Parenting is a funny old thing really. It has its ups and its downs, its highs and its lows and however much you despair at the downs and the lows, the rewards of being a parent are incredible. I moan a lot about my children, probably too much really as they are amazing. Each of them have made their own unique imprint on me, on our family and on the world around them. I am very lucky and I really do try not to forget it.
Parenting a teenager is a really funny old thing. Suddenly, they aren't those little people any more. They don't need so many cuddles or for you to hold their hands any more. As they grow and develop, they become independent and self sufficient. Sure you still cook their meals and wash their clothes, but you slowly but surely lose that element of control.
It's not all bad or as dramatic as it might seem. They do still need you, there is a lot going on for them physically and mentally. As they start to go through the exam years, they start to feel pressure, real pressure and this can often see a time when they really do need a lot of parental love and support to see them through.
Once past GCSE's, they start to look beyond the safety net that school has provided for many years and think about careers, college, university or travel. This is a huge step for everyone involved. This is the step that we seem to be rapidly heading towards at the moment and I have really mixed feelings.
O is now taller than me and he is a funny old soul. He isn't the most confident of boys and never was, although he seems to have reached a point where he is happy with his life and himself. He has a good set of friends, he has never been in trouble and has always worked as hard as he needs to to get by in school. I am so proud of what he has achieved over the last year or so. He breezed his way to great GCSE grades in spite of having Glandular Fever at the time. He has gone into the Sixth Form at school and judging by the report that we have just received, he is heading for another good set of exam results this summer. He went out and got himself a job at the local MacDonald's. I wouldn't say that he loves the job, but he has stuck at it and he certainly enjoys the fortnightly pay that goes into his bank account.
He is learning to drive and it looks as though his driving test is around the corner. Whether or not we will be able to find the money to insure his car for the first year remains to be seen, but I'm confident he will be driving by the end of the summer.
Later this year, he will be eighteen. Eighteen. I have absolutely no idea where those eighteen years have gone to. It only seems like five minutes ago that I was looking at his fuzzy little face in the hospital. But he is heading to adulthood and now starts the hunt for universities and looking at where is life is going to go when he finishes school.
Away from me, I have no doubt.
How do I feel about that? I swing. On the one hand, I want him to go out into the world, to travel to get as much life experience as he can. It is important to go away to university to be truly independent for the first time. When I say 'away', I really mean away too, not just a few miles up the road.
There are other days though, when I just want to lock the door and stamp my feet and tell him that he can't go anywhere. He is my baby. He may be six feet tall, but he is still my baby.
However, it will be with a sigh and a heavy heart, that I will actively encourage him to go away and to live his life. But he will always be my baby.