Being a father with MS

Fri 18 June 2021

What does Father’s Day mean to me?  Once upon a time it was quite a sanguine affair which has long-since evolved and bonded a relationship between myself and my son.

In his 26 years, all Josh ever knew was that his dad had MS. It was the soundbite he grew up with as a reason why dad could not do with him what other dads did with their sons.

But he was unfazed by the domestic status quo of an unchanging situation. From an early age, my wife and I explained to him in simplistic terms about the restrictions of living with MS as a family, which progressed into a more detailed vindication of my shortcomings as dad the older he got.

Sharing information on a need-to-know basis

As MS progressed through the years so did his understanding, albeit in a way that never robbed him of his childhood. My MS was never going to be something he had to carry around with him – that was our intention. But as he grew older so did his understanding of the illness, only feeling hurt if we excluded him from the conversation.

Parenthood is all about sharing information on a need-to-know basis, but Josh always seemed to be ahead of the curve. Growing up in the millennial-age with information at his fingertips and a click of a mouse was how, before his teens, Josh saw, amongst other MS-related anomalies, that my right side was where I was weakest. So he set about devising cognitive exercises for me.  

Taking the sting out of the MS tail

In addition, Josh was always finding the funny to lighten the MS ambience. Never one for MS gloom, there have been occasions where seeing me struggle with my centre of gravity, he rushes behind to stabilise me before starting a two-man conga. All silly of course but sometimes frivolity is all it needs to take the sting out of the MS tail.

Now Father’s Day on Sunday will mean another celebration. Josh will be here with his girlfriend, and if the good weather continues, he will be in charge of the barbecue. But writing this blog has given me pause for thought. Despite my MS, Father’s Day is my day to raise a glass to my son who has selflessly grown up in the shadow of dad’s illness with understanding, fortitude, and love.  

This is what Father’s Day means to me.

Martin is an MS blogger and influencer. You can read more of his blogs at