I have returned to Singapore from London and I am still abuzz with the thrill of being in London for the birth of the Royal Baby. As a result I am therefore more attuned to babies than I would normally be. I am more aware of their presence. They seem to be everywhere. I have become a little obsessed with the Royal Baby and I don't know why.
This both worries and alarms me.
I was thinking only a moment ago that if the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William were all suddenly tragically lost - say in a plane crash or something - then the Royal Baby would be the King of England. There would be a baby Monarch. King George. I have never before been an active Royalist and I should not be having such thoughts. It is un-Australian but I can't help it. The birth of the Royal baby while I was in London has affected me.
It is a little disturbing.
Since returning to Singapore I have noticed that there are many blokes about my age who have young children or babies and in some instances both. Some of these men are older than me. Considerably older. Many of these old fathers of young children are the English. The mothers of the children are typically local girls who appear to be perhaps half the age of their husbands.
I cast no judgment here.
I offer kudos.
If it is required.
Personally though I think this is madness. This is simply my opinion but what were you thinking? What were you drinking? Parenthood is beautiful but it is very hard work. It is best started when one is in their twenties so that the worst bits are over by your forties.
Your early fifties at the latest.
Parenting is energy sapping for the first twenty years of each child's life. That is two decades - which is a hell of a long time. The middle and later bits are the hardest. The teenage years.
Being a parent requires a great deal of vim and verve and vivacity.
Verily I say.
The rearing of our children is a demanding task. It is one that is continuous and requires the utmost in perseverance and patience and persistence. It requires devout dedication. The journey is undoubtedly a joyful one but it can often be a bumpy ride. Who am I kidding? It is a very bumpy ride. There are highs and lows and peaks and troughs and ebbs and flows. Parenthood is a bond that demands protection, safety, responsibility and happiness. Happiness most of all. From birth until forever.
Parenthood is an enormous responsibility but It is also bloody hard work.
Much of the time.
These older-fathers-with-young-children will be in their sixties and seventies when the-children-they-have-now are in their teenage years. The teenage years are the nightmare years. It could well kill them. I know this for I am a parent. I am the sire of two children - a male and a female and I have survived two terms of teen-hood.
I do not think that I could deal with being a father of a teenager in my seventies. I would not have the energy required for the proper fathering of toddlers in my fifties or sixties. It could most certainly kill me.
Don't get me wrong. I like children and I love my own. I get and embrace and live the concept of unconditional love and I fed on it's necessity as a father during the rearing process.
I feed on it still.
My baby-who-is-not-a-baby daughter is nearly eighteen. She is in her final year of school and she is sensible and flourishing and she is beautiful. She devours learning. She is confident and optimistic and she is a wonderful young adult.
She wasn't always though.
She was tough in her teens.
Her mood stages were many and varied and they were often traumatic and tragic. Emotions and perspective magnify a hundred fold during throughout the teenage years. Rationality is impotent and reason is non existent. Some of my baby girl's moods were hilarious. Most were highly emotional and many were challenging. Very challenging. We got through them though.
However I still worry about her and I will always worry for her. I worry for both my children and all of my nephews and nieces too. Anguish is part of being a parent and it is a part of being a family too. It sits aside those other wondrous parental emotions of joy and pride and astonishment and tenderness and adoration too - and love of course.
Worry is a shadow that is a component of the covenant of unconditional love.
We parents are allowed to do it and we should worry - even when our kids are all grown up.
It is a big and sometimes bad world out there.
I worry a lot.
The male fruit of my loins was much more challenging in his teens than was his sister. I will see him next week as I am flying back to Australia for his twenty first birthday. My boy is now a man. Turning twenty one is a milestone age in Australia as it is in many Western countries and I am going home for the occasion.
I would not miss it.
It was excellent swimming and surfing and doing sport with my son when he was growing up. We reveled and romped a lot and spent much of our time outdoors - mostly on the beach. We also played basketball and tennis and kicked footballs around. The normal things that dads do with their sons.
I could not imagine doing any of that in my sixties or seventies.
I would be physically incapable.
My son chose a different form of education than his sister. His was a less formal one. He trod a different path. He challenged and rebelled and he ran away and he got lost. He was constantly pushing the boundaries in his teenage years and he sometimes crossed them. He tore down fences. He was Art and Creativity and later Risk and Danger. He was attracted to Danger.
He was perhaps addicted to it.
He was angry and he was bitter for a time too for no apparent reason. He was irrational and he was inconsolable and there was a wildness about him that we could not tame. Then he ran away again for a long time. He vanished and we didn't know where he was or if we were going to get him back. For parents this is something that is beyond fear. We think that there are limits to the dimensions of terror but the dread of losing your child is an endless fall into chasm of blackness. It is a plunge into an abyss. To succumb to such despair and hopelessness and helplessness is paralyzing. We felt that we were losing bits of ourselves.
My son told me recently that he thought that he was looking for himself during this dark stage of his teens and I got what he was saying. I understood and felt his explanation. I had behaved similarly myself when I was his age. I strayed as well and I still occasionally do. In exploration there is often peril. Some of us need the tonic of wildness. It is a craving.
It is a yearning.
My son is now starting to find his place in the world. He is traveling. He works with plants and he has developed a love for the Earth. He has established a connection. He loves animals and music and the mountains of Nepal. Witnessing his growth and maturation from a boy to a man is one of those joyous bits of being a parent - but my son caused his mother and me a lot of worry back then.
In his teenage years.
There was Grief and Pain and Incomprehension and we had many dark days and sleepless nights.
I am not sure if I could manage such experiences again if I was a father of a teenager in my sixties or seventies.