Monday, 13 November 2017

The 4th Horseman of the Apocalypse

Last week I announced that my wife and I were expecting another child - my fourth. If you'll forgive the personal nature of this blog post, here's my reaction to the impending arrival of the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse...

Here's the photo I used to make the announcement:



That morning I'd done an Ignite talk at #cipdACE17 and, as I often do, done it poetry-style. It was on being a working parent and its challenges, and I ended the rhyme by surprising the audience, many of whom knew me well, by telling them I was going to be a Dad for for fourth time.

My first child came as a bit of a shock.  He wasn't planned, and even though I was 26 at the time he was born, I didn't feel in any way ready, and those early years remain a bit of a blur to me.  When my second child was born, a daughter this time, I was 29 and still didn't feel ready to be a father.

I felt that my role was to just work hard and often enough to ensure they were provided for, and this meant I wasn't the best example of a parent I could have been when they were very young.  As I mentioned in my Ignite, what kind of a parent was I if I was never there? What kind of a Dad was I really, if I showed them family time was rare?

So I changed, around the time I got divorced, and became a much better parent, spending a great deal of time with my (then) two children and ensuring I managed work-life balance so my time with them was ample.

When I got divorced I thought I'd never have children again, and to be honest that didn't bother me, until I met Katie, who had no children and wanted and deserved them.  Even so, my third child, another daughter, came as a total shock to us both and I wasn't sure I was ready to be a father again at the ripe old age of 39.

If only I knew.

I had forgotten everything I knew 9 years earlier and had to start almost from scratch, but found I was much better at being a parent this time - my life was more balanced and I had a great deal of control over how I worked.  I'm a decent parent, but I honestly don't have a strategy or really much of a clue what I'm doing - I just wing it most of the time and it seems to work.

And now...as I said in my Ignite...

"And me, well I feel I just about manage - I do what I can. I balance things day to day, there is no long-term plan.
It takes a lot of effort, but they're worth it all and more - only now I have to cope with the arrival of Number 4..."

This time, for the first time, I have a child whose arrival has been planned.

Yes, at age 42, I'll be a Dad again - but to be honest I've got it down to a fine art now and am not worried, plus I'm in a better position financially and physically than I've been for any of the other three.

I didn't make it easy for myself by moving jobs at the time we got pregnant, even though it was a planned thing.  My wife, as per last time, has been very ill and I've needed to support her by doing everything at home when she has been unable to (and that's been almost everything for nearly two months) - consequently that's made me exceptionally tired and not able to focus as I'd have liked at work, as my attention has very much been elsewhere.  Its put an enormous strain on the whole family but thankfully in the last fortnight her pregnancy-related sickness has begun to settle - its not all gone yet but its better, and I've been able to focus more on work.  But moving jobs and being brand new and time off and flexibility - it really does feel like a crime.  And don't remind me that I won't qualify for paternity leave.

And I figure my logistical issues - like the multiple school run and sorting childcare - are only going to get worse, but I've got a plan to try to deal with them and I know everything will be OK in the long run - the health and happiness of my family are very important to me.

And we're thrilled at the arrival of Number Four, due 9th May - it will make our family complete, and our capacity to love will grow.

And I promise when this one is born I'll get myself a hobby or something - there's no more coming after this.

We're looking forward to May and know that life will be great.

Even if its a difficult thing to manage.


Love finds a way.

Love will find a way.

Till next time...

Gary

PS in other news, please forgive the personal nature of this post - back to more professional matters next time