I was born in June 40 years ago. Crikey – how is it that I still think of the 80s and 90s as “recent” and remember the days when we had four channels on our TV screens? I don’t know how our perception of time works, but there’s something odd about mine.
Yes, indeed, I turned 40 this week, just at the same time that I get to participate in Father’s Day as a dad as well as a son. This comes on the heels of a big realisation; Bryan has now been home with me longer than he was in care; it seems like he’s been home forever, and that’s a testament to his strength and our connection (I would like to think).
He graced me with his presence in March 2019, when he walked in through the front door, said hello, and went straight to his bedroom to explore it. I felt so many different emotions in that moment; my son was home! I was excited, nervous, happy, and scared; my life was about to change as I became responsible for this beautiful human being. How was I going to give him the life he deserved? Would I get the balance between “fun” and “strict” right? Would I be a good dad? I still ask myself those questions now as he grows up and I adjust my style to his growing confidence and his slowly-increasing willingness to speak up – and I realise that these questions are on-going.
It is a privilege to be a father, and it is a privilege to enter a new decade in my life. I am, it seems, 280 in cat years, so I take some reassurance that we age more slowly than that particular species. But to be now in my 40s – albeit by only a couple of days – makes me consider the world’s view of it. Bryan asked if I was now middle-aged; I had to concede that I was probably roughly middle-aged (although I think I’d been mentally middle-aged for a while already), and I look at my age through his age – it must seem like a life-time away for him, and I’m absolutely sure it must have seemed the same way when I was young.
I treated Bryan to a Frankie & Benny’s on Saturday as an early Father’s Day meal (we visited my parents on Sunday), and I found myself smiling as I sat opposite this precious young man who was intently trying to solve a crossword puzzle all by himself (he’s very stubbornly independent). I’m a dad. I catch my breath sometimes when I look at Bryan; I wanted to be a parent for years before he came into my life, and it was a long and complex process to get to this point. But it’s here, and it’s happening right now.
I couldn’t tell you the exact moment that I wanted to be a parent, but it became a preoccupation in my thirties in the same way I spent my twenties confident in the knowledge that – right then – I didn’t want to be a parent. I wasn’t ready, to be sure, and was content with my decision. But decisions can change, and I’m glad it did. Out of the options available to me, adoption was a perfect fit as it allowed me to explore my own strengths and weaknesses before I even got close to becoming a parent; that really helped me get ready – and then my son came home and I realised how much more I had to learn.
I still have so much to learn, and so does he; he has a world of opportunity still to come, and I’m excited for him. He is comfortable at home now, and starting to assert his personality; he actually disagreed with me the other day, and you have no idea how much that meant to me. He felt confident and safe enough to voice an opposing view, and I was so glad.
I never had the privilege of knowing my son when he was younger, but I know him now – and, like I tell him, we have all our tomorrows together. Bryan – as always, I love you.