bookmark_borderDay of boxes

Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even our boy Jack (he’s just gone down for his nap).

What a lovely day we had yesterday, picked up my Mum late morning and visited my sister and her family. My adorable nieces Lucy and Daisy – who got utterly spoiled by Santa – were still riding the high of Christmas morning, and it was nice to just hang out for a couple of hours and let the kids play. Jack is coming more and more into his own and seems to the type of toddler who takes most things in his stride and after a few minutes of shyness he was soon stealing toys, and charging around the living room.

Ahh yes, I said toddler! A few days ago our wonderful son took his first unaided steps and then spent 20 mins racing back and forth between Mum and Dad, he hasn’t looked back since! All of a sudden there is a little boy in our house, stoating about on wobbly legs but, for the most part, pretty confident and sure of himself. Next thing he’ll be driving a car! We decided to keep it quiet from the family so it was an extra special Christmas present for everyone!

We came home mid-afternoon to get ready for Becca’s family who were all coming over for Christmas dinner, 9 adults in total and despite the potential for stress it all went off without a hitch (to be fair, we don’t really do stress in our house) with everyone well fed and watered and, obviously, Jack was the star of the show throughout.

All in all it was a great day, Jack received lots of gifts (but not too many!) and we will slowly introduce them in the coming weeks as we rotate out other toys – we are keen to not have too many out at a time so he can learn to concentrate on one or two things at a time – but we already have some new favourites so we are counting the day as a success all round!

And now it’s Boxing Day, I’ve had my traditional bowl of leftover trifle for breakfast (and about to have another) and already I’m thinking ahead to next year, we will be in a new house but we’d love to build some more traditions for Jack. This year was a bit early, he’s not really sure about the whole Christmas/Santa thing so we have time to think about what memories and traditions we want to leave him with as he grows. Yes, if that means trifle for breakfast I’ll let him have some, I suppose.

Aside from that we have no plans today. In the coming week we will catch up with friends, see family again no doubt, but by and large the days will be quiet, relaxed, and spent with our wonderful boy. The best Christmas present!

Overall I think we’ve managed a good balance this year, we’ve not spent a fortune on presents that aren’t really needed, we’ve not cleared the shelves of the local supermarkets, and we’ve focused on memories for Jack rather than things. In years to come he’ll remember who was here, not which toy the bought him, and for us that’s the most important gift we can give him.

I hope you all had a good day, however you chose to spend it.

bookmark_borderFinding a way

Our son is almost 14 months old (no I don’t know when you stop counting in months) and thriving. We are adapting to his needs as best we can and overall we have each day down to a pretty regular routine. Recently we’ve started to realise we both need to carve time out for ourselves as we’ve gotten a bit lost in enjoying and learning our roles as parents; we are both still a little amazed we have managed to keep this sturdy, bright, curious, cheeky boy alive for over a year now but it’s time to look ahead at 2023 and figure how we get a little more ‘me’ time for each of us.

With that in mind we decided every Sunday we will take turns to have an ‘me’ morning; a morning where we can do whatever we choose as long as it’s just for ourselves, sleep, sit in a cafe and read a book, exercise, anything that takes our fancy. We’ve not managed it every Sunday (hello toddler at nursery and the many ills that now blight this house!) but Becca has managed to go for a wild swim with her friend, and I managed to get out on my bike again for the first time since April. It felt good to be out in the fresh air plodding along; I’ll admit that I was torn between the desire to switch my brain off completely and just sit quietly somewhere for a while, or being a bit better to my body (and mind) and doing some form of exercise so I’m glad (for once) that I chose the latter.

I find it intriguing how quickly we have adapted throughout the past year, from the first terrifying few weeks with a tiny baby, through feeding changes, sleep pattern changes, a house move, the first mornings at nursery, a naming ceremony/wedding day, and somehow we’ve managed to find a new normal every time, a new routine to help Jack flourish.

