18 & All Grown Up – A Birthday Tribute

18 & All Grown Up – A Birthday Tribute

18 years ago yesterday I started my maternity leave for my first born. I had four weeks to prepare. Well that was the plan anyway!  Less than 12 hours after packing up my kit, I was in labour and within 20, at 21.44pm my son arrived weighing just 2.9kg or 6.5 pounds as it was back then!

Like most first births that I know of, it was horrid and protracted, ending in an assisted delivery by forceps.  I don't think as a human being I have ever felt so violated as I did that day.  The only thing that saved me was the unswerving support of my ex-husband and the arrival of my younger sister.

She was due to turn 30 in mid March which was my son's real due date and had planned a big party to celebrate.  I had always said that it was unlikely I would be able to go.  Just as I was being wheeled into theatre, she arrived at the hospital having flown back early from a business trip and gave the mid-wife her party invitation to hand to me.  On it she had scrawled "You will be able to make it now.  Go girl!"  She has always had a knack of making me laugh in a crisis.

In all honesty my son was not a gorgeous baby,  but in the same way Hans Christian Andersen's ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan, he has matured into a handsome young man, with a smile that melts hearts.

Our journey together over the last 18 years has been tumultuous in stages, particularly in his early infancy when his father and I fought to save a relationship that spanned our teenage years and early adulthood. Divorce when you have a young child is tortuous because you so desperately want to do the right thing by your child and the family unit that you have created but there is also the instinct for self-preservation that demands you think of your own well-being.  Happiness is something we are all owed and one of the simplest ways to be happy is to let go of the things that make you sad.

As a single working mum my son kept me going each day and I don't mean just until it was time to clock off and get back for bath time, but in terms of giving me a much needed focus for my life at that time.  His well-being and the future I could offer him became my number one priority. I didn't want him to suffer as a result of his parents' separation.  I wanted more for him in every possible way and never wanted him to feel let down.

The relationship between a mother and her son has been held up for centuries as being crucial to the way a young man will grow up.  By my own admission I am quite strict, but hope that over the years I have also been fair.  I have always showered my son with love and affection and not just with physical displays.  I have always made sure he knows I am there for him no matter what and I hope in doing so, as my son takes that final step into adulthood today I have imparted an emotional intelligence that will ensure he is in tune with his own feelings and is as a result astute, empathetic and compassionate to others and above all loyal to those dear to him.

An incredibly shy child, as a young adult he remains quite reserved particularly in "new" company.  His preference is to sit back and observe, but once confident he is warm, engaging and great company.  He boasts a large circle of friends and has an ability to bring disparate groups together, reveling in the new relationships he has helped to foster.  This has helped him to gain a reputation as a good team leader and throughout both primary and secondary school has been head boy, school prefect and various sporting captains. He is diligent, hard working and extremely organised (almost to the point of being anal), kind, considerate and funny.

Of course life is not perfect and there are many things he does that infuriate me daily but as  those dear to me are prone to remind me, on a scale of 1 to 10 they are minor and common to most teenagers and as today is a day of celebration I am only focusing on the good bits.  A few months ago Alison at Mad House Mum asked for my contribution to her celebration of teenagers and today seems like a good day to remind myself of the great things about my eldest teenager.  So to my 18 year old son, I say I love it when you ....

  • walk up to me and just say "hug"
  • you laugh and your face lights up
  • worry constantly about everything
  • always look out for your little sister
  • make the house shake with your music before you go out
  • pretend you are not looking at yourself in the mirror (!)
  • become so focused on something it becomes an obsession
  • are so passionate about proving people wrong
  • tell me to calm down because it's not good for my health
  • tell me I don't look old - just like your mum

To anyone else that asks I say, all in all I adore his smile, welcome his hugs and admire his tenacity in life but more than anything else I love that he is my son and the young man he has become.


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  1. March 24, 2017 / 10:53 am

    Aw this is so lovely! It sounds like you have a wonderful son. Happy Birthday to him.
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo
    (sorry for the epically late comment!)

