Matthew Munson: Trips, redecorating and being kind to ourselves

A trip to London

I’m writing this on Saturday evening in a darkened hotel room in central London – and no, it’s nowhere near as seedy as it might sound. Bryan and I have come up to London to visit the Houses of Parliament and do some general sight-seeing – Bryan likes the street theatre, and I like the South Bank, so (of course) we do lots of street theatre and cram in a little bit of the South Bank.

It’s been lovely to get away, although I’m rather exhausted now. I’d originally planned that we would come home on Saturday evening, but with the train strikes, that settled that; a second night in a hotel was called for. It’s not the end of the world, but I do enjoy coming home, and it makes me glad when Bryan agrees with me on this one – Thanet is his home as well, and he absolutely claimed it. You almost wouldn’t realise he had a different accent when he was younger; it was a beautiful, lyrical one, but I’ve adjusted to how he sounds now … frighteningly similar to me.

Home is in slight upheaval at the moment, although won’t be for very much longer; Bryan’s bedroom has got some lovely new furniture in it (and I’ve inherited some of his old stuff … quelle surprise), and next week we are having the flat repainted, and then he has some black-out blinds being installed. It’s now becoming a teenager’s bedroom rather than a child’s bedroom, and it’s a lovely haven for him. I’ll be so glad when it’s all done; this is a common trait for me – I fully intend to get everything organised over a period of months, and then speed up because I want to see it all done so that I can relax about it … until the next project comes along.

I like giving Bryan these different experiences; little moments away from home to learn or just a different side of life, or even little moments at home when we just potter without any clock-watching – something I wish we could do more. I don’t hanker for the lockdown era, but there was a simplicity in it as well as a desire to get back to something akin to normal. We’re definitely not in that normality now, but a lot of children won’t know any different – and I’m not entirely sure whether that’s a good, bad, or neutral thing … but that’s a discussion for a different day.

I’m back to work next week, so I’m putting Bryan in a local holiday club for a couple of days and then with my parents (which he loves). He enjoys spending time with his grandparents, and it means I can get my work done around the decorator and prepare for another trip next weekend, when we go and visit his siblings which has been in the works for a long time. The mum of his siblings has become a good friend and, whilst we’ve had different experiences in our lives, I like to think that we’ve developed a good friendship. I look forward to these visits as well; Bryan and his siblings get time to just play, and I get time to chat on an adult-to-adult basis with someone who gets it – someone else who has gone through the adoption process.

I often find myself wondering how I’m getting on as a parent; a common refrain as a human being. Am I too strict? Am I not strict enough? Do I let him have enough treats? Too many? Do I …? Well, you get the picture, and I do genuinely understand that I am not alone in having these thoughts, to a lesser or greater degree. The fact I’m asking myself these questions hopefully means I’m willing to reflect on things when I get them wrong, as well as when I get them right – there’s a lot of opportunity just in thinking things through.

We have plans for the rest of the holiday – from sibling visits to friends to day trips here and there – and I’m getting well-used to planning my working days around my family responsibilities; it’s becoming a lot more second nature now, which is a relief. I just wish I could savour more moments between projects; us adults have to be kind to ourselves as well as our children, after all.