Goodbye, sweet 16
A mom of three contemplates 17 years of being a parent, and how she’s changed.
Just shy of 17 years ago I was not a mother. I was about to become one but my oldest son was still battering his way into the world. This - and the subsequent arrival of his siblings Hannah, 13, and Grace, 12 - changed my life (obviously). But by how much and what does it all mean?

I never really expected to have children, it wasn’t a conscious thing about disliking them, it just quite honestly never occurred to me to do it. The plan was really to become a war correspondent, and to travel to far flung places and watch carnage erupt. So, then actually a bit like motherhood really.

My firstborn, Alexander David Abrahams-Crocker, was tall at birth: 56cm when the average is apparently 52cm. He had curly black hair and actually was a pretty baby.

After a few days we took him home and as I carried him in I wept, it felt so big: two of us left, three of us returned. Then his father went back to work and I sat and watched the creature sleep. I didn’t know if I should prod him to encourage him to feed or play him classical music, so I opted to read a book.

He was a sweet little boy, funny but not precocious, we don’t really approve of precocious in our family. He accepted his sisters with a fair amount of good humour. He toddled off to pre-school and liked it. He went to big school and seemed okay there as well.

Saying goodbye to dad

Then when he was in Grade 2 his dad died. I remember on the last day of Stanley’s life going to pick Alex up to take him to say goodbye. A little boy sitting in the hall with his teacher; I had a red rose bush with me that was going to be planted when his dad died.

Since then he has done what boys do. Grown up. Driven me nuts. Made me so proud that I have literally  wept. Turned me into a shouting running up and down the sidelines rugby mother. Shown a spirit of daring that I don’t have. Chosen friends I like. Driven me mad. Oh, did I mention driven me mad?

Waiting for the clock to tick over to the time he was born, to the time when he will have completed his 17th year on this earth, I think on balance I am rather glad I had him and that he led to his sisters. Sure if we hadn’t had kids we would have travelled more, had more belongings. I might even have been a war correspondent.

On the day Alex was born we planted a stinkwood tree – a gift from his Godmother – in our garden. We have moved on from that garden, moved on from the family I thought we would be. I am not the person I thought I would be. I am tougher and more sentimental at the same time. I am capable of being more tired and ratty than I think the average war would have made me. But, I am also aware that without them in my life it would be a rather insipid place.

On the day of his birthday I planted a red rose in the garden of the cottage we have just moved into. I think the symmetry of the act has passed the boy by, but I know exactly what it means.

How has having children changed the course of your life?

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