Time is a funny thing; we’ve all experienced an hour that lasts an entire afternoon, and a day that drags on into eternity when work is grinding us down. The last year has, for me, been both an eternity and a single second; on Saturday, March 16, 2019 – a solitary, singular, and unobtrusive year – a young man walked into my life, and neither of our lives has been the same since.
A year ago, my son arrived home.
Every second of that day is emblazoned into my memory. He travelled with two loving people – the husband and wife who had cared for him, and were bringing him to his forever home. He walked into that home like he owned the place and went straight into his bedroom to explore his new surroundings. Despite my own nerves, I knew then that we’d make it; his willingness to investigate was a reassuring step in the right direction.
I had worked hard to become a dad; three years, all told, had been focused on parenthood, and I’d given a lot of myself to those with the power to decide whether or not I was right for the role. But nothing prepares you for that moment, when the front door closes and your child – your child! – is standing in front of you, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, asking for a drink, for dinner, and for the toilet before the zip on a single suitcase has even been opened.
For those of you who had children the … aha, natural way, when did you know that you would love your child unconditionally? At birth? Days after? When you saw the first scan?
For me, it was when I saw a photograph of my son for the first time; he was seven, and he wouldn’t learn who I was until another six months had passed. I had to bow to pressures that were immovable, but I still got the better end of the bargain; I got to become a father, a dad, and that moment when we were united – together in our forever home and staring at each other – was worth every moment of difficulty and struggle with The System beforehand.
It has been a year of unknowable moments of exquisite pleasure and microcosms of sorrow which I was to be there for and counsel him through. To love someone unconditionally is a privilege, and that sort of love comes in many forms; for me, it came as a father. I didn’t need a piece of paper to tell me that he was my son – although when it came through in August of last year, I was still overjoyed; I was his legal parent, and didn’t need permission to say “bless you” if he sneezed (I’m exaggerating for comic effect – please don’t take that literally) – and he didn’t need a judge to tell him that I was his dad.
We are a family; we laugh and bicker and share stories and get stressed over PE kits every Wednesday (that I never seem to remember to iron until twenty minutes before we’re leaving home). My life is moving in a very different direction than five years ago – when I hadn’t even considered raising a child – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My son has been home for a year; he’s now nine, and he is a singular, remarkable, and brilliant member of the Munson family. Bryan … well, you know the rest.