Happy 18th birthday to my funny, gorgeous golden boy
PUBLISHED: 11:46 04 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:46 04 November 2018
Archant © 2006
I made a deal with God when my last child was born – I’m not a believer, but the existence of something, somewhere at that point seemed more credible than me being allowed to be in charge of two small children. Me: in charge of small humans – like I had the tiniest clue what I was doing.
Back then, I had my eldest, Ruby – a curly-haired coiled spring of curiosity – and she’d been joined by her brother Cole, who the scanner had told me was another girl, although I stand by the fact I’d always had an inkling that he’d made the wrong call.
“What do you think you’ve got?” asked the midwife, after a terrifyingly hasty Caesarean section – my anaesthetic administered in the lift as we raced with measured panic into surgery.
“A girl!” both parents chorused, me somewhat weakly as I’d just been in labour for three days or, as my grandad put it, “lying about when you could have been getting on with it” (my dad said something similar to my mum when she’d just had a C-section: “you always make a FUSS, don’t you?”).
The midwife lifted the baby over the top of the charmingly-named ‘modesty screen’ erected to prevent mothers-to-be from seeing themselves sawn in half in what must be the best magic trick of all time: he was most certainly not a girl. Someone at home was going to be annoyed that they weren’t being given the little sister they’d been promised. I passed out, a combination of shock and blood loss.
In those mad, sleep-deprived, scar-healing weeks that followed the birth of the ‘miracle’ son I never thought I’d have, I made a small-hours-of-the-morning pact with a deity I’d never believed in: I’d been listening to a lot of Kate Bush (“and if I only could, I’d make a deal with God…”), there was a thunderstorm on the night in question with plenty of heavenly drama, it seemed an apt time to ask.
“Just let me get both of them to their 18th birthdays safely and then you can do what you want with me,” I promised solemnly and ridiculously to the darkness. And when my reply came in the form of a sheet of lightning filling the room with a strange, other-worldly glow, I felt the message had been delivered.
I hadn’t slept for weeks, mind, and still believed what everyone tells you when you have a baby, which is that you’ve just signed up for 18 years at the coal (Cole?) face of parenting – as if children magically evaporate when they pass through the door from childhood to adulthood.
The not-a-sister I brought home to Ruby in November 2000 is about to step over that threshold and will celebrate his 18th birthday on Tuesday – meaning that according to the deal I struck during one of those dreamy night feeds when it was just me, my gorgeous warm baby and my slightly haywire hormones, I’m now on borrowed time.
So for the record, I’d like to say that I’m nowhere near done – please could I adjust my estimate from 18 years to forever?
My boy was born in the Chinese Gold Dragon Year – considered to be the luckiest in the complete 60-year cycle, not only for babies born under the auspicious sign, but also for their families. And it’s true: he really is my golden boy. Easy-going, loveable, clever, funny, gorgeous, kind, loving – I could not be more proud of the man he has grown up to be if I tried and I could not love him more.
So happy 18th birthday, gorgeous boy. You make me happy, you make me proud, you make me wish we could do it all over again.
On Tuesday you become an adult, on Tuesday I am no longer a parent to two children but to two adults.
But even when I am grey and old – even when YOU are grey and old – you will always, always be my baby.