One to Many

In this blog post I talk about how my relationship to my sons feels like data modeling. I don’t know why I felt like writing about this, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I wrote it down.

I don’t cover my wife’s relationships’ with our sons, but rest assured she’s very much a part of everything I write about below.


I knew having a kid would change my life. But, I was surprised by the impact of that change. Jasper was born in 2017. He was an easy baby and he still took up most of my free time.

It’s a cliche, but I think it’s worth repeating: Most people who don’t have kids don’t understand what it means to be busy.

I thought I was busy because I had a job, a marriage, and career goals that kept me working in the evenings. I felt like I had very little free time. After Jasper was born, I was lucky to have an hour a day of free time. Babies need to be fed, changed, bathed, and held. Most of my “free time” was taken up replying to emails, booking appointments, and trying to plan out a future.

I’m trying to stress how much time Jasper took in my life not because I wear it as a badge of honour, but because I want to explain that once he was born he took up a huge part of my life.

One to one

In data modeling, a one to one relationship is when one entity is related to exactly one other entity. A common example is a profile picture. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you get to choose a profile picture. The user (you) has one profile picture. The profile picture has one owner (you). One to one. If someone says they like your profile picture, you don’t need to ask which one. You only have one. You can only have one.

When Jasper was born, I had a one to one relationship with him. He took up a lot of my life, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Before going for a walk, I would make sure to get my son ready. At lunch time, I’d make sure he had food. When someone asked how old my son was, I could answer quickly because the answer was carved into my brain.

Quickly it became difficult to imagine a life without Jasper, and I don’t mean this is poetically. Jasper’s constant presence changed how I thought about everything. For example, if I thought about taking a trip to Korea, my brain instantly demanded that I think about how I could do this with Jasper. Would he be ok on the plane? What would he eat? How could I take him in a taxi? My mind has been forever changed.

One to many

In data modeling, a one to many relationship is when one entity is related to one or more other entities. A common example is a blog post. An author has many (1+) blog posts. It’s not enough to tell an author that you like their blog post. You have to tell them which one.

Walter, my second son, was born this year, 2021.

It’s a cliche, but I think it’s worth repeating: Most people who only have one kid don’t understand what it means to be busy.

Going from zero kids to one kid is a much bigger shift that one kid to two. But going from one kid to two presented problems I didn’t anticipate.

The first time I took Walter to the pediatrician, I couldn’t remember his birthday. For 3 years the answer to “when was your son born?” was always the same. Now it wasn’t.

Driving home from the pediatrician, talking on the phone to my wife, she said that Jasper, my first son was doing fine. When I heard this, my brain totally forgot I had another son in the car. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s like Jasper had lodged himself in my brain and now Walter was having to fight to get in.

But, slowly, Walter has gotten in. Quickly it has become difficult to imagine a life without Walter. When my wife, Julie, takes Walter somewhere and I’m left with only Jasper, it feels like something is missing.

One to many polymorphic

In data modeling, a one to many polymorphic relationship is when one entity is related to one or more other entities, but the other entities are not homogenous. An example of this are comments on blog posts. Some comments are written by people, but other comments are written by the blog software itself. So, while the comments behave the same way most of the time (they can be read, edited, deleted), they have significant differences. You can send an email to a commenter who is a person, but you can’t send an email to a commenter who is just the blog software.

Just when I was getting used to having a one to many relationship with my sons, we got a phone call. Walter has a genetic condition called MCADD. This means he can’t use fat as calories. He can still have a normal life, but we/he need to be careful, especially in the first years of his life.

I’m sure eventually I would have clued in to the fact that my sons were different, but being told by a doctor that I can’t even feed them the same way was a wake up call.

So, now I have many (2) sons. In some ways I can treat them the same, and in others I can’t. I’m excited to revisit this post in a year’s time and see how much has changed.