I am a father, not to just one little being in the shape of the handsome 2-year-old Seán anymore, but to another child in our beautiful little girl Robyn! How did that happen…. well you know what I mean.
Today is Father’s Day and the latest addition to our family has given me another jolt of perspective - I am not the centre of the universe anymore. The laughter and smiles of a 2-year-old and 2-month-old should be able to pull anyone out of the darkest moods they may be in. However, becoming a father these last 2 years, has made me more acutely aware of my MS. In my current state, I may not be the father that I thought I would be, and I may need to think about my approach to fatherhood slightly differently.
Growing up I was very much used to having a kick about with my dad or during the summer heading ‘out the back’ for a few holes. I can’t kick a ball the way I used to, let alone play golf the way I want to. I’m going to have to take a totally different road than the one I had drawn out for myself.
You know what, that’s ok because it’s not for me, it for my kids. I don’t need to play football or golf to be the best Dad …. They might not like sport anyways!!
My focus is going to be building fantastic relationships with my children. As they grow up, hopefully they will understand why I can’t run with them around the park or put them on my shoulders.
For the immediate future I just want to enjoy seeing them blossom and watching their little characters develop. In doing this, I hope that they will still have a normal childhood. This is where I may become even more dependent on my wife than I already am. She may need to do some of the heavy lifting that I may not be able to do. It doesn’t make me any less of a father or emasculates me, I just can’t do it and we’re ok with that. The target is to give myself the best possible chance of doing the running and playing with my kids. Between exercise, diet and meditation I can do it. If my wife is anything to do with it, I will do it.
I also must be aware that our house is gradually turning into an amazing obstacle course - Crypton Factor level, with Lego, books, toys, hurls, the odd nappy strewn everywhere. Not ideal for a person with mobility and balance issues! But I love a good challenge. It’s great to be in the middle of and oddly enough for me it takes my mind off the real challenges I face.
When I’m with my children, MS doesn’t matter, my mind is clear, and my pains subside. Don’t get me wrong the MS is very much there and visible when I’m trying to get up from a good tickling session, but it fades away with the sound of chuckling and shouts of ‘stop dadi’.
I need to concentrate on the things that I can do with my kids and enjoy them to the ninth degree. I always wanted to be the best or win the race. I now realise that if all I can give my kids is my time then that’s a lot more important than winning any race.
Hopefully it makes me No.1 Dad, that’s more than good enough for me. I have MS but it does not have me. I have children, they will always have me.