The Son will be fifteen years old in February. This week brought with it something of an epiphany. It sounds kind of crazy but this week I realised that after nearly fifteen years, my life is suddenly my own again. And I have forgotten how to be me and not a mother. Mind you, I wasn’t exactly the kind of person who went out all the time before he put in his appearance.
Children had never really featured in my Grand Plan. The idea was there in the corner of my thoughts that I might quite like kids some day, but I never expected it to happen when it did. He was a surprise in all ways. His control over my life started the day he decided to turn up two months before his due date. A little tiny thing, weighing in at 4lbs 6oz, this minuscule human being had me where he wanted me the moment I untangled all the machines he was attached to and held him. I absolutely fell in love with him.
Of course, I had been completely expecting to have a girl so the poor boy had no name for the first three days of his life. Poor little Male Infant Watkins.
Being premature meant that he had an extended stay in hospital. The paediatricians estimated six weeks. He came home two weeks after he was born. Tough as old boots, he was and still is. In his ten year school career, he’s been off sick three times in total. I am blessed that he is so healthy. All around me, other mums have to take time off with their poorly kids, or they have long term conditions that require management. In that sense, I have had it easy. I have admiration for the mothers of more than one.
I get asked if I’d ever wanted more kids, and the answer is yes, I would have, but after y’know, both me and the Son almost died the morning he was born, I think I will just appreciate what I have, thanks.
Every year has brought new challenges, but every day has been a joy. He’s grown up into a bright, intelligent, funny young man. I am proud of his manners; of the fact you can take him anywhere, of his wicked sense of humour and in the last week, the fact he’s eagerly joined the gym with me. And it’s that which made me suddenly realise I’m free to do anything I like at the gym. For fifteen years I’ve put off going to classes, or the gym because I have had him to care for. Now he comes with me, or is perfectly fine by himself for an hour. His dependence on me hasn’t just gently ebbed, it’s retreated like a stampeding buffalo.
It’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it feels good to be in control of my own life again. On the other, it tugs at my heart strings watching every step he takes moving him ever further away from my circle of influence.
Being a mother has been the best, most rewarding job I have ever had. There have been times when it’s also been the most terrifying. I look at him and I’m pretty satisfied I’ve got him off to a good start. He’s just gone into Year 10 (that’s the 4th year to us old-timers). In 2015 he will sit his GCSEs. This is the first time in his life that I have no control, subtle or otherwise, over the outcome. I can encourage revision, but what will be will be. Now THAT is scary.
Wouldn’t swap him for anything though. He’s my life. And I suspect that even when he’s in his twenties, that is how it will always be.
And I’m glad.