Last week I wrote about a memorial that someone had placed for their father in a park near to where I live in Sheffield. I described how it made me more determined to live in the now and ensure that I didn’t regret missing the boys growing up, something of a theme that I have been developing over the last few weeks.
If this encounter made me want to make the most of the present, it also made me want to make the most of the future as well. I don’t know about you but since having children I have become much more aware of my own mortality and I think quite a lot about not being around for them and this, quite frankly, scares me.
I certainly haven’t always been like this. When I was in my late 20s/ early 30s I always had the feeling that I would die young, or at least I certainly did not find the prospect unappealing (although you could by no means call it a death wish, it was just OK for me to think that). This was perhaps because I had few commitments and responsibilities: I was something of a confirmed and content single person.
That all started to change when I met Karen and then we had the boys. Things were suddenly different and I had people relying on me, but also people with whom I wanted to grow old. This is perhaps the most deep and fundamental change that I have experienced since becoming a partner/ father. A feeling that I really do need to stick around because others rely me. It is a huge responsibility, but it is also a huge privilege to be such a big part in someone’s life; and it is that second part which, for me, stops the first part from being too huge and onerous.
For me, then, becoming a father is a huge responsibility but is one that is not only manageable but it’s also eminently do-able, and at those times when I feel out of my depth I can think back to the me that didn’t quite have the same desire for longevity that I do today. I have written to him in the past, but might now add a P.S. which might say “life’s short enough as it is, don’t entertain ideas that you won’t be there in the future because you might miss out”.
This sense of mortality is certainly something that is behind my ongoing decision to lost weight, and I have now lost around four stones (25kg) since the beginning of 2013. This is one very important way that I am planning for the future, and, I hope, will mean that I will be around to see the boys grow up more than might have otherwise been the case (which sounds very stark as I write it). To help others achieve the same goal I am also raising money for cancer charities as part of my bid to lose a further two stones (c. 15kg). If you would like to donate please go to my charity page here.
I’ve always felt that I have things to live for, but those feeling have certainly become more vivid and focussed over more recent years. But I can quite understand that the responsibilities and pressure that come with fatherhood can lead to feelings of becoming overwhelmed, and I have certainly been there in the past. What has helped has been space for reflection, of developing a better understanding of who I am and what makes me tick. It has helped me lose weight, and it has helped me find a better balance to my life. A life that I very much hope has plenty more living in it.
Find out more about me and my approach to coaching here.