Monday, January 31, 2011

Unconditional Love

I knew the moment I laid eyes on him he was mine. His tiny four year old face stared at me momentarily before he hid himself in his Mother’s coat.

“He’s shy,” she told me.

“No problem,” I replied, shuffling uncomfortably.

It was not too long later than the confirmation I knew I would get came through.

“He’s mine,” I told my sister.

“No shit!” she responded, “He’s your double.”

That night, the first night I knew for sure that my inclinations were right and he really was mine, I sat in a hotel room with Anje and the little one. I sat on the floor facing her and leaning against the bed he slept on. I just watched him breathing in and out, watched his little nose crinkle up and I cried.

“In all the time we dated I never saw you cry,” she said to me.

“I’m not crying!”

“Liar,” she said.

“He’s just so.... perfect,” I said. “He’s so...” And I couldn’t find the word. I couldn’t find the word to finish that sentence. I don’t think there is a word to verbalise the feeling of your heart popping out of your chest in excitement or every happy emotion you have waited for expelling itself all at the same time. There’s no one single word to say how incredibly happy I felt at that point. So she interrupted.

“I’m sorry I kept this from you for so long.”

“Let’s forget about that. If I hold grudges the only person who will get hurt is him.”

And when I looked at his little hands and feet and his sleeping eyes I knew that I would do anything in my power to stop him from feeling any pain.

Unconditional love. I would have wrapped up the moon for him – I still would.

One day he will be old enough to really demand the full story about why I wasn’t around in those first four years – about why his life started in Russia. And I will tell him the truth when he’s old enough. But I will remind him all the same that anything his Mother did was with his best interests at heart, that she loved him as much as I do.

And she really did.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


It’s just over 3 months until I become Chloe’s husband. Preparations are well underway. Flights and accommodation booked for our close family and friends (and us of course), arrangements made for my sister to look after my son for the week and a half after the wedding so Chloe and I can stay on in Cuba for our honeymoon, Chloe has a dress (which I am absolutely forbidden from asking any questions about)....

There’s still a surprising amount to do though. We have to get my parents’ wedding rings adjusted (well, my Mother’s at least) and Chloe has a long list of things related to bridesmaids dresses and similar. I don’t ask questions lol.

My next job is a tux for myself, for my best man and for my little pageboys. My son and nephew are going to be pageboys. My nephew will turn two just a few weeks before I marry and he will be a dapper little dude in his mini-tux.

The fact there is so much to do seems to make the time just fly. It only seems like two minutes ago that I got down on my knee by a freezing, cold, wet canal side and asked her to marry me.

Exciting times.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love me at my Lowest

There’s a certain strength in love that means you find yourself able to overcome almost anything with the help of that special someone.

My Mother always told me that someone who could love me at my lowest deserved me at my best. It was another “mum-ism” that I just brushed off. But I am inclined now to truly agree. If someone gives you their love when you’re in a pretty low place, it makes you want to be in a better place for them. It makes you want to fight to get back on top. That said, I truly feel like Chloe has given me so much of the strength I’ve found in recent months.

I never believed in an unconditional romantic love. Unconditional parental or sibling love, sure. But I’ve always struggled to believe that romantic love could possibly ever truly be unconditional. Until Chloe. I know my feelings for her will not fade and I know that if we have a bad day, it will never bring our relationship into question. She feels the same and the fact I know she feels the same without ever needing to question is the reason that I know she and I belong together.

I’ve been in love twice in my life. I think I’m lucky. Some people are never in love at all. But I’ve had the opportunity to experience two beautiful loves. The first transitioned, eventually, to a friendship that was beautiful in its own right. I did not know I loved her romantically until... well... until it was too late. But she knew, I think, by the time she had to leave this world.

And then Chloe, about whom I write so much that you are probably sick of her name. But this is the love that will last my lifetime.

For loving me at my lowest, Chloe, and I’ll always strive to be my best.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Little Boy, Big Smile

There is nothing quite as good for the soul as spending some time with a happy child. And this post is dedicated to my little boy.

This is a lad who’s been through a lot but is finally at his “happy place,” and delights in the world once again.