I’ll be honest, there have been some dark days, raising Jack is THE single most important thing I’ve ever been part of and I take any little thing that hasn’t been quite right to heart as I want nothing but the best for him. I know I’ve been a bit hard on myself at times too, letting myself hide away behind the ‘being a Dad’ facade and putting all my own needs last but, as we slowly (re)establish a routine and I return to habits that have served me well in the past, I am starting to feel like I’m finding my way… well… not back per se, but certainly finding a new version of me, one that is not that much different from the old me, but who just happens to be a Dad as well!

And you know what, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been so so lucky, Jack is a wonderfully laid back little boy, Becca is the most nurturing and caring mother and wife, and I just feel so lucky and blessed to be part of their lives. As ever I’ll still be looking for ways to improve things for them, and me, as regardless of what else happens life is still very much Happily Imperfect after all.

bookmark_borderJack is 1

My son

Hey kiddo,

Somehow, although I’m not quite sure how, it’s been a year since your Mum and I spent all night in hospital waiting for you to arrive. One year since we met you, this tiny little boy who was chomping away on the towel he came wrapped in, one year since your first feed from your Mum, one year since your Mum and I (ok, mostly me!) cried happy tears that you were safe and sound, ten fingers, ten toes, and all the rest.

One whole year.

It’s wild really and, looking back it’s just a blur of wonderful memories. We are definitely in the ‘lucky’ category because we’ve had only a few really hard nights, only a couple of really bad moments and, on the whole, you’ve been a happy and chilled out wee guy who is, somehow, a year old already!

As you can tell I’m struggling to get my head around this. That said, it still amazes me that, about a year ago, we just walked out of the hospital with you and NO-ONE checked what we were doing?!!!

Over the last few weeks you’ve definitely gone from being a baby, to being a boy, it’s hard to put my finger on why it feels that way but given you’re almost walking and are starting to make more and more different sounds when you chat, perhaps we can start to see you as a toddler?

Watching you grow, from this tiny wriggle who I could fit along the length of my forearm to this inquisitive, cheeky, fun little guy who I will always lift up for a cuddle when he asks (no matter how heavy you get, ohhh my back!) has been an absolute treat. All my troubles melt away when you are around and I could happily sit and watch you as you sit and play with your toys, so content, lost in your own world as you explore how things work.

Every parent is the same, no doubt, but your Mum and I always share a look that is part amazement and part proud-parent whenever you do something new, the first time you rolled over, the first time you crawled, the first time you clapped, the list will grow but our happiness at your progress won’t every wane.

Neither will our love for you, which is so complete it’s a little scary. You mean the absolute world to me, which makes the few times you’ve been ill and crying inconsolably all the harder to get through, but we do, with a smile and a few cuddles.

There are so many memories of this past year I want to cling on to, the first time you fell asleep on me, that first laugh, all the evenings being the one to put you to sleep at night, the night we had just you and me and what a trooper you were, it’s been a joy to be around for all these things (thank goodness I’m still working at home full-time) and I know there are more milestones on the horizon.

That very first morning when the nurse handed me this tiny swaddled bundle I made you a promise, and I am so happy I’ve been able to keep it, every single day.

I feel so very lucky to be your Dad.

Love you, Dad. x

bookmark_borderBusy doing a life

Short version
Life is good, parenting is exhausting but wonderful, not much else is happening.

Longer version
Jack is almost one year old and thriving.

So many parenting cliches are true, the time does pass too quickly and I feel very blessed and lucky that I’ve been working at home this entire time and been able to spend time with him, look after him, feed him, laugh with him, hold him when he cries, all the usual parent stuff; my favourite part of each day is putting him down to sleep. After Mum does his bath, I take him up to his room, get him ready for bed and we sit in his room for a while, quietly holding him until he starts to nod off (this will become story time in the future). I get to spend 10–15 minutes just watching this amazing little human lie in my arms, trusting me completely.

Outside of Jack, as I mentioned early in the year I’ve been having some issues with my feet but finally think I’ve found a podiatrist to get me sorted.

Step 1, remove the tiny thorn (so said the man who did the ultrasound) from my left foot. Whilst she couldn’t ‘see’ anything she spent some time hacking away at the sole of my foot and I think (touching all the wood! (fnar)) has finally fixed it. I’ve had pain in my left foot for almost two years now so to say this is a relief is an understatement.

