Meeting a child for the first time in the delivery room at a hospital or just after birth is moving. When you meet your child for the first time in 16 years it is emotional and difficult for different reasons. The last time I saw my son he was a shy 4 year old, he’s now a 20 year old young man.
As a father I know all the things I have missed and have longed to share, and the resentments and frustrations I have but keeping these in check has been hard and threatened to overshadow my first meeting with my son. So a coffee shop was the venue for one of the most daunting things I have ever experienced. Having chatted on Facebook we had done some of the preliminaries. It was still very strange though because where do you start? We had had several long conversations on the phone about standard stuff but this was very different.
We started with ground rules – we would not discuss the past, beyond our own personal experiences, we wouldn’t talk about his mother and the issues there, they were for another time…..
We started with small talk – which is something I don’t do, I find talking about the weather, work and football hard at the best of times. It was interesting to discover my son had taken to coaching sport like I had, but not in the sports I did. So we found common ground and talked for about an hour finally agreeing to text and chat often. Yet parting was strange – as we shook hands – it wasn’t right to follow my heart and give him a hug. We have since seen each other regularly and chatted by phone and text but that has also been influenced by work and by a young man, being just that – living his own life. We started to build a relationship.
So the cupboard had been opened and the skeleton was out in the open and being discussed. This was a beginning and something I felt that both my son and I had had control over. But it wasn’t quite that simple, it was to become something that would change my relationship with others in my family. Whilst we were happy taking things slowly, others were not. The most significant of these was my own Dad, who has pushed things in ways that have had an impact beyond anything he could have imagined. When you plan something for almost twenty years and someone else steps in and takes over – it hits you hard, as a son and as a father….
Till next time
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