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.

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.

Babies are virus magnets

I don’t think I have been ill so often as in the last 11 months. It seems that any virus within a 10 mile radius is picked up by Theo and he passes it on to me and Willy; often not appearing to be that affected by the virus himself. Colds and coughs are attracted to him
and gladly jump ship at the first opportunity of an adult host, when
his mum and dad come along. Willy seems to have had a cold
continuously since March (although some of that was hayfever) and I
have had more than my usual share of sore throats. Not only that, but
stomach bugs too – nasty ones that not only disturb your digestion but
ache every other muscle in your body.
The ironic thing is though that Theo goes on as if nothing is a problem, and me and his mum moan and feel sorry for ourselves. He keeps smiling and we grumble. He really is an example to us all.
I suppose though, when you are the carer you have the weight of
responsibility, so you never rest and have to remain alert (whether you can or not), whereas Theo carries on regardless, oblivious to the havoc he leaves in his wake.
I guess that is a baby’s privilege and after all, his company does make you feel better and forces you to just keep going. I’m glad though that today, although I feel ill, I have gone in to work as it is Willy’s day at home – at least I can have some rest here.

You’ll never be quicker than gravity

There are days when curse yourself for being stupid.  Today is Monday, the day when I look after Theo and am his sole carer (Monday is when mum is at work, as she does the end days of the week when I work).  Theo is 11 months now and is crawling and standing and cruising (the ability to walk along a piece of furniture).  Usually when he cruises I am right behind him watching him like hawk in case he stumbles.  When you have a sleepless night and have been doing this for an hour, your concentration wanders, so you may think about changing channels or quickly checking your emails on your phone.  You can guarantee in this one second you avert your gaze, your baby will fall.  Even you turn and see the event, but the time you have rushed to catch them, it is too late – Gravity 1- You 0.  And you spend the rest of the day hating yourself for being such a bad parent, and worrying how your partner will react to the news of your own incompetence.  You promise yourself next time, you won’t take your eyes off them for a second… but this is bound to happen.  I guess bumps and bruises are a part of life, but you always hope it isn’t on your shift.

Daniel

I am not the sort of person who harbours ill feeling towards anyone,
and I try to find humanity in all. However, reading the recent
coverage about the circumstance that led to the death of Daniel Pelka,
fills me with rage.
How that poor boy became the subject of constant, premeditated torture
defies belief. How an adult can carry out such evil to one so
helpless leaves me sick. How a mother can either allow what happened
to happen, or take part in the torture is unbelievable. The fact that
both of his carers have been given life sentences for their part in
his abuse and subsequent death, is little comfort when you imagine
what Daniel was forced to endure.
While my own humanity prevents me from wishing their fates to include
the same tortures and horror they bestowed on Daniel, I do hope that
they are at the very least tormented for the rest of their miserable
lives remembering their terrible part in his life.
Being born is often just down to luck and timing. The family you are
born into is also something out of your control. Be thankful for your
good luck and let us be more mindful in future of those unfortunate
enough to be born into mothers and carers that are inhuman. Maybe if
those in Daniel’s company had been more forceful when seeing he was
not being cared for, he could still be alive and with a loving foster
family.
I hold my own boy more tightly than ever now, wanting him to only have
a life full of joy and love. We all should do this to remember those
that have not been granted such things.