I cried the other night. That’s nothing especially out of the ordinary. I cry a lot. But just over a week ago was a bit special. My anniversary of adding yet another burden to an overpopulated planet that urgently needs a Malthusian style cull in order to maintain the fragility of life and ecosystems in order to survive, still less to thrive. Or, to put it slightly more cheerily, it was The Boy’s 13th birthday.
My Precious First Born is now a teenager. I can’t pretend I wasn’t listening, head tilted and ear cocked as 06:59 ticked over to 07:00 to see if The Curse of Kevin would kick in and my golden-fluffy haired moppet would suddenly transform into a lank, greasy, groaning pile of BO, acne, and hormones, swearing and seemingly having no control over how his arms swung. The Fear was real indeed.
In the event, the minute passed without incident, other than realising that for the first time ever in his life he’d set an alarm on his phone to make sure he was awake for the momentous notification that he’d officially passed from childhood to the terrible teens. Also, for the first time since he started school, a weekday morning saw him sitting up in bed when I went in to his room.
Beautiful Boy. Far more beautiful now that he ever was as a baby, although of course to me he was the cause of infinite gaze, admiring the delicate perfection of his every millimetre. Growing more beautiful by the day, seeing those features, so dear to me, develop and unfurl as he’s grown. That face, those eyes, those hands that have held mine, those feet that have walked beside mine for so long, and are bigger than mine now. The reassuring, solid comfort of his hugs, the way he still leans his head against my arm for comfort. I’m not sure how much longer that can last for now, because he’s barely an inch shorter than me. So for now that’s still something to treasure, as long it is there, as long as it’s a reminder that he’s my boy.
A lifetime ago, or so it seems, I wrote about him growing up, and growing away from me. That was my fear. That he would slip through my fingers and I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him, that I would lose him as he flourished. It seems odd to remember that now. Because that’s not how it’s happened. Even allowing for the upheaval and changes in our lives, that’s not how things have become. It could so easily have been the case, it would have been so easy to make different decisions that placed barriers between us and meant that I didn’t spend the first ten minutes of his 13th birthday giggling and cuddling, and the two of us sharing silly memories and words of happiness.
It was a moment, just a moment, the same as millions of moments that we have shared between us since the first time I saw his face. The same as the moments when I’ve shouted, or he had a tantrum, or I changed his nappy, or cooked a dinner he didn’t like, or walked him to school, or read him a story, or made him groan with a terrible joke, or told him off, or cried with pride over him, or had to listen in excruciating detail to something about Pokemon. It was just another moment in the journey from infant to adult, with me as a witness to his every triumph and disaster, every failure and accomplishment. But those moments count, because each and every one adds up to a life. A life I am privileged to share and know.
And he hasn’t changed, not really. He is still that same affectionate, loving, considerate, honest, tactile and thoughtful little person I remember from the lunchtime he asked ‘Why doesn’t Mummy fucking need this at the moment?’ I have no doubt that the next few years will be more trying than those than preceded them. But those times too will eventually be no more than moments either.
And that is why I cried, then (bit choked right now, tbh). All of those moments, hard, difficult, fun, loving, all of those moments brought me to the point where I looked through his bedroom door to see him, my newly teenaged son sleeping as he always has, in a state of utter abandonment, arms above his head, and I had my own moment, like a slideshow on fast forward, seeing all of those moments together condensed, concentrated, compacted, all of those precious, countless, forgotten but unforgettable moments that have now added up to teenage years. Seeing it all unfiltered, that life I could not be without, and those moments that have made it this way.
Happy birthday for the other day, my beautiful boy. You are what keeps me honest, because you don’t know any other way to be. You make me brave, because you always are, and you never pretend not to be scared. You remind me to be kind, because that’s all you know. You never hurt, because I love you. You make me laugh, you make me proud, you make me cry, because I am an embarrassing mum who threatens you with public displays of affection. I could not ask for any more from you than just years more of moments together.
You and me, Bee. I’ve learnt more from you than I could ever teach you. Happy Bee Day – you brightened my northern sky more than I could ever have known, and you make me want to be the best I can, for you. I love you OBeeWanWookieBee. You are, and always have been, as everyone tells me ‘such a lovely boy, he really is’. Please don’t turn into a little shit now though. Fingertips, matey boy. Fingertips, always xx