Our first child and our only son turns twenty today. Twenty years old. Technically a fully fledged adult. I struggled to get my head around the fact that we were parents of teenagers but the parents of an adult? Madness. Utter madness. I could roll out all of the usual clichés about where has the time gone, it only feels like yesterday that he was born et cetera et cetera and in some ways that is true but in other ways it feels like a whole lifetime ago that we welcomed that tiny little baby into the world.
Being the eldest child and also the only boy means that he has probably had to bear the brunt of us winging this whole parenting thing. There are times when even the best of us don’t know what we are doing. I don’t believe that any of us truly get it right 24/7. You can only try your best and accept that trying your best is the best you can do as you muddle through those trickier times.
The last few months have seen him fly the nest and as hard as that is on the old heart-strings, I am so proud of him taking his first proper steps into the big wide world. Life in the real world is crazy hard and you don’t learn that until you are out there living it for yourself and as a parent it can incredibly hard to stand back and leave them to it. You just have to trust that you have done a half decent enough job raising them I suppose. But you never stop being their parent, you just have to learn to parent from a distance. The whole parenting journey is ever changing of course but this is without doubt the biggest and hardest change yet and we are learning to bumble along together.
It has been hard for all of us to adjust as a family even though we hardly used to see him with working all day and partying all night. It just feels strange him not being here. His sisters miss him terribly and so do we (and in fact, he misses us too!) It would be so easy at the first sign of trouble to tell him to pack up and come home but actually that wouldn’t be the right thing to do, it would just be what we want. I think it’s really important that we find a way to support his independence in any way we can because in the long run I think it will be good for him. Even though that can be hard.
He always knows that he can come home if things don’t work out. This will always be his home and he knows we will always always be his safety net. He also knows that he can still count on The Bank of Mummy and Daddy if he really needs it and dinner is on the table at six if ever he wants it. Sometimes you just need to come home to Mummy’s lasagne, don’t you? And that I can do. Along with food parcels to take home with him.
I must admit that I worried that our relationship would change somehow when he left home. The first time he came to visit for Sunday lunch felt so strange. He is our son not a visitor! But I’m pleased to say that I was worried for nothing. We might be parenting from a distance now but we are still very much his parents. He is still our little boy even though he towers over us and to his sisters he will always be their big brother with smelly feet. Some things never change.