Month: <span>April 2021</span>

We aren’t the kind of couple who do grandiose events for such things, my recent proposal would’ve been much the same as it was despite COVID restrictions (in fact it would’ve been exactly the same except we’d have been in a different place and likely had the dogs with us).

And so it was when Becca wandered into our “home office” (aka spare room) one morning, asked how I was, waited for me to babble about nothing of importance, and then, when I asked how she was, paused and simply said, “I’m pregnant”.

We’d been trying for a while so the tears that instantly formed in my eyes were ones of joy and relief.

Since then, the realisation has set in and I’ll admit there is no small amount of terror as well, I mean I’ve barely figured out how to be an adult and now I have to be responsible for a child! Don’t get me wrong, the dogs take some looking after but for most of the day their main concern is how to find the perfect sleeping spot – for those interested, Dave favours lying on the sofa with his head and neck hanging off the edge whereas Sasha is happiest following the sun through the day and then disappearing under a blanket at night.

I digress. We are pregnant. We’ve known for a few weeks now, as have our families, but we are now at the point that we can tell the world.

And I’m so excited and so happy, and while this will come as no surprise to the parents among you, I’m already starting to see the world through different eyes. There is so much to do!

When Becca and I first got together we talked about long-term plans and hers definitely included a baby or two (one at a time!); she’s a few years younger than me but didn’t want to wait too much longer. She was very clear on this and so I had some serious thinking and soul searching to do.

When I was married before, my ex-wife Louise and I discussed having kids but both decided it wasn’t for us (perhaps because even subconsciously at that point we knew things weren’t quite right?) and had told both our families as much. It was the right decision for us and neither of us had any regrets. We reasoned that as neither of us had pushed to have kids despite having been married for several years, and with our lives nicely comfortable, why would we change that? It didn’t feel like we were missing out, it wasn’t something I secretly went along with, I was genuinely quite happy and content with that decision for many years.

So when Becca asserted her desire, a desire I already knew to be fair, it forced me to think about the decision I’d made some 13 odd years ago, did I really want to have kids? Clearly, the answer was yes, and in a way that conversation has been a silent driving force behind a lot of my other decisions over the last couple of years, during which I’ve felt more and more like I’ve found my place in the world, discovered the man I truly am, a man who every day feels lucky, feels loved and supported and who (finally) feels ready to build a family.

I guess all it took was finding the right person to have a baby with to make that decision an easy one. I went for a walk one sunny afternoon and by the time I got home, it was clear in my mind. This is the person I want to be with, the person I want to build a family with. Better late than never!

I’m 47 as I write this and will likely just have turned 48 by the time the baby emerges into the world (they are due to appear at the end of October). I don’t feel my age, just like Becca and I don’t feel the age gap between us, and all my initial worries and fears of being ‘old’ have withered and faded away as I watch this amazing woman grow a new life, watch her deal with the day to day struggles of being pregnant (she’s spent the first trimester constantly nauseous and exhausted) all whilst she runs her own business, is in the midst of creating a new one, and is already clear on a whole raft of things concerning how we will bring up our child.

She is more than ready and capable of being a wonderful, loving, nurturing mother – to paraphrase a certain TV show, Becca was already a mother without a baby to love – and her quiet confidence makes me feel ready and capable of being the best Dad I can.

I think I’ll be alright at it, and whilst there is always the sadness that my own Dad won’t see his latest grandchild, I know he will never be all that far from my thoughts as I already know a lot of the Dad that I will become was borne from the Dad he was to me.

And if nothing else, it’s a whole new subject around which I can get my geek on! What’s the best cot to buy? Do we need a baby monitor with a camera? How do we bring up a baby as ethically as possible? How many nappies do we really need? It is ok to play Queen, and Foo Fighters, and The Chemical Brothers to them from day one? What if they pick up a dog toy and chew on it? (I’m ok with this one, given there are pictures of me chewing my dog’s bone and hey, I turned out ok, right?)

OH MY GOD!! What happens if they take after their mother and DON’T LIKE ICE CREAM!

