When you have children, people often say to you to make the most of the time you have with them when they’re small.
Repeatedly, you’re advised to treasure every moment; treasure every memory; treasure every hug as they grow up way too fast.
Maybe I’m getting a bit sentimental in my old age (who’s old? Not me!) or perhaps it’s the fact that Boy Child is in the last few months of his teenage years or the fact that Girl Child is on the brink of leaving high school but I’ve bene reflecting on things a lot recently. (Lord, maybe I am getting old!)
I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural mother. I’m not a particularly conventional mother. I’m not even convinced I’ve been a good mother but they’ve both made it this far – whew!- and have grown into sensible young adults – well, most of the time.
I don’t think it matters how old they get or how tall they grow, Boy Child and Girl Child are still my babies.
I’ve watched them take their first tentative steps as toddlers. I’ve waved them off to school. I’ve made endless packed lunches. I’ve sat through countless dance shows, school shows, musical performances. I’ve been to dozens of parent/teacher evenings.
I’ve jumped in waves in the ocean with them. I’ve built sandcastles on the beach with them.
I’ve dragged them through numerous museums – they’ll thank me for it one day.
I’ve introduced them to my favourite foods, favourite films and books.
I’ve introduced them my eclectic taste in music.
But, possibly most important of all here is that I’ve let them make their own minds up about things.
We don’t always enjoy the same meals. We don’t always agree on which film to watch and they both disregard my thoughts on books. (I’ll be honest, that one winds me up a bit.)
As for music, Girl Child is still developing her preferences having journeyed through EMO, Swedish death metal to cheesy pop and, for now, a more indie band sound. Her tastes are more catholic than mine but we occasionally agree on a band or song. Boy Child too has developed his own tastes and preferences but it’s safe to say we share a lot more common ground.
This was brought home to me earlier this week when I realised that with regards to music we’d come full circle.
Almost six years ago, accompanied by two of my friends, we went to see Iron Maiden at the SECC in Glasgow. It was the first gig he’d been to where we were in the standing arena. The mother in me was anxious to protect her baby boy in this crowd of thousands of rock and metal fans. I stayed close to him all night as we enjoyed the show together. My friend even commented over coffee the following day how cute it had looked to see us both together, horns up.
Earlier this week, Boy Child and I went back to see Iron Maiden. This time they were playing in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, next door to the previous venue. When we arrived about a hour before doors open, we detoured into the SECC to use the facilities and Boy Child commented that he hadn’t been there since the previous Maiden show.
As we stood in the queue, basking in the warm early evening sunshine, outside the Hydro, we counted up how many shows we’d been to together over the years. Twenty six, including the one we were heading in to.
A couple of hours later, as we stood side by side in the crowd watching the support band, Shinedown (love those guys), I stole a glance up at him. My baby boy was still standing beside me, smiling and singing, horns up. I smiled.
An hour or so after that moment, as we were being pushed and jostled and barged about in the midst of the mayhem at the front of the crowd, I realised the roles had reversed. We had come full circle. My Boy Child was protecting me, keeping me close to him and regularly checking that I was OK. My heart melted.
The childhood memories you make with your children are to be treasured.
The ones you make with them when they’re young adults are equally precious.
Treasure them all.
And, yes, we were both still standing together, six years down the line, horns up!