Would you a £10,000 watch? How would you feel if you were given a genuinely expensive watch to hang on your wrist like an expensive bauble? I don’t know about you, but I’d be terrified about breaking it (always a possibility) or even just marking it in some way.
If you had a choice between the watch or getting to spend a proper amount of time with someone you care about, which one would you choose? The chance to share experiences – even mundane moments can be special if you let them – is alluring, and one most of us would grab at without thinking.
We can all forget from time to time; it’s easy to get into the habit of thinking to yourself, “Oh, I’ll see them tomorrow,” or, “I’ll miss this gathering because I feel a bit shattered; there’ll always be a next one.” We all have moments like that, and it’s okay to put yourself first – but I would argue it’s not okay to always isolate yourselves. It’s not just you that might want to spend time with them; they might well want to spend time with you.
I’ve been conscious of that more and more in recent months with my impending fatherhood; it will be the most exciting, daunting, and fascinating experience of my life – seeing a child grow and develop with me supporting them is a genuine privilege that I mustn’t forget. But I also must make sure I let them spread their wings and not keep my son utterly to myself; that wouldn’t be fair on him, on the rest of his family who I am confident will love him, or even on me.
I also want to ensure I’m spending time with a network of people; those who are important to me already will, I hope, remain important to me after I become a dad. I also hope the reverse is true, and to make that happen, I will need to invest in time with them.
Of course, I also need to be aware of how I deal with that; as a single man, I can organise my social calendar around me and my friends’ plans – they have families, I haven’t ever had children up to now, and so there were far more options. With me now becoming a single dad, I’m now aware that my time is even more precious. I need to be organised in how I give my time to those I care about, and learn when I get things wrong.
I’m looking forward to giving my son opportunities and experiences that he might not have had before – or, even if he has, then building on the ones he enjoyed and using them as bonding opportunities. He will also, by being in touch with my support network, get a support network of his own; there’ll be people who care about him and love him, and then support him totally when we’re together – or even if he wants advice from someone other than me.
I value the people around me; they have shown me a lot of generosity and friendship, and it’s during the busy, hectic, stressful times when you know who has back – and it’s those people who you want to have your child’s back as well. I’ve got people in my life who I can trust categorically with my son, someone I will love without question, so how can I not know how fortunate I am? Long may that continue!