18 years ago today, I was in Scarborough Centenary Hospital, with my mum, godmother and grandmother. I was 21 and in labour. I wanted and needed a baby, this baby, more than I wanted or needed my next breath and after much ado (note to doctors: Labour and Delivery is NOT the place to practice your amateur stand-up comedy routines – NOBODY wants to hear them. You are NOT funny!), Plum was born. Perfect, calm, and beautiful. He was calmer than I was and I was numbed by that painful-to-get but lovely to have had epidural.
I had never seen a more beautiful human being in my life and I was instantly totally and completely in love with him. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day. There was none of the nervousness or awkwardness that sometimes follows a first meeting or plagues a new mother. I held him, nursed him and carried him with the self-assured knowledge that he was mine and even though we had just met, it was though he had been with me always. The practical stuff I still needed to learn, so my mom did much of his first bath in the sink, but I was a quick study.
He became my world, my everything, the reason I cared about life and living. I gave him four ‘first’ names – all my favourites, because I felt that if he were the only child I would have, I wanted him to have all of the names that I thought were strong and beautiful and full of meaning – the same way I felt about him.
And tonight, at 8:13pm, he’s turning 18. Not a baby anymore, and hasn’t been for a very long time now, and still, my heart feels very sure that he is still a baby. My beautiful, perfect baby.
But, he’s not. He’s my 18 year-old son. Who is struggling with adolescence and finding his place in this world. He’s my 18 year-old son who says terrible things to me and calls me terrible names and makes terrible decisions that hurt both of us, but also who, no matter what either of us say or do to the other, my bond with is unbreakable. There have been times when I have wished that I could sever that bond and not care anymore because it has hurt so badly and no doubt, he has that wish on at least a weekly basis, but alas, no. He is my son, and I am his mum and that is written in stone.
One day, he’ll have children of his own and they will be perfect and he will love them beyond all logic and reason and then they will become teenagers and he won’t believe that it’s happening to him. And he’ll come to me and tell me what horrible things my grandchild(ren) is doing and I will commiserate with him and I won’t say “see? I told you so!” Or, “yes, well,you were xyz” No, I will listen to his woes and frustrations and then send him on his way to handle his teenager(s) the best he is able. Just like I handle him now, no matter how horrible a job he thinks I’m doing, no matter how wrong, blind or crazy he believes that I am. One day, he’ll understand, just like these last few years with him have made me understand and appreciate my parents and all they went through with and did for me during my tumultuous teenage years (and, well all they still do for me, at my current ripe old age).
So, Happy 18th Birthday Plum. I hope this year brings you love, health, happiness, direction and success in whatever paths you choose to follow.
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”