My son has been a great influence on my life. I can remember the night he was born, and when I held him in my arms. His nose wrinkled as he had just come out of the nice warm confines of his mum’s womb and thrust into the cold emptiness of the big bad world.
I remember my first night with him as he slept in the darkness, strange new noises that weren’t mine or my wife’s, there was someone new in the house, in our bedroom. That night was the time I contemplated the existence of all creation; I could see a vast Universe far beyond my insignificant existence. I now had a son, and I was going to have to live up to being a father.
I hadn’t had the best examples of what a Dad should be in life and I was aware of that. My own father was bitterly selfish and emotionally manipulative. Most of the older men I knew didn’t have the emotionally grounded presence that my wife’s Dad has or any of my Uncles.
I had a strange childhood, me. It often makes my mum cry to think of the shit we had to trawl through to get to the other side. She blames herself, but I know how hard it must have been going at it alone as a single mother in times when it just wasn’t the done thing.
The men we had in our life before I left home were the epitome of toxicity. Mum went a strange route after Dad, realizing that she was an attractive woman wanted to date more attractive guys. It was the normal for me growing up to have “father figures” with ripped abs and a full set of weights in the spare room. If that experience has taught me anything in life that it’s, you can dress a big shit in anything, mould it to look like a flower and spray it to get rid of the smell, but it’s still a big shit no matter what you do with it. These were the men she dated.
We all go through learning periods in our life; my mum’s first ever boyfriend was my Dad, so when she left that relationship she still had a lot of learning to do. There was the guy that disappeared for weeks on end, the guy that split our family up, and then, eventually, the guy that took all mum’s money and left us penniless for a few years. Still inwardly angry about the last one, but, what can you do. That being said, there were two men in-between that were amazing. One that spent time with me every weekend, and one that treated me like his own. I always say to my friends that marry into families, “treat them like your own, and they’ll love you dearly for it”
To say that I had an upward struggle was an understatement. Here I was, sitting there at the end of the bed with my new-born son, contemplating the universe and my insignificant role in such. It was a beautiful transformation really, because for the first time in my life I really realized that I wasn’t the centre of the universe. It had sort of felt like that for most of my life, that everything and everyone revolved around me. Not anymore.
Since day one I’ve been learning from this amazing little guy. I’d be completely ignorant to think that my wife and I are the only people that have knowledge to offer him, when he too, has his own perception of reality, depth of understanding and his own take on this strange world that we live in. I pull from that too, and often he educates me on things without realizing.
My son has high functioning autism and he suffers from a great deal of anxiety. School, for example, read him the story of Moses and the plagues that descended on Egypt, and for a long time, Alex thought the plague of the first born was coming to get him, having no real understanding of time and history. It was troubling to see, yet an answer to a lot of missing links in my childhood.
And yet I look at his life in comparison to mine. Last night he had a temperature that was spiking and he was shaking. I was up ALL night with him; I had the whooping cough once and I could have nearly died, yet my dad was off gallivanting around not giving the slightest shit at all. I often wonder how some kids make it through with parents who care more about themselves.