It is probably THE defining moment in life – when you look down into the face of your newborn baby for the first time, your eyes meet, you see the spark of new life and you both change forever.
It is the embodiment of happiness.
Suddenly you truly understand what it means to REALLY love another person to the extent that you would give your life for them.
I had never been more in love with nor more proud of my wife than when she concluded our miracle and our baby was born,
This made our business successes, experiences and other achievements seem trivial.
It was truly life’s crowning glory.
It was bathed in a sort of golden light and smiling gentility, a magic which lasted all of…….a few hours.
And then the darkness inevitably crawled in.
The first barrage came in the form of some unpleasantness with the over-worked nursing staff.
Then the inevitable issues with the relatives squabbling and resurrecting old jealousies and latent issues prompted, ironically, by our good news.
Yet we managed to keep the light on in our bubble.
Then the dark specter of post natal depression flew down like a vulture, from nowhere.
But still we pressed on, for months, a couple of years, until, somehow, the selfishness of others and the pressure of holding it all back became too much and, as painful as it is to admit it, we just lost our way.
Despite torturous separation, we tried gently blowing at the still-glowing embers at first and a little warmth remained.
But whenever it promised to flicker back into the light of love we recognised, there was always someone waiting in the shadows with a suffocating self-serving agenda to snatch and claw at the happy.
So eventually, after too many months of being torn apart, for the first time ever, we did what we were advised to do and turned to a higher power for help. No, not a deity, but something much more powerful, it seems.
We looked to a supportive elder to help us restore wisdom to an emotional process, to help us chart a fair and righteous path for our children.
We consulted a family lawyer.
We placed trust in the guidance and judgement of what we thought was an institution established on the weight of the wisdom of lore.
We mistakenly turned to the family law for help, seeking the support of the family courts to formalise our shared parenting arrangements and enable us to focus on re-building a stable life for the children, working together, albeit apart,
But instead of finding help and support, as Dad, I soon found I had walked into a parent trap where I went overnight from father in the first person to a responsible adult in the third, a number, an applicant on trial with a set of genitals that placed me at a distinct disadvantage, somehow, like a medieval witch on trial for having an extra finger.
Suddenly, despite my professional seniority and clear love for my children, I was no longer co-judge and jury and counsel and mentor of my own life. I was now a lowly beggar pleading with people far less able to assess our private situation, just to spend time with, in effect, my own family.
We had been perfect citizens up to then but were now being placed on trial by strangers deciding whether we were even worthy of association with that which we had loved more than ourselves, our own children. And it was an infuriatingly incompetent process led by well meaning fools, the worst kind, terrifying in its inanity.
Of course, the strangers eventually found in our favour as the love was clear for all to see. But by being forced into having to even ask questions of ourselves, we became “known” to the state machinery and more rights and powers were granted to others than to me.
The process had reduced me from father, from parent and primary guardian to visitor, a spectator in the play I had co-written, produced, taken joint lead in and even directed this far.
When we first met, my baby, I vowed I would do anything for you.
For you became my soul in my arms, you were and are, my life
As any good dad would, I even promised I would give up that life for you should you so need me to.
But my mistake was believing that any threat to your well being would come from the outside, that it would first growl at then attack the door. Yet when it came for us, it was a wolf, not disguised as a lamb but as a wise institution claiming to offer help and justice during times of dire need. So we opened the door……
You and I enjoyed ten long Summers.
But to earn that time, that wolf pack and I fought tooth and claw ten winters long. Many was the time they had me on my knees, but every time I got back up.
Then one day, tired, hurt and frustrated, the wolves stopped attacking me. For wolves are brave, but they are mostly cunning and shrewd and learn from each other.
Instead of coming at me, the wolf took you by the throat instead and threatened more harm if I didn’t let it steal you away.
A choice that it knew was no choice for me.
Upon hearing your words “Daddy they’re hurting you by hurting me” the wolves made me surrender my life by surrendering you.
Now all we have left of that first light is memories and the tiniest of embers that barely keeps hope alive.
They will no doubt try to take that too.
But no matter what they do to me, our light will live on in you.*
*blog inspired by the painful memories resurrected by watching this beautiful moment on twitter