He’s taken a real interest in what I do for a living – SEO and other online marketing related tasks. After giving him a very basic talk about what the point in SEO is, what it does and why it’s good if your website is top of the pile, he was quite interested as to how exactly it was done. He’ll ask questions and I’ll find a way to explain it in a way I think he will get. He has no qualms telling me if he doesn’t understand;

“What does that even mean, Dad? Is that even English?”

It’s with inspiration from him that I’m working on a “real beginner’s guide,” to SEO techniques – tried, tested and proven. That website will be live, I hope, in about a week and I will of course post a link. The focus will be on non-commercial sites really – aimed at bloggers or freelancers who want their sites to appear for some of the terms related to their topic matter.

It’s not just my work that he’s interested in though. He’s taken a real shine to writing. I write compulsively. Every single day. I also take breaks where possible to go up to the village of Haworth in Yorkshire to sit on the moors and write. This was something I used to try and do alone but I am inviting my son and Fiancee to come with me when I go this weekend. My son has taken to writing stories and poems a lot. He loves it and I think he will really benefit from the inspiration you invariably get from simply immersing yourself in the open air and taking in some of that good old nature stuff. Chloe also writes, albeit not so much fiction. She writes some great, thought provoking content though and is potentially up for a regular slot for a big technology column (more to come on that as we hear it). So it will do us all the world of good – me, my Fiancee, our boy and of course our two absolutely insane dogs.

But I am going off topic. Basically, on top of his interest in my work, in writing and so on... my little one has found himself particularly loving football and taking an interest in tennis again (he went off it for a while despite a clear talent). He’s got so much more energy about him these days. He’s very excitable. And it really makes my heart leap from my chest to watch him laugh his way through life just like any boy of 7 should be doing.

I like it this way, where his biggest “ouch,” is a grazed knee acquired from skidding across gravel in his (now ruined) school pants. Ouches like that can be fixed with a bit of TLC.... and what I am coming to learn is that ouches of the heart can be, if not fixed, stitched up at least, with a bit of time, a lot of love and an open approach.

So here’s to my son, my ‘mini-me’ (as so many call him), my raison d’ĂȘtre, the source of my smiles.... Seek happiness, son, and you will find it. Be open to being happy, and you will be.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cuban Promise

As I look into thine eyes
Beneath those clear blue Cuban skies
I'll promise thee eternity,
A life of love and smiles with me.

I'll promise you my heart and soul,
Delivered not in part, but whole,
I'll love thee till my days do end,
My soul mate, lover, wife and friend

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"I Don't Want to See You Anymore"

“I don’t want to see you anymore.”

I heard that line yesterday evening and it’s the first time in my life I have been HAPPY to hear it! Nope, it wasn’t from a loved one, but from my counsellor.

“You’re doing absolutely fine. Honestly, I don’t feel that you need a weekly session like this. I almost feel like you’re counselling me now,” she laughed. “You know where we are if anything changes, but you’re doing great.”

We’re going to have a closing session next week and a follow up a month later to make sure all is well. But that’s it.

I feel incredibly relieved. I took the decision to start a programme of counselling in 2010 because I needed to face up to grief I had ignored for many years. Ignoring it meant that every single time something else went wrong, I would bottle up some more and it surfaced as anger and pushing people away. That’s not something I wanted my little boy to replicate, so I decided to go to the pros and get some help with dealing with this stuff.

The first 6 or so sessions were agonising to be honest (as I'd been warned they would be, actually). Talking with a complete stranger about things you don’t even feel comfortable thinking about alone is a really painful experience. Dealing with emotions that are traditionally “not manly,” and finding a way to communicate it is really surprisingly difficult. Those opening six sessions opened so many floodgates for me and I seriously considered quitting during those weeks. But I stuck with it and I’ve essentially learned how to handle emotion. It sounds really bizarre to say that. Some people are just automatically good at doing so and for me it was a frikkin difficult thing to learn and incredibly frustrating. But the change in me has been incredible and noted by all of my friends and family. Most importantly, my son communicates his feelings to me more than he did before. I wasn’t expecting that but apparently, children can read our emotions better than we can sometimes and as soon as I started dealing with my own shit, I was obviously giving off a much more open vibe to him. He talks to me very comfortably about how he feels about his Mother or anything else that upsets him, as well as being much more chatty in general.

