"Happy 21st Birthday To My Son
Today's post is one of the easiest but the most emotional I will ever write on this blog.
Every time that I think of my son Charlie, he has this massive emotional trigger on me for making me the proudest father ever. However I also feel like a massive failure to him and this is what makes it all so emotional for me.
I know that he does not know why I am so proud of him so I will use this time and page to explain on his 21st Birthday why if I can through the emotions.
At 3.59pm on 22nd January 1992 weighing in at 7lb 4oz as in every father's life - I felt all the emotions that a father could possibly do so. I saw my son born in front of my very own eyes as my wife Lesley lay on the "Caesarian table" and I was holding her hand.To this day it astounds me thinking back to seeing him for the first time.
However Charlie had entered this world naturally with some help from the doctors and nurses. My first vision of him was "wow, how big he looked from such a small person". Lesley was of tiny stature and to see Charlie come out with limbs all like a starfish, made him look even bigger. The nurse took him off for his checks and to wrap him up into a bundle to hold.
As Lesley needed some assistance from the doctors still, Charlie was passed to me to hold and show him off to us both. I felt complete in myself and so much love at the time. I was finally a family man, all that I had ever wanted from my life but furthermore "He is ours". I loved them so much at that moment in time and NOTHING will ever take that feeling away from me, even now I can feel the emotions of that time together.
Along with all the feelings of wanting to shout from the top of the hospital about him being finally here, I also was feeling that sudden impact of love and responsibility for another life on this planet. This was added to by the fact that he was mine and I would not be able to hand him back to other parents. From this time in my life going forward I would have an offspring to love, care, support in all aspects of the word until he could maintain himself. It was scary to say the least but the joy of his birth outweighed all of these scary thoughts at the time.
Having spent some time at the hospital for while enjoying this new bundle of joy in our lives it was time for me to go home and call all the family and share the good news. I felt so much pride in telling them all, recalling all of the days events from the early start in the day to the his natural birth in the end. I still remember every detail of that day, but will not embarrass anyone by relaying that here.
All I will say it was a cold day like it is today, and we made our journey extremely leisurely at the time. Lesley seemed in no hurry to get to the hospital and did that "nesting" instinct for a clean, tidy household to return to. I busied myself getting washed, dressed and cleaning the car down of snow and warming it up for the journey to the hospital, hopefully hiding the panic inside.
I remember the time later when taking him home and the thought that this is really happening. Seeing him at home for the first time, holding him our arms in our own living room - weird but wonderful feeling "Our son was home with us". I loved the time I was able to spend with him. I used to do the night feeds and spend quality time with him sharing my thoughts on our goals, dreams and what the future might have brought. It really was a "Del-boy" moment (Uk fans will know from "Only Fools and Horses" comedy program).
Little did I know that this idealistic future would be short-lived. Like all couples we had our problems and in our case these escalated to the extent that the marriage failed and eventually we went our separate ways. That's the short version and all I am prepared to share.
For a period of time I did still live locally and was able to see my boy at weekends and other times that Lesley worked Bank Holidays etc. These were quality times and the pain for me was every time handing him back, saying good bye. I couldn't hack this it was destroying me and I needed an escape route and I did.
A friend had invited me to live with them in Essex some 3 hours away and 150 miles away and I took up the opportunity to better myself, and become a person my son could be proud of one day. This in my eyes the second step in my failings towards Charlie.
The first was in allowing the marriage to fail in the first place and not being there for him on a daily basis. The second was now moving away even further leaving him behind, but I knew for my own selfish sanity that I had to do this. Things between Lesley and I were now becoming fraught because of the pent up emotions on my part. I still loved her and wanted so much to make it all work, but it was impossible things had gone past the mark of no return. So I moved down south when Charlie was aged 21 months old.
I made regular visits back over a period of time at weekends, taking him out for the day, usually to see my mum too and spending time together. It was no where what I had wanted from life but it was all I had with him and enjoyed every precious moment, his smiles, his touch, his baby and toddler smell, all of it.
I hated leaving him and the journey back home down the motorways to Essex was horrendous on many occasions and I did have to pull over before the motorways just to deal with the issues in my head, so that I had clear thoughts for the motorway drive.
Over a period of time that followed I made whatever visits I was able to, financial aspects kicked in my the UK's Child Support Agency which incidently I had no problems with. I always wanted to maintain my son but they turned my financial situation into distress. I was not able to promise regular visits to Charlie and as a result did not get to see him for some 15 plus years. I did however stay in touch via school reports and followed his progress intently.
On November 10th 2011, following a shock Facebook message from him online I made the journey to Sheffield where he is studying at the University. I had found him on Facebook and we had been communicating for a while but never met up yet. I had after this message arranged to meet up with him at the Meadowhall Shopping Centre.
How was this meeting to go I had no idea. ?
Did it seem right to want to hold him, hug him or what?
What would he think of me now?
What would my first words be to him after all this time?
He now had his own thoughts and mind in play, whereas last time I saw him he was dependant upon me.
I waited on the rampart to the tram station and watched many people go by and then I saw him in the flesh after all these years. I stood and waited for him to come stand close, and when he did just I grabbed him, hugged him and stated "You are a lot bigger now than when I last held you". The ice was broken after all these lost years.
We made our way into the centre to get something to eat, and hopefully get to know each other in a small way. After dinner we made our way to Centertainment where we played bowls for what seemed like ages, followed by a drink at the bar area and some informal chat.
I was hiding my nerves telling him of this day that he had been born and what it all meant to me. Then it came to that moment when we had to leave each other yet again. As we hugged at the tram station stop, he left and boarded the tram, looking back at me and my immediate thoughts were - when will I see him again. I have a few times since, but leaving him is still so hard.
Getting together seems more so hard at present due to both of our lifestyles. Things can only get better as I build my business to work for myself one day to give me the freedom and finances to do as I please. Roll on that day soon.
Charlie this post is dedicated to you, my son. I am eternally proud of you and your achievements to get to University, studying Physics, not an easy subject to say the least. I love your radio shows when online at the university. I have not seen you as much as I would have liked since our first reunion meeting, but I do work at making steps each day. I hope that things will improve for me financially. I want you to be so proud of my achievements one day too and to know that my door is forever open to you son whenever you need me.
On this day I say thank you God for my son, and to look after him in all he does. I ask that you guide him through his studies and exams. I ask that you continue in our relationship helping it to grow and to deliver that Father and son relationship that you have always promised.
Happy 21st Birthday Charlie
- love you always
- forever in my heart
- and always here for you son.
Love Dad xxx