With Lewis’s thirteenth birthday last week and Harry’s third birthday next month, I have reluctantly accepted the fact that my boys are growing fast. And although, as the youngest, Harry has a way to go before I prepare to let him go, I know that in just a few years time Lewis will be completely independent, forging his own path, and living his own life. And that thought terrifies me!
Last year I wrote a post Things I want my daughters to know, with the intention that one day I would do the same for my boys. And so here they are, the things I want my sons to know.
It’s okay to cry.
Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, nor something to feel ashamed of, it’s a sign that you are strong enough to express your emotions. Whether you’re sad or happy, scared or proud, if you feel a lump in your throat and tears pricking at your eyes, let them out.
It’s harder to take a punch than to throw one, and that one punch could have the most devastating of consequences. If ever there’s a situation where things are getting out of control, if you feel in your gut that things aren’t going to end well, walk away and be the bigger man.
Learn to have fun without alcohol.
The chances are, alcohol will feature in your lives as you grow, from a few pints with the lads after football, all day binges ending in the kebab shop at 5am, a bottle of red after a stressful day in the office. And it’s okay to have a drink every now and then, we all need a blow out sometimes, but don’t let your entire social life revolve around alcohol. Don’t get to a point where you’re only way of letting loose is with the aid of a few beers, don’t let alcohol feature so heavily in your life that ultimately, you forget how to have fun without it.
Talk about it.
Whatever it is, talk about it. Whether it’s a problem at work, an issue with a friend, marriage woes, money trouble, health concerns or family matters, talk about it. Know that there is nothing you could tell me that would shock me, nothing that myself or your Dads haven’t experienced before, nothing that could ever make me think of you differently. Talk about it, to me, your Dads, your wife, your friends, a counsellor, a random stranger at the bus stop, just get it out. Don’t ever let your troubles eat away at you.
There is more to life than being handsome.
You are both, undoubtedly, the most handsome of boys, and I have no doubt at all that you will make the most handsome of men, but there is more to life than looking good. Don’t succumb to the pressure to slog it out in the gym for the biggest muscles or the best six pack, be healthy, take care of yourself, but always remember that beauty lies on the inside.
It’s very easy to retaliate when someone is mean towards you, it’s very easy to say things in anger or to lash out in pain, but don’t. Bite your tongue, hold your head up high and be a good person. Remember that for every word said in “banter”, there is always truth at the heart of it. Be kind, even when it’s really hard to, because the spoken word can never be taken back, and your words can leave a lasting imprint on others, long after you’ve forgotten they were ever said.
It’s okay to be afraid.
The two of you are so fearless right now, so brave and independent, and yet as intrepid as you are, it’s okay to be scared sometimes. No matter how many years pass, or as old as you are, there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are afraid, and if you ever need someone to hold your hand, I’m right here, always.
Women are complicated.
You’ll find this out for yourself over time, but women are complex characters. Sometimes we say yes when we mean no, sometimes we flip out for no apparent reason, sometimes we expect you to be mind readers and give you the silent treatment when you don’t get it right. We can be irrational, hormonal, erratic and down right crazy, you have so much to learn and yet here’s one word of advice – if she ever asks you if she looks fat? Tell her, without a moments hesitation, that she looks wonderful as always.
Love with all your heart.
If you fall in love, do it whole heartedly. There is nothing more wonderful than getting to know someone, falling in love, looking into their eyes and seeing your whole future mapped out. Don’t be afraid of it, don’t build up walls or try to shut off your heart. If you find love, hold onto it and even if you have your heart broken, which you undoubtedly will, learn from it, move on, and love just as fiercely as before.
Learn to make your bed, do the dishes, work the washing machine and put the toilet seat down. Learn to iron your own shirts, change a lightbulb, cook meals from scratch and clean the bathroom. Your future wife will thank you for it.
Be proud of yourself.
Always be proud of who you are and if someone doesn’t like it, let it be their problem and not yours. As long as you stay true to who you are, you will always be content. Be the best version of you that you can be, nobody will ever do it better.
Children are a lifelong commitment.
If you’re not ready for a child, take appropriate precautions. I’m certainly not ready to be a Grandparent for a good few years yet so take your time, wait until your ready, and when you do become a Father, give it everything you’ve got. Until then, be careful!
Look out for your sisters.
Take care of them, look out for them as they grow, give me the low down on their boyfriends and tell your mates to keep their grubby mitts off them! At the same time, watch out for each other, stay in touch, get together often, reminisce about your childhood, remember that there is no bond quite like that of a sibling.
Always visit your Grandparents.
You are so lucky to have three sets of Grandparents between you, all of whom love you extraordinary amounts. Find the time to visit them, take your Nanna flowers, ask your Grandad out to the pub for a pint. Kiss them goodbye, tell them you love them, brighten their day simply by letting them know that you’re thinking of them.
Do what makes you happy.
Do what makes you happy whether it makes others happy or not. Sometimes in life you have to be selfish, even if that means hurting the ones you love. And if you can tell me, hand on your heart, that your choices make you happy, you will always have my full love and support.
Treat women well.
Chivalry is not dead, don’t ever let anyone ever tell you different. Hold that door open, pull out her chair, buy her flowers, hold her hand, tell her she’s beautiful, return her calls, and make her feel like the only woman in the world.
Be a nice guy.
Be a good friend, a good partner, a good colleague, be the man that your friends will call in a crisis or your girlfriends parents will welcome in with open arms, be the kind of guy that people look up to and respect, have others sing your praises when you’re not there. Fast cars and loose women might sound like fun but there is nothing wrong with having a clean license, a reliable motor and a good woman in your arms.
It’s okay to make mistakes.
Never be afraid to tell me if you have made a mistake, whatever it is, whatever you have done, never think that you can’t come to me and ask for help. We’ve all make mistakes, I’ve lost count of mine, and I will never be angry if you do the same. I may be disappointed, and I may not always like what you have done, but I will always be here, fighting your corner, encouraging you to learn from your mistakes and helping you to put them right.
You have always been enough.
I want you to know, that you have always been enough. As much as I love your brother, and as much as I wish that things could have been different, you two, you have always been enough. Never feel that you have lived in Joseph’s shadow, nor that any of my sadness reflects on the way that I feel about the two of you. I waited for such a long time to be able to call you my sons and you have completed my life in a way that I can never put into words.
I will always love you.
I hope that this goes without saying, but I will always love you, my two beautiful boys who have made my life so utterly wonderful. And when you find the love of your life, and you love that person with all that you have, keep a special place in your heart for your old Mum who loves you with every beat of mine.