Two significant days roll into one today. It’s Father’s Day, of course, and Mr Boo’s due date anniversary. He is one year corrected now (Boo, that is). There’s no more hiding behind ‘he’s not yet one’ any more. I’ve done that a lot. Mainly to make others feel better. But he’s come so far. We’ve all come so far.
This time last year Boo had been home from hospital for 5 weeks, having spent 6 weeks in two NICUs. He was 35 weeks gestation. You could almost feel the happiness and gratitude in the air as you stamped your feet on the welcome mat at chez Boo (once you’d used a hand sanitizer, of course). He’d survived. He was home. We were all together.
But the happiness was tinged with fear over Boo’s future. I knew he wasn’t going to be unscathed. I just knew. From day 1. As I wept, shook with fear and wrung my hands, Boo’s Dad, The Grumposaur, told me it would be OK, that he wouldn’t worry about problems until he knew for sure they existed. This wasn’t just for my benefit. I think he genuinely didn’t worry at that point.
But now, even without the official diagnosis that should come in the next few weeks, it’s clear there’s a lot to worry about. Our Boo is very different from the neurotypical child we imagined we’d have. He can’t roll or sit independently yet. He’s unlikely to crawl and who knows if he’ll ever walk. He isn’t going to be in the 2028 Olympic velodrome, Grumposaur, at least not in the mainstream games.
We’ve travelled a long way over the past 12 months, The Grumposaur and I. Further, I think, than we have had to in the nearly 19 years (yes, I said 19 years) we have been together. But we’ve both ended up somewhere different.
Several people have likened the process of coming to terms with a child’s disability to the grieving process. If it is, then I’ve skipped some stages (denial and anger) and finally moved through to acceptance, although guilt still haunts me. But The Grumposaur is not in the same place. I hate to see the anger that consumes him; I hate to see him so sad. He’s not in denial any more, but sometimes I wish for his sake that he was.
As a feminist and as a Mum, I don’t think your child’s gender should or does make any difference to your feelings to them. I know The Grumposaur doesn’t love Boo any more than his sister. But I also know it hurts him so very much because it is his son that has been affected in this way. That he won’t lead the active life his Dad had imagined for him, not in quite the same way, at least.
I wish The Grumposaur and I were on the same page in the grieving stakes. But we’re not. And it’s hard. Really hard. And sometimes we play at rather than live happy families. But mostly I just want to take the pain away from him, to say the things he wants me say (I honestly don’t know what they are any more – after nearly 19 years I don’t know what to say to my best friend – it sucks!). I wish I could tell him about this blog. But I don’t think now is the right time. One day. Maybe.
What I want to say to him this Father’s Day is that we all love him very much. Sissyboo has always been a Mummy’s girl, but she doesn’t him any the less for that. When she gets over the fake anger, she loves it when I am home late from work so she can have a Daddy and Sissyboo party. She thinks his cycling is amazing and loves that the two of them are swimming buddies. Playing animal, vegetable, mineral with him before I read her her last story at night is a highlight of her day.
And Boo? Well he just adores his Dad. When Boo cranes his neck back to look up at him (his Dad’s well over 6 foot) he has a look of real awe. He finds his Dad completely hilarious and a very comfy cushion. I know they will be very close. I know their relationship will be not just rock solid but something really special. I can already see it. I love seeing it.
We have so much uncertainty in our lives. And goodness that hurts sometimes. But this I do know. The Boos and I love their Dad so much and we are so proud of him. And this Father’s Day we will celebrate this and Boo’s unbirthday simultaneously.
We’ve come such a long way and we have a hell of a lot further to go. But, we’ll get there. I know we will. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we are stronger now than we’ve ever been.
So Happy Father’s Day, Grumposaur! And here’s to him and Boo riding tandem round Herne Hill one day. I’m telling you, it’ll happen. Just you wait and see.