Saturday, July 06, 2019

Our family life, what you see and what you get

Birthday team photo 2016

At the centre of this month long experiment to do a blog every day of July is my own resistance to overshare.

When I started The Marple Leaf back in 2006 it was often confessional about parenting issues. I probably have overshared and there was eventually a reckoning for this when one of the kids got the piss taken out of him at school for something I’d written that a class mate’s dad had spotted.

When Twitter became a thing in 2009 I picked up a habit of sharing our weekly Saturday ritual of chaotic kid juggling between football, art class, lunch, shopping trips, going to the cinema, etc. I got loads of lovely feedback about that, much more than I did about pretty much anything else. In a trick borrowed from Twitter friend Jeremy Bramwell, I even numbered them kids 1 to 5. That’s stuck.

And how I pine for the days when we’d all do things together in such joyous family spirit. Take this week for example, kid 1 is in Ireland, I can’t tell you where kid2 is (it’s classified), kid 3 is in Cyprus, kid4 has gone to visit a friend in another city, while kid5 is off to his first concert. Rachel’s been to a Caritas event and I’ve been fulfilling my role as a Centrist (not very good) Dad at a workshop trying to reimagine our broken politics.

Younger and fatter, 2006
You never stop loving them, missing them, or making plans for things to do together. And I never stop worrying either. Given what happened to one of them in 2017, we always do what we can to make sure they get home safely.

On the plus side, the other thing we’re able to do now is afford a trip abroad with a portion of them while the others make their own plans. I think we’re still paying for our all-you-can-eat summer holidays for 7 to Croatia and Malta. But we have a plan this year to get away.

I’ve said before that as much as I enjoy watching Blackburn Rovers, the bond that really ties me to the season ticket and the commitment is that it’s time well spent with kid1 and kid3, or Joe and Louis as I call them. I know I wouldn’t go as much if they both moved further away to study, and maybe one of the reasons they haven’t is that too. 

The best we usually do is a Friday chippy tea, the occasional Sunday dinner, but life gets in the way. Last night three of us went to the cinema in Marple, I jumped at the chance to do so because I wanted to spend time sharing a moment or two. Not because I was desperate to see Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis’ summer feel good flick, Yesterday, but I do desperately crave such simple shared pleasures.

We’re watching them grow wings, they make us proud every single day. But you’ll notice that we don’t share as much of that detail as we used to. If you are reading this, and you cared enough and wanted to know about their wider lives, challenges and conditions, I think you’d probably know by now. Family get updates on those details on Facebook. But what we never do, either on here, or in person, is sugar coat it. Life is tough, keeping on top of it all is relentless, exhausting, but absolutely essential to everything we are and what our values are.

So, what you might occasionally see on here is a bit of the truth. Something selective, a trigger for something else I might want to say, but it’s not the whole story. It never is.

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