This is a guest post from Jonathan Ervine. It is part of the series Choosing to Connect, true life stories from my readers in their own words. I really enjoyed reading this post from a dad who obviously loves his family and wants to build strong family relationships.
Over to Jonathan….
Our son will celebrate his first birthday in the next few weeks and it’s been amazing seeing him grow and do new things on an almost constant basis. Along the way, I’ve tried to do the best I can to connect with him. With him being so young and currently making a wide variety of noises rather than talking, it is in some ways hard to know what it’s all meant to him. However, I like to think that we’ve already started to connect.
One of the first things that helped me to connect with our son was being able to take two weeks of paternity leave, as is standard for dads here in the UK. It was amazing to be able to spend so much time with him at this stage when he was settling in to his new environment while my wife and I were getting used to his presence.
As well as being there to marvel at his presence and general cuteness, I was also pleased to be around to help my wife out immediately after the birth. Sometimes this involved just doing little things, like popping out to get the shopping or cooking a few more meals than normal, but I guess it was useful to be able to do these sorts of practical things.
Going back to work after paternity leave was kind of hard in a lot of ways. I went from spending all day every day with our son to only seeing him briefly in the morning and then for an hour or two in the evening. However, it was fun to come home and be able to be involved in things like giving him his bath.
As he’s grown older and more alert, it’s been great to see him interacting more and smile when I’ve arrived home from work. In fact, he often crawls over to see me when I get in. It’s hard to put into words just how special and satisfying this feels. My wife and I love having him around and it’s great to see him smile and hear him laugh.
As I don’t see as much of our son as I’d like during the week, I make an extra-special effort to make sure that I have time to spend with him and my wife at the weekends. This has meant, for example, that I’ve gone to fewer football matches this season compared to last year. However, I wouldn’t even consider this a sacrifice. There’s just no substitute for spending this valuable family time together during this special period.
At the weekends, we sometimes have some father and son time that allows my wife to take it easy and relax for a bit. I’ve taken our son to music and play events in our local area that are aimed at families who are bringing up their children bilingually in Welsh and English like we are. I also recently enjoyed taking our son to have a go on the swings at our local play park for the first time.
In fact, it’s sometimes not particularly exciting sounding things that have provided some unexpected father and son bonding time. On a Sunday afternoon, I quite often take our son to our local supermarket while my wife gets on with things at home. Carrying him around the store in a sling has become an activity that we both enjoy.
In the weeks, months and years ahead, I look forward to connecting with our son in new and exciting ways as he develops and grows older. I look forward to being able to do things like taking him to football matches and going on days out in the beautiful part of North Wales in which we are so fortunate to live.
Just as our son is constantly learning about the world around him, I feel that I’m also constantly learning about him and also parenting in general. It’s a fun adventure that certainly brings with it a few challenges, such as getting used to slight different sleeping patterns! However, it’s also been a highly rewarding journey so far and I hope that it continues like this in the years that lie ahead.
Jonathan Ervine started his blog ‘Dad’s the way I like it‘ shortly after becoming a dad in spring 2013. He lives in Wales with his wife, his son and three chickens. He blogs about topics such as bilingual parenting, representations of dads and generally getting used to being a parent. You can catch up with him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+