Earlier this year, I wrote a book about being a dad. At the time, I was very conscious that I’d be committing various revelations to print, and that I should do so with caution. Some of the chapters of Diary of a Desperate Dad – No Sex, Please, We’re Parents, for example – were therefore read and re-read a multitude of times (after all, once you’ve shared the story of ‘the trim’ with thousands of other people, there’s no turning back. For the full account of that sorry tale, you’ll have to buy the book).
Anyway, one of the things I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t regret was my comment about never having any more children. I felt sure that, with three children under six at the time, our family was complete and that we would remain the Jackson Five forevermore. As it is, I genuinely struggle to remember my children’s dates of birth (bear in mind: when our GP once asked me for my son’s, I panicked and gave him the date of my wedding – which led to considerable confusion all round) so the thought of having a fourth was never one I entertained. Which only goes to show how futile it is to make assumptions about how life is going to turn out.
It always amazes me how frequently people will ask those of my generation about when they’re planning to start a family, as if it’s a done deal that everyone wants children, or that they’re able to have them. I’m acutely aware that so many people would love to have kids but are unable to – and in that context, the concept of having a fourth child is something you can almost feel guilty about.
Why is all this relevant? Well, yesterday I sat in a small room at our local hospital, looking up at an amazing image of a new life on the screen in front of me. All being well, this little boy will make his entrance into the world at some point towards the end of March. I felt an overwhelming range of emotions – awe, excitement and, yes, that strange sense of guilt – but overall, I couldn’t be happier. Life can throw so many challenges our way, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have three happy, healthy children, with another on the way. I’ve no idea what twists and turns our lives will take over the years ahead; all I do know is that I’m very thankful for what I have, and for the way in which my little family has grown.
When we had our scan, we bumped into a lady my wife knew from the school gate. She was expecting her seventh child. Even though it was perhaps unwise to rule out a fourth child in my book, I’d like to make it abundantly clear right now that we’re certainly not going to be following in her footsteps. I’d also like to rule out having five children – but I’m not going to do that, just in case I find myself writing a very similar blog post to this one, in a few years’ time…