2010 was a really awful year. As well as my son coming to terms with the loss of his Mother in 2009, I lost a very close friend as well and there was a lot of transition, upset, anger and change on a personal level for me. I was a complete asshole in many ways during the year. It was not my finest year, to say the least.

By the end of the year though, I was feeling like I’d walked a hideous path and finally arrived at an amazing destination. And this year is starting very well. It will arguably be the biggest year in my life. I am getting married in 4 months, moving to a very “family home” type property outside of the city next month and my baby sister is getting married too. It’s a big year.

So today, I’m all smiles. And long may it last.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Do People Break Up?

The eternal question, right? And that’s what my seven year old presented me with at 7 o clock this morning.

No sooner had he sat up in his bed and rubbed his eyes had he said,

“Why do people break up?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Auntie Stacey and Carlos broke up for a while didn’t they? And you and my mum broke up didn’t you? And my friend’s Mum and Dad are breaking up. Loads of people break up!”

“Sometimes it just doesn’t work out like it should. Or like you want it to,” I told him.

“Why?” his response... I should have expected that.

“Lots of reasons. Sometimes people change or decide they want different things. Like your Mum wanted to be in Russia and I wanted to be in England. And Carlos wanted to be in Brazil but Auntie Stacey wanted to be in England, for example.”

He pondered it and said nothing for a few minutes. As we ate breakfast he then asked,

“Well what about my friend’s Mum and Dad. None of them want to live in Brazil or Russia. They both live here.”

“It’s not always where people want to live. Sometimes people just don’t love people anymore. Or they decide they want to do different things or be with a different type of person. Sometimes they fight and that makes them split up.”

“Well,” he told me, “When I am grown up I’m going to find someone who will always love me and then I won’t have to break up will I?”

I smiled. Children have the most beautiful dreams.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Dreamt of You

I dreamt of you last night,
Of the moment you arrive
And lie in my arms
For the first time.

I dreamt of that sensation,
Elation and fear,
Unconditional and instant love.

I dreamt of him looking at you
At your tiny little face
And him knowing too
That he, your brother,
Will look after you.

We'll all look after you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parenting is Nothing to do with Biology!

Blood does not make a parent.

That probably seems like the most obvious statement in the world to make, right? But you would be surprised just how many people tend to devalue or overlook Chloe's role in my son's life just because she is not his biological Mother.

What the fuck does DNA matter?

My son's biological Mother was a doting, wonderful and very loving Mother. The boy was her life. But we unfortunately lost her in 2009. That's not to say Chloe would ever replace his Mother. Never. But he is her son. And no, not because they share any genes, but because, if not me, then it is her he goes to seeking comfort. It's her he goes to with questions or silly jokes he heard at school, or her whose lap he crawls into for a cuddle in front of the TV. He feels like she is his Mother.

He started calling her "Mum," quite recently, not at the expense of his biological Mum's memoriy, though. She too remains "Mum," to him. We didn't push this move on him or even encourage it. We left him to his own choices to establish for himself the way he wanted to refer to Chloe and the role he wanted to offer her in his life, to an extent. He invited her in and after months and months of referring to her "Chloe," just suddenly started calling her "Mum" occasionally... then more frequently until now, where it's more unusla for him to NOT call her "Mum."

But people have not all been supportive or even happy about it. Why? Because of biology.

Once married, Chloe and I (and very much with my boy's approval) will set the wheels in motion for CHloe to adopt my son. I want her to have legal guardianship rights and she wants the responsibilities that come with that.

So screw the opinions of people who devalue the role of step parents. You know what a parent is to me? It's someone who will unconditionally love a child, who will eternally support and encourage a child, who adds to a child's knowledge, experiences, who cleans up the spilled milk and spilled tears and delights in every smile that child enjoys.

I know a few amazing step parents. And this is for Chloe and for them too.

You guys are inspiring to me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For My Mother

I wrote this on Sunday...which marked 5 years since I lost my Mother. Sometimes it just helps to brain dump. And sometimes it helps for those closest to us to have access to those brain dumps. This is for those people :)

Today marks 5 years since we lost you. Half a decade. 5 years of change, transition....

When you took your last breaths, all that was on your mind was your children. Would we be ok. Would I look after my little sister? Would she look after me? Would we be damaged, as people, losing both our parents?

