Matthew Munson: “I rather like this life we have grown together”

Matthew and Bryan

I had to remind myself recently that I’m 41 years old. In my head, I still think I’m in my early 20s, but when my left knee and back aches, I have to concede that I am not the age I once was.

My son is 11 and seems to have a recharging point somewhere on his body that I haven’t located yet. When he says that he is tired, he soon picks himself up again and finds reserves of energy that I wish I could bottle.

I had expected the start of his school year to be tiring, but he is coping well. No, let me correct that; he’s doing really well. I get a pretty good run-down of each of his days, and my relationship with the school has been nothing but positive thus far. Bryan loves learning, and is a social creature, so he gets to engage with teachers and new friends at school. I was naturally anxious at the start of the term, and I always ask him about the friends he’s making and the subjects he’s learning; he doesn’t necessarily understand why I keep asking, but I remind him that I’m interested in his school experiences and I want him to make good friends that he values.

As he starts to spread his wings, I’ll need to be aware of my own time; I might find myself with a little bit more time on my hands (in between spending quality time with my son as well as planning and making meals, working part-time, and … well, everything). I need to ask myself what I want to do with that tiny amount of time I might be able to carve out; I’m working on a book at the moment, and I might want to find a hobby that’s primarily for me – a rare treat. But I’m not going to jump into the first thing I come across; I’m searching for something interesting to do and making sure that it’ll fit around my time with Bryan. Our relationship, of course, comes first.

Any parent / child relationship is complex. I’m conscious that I’m a single parent, but Bryan has strong female role models as well in his grandmother (she might have words with me for using that term – she prefers nan), his sister, and his siblings’ mum. There’s an intensity in living in our cosy home with just the two of us; he’s used to getting my focused attention, and I don’t have another adult in the home to bounce ideas around with. That’s not a criticism, as I embrace my world entirely, but merely an acceptance that this is life; Bryan is very confident in talking about his adoption, and I always make it clear that it’s his story to tell. I didn’t come to parenthood via the conventional route, but it’s our route and we value it.

We like pottering around and doing different things on our precious weekends; Saturday mornings are taken up with Bryan’s dance school, and Saturday afternoons are often wider family time. So Sundays are very precious for just the two of us until he starts to want to spend more time with his friends, which will come eventually. This Sunday, we have spent some time at the arcades in Broadstairs; simple pleasures, but Bryan had set himself a challenge of saving up his tokens over a number of visits. I’m trying to convince him to keep saving, but my success rate isn’t always very high on convincing him to wait and try to be patient.

I rather like this life we have grown together and I know that we’re going to be changing over the coming years. It’s something that makes me sad a little bit, as I know I’ll miss many things about our simple life, but our life will continue to be simple, just in a different way. I have to learn to adapt to the changes that I don’t know about yet; change is scary, but totally worth it as my boy continues to work out his place in the world.