Over the last few months there’s been a shift. It was subtle at first but now the change is monumental. My boy is growing up. And I’m nowhere near ready for it.
It started slowly. A couple of weeks after his ninth birthday in February, he gradually lost interest in our joint bedtime story, preferring to play his guitar in his room while I read to his brother in his room each evening. Bit by bit, he’s become content in his own company at bedtime, often not even raising his head from his book when I finish reading to Xav and pop in to kiss him goodnight.
There were just a few signs, but now the shift is visible, more like a rift. Right before my eyes, my boy is pulling away from me, gaining more independence and needing me a little less each day.
He barely glances behind him now as he schleps off for nights away with his Cubs pack. His beloved old monkey used to be the first thing he’d reach for when he came home from school. Now he’s often forgotten about until bedtime and more often than not, ignored even then. He used to delight in telling me all about his day, but now I hardly get a word.
This morning, he shrugged his hand free from mine on the school run, declaring “Mum, you’re so embarrassing” and I have to confess, I felt the world stop at that moment. Those four little words shot right to my heart and suddenly it dawned on me. My boy really is growing up and there’s not a thing I can do to stop it.
When he was first born I recall people urging me to enjoy the early years as they go so fast. Back then, I thought they were mad, but now, nine years on, I know what they meant. In another nine years he’ll be eighteen, off to Uni, travelling the world, driving my car, raiding my wallet and staying out all night. And I have to say, somehow, that doesn’t seem so far off at all.
So tell me, how do you let your beloved first born become the young man he’s destined to become? How do you resist the urge to smother and care for him just that little bit longer? How do you avoid being an embarrassing mum?
Does it get easier? Because today, I feel like a bit of me has broken.