Today my eldest son turned 21, which is not only a huge milestone in his life. I have taken some time to reflect on this day, as it is also a celebration of when I became a Mum for the first time.
I discovered I was pregnant at a time in my life when I least expected it, I was in a very dark place, mourning deeply for the loss of my little sister.
She passed away in November 1995, and the loss of her plunged me deep and wholeheartedly into a grief I have never experienced.
I reluctantly moved about my days just doing what I could to make it through, and go back to sleep. Sleep was the only respite I got from my broken heart.
I was full of anger and hurt, irritated by others, who had no comprehension of what I, and the world, had just lost. I was also angry for all of those that would never ever get to meet her.
It is safe to say that the person I became was unrecognisable to the carefree, loving life person I was before cancer took her away.
You see cancer didn’t just take her away, I also felt that it had stolen my future. I had BIG plans! Plans that involved travelling, living and studying in a different part if the world, I had big dreams for my future. And it took all of that away in the blink of an eye.
In February 1996, I was fast approaching my 21st birthday, I told my parents I just wanted the day to pass, as if it never existed. How an earth could we possibly celebrate when all of us had a hole missing in our hearts that could never be replaced.
‘I want to just sleep through the day, please don’t make any plans, just leave me be’
And then EVERYTHING changed, my whole life was about to 360 yet again.
On my 21st birthday I discovered I was pregnant, I stared at that positive test for what seemed like hours, completely gobsmacked, but in that moment, I felt a small flicker of ME come back to life, almost like an energy saving light bulb, that slowly, but gently begins to light up, and gets stronger and stronger.
Telling my Mum is a moment I will NEVER forget….seeing her smile for the first time in a LONG time…… ‘You’re pregnant…..You’re pregnant’
This pregnancy was so unexpected, and came at a time when some would feel was not right, but it felt so right, this was a gift that I had been blessed with and I embraced with both hands. I had a reason to get up every day, nurture and support my body, I had a future to look forwards to.
I had a reason to smile again.
My son had chosen me to lovingly carry him for 9 months, and on days when her absence felt too much to bear, I would reach down, place my hands on my belly and feel LIFE.
My reason to just keep swimming.
My son arrived Halloween 1996, a moment where time stood still, and I became a Mum for the very first time.
His Dad and my mum were with me when I birthed him, and my brother and dad were there to meet him not long after. His proud grandparents and Uncle all cradled this tiny life one by one.
This small child that was able to do the unthinkable…..make us feel like there was a reason to keep going. Hope that we could enjoy life once again, and as the weeks that passed, he brought more and more joy into all our lives.
He has known forever that he was the one to make Nanny and Grandad smile again.
So fast forward to today, and he is now 21 and carving a career out for himself. I now have two more amazing sons and my brother has two.
The arrival of my eldest and then number two and number three, has taught me so much about myself, and the powerful, fierce woman and mother I am.
They have taught me that I am stronger and more powerful than I ever thought. That I can cope with whatever life throws at me, and come out even taller.
I have their backs (whether they like it or not), I am their Mama Bear, and my instincts with my mothering are ALWAYS bang on the money when I truly listen.
My children chose me, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Every day they teach me more about myself, and I am able to grow just a little bit more.
I let the days go where I feel it all went a bit tit’s up, maybe I lost my temper and shouted, or I was irritable after picking the 10th pair of pants up.
I have chosen to banish mother’s guilt!
I only have to look at them and see the openness we share as well as the safety and security I provide to them, to know that I get it right 99% of the time.
So, I am comfortable to forgive the 1%. I just simply breathe and CTRL-ALT-DELETE at the end of the day.
The teenager years have been my biggest challenge to date as they make their way out into the world, slowly but surely pulling away each day, but my overwhelming feeling is pride for who they are, who they are becoming and all that I have achieved too.
So today I celebrate all that my 21 year old is, along with all that this 21 year old new Mum was and has become.