Jack will be the last of our children so these pictures are the first of our whole family. Even though I’m well aware of the fact that I have a wife and a daughter and a son, to see our family together in a photo somehow makes it seem that much more surreal. I actually have a complete family; it might seem weird for me to say that, but it really hits home that we’re now a whole independent unit responsible to and for one another. And we’ve got another couple of decades like this before we start to divide and multiply.
This Valentine’s Day, I got a special present from Ellie. She gave me a little token to go on my keys. It reads:
You will always be the first man I ever loved. – Ellie.
I love it and I have to give props to
Marti Ellie for being so thoughtful and getting this for me. It’ll live proudly on my keys.
30 years ago today, aside from the first ever episode of the most popular British soap Eastenders airing, I was born.
I absolutely couldn’t care less that I’m 30. I haven’t been dreading this day, nor do I attribute any sort of aging to it, any more so than any other day. However, a “n0” birthday is a milestone that only comes along once a decade so it seems like a perfect time for some reflection.
The last 10 years
Since February 2010 (the last 5 years), quite a number of things have changed in my life. I became a professional engineer, I became a father, I have another child on the way, I started my own business which is now thriving and I moved house 3 times.
In the last 10 years, even more has changed. In February 2005, I was in my second year at university, was single, living with my Mum in the UK and I was working for the NHS. Over the next 5 years, I would meet and fall in love with Marti, graduate from university, become a Christian, move to the States to be with her, get married 60 days later, battle 8 months of being unable to work before getting my green card, a job, my driver’s license, a car and our first apartment in the space of about 4 weeks.
Reflection on who I am
As I think about the man I am today, where I’ve come from and the boy I used to be, I’ve noticed quite a few specific observations about how I’ve changed in particular and more general observations about how we as humans mature (or don’t).
The first thing is that nothing is given. Not only is nothing guaranteed but you’ll change in ways and do things that you would have never believed, conceived or thought possible.
Ricardo Semler, the former CEO of a large Brazilian company took a dramatic new approach to employment, education and living that rewards wisdom and improves work-life balance.
For example, at his company, employees do not report their vacation days and if they meet their quotas, they’re encouraged to go to the beach instead of working the rest of the week.
It has always baffled me how people get so offended when they incorrectly identify the sex of a baby.
Until puberty, the two sexes are quite similar and boys can easily look like girls and vice versa. The only main distinction that we have as the children grow is the way they style their hair and the way they dress because of our cultural norms.
With babies not having (much) hair to style and short of wearing pink or blue all day every day, it is quite conceivable to mix up boys and girls.
So parents, chill out: it is not offensive, nor a slight on your child’s appearance – just a biological fact that there is not much to distinguish them until puberty hits and their bodies start morphing into the adults that they will become. Just a simply-stated correction will suffice.
I was once the guy that rolled my eyes whenever I saw a young child waiting at the gate for the same flight that I was in. I also let out a further moan when I found out said child was sitting within 20 seats of me.
More recently, I knew I was going to be on the other end of the stick for our Christmas trip to England as I would be subjecting 240 people to the unpredictable nature of my 18-month daughter for 9 hours.
I fully expected karma to bite me in the arse and sure enough it did. Being that flights to Europe from the States take off in the evening, fly overnight and arrive in the morning, this was the worst possible scenario for us, since Ellie had been up all day (with her usual naps), but then was boarding the plane when she’d usually be going to bed. Between taking off, 2-3 hours of drinks and dinner, unfamiliar surroundings and bassinets/seats that were too small for Ellie, she was not going to sleep, and so, we were the ones with the unhappy and occasionally very vocal infant.
As a web developer, with my own site for documenting my thoughts and life, it seemed very appropriate that the very same day I learned that we were pregnant with Ellie, I built her a website to document the pregnancy and then her life outside the womb. And just recently I followed suit when I found out that Jack was on the way.
To me, creating a website for my kids was chiefly important because I live so far away from my family. Being from the UK and living in the US, I have a whole group of people that I care about a lot, and whom would want to follow along with my children’s’ lives closely, even though we’ll only see each other every few years.
As a side benefit, it is an excellent way in this day and age to record your children’s’ lives. It’s the 21st century baby book, except that it’s living and breathing, can be updated regularly and everyone can see it (or everyone that you want to see it can see it).
These are the moments that I live for now. A happy daughter, smiling and staring at me, on a gorgeous day outside among nature. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As the father of a young daughter, this talk by Meaghan Ramsey spoke to me at a deep level. It is one of my biggest goals to make sure that Ellie finds her identity in God, and not in the world. I hope that she is a confident, amazing woman when she grows up and that she throws off the shackles of our image-obsessed society.
I am so disheartened by how so many women have bought into this practice and grade themselves for their appearance and find their value in that. There’s so much more to it. It’s so cliché to say so, and it’s very hard to hear when you’ve staunchly convinced yourself otherwise, but beauty really is on the inside. Looks fade and bodies sag, but intelligence, humour, personality, verve and perspective only get better with age, and I can say with confidence, that as each year passes, my wife only gets more and more attractive to me.
So, let’s make sure that our children acknowledge that they’re all unique and all have something valuable to offer the world, instead of allowing them to start seeking the approval of others for their appearance.
My bucket list consists largely of activities and experiences: most notably, travel. I once read (and completely agree) that the gifts people most treasure and recall are ones that involve experiences rather than material possessions. As such, I have shied away from giving material gifts, instead opting for experiential gifts.
It is for this reason that my bucket list also centers around experiences: a whole list of things that I want to do before I die. I really don’t care to own things, but I’d love to experience these things.