I know how it hurt you to leave and not for yourself. For us. You believed fully in your heart that you were headed to a Heaven where you would be reunited with my Father, the love of your life, your soulmate. I hope you were right.

"Look after her," you said to me as my sister stood next to me a coulpe of days after you told us you were to die.

"Look after him," you then went on to say to her.

You made some accurate observations about us both. You predicted things for our future that I thought were just insane back then but that all seem to be coming to fruition.

I miss you just as much today as I missed you on the very first morning that I woke up to a world without you, Mum. I'm a self-confessed Mother's boy and I am actually quite proud of it. Just because you're no longer here doesn't mean that changes.

I'm still lost without you, but I manage much better these days to navigate my way around. I even smile :) I want YOU to know that I am HAPPY. It took a long time. But I was given some wonderful gifts in the years following your death. A son and, more recently, a wife-to-be.

I find myself saying things you said to me to your Grandson. You'd love him. He's cheeky, clever and very sweet. And beneath that cheeky (almost cocky) facade of his, is a perfect little gentleman who is more sensitive than he really knows how to deal with yet. He's got some front, that's for sure. But he's just a baby. And when the day is done and he's got his PJs on, it's "snuggles on the couch time." Whenh e wakes from a bad dream, he's just a tiny little boy seeking comfort. Despite that (a little bit too) smart head on his shoulders, he is a baby. No amount of intelligence can equip him to deal with what he's been through. But I've drawn on experience of my own and putting myself in his little tiny shoes has made it all the easier for me to be able to understand what he is going through.

He was the same age when he lost his Mother as I was when we lost Dad. Although I chose to forget I even remembered for many years, I dug deep and found those memories and used them to help him. We talk candidly and openly now about you, about Anje and about my Dad. He has a picture of you in his bedroom and calls you his "Pretty Nanna." It's adorable. I've never been one to believe in an afterlife, but he knows things about you that I have never told him and tells me tales of night time visitors that don't scare him. I can never know how much of that is his imagination or how much of it is really true. Do you hold is hand in the night time?

And the other big announcement in my life is my wedding in May. You'd be so proud. You met Chloe once, Mum. When I was at University. I may even have intropduced her as my "buddy," or something similar. But she made an impression on you as I recall you telling me later, "She would be a nice girlfriend Adam. Pretty girl, eloquent and an honest smile."

"Chloe has a GIRLfriend, Mum," I told you. And we said nothing more on the matter.

Well, times change and she is indeed a wonderful Fiancee and will be a more wonderful wife. She's a great Mother to your Grandson and I know I will never want anyone else as long as I breathe. We're talking about children (perhaps sooner rather than later). We're moving out of the city at the end of February and back out of town to a beautiful house with plenty of space and huge garden. It's a bit out of the way of the office, but it's beautiful and just what the little one needs.

And you will be pleased to know that I am indeed looking after Stacey. Her little one is almost 2. Where did that time go? He's a funny little guy and looks just like her. We're a family. We do family things and a weekly dinner, just as I know you would have wanted. And you're in our hearts, every single day, in every step we take, every word we say and in every thought that crosses our mind.

I miss you, Mum.

Always your doting son,

Friday, January 7, 2011


Stories haven't always been sad. The ones you read when you were a kid were never sad, I bet. Or at least they would never have ended sadly.

I remember reading one about a dog. I was six or so. A few pages in the dog went missing and the children who owned the dog were heart broken. It's amazing how few words in giant typeset are required to explain heartbreak to a child. Or perhaps it was the cartoonish images that conveyed it. But whatever. By page ten the dog was home and chewing on a bone in the company of the happiest children in the world and I closed the book smiling. I reread it more times than I can recall because I wanted to go on the same journey over and over.

I wanted to feel sad but only so that I would experience that incredible feeling of happiness at the end. And at the end of the book, nothing is any different than it is at the beginning. The children have their dog. But having lost their dog briefly that "normal" situation of having him again seems so much happier than it did at the beginning.

It's the human condition, I suppose. You have to experience life without something to know what life with it is what really makes you happy. I'm not talking about specific people. I'm talking about situations or feelings.

Like you never really appreciate NOT having a headache until you get one and then get rid of it.... I'm making no sense am I?

