They say that having children changes you, your life will never be the same and in some cases will add years to you. I think one thing is for sure: having children changes the way you see things.
In some simple respects, it could be the day to day things like driving a little more sensibly, cutting down on smoking or even watching your language in the house. There’s no doubt that having children changes the way you view finances and other responsibilities. In some cases it could be the first serious responsibility we shoulder and in those circumstances it can be very daunting.
I believe though, that it goes much, much deeper than that. Little by little Fatherhood inveigles every area and aspect of our lives. Often our thoughts are not our own, when we are shopping, little ‘uns are taken into account, holidays are shaped for the “family” with childrens activities laid on not just for us all to enjoy, but also to keep them occupied and off our nerves!
You NOTICE things… a mum telling hers off in a supermarket, or a dad pushing his to do better on the sports field. Personally, I find myself looking at these situations and questioning what would be the best way to deal with it and ultimately how I ‘would’ deal with it… often the two don’t go together. On the other side of the coin you can imagine those without children seeing the same situation and having a different take on it. They may not see in their minds eye the circumstances that have transpired to bring the situation about and may either ignore what is happening or pass a quick judgement and carry on.
Look at a parallel universe where our lives have followed a similar curve, but without children. In middle age, we are not woken in the night with tears or by an early morning Hannah Montana outbreak. The kitchen table is tidy and not smeared with hour old cereal, the drive to work is in a car of choice rather than necessity and not a booster seat in sight.
Work itself is uninterrupted by phonecalls from the school or the missus wandering where you put the youngest ones bike helmet. A quiet evening meal, the TV to yourself or an evening out and all without either breaking your neck on a train track in the dark or tidying up someone elses bedroom. And of course you don’t have to close the bedroom door, or keep it quiet!
Children find a way to invade every part of our lives, but in so doing, they give us a wonderful and exciting opportunity. We can learn and we can grow as individuals ourselves. They make us develop and think providing a great raft of education in OUR adult lives. Children lay down challenges which we HAVE to rise to. They depend on us and they demand answers. Whether they make us better as human beings…. well I like to think so.
There was a small length of time in my life between leaving education and becoming a father and it wasn’t that great. I’ve had so much fun, excitement, tears, pain, anger, frustration, pride, joy and so many damn unique memories, memories I could not have had without the nappies and the stabilisers and the school uniforms and the drawing on the walls and the hospital visits and the ‘chats’.
I can’t imagine a life without children and I don’t want to, it’s too colourful.
Merryn Smith is a proud Scillonian, father, councillor, airport worker, husband and Facebook addict