Today I stand before you all as a mother of a 21 year old. It’s a big day for me and for the pup. She has survived 21 years in my care and I have survived the caring years. I remember when she was born, the post labour euphoria was amazing, and I stared in wonderment at the little life before me.
You might be thinking what’s all this survival stuff? Well, for all of you out there who have yet to have a child, I have a secret to let you in on; parenting is an endurance sport. Luckily, for me, I can see where my and the pup’s father’s endurance has started to reap benefits. It feels like an amazing accomplishment to have helped a small soul become a unique being, with their own will and thought and passion.
And the pup’s survival. Well, I was a complete novice at being a parent before I had her, and every step of the way was new to me. She continues to be my most enduring experiment. As she is my only child I can’t use any of the lessons I’ve learned from her on any other children. This is probably a good thing.
I’ve collected presents for her for this birthday over time, things that reflect her personality and taste, things that reflect the lovely person she is growing into, with interests varied and weird (but endearing). She asked me how I knew what to get her and then answered her own question, “because you’ve known me for 21 years?” To which I replied that I only know the bits she has chosen to show me. That she has many more facets to her than just her mother’s view of her.
She still tries to shock me, it’s not worked yet. If she actually went to university and completed a degree, that might do it (I’m ever hopeful of that shock). I’m trying to dare her to be her best self. I hope the next 21 years are a grand adventure, that she gives herself the chances to take, the challenges to surmount and the joys to cherish, and I hope I’m there to see them all along the way.
Strangely the euphoria hasn’t really worn off from that first moment I laid eyes on her. It’s ebbed at times, in those hard teenage years the euphoria was difficult to capture but it snuck through on occasions, showing in unexpected times, and now, watching the adult she is becoming, it’s just rumbling under the surface, swelling my heart and heightening of my senses. I grew this child. I helped make this adult. She is lovely and kind and smart and fierce. She is grabbing her life and making it hers. I’m so relieved.