    • March 24, 2017 / 6:37 pm

      Thank you Morgan and as this weekend is actually his first month anniversary of being 18 so it seems well timed actually. #pocolo

    • March 10, 2017 / 1:09 pm

      Oh thank you Alisa that is very sweet of you. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. March 5, 2017 / 10:17 pm

    Wow, what a fab post and what a lucky so to have such a nice mum. My little boy is only 4 but I can see he will be a handful when he turns into a teenager. Thanks for linking up with#todays momment in time

    • March 6, 2017 / 10:03 am

      Thanks Becci for your lovely comment. You have a way to go yet so make the most of that parenting journey! x

    • March 5, 2017 / 1:41 pm

      Thanks Hannah for your lovely comment and for hosting – good luck with the new identity. Very exciting. #bigpinklink

  3. March 3, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    Happy Birthday to your son! I actually can’t imagine the day my daughter turns 18. I love the little things that he does, it made me feel quite emotional. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • March 3, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Yes even at 18 – although he would not admit to any of them! Thanks for your lovely comment Claire. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • March 3, 2017 / 1:23 pm

      Thanks Stephanie. Yes it has definitely been a month of celebrations in this house. #PoCoLo

  4. March 2, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    Jo you made me tear up just then! Such a lovely letter for your son and hope if he reads it comes and says hugs to you! Happy Birthday to your son!

    ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬
    Karen | TwoTinyHands recently posted…Windswept #FamilyFunLinkyMy Profile

    • March 3, 2017 / 1:25 pm

      Oh Karen, bless you and thanks. I wanted it to be a fitting tribute to him and I think it is. It’s hard doing sentimental when they are all grown up ! #familyfun

  5. March 2, 2017 / 7:47 am

    So beautiful and heartfelt. One of my son’s is 17, and I am reminded of him when I read your post. I currently have three adult children, three teenagers, and four younger ones. They grow so quickly. People always talk about how awful teenagers are, but I haven’t had that experience yet. Mine have been, and are, pretty awesome. #postsfromtheheart
    Katrina recently posted…the good mommy momentsMy Profile

    • March 2, 2017 / 8:08 am

      Oh thank you Katrina. He would be probably quite surprised if he read it! I agree with you about perceptions of teenagers, they really aren’t as bad as everyone makes out. Thanks for commenting. #postsfromtheheart

  6. February 28, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    with my son being only 7 I am still the centre of his universe, but I can only hope he will become a wonderful young man who brings friends together and has an amazing laugh and warmth. Lovely to read this #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Letting go of worryMy Profile

    • March 1, 2017 / 8:34 am

      The bond between mothers and sons is precious, no more so than with a daughter but it is just different. Thanks for your lovely comment. #mg

  7. February 28, 2017 / 4:23 pm

    He sounds like a wonderful young man. What a beautifully written post! #BigPinkLink

    • March 1, 2017 / 8:36 am

      He has his moments but I am very proud of him. Thanks for your lovely comment Laura. #bigpinklink

  8. February 27, 2017 / 11:37 am

    Hi Jo, teenagers can be testing, but we wouldn’t swap them for the world (well, maybe only sometimes). This is a lovely tribute to your son and I have a feeling he will secretly love it whilst dying of embarrassment.

    Debbie recently posted…Monday Morning Blog Club 27/02/17My Profile

    • February 27, 2017 / 6:16 pm

      Yes only “sometimes” Debbie. Thanks for your lovely comment – he would undoubtedly be mortified! #ablogginggoodtime

  9. February 26, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    Oh I adore this post! Mothers and their sons – such a beautiful special relationship. I found this post very emotional to read as I feel those heart strings pull for my own son. A very heartwarming post and well done on raising such a well- adjusted boy xx #fortheloveofBLOG
    justsayingmum recently posted…Bloggers’ Cafe Episode 3!My Profile

    • February 26, 2017 / 3:41 pm

      Thanks Helen, it’s probably made more pertinent for you right now as your son has had such a tough time. When mine broke his leg a few years ago at 14 and suddenly became really dependent upon me, I remember that being a real turning point in our relationship as we spent so much time together and in hindsight I will always value that time even if at the time it was a hindrance – if you get my drift!. #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. February 25, 2017 / 10:17 am

    This is gorgeous and sounds like y0u have a great bond. #fortheloveofblog

    • February 26, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I hope we do. There have been many bumps along the way but I think we get each other. #fortheloveofBLOG

  11. February 24, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Oh Jo, you got me! This is so beautiful and I really loved your points at the end, particularly, you laugh and your face lights up. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉
    Catie: An Imperfect Mum recently posted…Friday Focus: DJ partyMy Profile

    • February 25, 2017 / 10:01 am

      Thanks Catie. He is pretty close to amazing really! Thanks for commenting. #ablogginggoodtime

  12. February 24, 2017 / 8:43 am

    This is just gorgeous, Jo. So beautifully written. Teenagers really are fabulous and I was just thinking the other day that I want to write another positive post about them! Thank you for the mention x

    • February 24, 2017 / 9:05 am

      Oh thanks Alison that is lovely of you and greatly appreciated. I don’t tend to do the sentimental posts very often but found myself compelled yesterday not to let the moment pass and your series gave me some good food for thought. Thanks for commenting. xx

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