Today is Johnny’s birthday. Five years flew by like a breeze. I got to unlock feelings of love and affection I never knew were in me. I got to experience putting my needs second and feeling at peace with it. For the first time, my own sense of fulfilment and well-being is filtered through the happiness of a little boy; an opinionated, feisty little man who, so very much like his mum, seems to know what he wants and how to get it.
Johnny’s arrival in our lives also changed my relationship with both myself and Sunshine. It gave me perspective in a period when my mental health was frail. It also made me love and respect Sunshine even more; and I didn’t know it was even possible. As Johnny grows older and we get to navigate through this novel human experience of parenthood, our marital bond seems to get stronger. And it’s not just parenthood as a new project. It’s mostly the honesty. We got to have difficult yet honest discussions, which allowed us to get to know each other better.
Not everything is rosy; far from it and I really don’t want to create this false impression. Life sometimes gets too much. I quickly realised that it’s ok to take a small break, go for a beer or five, wear my trainers and go for a long run, whatever it takes — as long as I return and am better than when I left.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Johnny made the celebratory announcement that he loves me more than everyone else. More than his mum, if you can believe it. An absolute shocker for Sunshine and me. Of course, I told him that he should first love himself and then his mum and dad at an equal amount. All this, as you understand, while in my head I was opening the metaphorical champagne celebrating my upgrade.
Nevertheless, I never seem to forget that the story of humankind is the story of children being fucked up by their parents. I wonder how we are going to mess him up? What stupid thing am I going to eventually say which he will carry with him forever?
Johnny — if you are somehow reading this in a few years’ time, just know that I am trying my best and I have only good intentions. So does your mum. Neither of us are saints; the sooner you realise our numerous ills and vices, the deeper our relationship is going to be. And an unwarranted piece of advice coming from your old man who loves you dearly: your mum tends to be mostly right, so do pay attention to what she is saying to us; frustratingly, she is typically spot-on. Love you.
This is part of a series of entries titled Fatherhood Diaries where I record thoughts on life as a new dad. Click here for all the Fatherhood Diaries.