After years of vowing never to have children, I clearly remember two moments when I started to come round to the idea.
One time was a trip to the illuminations at Walsall Arboretum. It was very much a family affair full of young parents and their kids having a good time. I remember feeling a strange barely perceptible sense of emptiness at just being part of a couple and not having kids to share the experience with.
At about the same time I went to my uncle’s funeral and at that dreadful moment when the curtains close ahead of the cremation my uncle’s son broke the tense silence with an anguished shout of ‘See you Dad’.
Though being a parent has been very hard on many occasions it’s a decision I’ve never regretted and feel so blessed to be a parent, to be a Dad. With all three kids in their mid-twenties and in relatively stable relationships the odds are that at some point in the next five years or so a grandchild or two may come along.
While never having particularly strong feelings on the matter I don’t feel ready – or anywhere near old enough – to be a granddad. I’m also not sure I’d want to be that hands-on and I certainly wouldn’t want them to affect my lifestyle and travel plans.
Yesterday I got round to reading a touching spread in the Daily Telegraph entitled ‘What I did for the first time since lockdown’. It comprised a series of short accounts from writers about their various firsts – going back to work, seeing their girlfriend, playing golf and it made me think how we take for granted the little pleasures of life and how I should try to appreciate them more when I can start doing them again.
One such account was ‘My first meet-up with my youngest grandson’ and here are a few paragraphs from it that really affected me:
“… what I miss most of all is contact with my grandchildren. We have been blessed with nine and love them dearly and they love us back – Facetime and Skype with them has been a regular way we have stayed in touch. But it has been hard not having the physical contact, especially as most Friday nights we have dinner together.
“… how exciting it was yesterday to be granted the privilege to enjoy a “socially distanced” meeting with my youngest grandson Jake (aged 11) and Coco, the older of the two grand-dogs. My youngest daughter lives closest to me and Jake had been asking for so long to come and see me, I was so thrilled when they suggested they pop over when the restrictions lifted.
“As a family we have taken the lockdown seriously and have had zero real-life contact until yesterday, so this was a joyous occasion. Coco the dog went mental seeing me and Jake grinned from ear to ear. Not giving him a hug was hard, I must admit. And they didn’t stay long as we were all a bit tentative, but we had a few glorious minutes chatting and joking around in the street.
“He asked me if I was missing rugby and if I was fed up of grandma’s cooking. He told me how he was desperate to get back to school. My wife stayed inside and beamed through the window as, of course, we kept two metres and even further apart on the street. Physical contact is so important not to have it is so cruel, but to see Jake’s little face was the best blessing ever.”
During the lockdown I’ve heard my next door neighbour playing with the grandkids and it truly sounds like hard work. I do, wonder though, whether I’m slowly coming round to the idea.