Matthew Munson: Father’s day, a birthday and a trip to London

Matthew and Bryan

I’ve got a confession to make; I’m writing this column on Friday this week, as I’m hoping to have a day out on Sunday. I’m planning to take Bryan up that there London to visit the Natural History Museum and see the new (replica) skeleton hung in the main hall – it’s meant to rain on Sunday, but I’m not going to let a bit of water get in the way of a day out. It’s also my birthday (shh, don’t tell anyone), so I’m determined to make the most of it one way or another.

Bryan has been conspiring with my mum to organise a birthday present for me; I genuinely mean it when I say that I’m not particularly bothered by presents any more. I prefer experiences; for Bryan’s birthday, he chose Go Ape and climbing the 02 in London, and I’ve done similar things in the past. I don’t say that to be fancy, but I do genuinely love making memories with people; as it is, I’ll see my parents on Saturday (it’s father’s day on Sunday as well, so seeing them is vital over the weekend), and then spend the day with Bryan on Sunday. That’s all I really want, to be fair.

Father’s Day has taken on a different significance over the past four years, of course; I’ve always celebrated it for my own dad, but now I’m a dad as well. This young human is my son; not by birth, but by commitment and choice, and it is a privilege to be called “dad” by someone so brilliant.

When I first began to think about the possibility of becoming a father, I knew it would be a long and complicated process – and that was just the application. Bryan and I were in different parts of the country, so I travelled up as often as I was allowed to see him before he was allowed to come home, and I can still remember the first time he walked in through our front door. He came into the hallway, followed by his sister and his foster carers, said “hi” to me, and immediately turned left to find his bedroom. He had a good investigate while I helped his carers bring in his cases, and then I went to find him.

Seeing him sat on his bed was a moment of such sheer clarity; I felt such a powerful sense of love for this young man, who had just celebrated his eighth birthday, that I knew I would do anything to keep him safe and loved. I wanted to just hug him tightly to me (and the opportunities to do that have lessened now he’s 12), and we’re both learning together; I’m not a perfect parent – I make mistakes, and I’ve learnt what I wouldn’t want to do in the future as much as doing more of the good things that feel right. No matter how much you prepare for parenting, nothing readies you for the actual thing. How can a course ready you for an emotional rollercoaster?

But one important thing about parenthood that I always keep in my heart; I do not regret it, not for a single second. I have wanted to become a father who could love and cherish a child, and I hope that I succeed in that, and Bryan is a brilliant son. He is nearly a teenager, and that astonishes me; he walked in through the front door the other day and took my breath away as I realised that he is nearly as tall as me now. I miss the little boy who first walked in through the day on that fateful Saturday, but I welcome each new phase of Bryan’s growth with open arms. He is the boy – the pre-teen – who made me a father, and it is my privilege to continue giving me a warm, safe, and loving home. Who could ask for anything more?