This is the first blog post I have devoted to the subject of my becoming a Dad again in my 50s – but since my little boy, Adam is five this week, I reckon it would be OK to share some thoughts with you.
I’ll start off by saying that I love caring for him. The sleeplessness, the tantrums, the current spate of back-chat: none of this ever gets in the way of my love for this child, matched, of course, by my love for my darling wife, Maggie and my elder sons, Steven, 32 and Martin, 29. I’m a lucky man.
Adam is funny, chatty, bright, inquisitive, inventive, daring, quick and keen to learn, re-assuring, anxious to undertake tasks, as well as mischievous, messy, dogged with a fiery temper, and a very loud voice. A great mix in other words that prevents me, in the main, from reading a book, watching a film or listening to more than one CD track at a time when he’s around. I don’t mind.
Within minutes of his birth, I took off my T-shirt and laid him against my chest, looked at him and told him he was coming into a good family, that we would love him to bits and that he had two cracking big brothers who’d look out for him, too.
It was, as John Lennon sang, just like starting over. No it was starting all over again. I had seen two boys grow into fine, independent men.
But now I was reading the what the hell-do-we-do-next help books as much as first-time mum, Maggie. The dramas, the worries, the desire to keep him safe and happy that applied with Steven and Martin were back in action again with Adam. It’s an instinctive thing.
Stages of his infancy – like learning to walk – brought back great memories of things that my older boys did that had faded over the years as they grew and developed to be replaced by more up-to-date memories.
I’m not sure if I’m a different kind of Dad this time round, although maturity must be a positive thing. I might be a little more patient, but I suppose that’s debatable. My working life is different now compared to the 80s so I probably spend more time in Adam’s company. I play tennis, work out at the gym and go to live music gigs but I am more of a home bird now than I was when in my 20s.
Naturally, I do worry from time to time about the age gap between Adam and me, but I like to think I’m young at heart. I also worry more this time round that I am helping him as best as I possibly can – but when I look at my older sons, I reckon the evidence is that I’m doing alright.
I love all the changes and twists and turns he delivers. Adam is hugely quizzical and also matter of fact. When bathing him one night, he looked up to declare: “I love my Mum from here to the moon, but I don’t like you so much.”
Out on a bike ride last week he was advising me how to brake when going downhill without falling off. “I don’t want you to get hurt, Dad. Have you got any plasters?” Then he became annoyed with the litter dropped in the park. When the rain came on, he said: “Who ordered that?”
No two walks to the park are ever the same. One day we’ll be looking for golden statues, the next we’re counting the number of cats we see. These are things that have transformed my life, and maybe because of my age, they really lock in to my brain to be cherished.
An acquaintance in the same age bracket as me, also shares my experience as a Dad in his 50s again. He summed up his thoughts, when asked what it was like looking after a pre-school child one more time, as follows: “well, it takes me a little longer to get up off the floor after playing with the toys than it did when I was a parent in my 20s.” That’s true.
But, doing this all over again does keep me young and smiling a lot. Thanks, Adam.