Making the most of a new life

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In my last post I warned against the temptation of talking bollocks to keep inquisitive children at bay. Today, however, I am going to talk bollocks: my bollocks.

Now this might seem like a radical departure for this blog, but please bear with me because what I want to talk about today is yet another thing that never gets mentioned by other Dads when they are telling you about the joys and tribulations of fatherhood. That is that as a father, certainly of boys, I have found myself to be regularly in agony from a stray foot, knee, elbow and a variety of inanimate objects hitting my testicles. This is at least a weekly event, often enough for me to say to Karen “every single &%$^*^$ time” when it does happen.

I am sure that the boys do not do this on purpose and, as I have said in the past, I do like a bit of roughhousing. In fact I am positive that they do not since they clearly do not yet have any conception of how much it hurts to be hit there, as evidenced by their much repeated surprise when I scream and my eyes well up with tears. But surely a clue also lies in that last sentence, that these things are the source of their life, they were key to their conception: surely there must be some sort of biological/ evolutionary predisposition that means they would avoid that area. But no. I keep on getting it there again and again. How ungrateful!

The last straw, which finally drove me to write this, was when a slipper flew across the room last week and hit me squarely where it hurts most (as we men like to say). Jake was not aiming for there but it was a ‘lucky shot’ and that, by itself, would not be so bad. However it was one of so many ‘lucky shots’ over the last 5 years and, really, it is getting rather too much.

I also have to say that I do not get a great deal of sympathy for my suffering. Comments such as “well it’s clearly a design fault”, “have you thought about a codpiece” or “you should try childbirth” may, on one level or another, be fair comment but they hardly pour balm on my aches and pains. So I guess I either have to do something drastic, stop playing so much with the boys, or just man up and get on with it; and I guess that the latter is most likely – but not before getting it off my chest, so to say.

That we all have to make sacrifices when we become parents is clear, and something I understand and accept. Nevertheless there are a few things that seem to be above and beyond the call of duty. But I guess that is just it. Being a parent tends to move that bar higher: the bar that measures where you think the call of duty might be. And as that bar moves up you can be sure that, sooner or later, it will hit you squarely between the legs.

I think I need to go and lie down now.


Being Selfless

In my last post I talked about our trip to the seaside, what I didn’t mention was that we went on a coach with a community group that Karen is involved with. We went because a member of the group had come into some money through a small inheritance, but instead of spending it on herself wanted everyone in the group to benefit, and so paid for the coach trip.

I found this to be incredibly humbling. Here was someone who has never really had much in her life wanting to do something for all her friends on the rare occasion that she did. To add to this she did it anonymously (we only know because of Karen’s position in the group). I feel that this is somehow at odds with how we often come to understand the world through a cynical lens.

It struck me that this gesture had a bigger effect than people having a terrific day out, and we certainly had that. It also inspired us to think what we would do when we were in a similar situation, and it also helped to bond the group together. When we share experiences and spend time together we more often than not become closer to people.

This is something we try to do as a family. We try to spend time together by eating together as much as possible, playing together, and going out on day trips together. It helps us to get to know each other better, and hopefully understand each other.

This, particularly for Karen and me, means that we have to try to be selfless; to put aside the 1001 things that we have to do or want to do in order to spend time together. I can’t deny that sometimes I resent this, and feel guilty for it. But I also know that when I do throw myself wholeheartedly into family time, then I really enjoy it; and when the reward is a closer bond with your wife and children then it seems like a no brainer.

The idea that relationships are only as good as the work you put into them is something that I’ve had very strongly reinforced for me since I became a father. In order to enjoy the cuddles and the affection of my children it’s not enough not just to be there, I really need to engage with them as well.

This isn’t always easy. Being a parent isn’t always easy. But when it goes right, there isn’t a better feeling in the world when your children reward you with their obvious love and a connection with you as a parent. Then selflessness actually doesn’t seem to be that selfless after all, because the benefits are amazing.

I’m sure that the person who paid for our trip to the seaside got an enormous amount of pleasure from seeing how much we enjoyed our day. It’s not why she did it, but she got her reward in the happy and tired faces as we slept on the coach on the way home.