Matthew Munson: Just seeing what the world throws at us

Matthew and Bryan

Well, it’s been a busier week than I had originally planned, but who am I to argue? After we last spoke, I’ve had a decorator in to help smarten up the place; it’s going well, but the inevitable disruption is tiring. It can’t be helped, but I can’t wait for everything to go back to the way it was – nice and calm and relatively tidy.

Bryan’s bedroom has had the biggest redesign, in terms of its furniture and paint job; it’s lovely, and he seems thrilled. With the purchase of his new school uniform this week (a present from his doting grandparents), his transition to pre-teen seems pretty much set in stone now; amazing how it all happens without any active involvement from me!

We’re having a big treat for a few days; by the time you read this, we’ll have reached our lovely hotel where we’re basing ourselves for a few nights in order to visit Bryan’s brother and sister. We haven’t visited their neck of the woods at all this year; we did try back in February,  but were (justifiably) turned back by a rather large storm – our extended family were very understanding, given the circumstances. In fact, they made the trip to us in the end shortly afterwards when things were a bit safer, so our trip is definitely overdue and much looked forward to by a certain young man.

You never really know how relationships are going to pan out with people around you when you become a parent; I hadn’t given it the thought it deserved, to tell the truth, and you can’t always predict what’s going to happen. But I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for people who have supported my burgeoning parenthood, and the parents of Bryan’s siblings have joined that group (the lucky devils). We share an appreciation of the adoption process, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to when you need it.

When we get home next week, I intend to have a few days pottering – that age-old description where we just do … stuff. I do like to plan ahead for the most part, but after a busy few days, both of us are going to need time to unwind, and that’s something I’ve needed to learn over the last three years; throttling back a little from time to time and just seeing what the world throws at us. And let’s be honest; the world has thrown a lot at us over the last three years.

When I first started going through the adoption process, the social worker who was assessing me talked with me a lot about the sort of person I was, what my own expectations were about parenthood, and how I would deal with the inevitable unexpected nature of life. I sometimes reflect on my own abilities as a father and wonder how I could have done things better or different. No, strike that; I always reflect on that. It’s unavoidable, I think; if you want to be a good parent, and always improve, you do question your reactions to situations and wonder if you did that well, average, or dropped a little below your own expectations. I’ve certainly made mistakes, and I most certainly try to learn from them.

Oftentimes, I find children themselves very forgiving, and also very good teachers. I’ve genuinely learnt a lot from Bryan; he’s very insightful, and can even pick up on things that I’ve missed from time to time by asking lots of questions … or even just giving me a particular look that tells me I need to think about what’s going on in a different way. I kick myself when I get grumpy (I did it just the other day, in fact, and it turns out that it was me who was in the wrong – I was eating humble pie for lunch that day), and Bryan is usually very good at forgiving me when I get something wrong, thank heavens.

In many ways, he and I are very different; he loves dancing, moving, and just being active. I love sitting and complementing the world from a sedentary position. Perhaps that’s why we get on so well; our personalities and interests aren’t totally the same in every way, so we bumble along together rather than clash. We have our moments, of course, but we have gelled so well – I don’t know what the teenage years will hold, and I need to encourage lots of communication between us, so I want to make sure we keep that relationship close even as he starts to spread his wings. Gulp.