What I suppose this post has been a long way around saying is that I never knew I was happiest in a relationship until I lost one that meant something. I'm now the happiest I have ever been and that can largely be attributed to my son, my family and my fiancee.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Back into Routine....

I didn't sleep last night. Not much anyway. It was 3:30am last time I checked the time and I was up at 6. So I'm feeling somewhat the worse for wear though a caffeine overdose is helping.

I wasn't thinking about anything or worrying about anything in particular. I'm just out of routine having been out of the office for almost 2 weeks. It's good to get back into routine, as even my son concurred when I got him up for his first day back at school this morning.

"Rise and shine, Mister," I said, perching myself on the end of his bed. "It's snowed again!"

Sure enough he darted out of his bed to the window to see the snow damage. Not enough to be off school but enough that he could make snowballs on his way to school.

"I'm glad I am going back to school," he told me. "I've missed my friends."

I took him in myself this morning and watched him race into the company of his buddies as if he had not seen them in years.

I remember how cool it felt to see your mates for the first time again after school holidays.

He's had an exciting break. Christmas, New Year, Uncle Craigy's wedding and his own birthday. It's been amazing. He was a pageboy at the wedding and I was best man. On the morning of the wedding as we "tuxed up," he said,

"We look good, Dad."

He loves to wear a suit or tux.... but as expected, there were holes in the knees by the end of the day as he took it upon himself to go tree climbing in said tux!

Oh well... I remember being there too!

So it has been an eventful couple of weeks for both me and my boy. And now, back into routine. It's going to be a busy year....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

I have had the most wonderful Christmas and New Year. It’s almost over, which is sad, though we still have our Argentine and Russian dates to mark on the evenings of 6th and 7th respectively.

I go back to the office Tuesday (4th) and my little boy (now 7!) goes back to school the same day.
We enjoyed a really amazing family festive season. He got sad a little on Christmas morning and asked if we could go to his Mother’s memorial tree, which we did. Turns out he just wanted to say “Merry Christmas,” to her and after that he was fine. This year provided such a wonderful festive season that I could actually cry (yep, man point loss) thinking about it again. I’ve never felt happiness like I’m feeling it now.

Last night, before we left for our New Year meal (we had a family New Year too) my son came into mine and Chloe’s room asking,

“Dad, Mum... do I have to wear my shoes or can I wear my trainers?”

It was a simple question. But “Dad, Mum,” was something he’s never really put in a sentence like that referring to me and Chloe. I looked at her for some sort of instant reaction to find out whether she was comfortable with this. I had no need to doubt. She answered his question before I could:

“You should really wear your shoes with your smart pants, sweetheart.”

“Ok thanks! I thought so too.” And he trotted out. 

Then she cried. Happy tears, granted, but she cried. It was a pretty moving moment and we have both decided not to make a fuss of with our son. He’s obviously made a decision in his mind and we’re going to let it be, happily. He continued to refer to her as “Mum,” through the night for the most part and that has continued today. Today, she and him have gone bowling while my sister and I made some time for our Mother. We spent a couple of hours in the cemetery this afternoon. 

I don’t make resolutions at New Year. I just never have. Though this year I made something of a “to do,” and a “not to do” list, which I suppose kind of counts.

  • -          Get married (of course)!
  • -          Give my sister away ( not in a mean way, she is getting married too)
  • -          Spend at least one weekend per month away with my Fiancee and my son

I have also decided to continue with my “limited online personal time” approach of the latter weeks of 2010. I decided, given how much time my business requires me to spent on the Internet in the office, that my personal time would not be eaten up by it. I have not logged in to Second Life in weeks, I let the freebie store parcel go... I never keep up with my SL blog. I have it on its own domain,,  with a good number of subscribers and a great history. But I don’t use it anymore. I am thinking I might donate the domain to an institution that does charitable work in Second Life, as it gets thousands and thousands of visits a week through searches for Second Life related things, so would be good for hosting a website of an organisation like that. Will look into that.

I will continue with this blog, now and again, but for the most part I think “down time,” from the Internet is doing me the world of good. And so, while it’s working, I’m sticking with it.

I hope you had an amazing and wonderful  Christmas and New Year and I hope all of your dreams and wishes for the coming 12 months are realised.

I raise a glass for you all.

Happy New Year.