, but it was at the more expensive nursery closer to our
home: the one with closed circuit cameras so parents could check in
on their babies during the day. At the same time we learned we had to
rethink our nursery plans, Willy had a difficult conversation with her
manager. Originally she was told that Willy’s new working hours would
be accommodated (we had wanted 3 days), however, her manager said she
could only have 2 and a half days or full time: no negotiating.
Bearing in mind Willy was still on maternity leave at this point and
was powerless to accept anything but what she was given. Obviously
full time was not an option, as Theo would have been in nursery for 4
days, so she accepted the 2 and a half days. This meant Theo would
only be in nursery for 1 and a half days, which would clearly reduce
the cost and give him a better balance of home and nursery. It also meant our income was reduced and we would have to tighten our belts in other areas.
With that bombshell ringing in our ears, we approached the nursery
that we had visited first to see whether they could take Theo – luckily they could and we all ready to start when Willy went back to work in July.
It is interesting to note now that there have been many news stories
of high profile mothers stating they were disadvantaged or side-lined
whilst on maternity leave and treated differently on their return.
This is Willy’s experience as well. The fact is that during maternity
leave, a mother’s coping skills are improved beyond anything they
would learn at work, and on their return to work should be considered
more valuable to a team than before. It is a typical short-sighted
view of a society that gives more kudos to business than to the business of being a human being.
In June I began my reduced hours, where I do not work on Mondays and
work 32 hours from Tuesday to Friday. As Willy was still not back in
work until July we managed to have a good family June together, even
incorporating a week away in Porthcawl: a proper holiday in a caravan by the sea. Theo had a bucketful of new experiences including the sea and sand, rain on a caravan roof, sleeping in a travel cot, ice cream,
and getting washed in a shower tray. Theo loved sand and was not
scared by the sea at all. We had a couple of sunny days and a couple
of rainy ones too, when we utilised the indoor pool and bought Theo an
inflatable ring to sit in.
It was a big hurdle for us as parents, as this was our first time away
from the safety of our own home. But despite not having everything
immediately to hand, we all had a great time.
These months definitely saw an improvement in our skill as parents and
Theo was clearly thriving. Me and Willy even managed to have a night
out together, alone, and we also had a couple of nights out separately
with our friends. We even were invited to a friend’s for a meal: all
three of us (they were the first of my circle of friends to have
children and their kids are now almost adults). We felt normal again,
and I felt guilty that I had shown no interest in their children all
those years ago and understood the loneliness of the parent, who
either never gets an invite out, or has to go alone.
In July, Willy went back to work and I experienced my first full day as a daddy daycare dad. I have been doing it over a month now and it is odd that each Monday has been different: the first two were easy and Theo was on form – a perfect child. This made me feel guilty as Willy came home and found me coping admirably, as if to rub it in when she was struggling on her own with him during her maternity leave.
The third Monday Theo was in a terrible mood all day and would not be
left for a second without crying. He wouldn’t sit in his high chair
for meals and screamed until taken out. It was a hard day and Willy
had a ‘I told you so’ look when she came in from work. The following
Monday he was excellent and the one after is documented in my previous
post when he fell and cracked his head on the floor, so I spent the
whole afternoon feeling guilty. You really do not know what to expect
each time and I guess that is part of the excitement.
I will add here a comment about the unpredictability of children’s
behaviour and use Theo’s bedtime routine as an example. For a number
of weeks Theo was put to bed at night at around 7:30 by either more or
Willy, he was read a story, given a cuddle and placed in his cot with
a music/light box on to gently get him to sleep. Without fail this
worked every night and he was no trouble. Suddenly, he started crying
when you put him in the cot, and then started screaming when you turned the light off or just left the room. So much so that you had to return to reassure him and often stay until he fell asleep. A nightmare for us, as we were given conflicting advice about letting them cry, or not letting them cry, making a rod for your own back or deserting your child when they need you etc. In the end, it was really just a phase and now he generally settles himself, with only the occasional short cry as you leave the room. What is odd though is that now he is crawling (oh did I forget to mention that, sorry), we often go in to his room in the morning to find him sitting up in his cot, waiting for us to come in. What a glorious sight he is!
Ah yes, I forgot to mention Theo started crawling just a few days before he was 11 months old. He had been pushing himself from his belly to a sitting position for a few weeks, but seemed to not have the coordination to crawl once on his hands and knees, however, out of nowhere, he started to move his legs whilst kneeling and soon after
understood he had to move his arms to. Now, just 10 days later and he is like greased lightening. Up and down the hall we go, a dozen times in the morning and again in the afternoon. We spent weeks and weeks wondering why he wasn’t crawling and then a week wishing he would stop. I am 44 years old and he is wearing me out! There are days I
think I should have done this years ago, when I had more energy and fewer creaking bones.