I originally published the following on my blog last June, on the eve of my son's 16th birthday. Unfortunately is was turned upside down, screwed inside out and generally distorted beyond reason by a couple of very sad and immature teenagers and so for my son's sake I removed it from the blog. I am now publishing it again because it is his 17th birthday very shortly and so I've been thinking about our lives together and also in the hope that in the last 12 months some maturity may have taken root.
It was a struggle your birth almost as though you knew that it was better to stay where you were, snug and safe, rather than make an entrance into a world that has sometimes been so cruel to you. Forty eight hours of struggle came to an abrupt end when they told me you were very distressed and an emergency caesarian was needed.
And there you were. Wrapped in a hospital sheet. Blood already drying on your skin. Thick and long black hair and those knowing seen it all before blue eyes which I knew would soon turn chocolate brown. My son. I looked at you and thought how much you looked like your cousin whose birth I had witnessed a few years before even though she had virtually no hair and what little she did have was blonde. There was no surge of love at that moment. We just surveyed one another, taking each other in. This was it I thought to myself. I am now a single mother, solely responsible for you. It was bloody scary.
A few hours later when I was stitched and soothed and high on morphine, we spent a little more time getting to know one another. I marvelled like any mother at how perfect you were, counting your fingers and toes, touching your skin, astonished by the sheer amount of body hair that you had and wondering if someone had slipped a baby gorilla into the cot by my bed when I wasn't looking. And like any mother I started making promises to you, the promises that mothers make to their newly born children; I'll try to protect you always, I'll be there for you whenever and whatever, I will try to make sure you never get hurt, I will never make you cry, I just want you to be happy in whatever you do. And I sang to you. All those nursery rhymes from my childhood came flooding back. You opened your eyes when I started singing and the look of concentration upon your face was that of an old professor listening to a protégée. Who said babies can't focus their eyes properly? They said that because they had not met you, for you focussed and you looked and you held my gaze and you drank it all in.
That rush of love? It came when the midwife suggested I put you to my breast. Not a rush of love because I successfully fed you. Oh no. The midwife gently attached you and immediately you spat my nipple out and turned your head away. Spirit! Independence! My son indeed. The love came at the moment when I saw that you were a truly independent human creature, your own person and you were starting as you meant to go on by doing things the way you wanted to and not the way convention dictated you did. It took four days before the midwife realised all of this which was immediately known to me and admitted defeat.
Tomorrow you are 16, a young man, moving on to another chapter in what has proven to be an eventful life thus far. That independent streak has never been more noticeable. You do your own thing in your own way and I admire you so much. You still struggle against convention and the world at large does not always understand you but we've come a long way my son. I didn't think that I could ever love you more than I did at that moment of love rush but I do because every day I have been blessed with that love growing stronger and deeper but at the same time readying myself for the day you will move away from me for as every day passes that time gets closer. Happy birthday my beautiful, wilful, independent son. I love you.