February 11, 2016

21 years

This time 21 years ago, I was hauled off to the Mercy hospital in the early stages of labour. Not yet twenty-one myself, suddenly it hit me, I was about to become a mother.

I remember telling the midwife that I wanted to go home. I've changed my mind, I said, I don't think I can go through with this.

Having seen this kind of thing before, she gently touched my hand and said, it will all be second nature once your baby is here.

Just before my father had passed away some four months earlier, he told me that having this baby would be the most perfect thing I'd ever do.

Fast forward 21 years and I certainly can't say it has been perfect... I've made a ton of mistakes along the way, but in so many ways I was still a child figuring things out myself.

And yet, despite my fears, and lack of life experience, from the second my baby boy was born, I knew that all I wanted to do was love him.

It's a funny thing how one moment you only have yourself to contend with and then the next minute you are catapulted into motherhood.

I had barely been able to take care of myself up until that point and then suddenly I was taking responsibility for this tiny, helpless being.

But the midwife was right. From the moment Jaiden was born I became overwhelmed with a primal need to protect him and I knew that I would move heaven and earth to keep him safe.

It's almost impossible to believe that 21 years have passed since that night in the hospital. That next morning and the hours and days that followed remain permanently etched in my mind. I can still recall the way it felt to be so fundamentally needed.

He depended on me for everything and though I'd been entirely self-absorbed up until that point, I was humbled by the experience and I absolutely loved being his mum. I still do...

After being a mum for so long it is an adjustment when your kids grow up and forge their independence. I am not needed like I was when my boy was little and that's the way it's supposed to go.

If you do your job right and I have done mine to the best of my ability, then they eventually saddle off into the world as capable adults.

But watching your kids grow up is a very bitter sweet experience. When they are born we cannot wait to tick off all the important steps and milestones and yet when they grow up we cannot help but feel nostalgic for the past.

Every birthday takes us that bit further away from the beginning and there is a strange sense of loss that sits side by side the pride we feel in our hearts.

I couldn't be more proud of my son and I wouldn't choose a different experience. He is everything I hoped he would be, and more incredible than I could have even imagined.

But on this eve of his 21st birthday, the biggest milestone of them all, I find myself feeling nostalgic and perhaps a little melancholy about how quickly those 21 years went by.

Happy 21st birthday Jaiden James. I love you.

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