Posted in I'm the Daddy

There Can Be Only One

‘It will be easier with the second one’.

‘You can save that for your next one’.

‘You’ll forget about all this when number two comes along’.

‘When are you having another baby?’

 Maybe I missed something when they were handing out leaflets at the 12 week scan but I don’t remember being told that one child is not enough. Despite this it doesn’t stop countless people from making the assumption that my wife and I are only pausing momentarily before ploughing on with spawning Harris Junior MKII. When we say that we have only ever planned to have one child, the reaction ranges from mild surprise to outright horror that we could leave our little boy without a sibling.

What seems to surprise people most is that this is something we have planned, not a decision that has been forced upon us. We discussed how many children we wanted long before George was born and although we reserve the right to change our minds in the future I don’t think we will. As Connor MacLeod famously roared in Highlander, ‘there can be only one’.

At this point I am normally asked something like ‘aren’t you worried he will grow up lonely/spoilt/needy/all or the above?’ If he does then I’m doing something more fundamentally wrong than not giving him a brother or a sister. I don’t believe being an ‘only’ child is a one-way ticket to childhood loneliness and I will do everything I can to give George a happy life.

Some people don’t understand our decision but I don’t understand why anyone would want a huge family. Having four or more children seems like insanity to me but everyone makes different choices. Some of those who are trying to understand our choice usually start by asking if my wife and I have brothers or sisters. The assumption seems to be that we were both only children and don’t know any other way or that we have siblings we that we don’t speak to anymore.  This isn’t true.

I have an older sister who I love dearly and feel very close to but I have always valued her more as an adult. I have some memories of playing together as kids but we mainly did our own thing. What I needed as a child were more friends my age not another sibling. It may sound harsh but I hope George can make enough friends through his life to fill any void that may be left by not having a brother or a sister.

There are many reasons why I am happy with one child but the biggest is that I don’t want to struggle. I want to have the time and energy to be able to give George all he needs in the hope that he never feels like he has missed out. I want to be a loving husband and be able to support my wife so she can feel she is something as well as be a mother.  I don’t want being a parent to take over my identity. This all seems very selfish now that I have written it down but it still feels like the right decision.

Are you an only child or part of a big family? Do you feel strongly about how many children you want? All comments are welcome.

Posted in 40 List, Sport & Fitness

George Goes To HQ

Even though I’m not even 39 yet I have managed to tick the first task off my 40 list. At the tender age of not quite 5 months, George made his first trip to the home of English rugby – Twickenham. The game we took him to was the London Double Header on the opening day of season – a game featuring four of the London rugby teams including the current champions, Harlequins.

We had some history with this fixture as I had already bought tickets for last year’s game before we knew my wife was pregnant. George actually made his first trip to HQ whilst growing inside his Mamma and was helpfully giving her morning sickness that resembled a tropical disease. The year before we witnessed a try-fest in our corner and my lovely wife failed miserably to get Tom Varndell to wave at her before succeeding in getting a bemused Austin Healy to wave back. Happy days.

George rocks his ear defenders

All the preparations for the big day were going well. George had out grown the Ireland top his Mamma had bought him at Dublin airport leaving his England top with his name on the back as the only alternative. I had successfully purchased some baby ear defenders in case it got noisy and as you can see from the picture they made him look super cute. All good so far.

We left for Twickenham in good spirits but by the time we had navigated the appalling traffic we were rushing to get to the ground in time for kick off. I bought the tickets late this year and didn’t manage to get pitch level tickets like we had before but I didn’t think this would be a problem. When we opened the door on to the stand I realised I was wrong and it was far higher and more exposed than I thought it would be. George was strapped to my chest in a baby carrier and seemed happy so far. As I walked up the steps to our seats he set off a chain reaction of ‘aahhhss’ as the people on the end of each row caught sight of him. When we got to our seats he seemed to settle down but it didn’t last long. Our seats were under the top tier and when the crowd started to cheer the noise had nowhere to go. George didn’t like it. He really didn’t like it.

George surveys his territory

We quickly removed him and my wife spent the rest of the first half inside the stand playing with George. At half time we took a few pictures at pitch side for the family album. I wanted to record the moment when George surveyed his territory for the first time ahead of him captaining England to another crushing Grand Slam victory. It’s a dream that makes me happy! Despite the fact it meant missing her beloved London Irish, my lovely wife let me go back in for the second half while she took George outside to sit on the grass in the sunshine.

With a World Cup winner

By the time the majestic Nick Evans had inspired Harlequins to overturn a 40-13 deficit and steal victory with minutes left on the clock, I was more than happy with our day. I bounced out of the stadium to find my wife grinning from ear to ear and brandishing her phone. A quick check of her photo gallery revealed a photo of her and George with former England captain and World Cup winner, Phil Vickery. She was delighted to not only spot him but to get in before anyone else did for a photo. Although George is unlikely to remember his first trip to HQ it will live long in my memory.

Next up on my 40 list is my attempt to run faster.