There’s a big child-shaped hole in my life. It won’t be filled now. The hole used to be a gaping chasm, not so much nowadays. I consider myself very lucky. Great relationship with my wife. Third time lucky there. That’s another story.
Two amazing brothers with nephews and nieces to be proud of. Plus, with a wife as a nanny, I get to play with some fabulous, innocent tots, but then give them back and go to the pub. And I’ve got a dog.
Not a bad deal. all in all. Then again, I’ve never witnessed my own child being born, held them as a baby, watched them take their first steps, been heartbroken as they leave for nursery, or read them a bedtime story. Swings and roundabouts.
Talking of which, there’s another positive. At least I don’t have to stagger to playgrounds stupidly early on a Sunday morning with stubble covering my chin and last nights Rioja coating my tongue, to give the missus a lie-in with all the other hung-over Dads. I’d have to busk it as a Dad anyway. I know the square root of sod-all about maths and physics and that clever school stuff. I’m better on football and pop trivia.
I once amazed my eldest nephew when we were thumbing through a football book with the knowledge that Kevin Keegan made his England debut in 1973 v Wales.
He was gobsmacked. I felt ten feet tall. It didn’t last, but nevertheless, it was a precious moment.
I could bore a kid to death about The Beatles, glam rock and show them my almost complete collection of Vox magazines. Not sure that qualifies as parenting. But it would be fun. I’m well-versed in relationship stuff, so maybe agony Uncle is my niche. All of the enjoyment and none of the responsibility. That’s being an Uncle, or helping out with the nannying.
To be honest, it suits me. Looking after me is a full-time job. Anyway, I think Dads nowadays get a bad press. It’s far too easy – and downright lazy – to label men “deadbeat dads” when a relationship ends. Courts seem predisposed to give custody of children to the mother.
Just as not all women are bitter, not all men are bastards. Look at the recent case of Rebecca Minnock. Judge Stephen Wildblood QC, said she had “positively invented” allegations against the father of her son Ethan on two occasions.
After going on the run with Ethan and using the press for her own means, she eventually returned to face the music, and returned Ethan to his dad. Too many times children are used as ammunition between warring parents. Do they not think of the damage they are inflicting? My own relationship with my Dad has been complicated. I didn’t see him, through choice, for around thirty years after my parents split.
At the height of the trauma, I once brandished a snooker cue to hasten his exit from family home. Years later, after a hellish second marriage, and with my younger brother already reconciled, I re-considered. I could see similarities between his position years before and the one I had just endured. Endless tension, rows and stress. Let’s face it, what do you know about life at 15, compared to when you hit your 40s?
I’m glad we are back in touch. I’m also glad he has found true happiness with his second wife and that they enjoy a great life together. He was never a bad man. Life is complicated. We’ve moved on, and as far as I’m concerned that’s just fine.
Funnily enough, my wife and his, often laugh at the similarities in personality between Dad and I. Nothing profound. Shouting at the telly, grumpy old man stuff. Which we of course deny. So let’s hear it for the dads. The crap at DIY, but give-it-a-go Dads, the butt-of-all-the-family joke Dads, the working-all- hours-God-sends-to-provide Dads, the taxi-service-for- teenagers-Dads. Good on you. I hope you all enjoy your day. And thanks. From a proud Uncle.