Matthew Munson: Life as a single, adoptive parent, poetry and an extra dance session

Matthew and Bryan

I took part in an academic research survey this week. The survey was about single parents who have adopted, and so I jumped at the chance to be involved. It was an opportunity to share some experiences with a researcher, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

Being a single parent was just the way it happened for me. Not everyone chooses to be a single parent, but I did. I was single at the time that I decided to start the process of becoming a dad, and that was the way it was – it didn’t occur to me it was anything other than normal, and that hasn’t changed in the intervening five years.

Family life has become normal for us over the last few years, and I sometimes struggle to remember life before it. I had 38 years before I became a dad, but these past five years have certainly been a privilege that I never take for granted.

Poetry classes at university are coming to a close. The lecturer – very experienced in her field – is a lovely and talented poet, and she certainly had an uphill struggle trying to teach not just the form and function of poetry to me, but the passion behind it as well. I respected her as a clearly skilled creative writer, and her expertise was obvious in every lesson.

I had intended to share one of my poems in my column today, but I stopped myself. One of the rules of your assignment submissions is that you don’t plagiarise anything, or use a piece of work that has previously been published. A pretty solid rule, I think we can all agree, But if I had published one of my poems here in my column before submitting the same poem through the automated submissions portal, then it would have picked up that I had previously published a piece of work. I’d rather err on the side of caution. So I’ll submit my portfolio first, and share a slightly daft poem in a few weeks when the marking’s been done.

So that’s three modules done and dusted now. It doesn’t mean that my first year is done; I’m part-time, so I need to do another year to complete my first year. That’s fine; it gives me the chance to balance family life, work, and my studies. I want to do well, and if I try to cram too much into a short space of time, then I’d be a fool.

I’ve never been one to live life at a hundred miles an hour, or to seek out a role as a chief executive. I’m just not interested, and not everyone has to be like that in order to have a fulfilled life. For me, a life filled with creativity is by far the best sort, with an eclectic mix of choices and opportunities. I like trying different things, hence having had quite a few different jobs over the years, and why now I’m doing a degree in writing.

I may have been fortunate enough to be published, but there’s always more to learn. If I believed I was at the top of my game just because I had publications to my name, that would be incredibly narrow-minded of me. I want to learn new ways of thinking about my writing, and appealing to an audience. Already, I’ve learnt some useful lessons in how to improve, and it’s making me excited about my writing.

The weekend at Casa de Munson is experiencing a slight shift in our usual routine. I’ve agreed with Bryan that he can do an extra dance class on a Saturday afternoon, which means shifting our normal routine around. Thankfully, everything has slipped into place, which pleases my son no end. He is as passionate about dance as I am about writing, so how can I say no if it’s possible to make it work? He is kept fit and healthy doing it, he enjoys it, has teachers he can look up to, and has made good friends. What else can a dad ask for? He’s found a niche, is doing well, and is passionate about it. That’s what I like about life too!