These and a bazillion other questions rattle around my head on a daily basis, alongside more practical matters like when do we need to start thinking about booking them into a local nursery, which local school is the best option and, if we buy rusks how many am I allowed eat?

We are having a baby.

I can’t wait.

Dad Life Dogs

The end of lockdown looms, and life as we knew it will start to re-emerge, like a wonky butterfly from a cocoon.

I know that things won’t be exactly the same again, a new normal will be established and that will take a little time to settle in and I’m ok with that, I welcome it and retain some hope that others will allow people to find their own way into the post-COVID days.

I know masks will remain, public gatherings will be limited, and that there will no doubt be some weird panic buying of some random household item at some point too if news of more spikes in infection rates should arrive (seriously, what was with the loo roll thing?). I am still wary of the masses but I am trusting the scientists.

Regardless of all this, I’m choosing to remain upbeat and looking ahead at what life might be like in the coming months and what I can best do to hold onto the things I’ve grown to love throughout this global pandemic, the things that got me through the harrowing realities and shrinking habits that lockdown inflicted on us.

There is much to forget too; Long queues in the rain for basic provisions, stepping off the pavement AGAIN because THOSE people MUST walk side by side, that guilty feeling that descends when I nip across an arbitrary border to visit my Mum (even though we are bubbled), that moment when you arrive at a shop and realise you’ve forgotten your damn mask, and don’t even get me started on the constant feed of misinformation to the addicted doom scrollers, the idiot anti-vaxers, and even more selfishly stupid non-mask wearers that claim civil liberty infringements, ohh and anything to do with the Tories.

All of those are things I’ll be leaving behind as best I can but on the whole, I’ve been very very lucky through lockdown, it’s not always been easy but there have been more good days than bad and, like most of you, most days have turned into what-day-is-it-anyway days with weekends blurring into weekdays which is both a good and a bad thing all at once. Do I prefer the arbitrary nature, that strange holiday feeling, of not really being sure what I should be doing because I can’t recall if it’s Sunday or Monday, or do I need the structure of a working week to give my weekends some meaning? I am undecided but more and more leaning to the former.

One thing I am determined to try and hold on to is working from home. Maybe not full-time but ideally only a couple of days in the office a week would be the max. I’ve been lucky enough to work throughout most of the lockdown periods and it’s not made a huge difference as most of the people I had worked with were in different buildings or different parts of the country anyway so most of my time was spent on calls and IM chats even when I was office-based 5 days a week.

Another thing I want to take forward is being outdoors. Such a simple pleasure, but one I used to cast aside for no good reason. Having two dogs, one of which needs a ‘good walk’ every day meant that for a lot of lock down it was my only form of exercise outdoors, and ohhh how wonderful it is to be able to walk around in the fresh air, regardless of rain or sleet or snow (there is no thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes after all). The feeling of fresh air on your face, watching clouds scroll overhead, and even occasionally basking in the glorious warmth of the sun. What a tiny little dot of a planet we are, what fleeting moments we exist for, I need to focus on being happy.

There will be changes of course, I will adapt but part of the reason for noting these things here is to remind myself of what I truly value. My family, my closest friends, a good coffee, a walk in the sun, a meandering cycle through the countryside.

I know I will read fewer books as some evenings will be spent visiting and eating out, I know I will experience moments of anxiety too, the return of live music gives me a pause which saddens me as so many wonderful nights have been spent enthralled and jostled as we all dance and move as one, yet the idea of being surrounded by so many people again is one my brain is struggling with.

We will find our way. Of that, I have no doubt. Things will be different, of course, yet I am aiming to retain these simple core values, aiming to retain the new habits and little pleasures I’ve found during this past strange year. There will come a time when we look back on this (hopefully) once-in-a-generation experience and maybe now is when I’m realising that it can mean something more than just death. We will mourn, but we should always look forward.

Life can be simple and if I only take one lesson from all of this, let it be this; find what is truly important to you and focus on it, everything else is just noise.

Life Personal Musings

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