|Circa 2000, sleep deprived and probably running on caffeine.|
Any mother will tell you, having children changes you. And I don’t mean financially or logistically although God knows those two things quickly become very apparent. I’m talking about that salient moment all mothers have when you know life will never be the same for you as a person, especially after Baby #1; you’re slumped on the couch probably in milk-stained pyjamas and the situational reality is biting hard – there’s no call button for a nurse, you’re already missing the thrice-daily trolley rattling down the polished ward floors bearing food someone else made, your boobs are full and hot but not in the good way, and sending the baby to the nursery for an hour to snatch some precious sleep or even a shower is literally a pipe dream. But yet… you look at that baby and it doesn’t matter. The love you feel for that child is greater than anything else. Stronger than any of your own needs or wants. You and he are one.
Not unexpectedly I found myself reminiscing about those times yesterday, the day my youngest son turned 18. EIGHTEEN. Can you believe it? My first thought was how the hell did that happen? Followed closely by the WTF knowledge that all my children were now legally considered adults and how crazy was that, I couldn’t possibly be old enough yet, could I? Turns out I could, and I am. Children make you acutely aware of time, and he has a warped sense of humour let me tell you. Eighteen years have passed lightspeed quick.
Pregnancy with my youngest had been totally by-the-book normal. I felt fabulous the majority of the way through with minimal morning sickness, no spotting and sporting a shape like my others that was all out-front and carried low. Instinctively I knew he was going to be a boy, even before I saw the telltale confirmation on one of my many ultrasounds. He was child #3 but this was pregnancy #5 so I had a good idea of what to look for by then, being an ultrasound veteran. Yet it wasn’t until I’d passed the 20 week mark and feeling mightily encouraged by the the regular kicking of his little feet under my ribs that I finally let myself relax and look ahead.
Like his brothers before him he was 10 days overdue but he made up for it with an arrival that was as speedy as it was efficient, a mere hour and a half from the moment the doctor broke my waters. There may have been a rather intense moment when I would’ve given any sum of money for pain medication but there was literally no time, this boy had other plans, he was on his way! Three or four pushes and my third son arrived, leaving me both ecstatic and filled with wonder at how my body had again created this precious human being I was beyond happy to meet. Oh there you are, my darling boy.
And just like that, I was a mother of THREE. And all boys. My grandmother used to say that boys were all rip, shit and bust, and she wasn’t far wrong. Life is full, that’s for sure, it’s a mile a minute but you have to handle it as best you can. With thanks to Forrest Gump for the quote, life’s like a box of chocolates – but sometimes with kids by the time you manage to get your hands on that box, all that’s left is the Turkish Delight no-one wants and the screwed up wrappers of the ones you do. So you end up eating the Turkish Delight anyway because, (a) it’s still chocolate, and (b) the show must go on, right?
Fast forward a few years and those babies grow into toddlers, toddlers become children, and in my case, those children into grunting, forever hungry, active teenage boys who test the very limits of your love, humour and patience… before thankfully turning into gorgeous, hard-working young men who all tower over their now suddenly short mother.
My absolute pride and joy is the boys’ bond with each other though, they all share a fierce unstinting loyalty and love that never fails to make me smile. Seeing them together as adults, laughing and enjoying each others company over the weekend was something I held very dear to my heart. That hoped-for reality was what sustained me through those early years of hard graft, surviving on little sleep, 70’s classic rock and a politically incorrect sense of humour. I know it was well worth every second!
So, what’s next? Well the newest adult in our family finishes Yr 12 in a few months so we’re on to the next stage for him. The last few parent-teacher meetings EVER are on the horizon for me. It’s exciting, scary and dare I say it, a little emotional for this mother-of-three. But like every other challenge I’ve had to deal with, this too shall be overcome with a little love, patience, persistence and good old-fashioned humour. It’s worked well so far and it will again!
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