He was born at home on the back verandah as planned, after a long, slow labor. I’d paced up and down the driveway for 2 days, wrapped in a quilt, asking the night sky to bring me my baby.
And finally, with dawn’s 5am light, he came.
Every year when he was little, we seemed to wake up around that time, and lie there together contemplating the celebration of it.
This year I was working almost 2000kms away, but still opened my eyes at exactly 5am; I admit I shed a few tears as I reflected on the passing of so much time, as he’s grown into such a tall, capable young man.
For his birthday, I’d bought him 3 tickets to an 80s/90s dress up disco dance party, the same as last year (a winning gift). I knew he’d have had a late night, but texted anyway:
“5am- Happy Birthday Moment, darling boy.”
No reply, as expected. But I took myself for a sunrise beach walk, revelling in the gorgeous environment, and the knowledge that he was safe, happy, and healthy for another year, which is all any parent ever wants, right?
19 hey. One year into being old enough to vote, to drink (not in the US), and of course go to war.
Have you heard of the group Redgum? Yes, it’s a type of tree, but also a classic Aussie folk/rock band from the 80s, whose song about the Vietnam war “I was only 19” has basically haunted me since I first heard it, decades ago- it’s in the Top 30 Best Australian Songs Ever- I defy anyone to listen to that song without getting teary.
And now my son is that age. He could have been conscripted. He could have killed/been killed.
So I walked on the beach, flooded by the sky, and gave thanks after thanks that my darling baby was not a soldier, or a refugee, or any other struggling young man anywhere in the world.
It’s mostly just luck isn’t it?
At about 11am, he finally texted back:
Haha, thanks Mum. I went to bed at 5am 😉
I grinned and sighed to myself.
What did I do when I turned 19? Emigrated to Australia, and didn’t see my Mum again for 4 years, in the days before Skype or FaceTime. I used to write her once a month or so, if she was lucky…
He’s NOT ALLOWED to do that to me.
And I know he won’t.
What about you: what’s the longest time you didn’t see your Mum, and why?
Happy Birthday beautiful ’19’; may you never know war, may you never know hunger or homelessness, and may you ALWAYS keep in contact with your mother!
In gratitude for dawns & birthday babies, G xO