Step 2, help minimise the pain caused by the neuroma they discovered in my right foot. New insole, some physio exercises and so far so good, although I’ve not been walking too much recently now that Jack sleeps in his crib during the day so I need to get Dave out for a good long stomp soon to test it. But it feels like it’s on the mend. Again, this pain has been around for about as long so finding someone who has finally made me some progress is a huge relief and lets me start to plan to get my fitness back on track.

I’ve missed cycling a lot, so that’s likely to be first then, if I can find a nearby gym with classes at 8:30 am then I’ll head there as Jack is now in nursery three mornings a week and I can get in a quick gym session before I start work.

Both Becca and I are starting to get back to some normality, I’ve managed through to Edinburgh for a night out with my mates (a full night away!), and as we roll into Autumn and with Jack now happy to have his Granny put him down to sleep, we are looking for a date night out soon!

My life has changed completely this last year or so, and as I mentioned to a friend the other day whilst it’s exhausting it’s so so good. I get the feeling 2023 could be even better, although I’ll be heading for the big 5–0 so I’ll hold off on any predictions I think.

bookmark_borderRIP QE2

I am still processing the news of her death. I am not a royalist, I don’t believe in what they represent even if the Queen did try and change things (a little). From what I can tell, she seemed a likeable woman, not heavily burdened (a little unaware?) with her position, quick to laugh and comfort, and knew what she stood for.

As with most people though, whilst there is a lot to applaud there is also a lot to ruminate over and question.

Many words will be written, many speeches given both for and against what she was and what she stood for. Pride in service versus colonialism would seem to be the simplest way to boil it down into its salient points. If only it were actually that simple.

But of course this was a life and it was complex, messy, good and bad. For every person who mourns her passing, who feels the nation has lost a vital calming figurehead, there are others who either don’t care, or vehemently oppose everything she stood for.

Me? I veer between the latter two positions. I am sad that Elizabeth Windsor died, she was a mother and grandmother, but I am not sad that the Queen died, as the establishment no longer seems equipped to serve the people – not that it was ever built to – nor does it have a place in what I believe a modern society should look like (hint: the rich getting richer is not how I believe human beings should act).

All of that said for my entire life there has been a Queen, so if I’m being truly honest I think my main concern will be remembering that we now have a King on the throne.

bookmark_borderThe First Father’s Day

It was Father’s Day a few weeks ago in the UK. I wanted to capture my thoughts, it’s just taken me a while…

My first one as a Dad, with all the emotions that brings with it.

Every single day I tell my son I love him and Father’s Day was no different. It’s part of a promise I made to him when I was holding him in my arms for the first time, having just been handled this tiny little thing all bundled up in a towel. I tell my son I love him every day, I tell him I like him, I will make sure he knows this growing up and can feel confident that that will never change, that I will always be there for him. It’s important to me that Jack knows I’ll support him no matter what, the same way my own Dad did for me.

Still miss Dad. The grief gets easier but it still hurts that he isn’t around and that Jack won’t ever get to meet him. I know I’m a lot like my Dad in many ways though so a fair part of who my Dad was will be passed down anyway but I would have dearly loved to see my Dad with my son. He was such a great Grandpa to Lucy and it’s sad that Jack and Daisy won’t experience that too but we have many happy memories we can hold on to and try and pass on.

I am enjoying being a Dad. All the fears I had still linger in the background but day by day with the realisation that those fears aren’t coming true, that I might actually be ok at this whole Dad thing. I was worried about so many things, would I love him, would I want to spend time with him, would my inherent laziness and selfishness (neither of which I know are actually true) somehow prevent me from bonding with him… all nonsense now and, no doubt, many of you would have told me that anyway but such are the thoughts that swirled through my head.

Of course, none of those things are coming true and instead I’m spending time with my son, looking after him, feeding him, changing him, soothing him, and sitting with him while he plays (he’s very independent already). All of this brings so many little moments that I want to capture and hold on to, tiny moments of each day that fill my heart with more love for this tiny human who is dominating our lives and who I love so much.

Sometimes Jack will pause what he is doing, turn his head and look at me, a little smile on his face and I already know that’s all I’ll ever need from him.