Matthew Munson: Adjusting to post-pandemic life

Bryan and Matthew

First of all, let me say a big thank you to everyone who got in touch with me and gave me some ideas about hobbies. There are a few that have sparked my interest, so over the next week, I’m going to be investigating them and making a decision. I really do appreciate all the ideas and suggestions.

Being a single parent, you really do rely on your community; people who support you and show you kindness. I became a parent nearly four years ago, after a long process of being checked out, and it’s flown by. But I have realised recently that a significant part of these four years was taken up with pandemics, lockdowns, and changes to the careful routines that I was trying my best to set up. In some ways, it took me a while after the lockdowns ended to try and remember what the year before the pandemic had looked like.

I think it knocked my confidence a little, if I tell you the truth, and I don’t say that in order to ask for sympathy – I say it merely as a statement of fact, now that I can reflect on it comfortably. Friendships changed, everyone’s community shrank during those three lockdowns, and it was hard to see an “out”.

But life has adjusted again over the last year or eighteen months. It feels – and I keep everything crossed as I say this – that things have settled. I feel more confident (although I know for sure that I’m not perfect), Bryan is at the beginning of a journey in his secondary school (which is therapeutic, open, and engaging), and we are a strong team. He is establishing his own community around him; he is making friends at school, he adores his grandparents, and I aim to be a good dad to him – boundaries and rules, for sure, but also encouraging him and giving him the freedom to decide who he wants to be in life.

When I was a child, I wanted to be a number of different things; a writer (check), an actor living in Los Angeles (I don’t know where that came from), a chef (my cousin was a chef for many years, but it definitely wouldn’t have been something I’d have been good at), a police office, a nurse, a doctor, a scientist, a journalist, a fireman … The list goes on. I don’t know why I cycled through so many jobs that interested me; perhaps it was because I loved stories that included these roles at different times, and it was the stories that interested me more than actually doing the jobs personally. I don’t know; I’d probably need a professional to figure that one out.

It’s a privilege to be a parent, it really is, and I tell Bryan regularly how glad I am to be his dad. He’s got used to me saying it now, but I’ll keep saying it, because it’s true, and he never ceases to amaze me. I know, I know, typical proud dad – but it’s true, so why fight it?

When I look back at the twists and turns it took for me to become a dad in the first place, I realise that it took quite a long time. It was about a year or so, from meeting my brilliant social worker (actually, there were two, equally-brilliant social workers, but that’s a story for another day); Danielle was the one who got me over the “finish line” of becoming an approved person who was allowed to become a dad, and then the process of being connected to a child continued. The first time I met Bryan is a day I will remember forever; I’ve told him about it so many times, and he tells me that he remembers it as well. From that day to this, I have never regretted becoming a dad; it will define me in so many ways for the rest of my life, although it’s nice to think that I might be able to explore a hobby soon that gives me the opportunity to carve out a niche just for me.

1 Comment

  1. Despite what the government would have you believe, the pandemic is not over. Coronavirus is still raging around the world, and people dying in vast numbers.
    Stay safe. Wear a mask on crowded trains or buses. Keep indoor spaces well ventilated.

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