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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Teenage angst for an ageing parent

My eldest son is 18 years old.  The same age I was when I fell pregnant with him.  It seems amazing to me that when my youngest arrives at the grand age of 18 my eldest will be 36...  The last eighteen years have gone so quickly who's to say that the next won't go just as fast!  It's scary to me and reminds me of Terry MacMillans Mama; the book began with a physical description of the main character, what she sees as she looks into the mirror.  I became completely absorbed into this woman's life story, so much had happened through the few hours it took me to read and then at the very end, another description, a view of an aged woman.  Even though the stories obviously spanned over years, with children growing up and moving on, having children of their own, it wasn't until that last description of grey hair, deep set wrinkles, tired, weathered skin, that you realised her life was nearing the end.  She was old.  I cried.

I kind of feel like that now as my 18 year old begins his journey through man hood.  I was a single parent for the first 9 years of his life, he was the man of the house, my companion, my date even.  We were always together if it were a family party I wouldn't feel like the spare wheel when he was with me.  Now, he chooses what he does and, very often, it is without me.  I love that he has a varied lifestyle and is confident, bubbly and full of energy, at the same time I want to protect him and warn him of all the pitfalls and disappoints life can bring.  I miss the closeness we had and envy that he now has that with his girlfriend.  I miss that he valued what I said and stayed safe within my arms because I told him that's where it was safest.  I wish I could wrap my baby up as I did when we first left the hospital that cold February morning in 1994.  Ha, I could try now but I don't think I could carry him in the 7ft blanket I would need to cover his entirety!!  My life completely changed at 18, I thought I already knew it all but I hadn't even touched the surface!

Point being.. I love my son, my baby, my first born, my man, but it is his time and I can't allow my fear of getting old to hold back his natural progression because that's what it really is, because in honesty, he is nothing like I was and, like me, he will need to find his own way.  Your baby growing up was never a problem until they stop being a baby and becoming an adult, it's rubbing your age in your face, if your baby is a man, what does that make you?
Many of my friends are going through similar situations and, for those of us with younger children or partners, it's easy to move emotionally on to the next, but being single can bring a fear of being old and alone with a perception that there is no time left to begin a new life.  This last statement I don't believe and will ever be the optimist that anything is possible at any age, so although seeing your children grow up fast and realising how quickly time truly does fly, there is always time and that time is always now.

I will never be 18 again and neither will my eldest son, it's not about ageing, it's about progressing...

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