My baby turned 18: where’s that leave mum now?

By Grainne McCool (@GrainneMcCool)

I have written quite a bit regarding my baby fast approaching the age of 18.

These pieces were all in anticipation of the said event and the wonder of it all.

How fast those years went by. And now it has really happened!

My baby is 18!  Does that make me redundant as a mother?

Grainne's family, including her 18-year-old son, Ultan (back left)
Grainne’s family, including her 18-year-old son, Ultan (back left)

The mind boggles. Just last Saturday the event took place. I call it an event as it had been talked about for so long.

The boy had invited the family to his birthday meal (aunts, uncles etc) and for the past few months all talk evolved around this benchmarking day.

The day flew by in a haze. Family and friends called. The military-precision planned meal was fun. And then it was time for me to sit down and contemplate what had just happened.

For the past 24 years, my life has evolved around nurturing and caring for three little boys.

There was never a dull moment in our house. From the minute the first boy awoke to the minute the last boy fell asleep, my life was a whirlwind of parenting chores.

There were days I laughed so hard I thought I was going to burst.

 There were days I cried so hard I thought I would die.  

There were days I thought this was the greatest life ever – and there were days I wanted to run away and never return.

Grainne & Louise
Grainne with her sister Louise

And now there is a 24-year-old living independently, a 21-year-old in the final year of college and suddenly there’s also an 18-year-old, who is old enough to live his own life as he sees fit.

Where does all this leave me as a mother? Can I really pack my bag and run away if I so wish?

Would I want to pack a bag and run away? The answer is of course no. (well maybe some days I might still want to!)

The 18-year-old still likes his school lunch making, still needs the dinner after school, still needs the uniform washed and ironed for Monday morning but most of all this 18-year -old still needs to know that Mum is there to support and encourage him on this his final journey to leave home.

He is nearing the end of the school road, the 14-year-journey he has been travelling since he was four-years-old, just the like the two before him.

I’ve complained for the past 20 years about making the school lunch, about ironing the school uniform.

I’ve complained about the copious amounts of homework and I’ve complained about the noise upstairs.

Now all that is nearing an end. Now I’m realising just how much I loved doing every little bit of it.

I loved the bad times alongside those multiple good times. I loved the tears as much as the laughter.

As I think ahead I realise that being a Mum will never be over.

My role is just changing. I’ve done my years of being a full-time parent and I’ve done it to the best of my ability.

So when I look back and reminisce over those years of parenting, I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back.

Not for having done the best job ever, but just for having done the job.

None of it is easy, and none of it ever goes to plan.

But I can at least say I did it. All three appear to have survived relatively unscathed and reasonably adjusted to the world.

I can certainly take a little credit for that. So when I begin to feel those moments of mothering redundancy over the coming months, I’ll also remember to feel those many moments of achievement, not only the boys, but mine too.

It’s time to allow the kiddos to move forward with their lives, and time for Mum to move forward with hers.

Here’s to the future, mothering and me!

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