I’m not sure a birthday will ever come around when it doesn’t take me by surprise at just how fast the months have passed. It feels like just moments ago since I last sat here, trying to find the words to write to you on your fourteenth birthday, and yet here we are, fifteen, and this year has seen me finally admitting to myself that you are no longer that tiny baby placed in my arms, nor the little boy who held my hand and called me Mummy, all of those years ago. Instead you have grown into the most incredible, handsome, and charismatic young man, and there hasn’t been a single day of these last fifteen years when I haven’t pinched myself that you are mine.
It’s funny Lew because, honestly, it feels like just a few short years ago I was the same age as you are now, feeling as though I had all the time in the world to figure out what I wanted to do in life, never thinking more than one day ahead, and assuming I knew it all. At fifteen my whole life revolved around my friends, around boys, parties, fashion, and experimenting in all kinds of ways, all of which terrify me should you do the same! You see I know what it’s like to be fifteen, to feel as though you are floating in limbo, still technically a child but feeling like a young adult in so many ways, and it’s such an exciting and confusing time of your life, no doubt about it.
I see so much of myself in you Lewis, never more so than of late, and I know that this year, as your priorities have changed, they won’t always include me – and that’s okay, it really is. You’ve made me think a lot about my own parents this year, acknowledging for the first time how hard it must have been for them to see their baby girl growing up, spending less and less time together throughout my teens, having to bite their tongues several times a day in order to allow me to make my own mistakes, however tough that was. I used to feel as though my parents didn’t have a clue about being fifteen, nor about life in general, and whilst it turns out that they were right all along, it took me a long time to work that out – sometimes I’m still trying.
I can still remember how Nanna would take me out shopping for my birthday, in just the same way I did with you yesterday, and how I would roll my eyes in annoyance, taking an age in the changing rooms, refusing to open the door to show her each outfit, wondering why she had even bothered coming along in the first place. And yet yesterday, sitting outside the changing rooms just staring at the closed door between us, I realised how spending those moments together were so important to her, and it’s the same for me now. Because those snippets of conversation through a closed door are few and far between these days and the truth is, between school, your friends, football, and your Dad’s, those snatched moments are always going to be worth sitting around waiting for.
And I guess I’ve learned that’s what it’s all about when you have a teen, just making the most of every snatched moment and holding on to it until the next one comes around. It’s the moments, like yesterday, when you leant your head on my shoulder at the check-out and said “Thanks Mum”, the moments we sat down together over lunch, just chatting about the most random of things and eating in happy silence, the moments throughout the day when you told me stories from your childhood I’d assumed you had long forgotten.
It’s the moments we spent together through the Summer when, for one blissful week, we escaped all distractions and just enjoyed being a family of six in the sunshine. It’s the moments we’d escape the kids for a swim at the deep end, or we’d trail behind the others on the walk back from the beach, just chatting about our day. The moments when, just for a short while, you would forget about feeling self-conscious, or about being too grown up, and launch yourself head first down the water slides, blasting the kids with water cannons; the moments when you’d throw your head back with laughter, your eyes sparkling with mischief, looking so much like that little boy I used to know.
It’s the moments when you come home from school and tell me about your day, albeit with your head in the fridge drinking straight from the carton. The moments when you sit with me after tea and say, “Do you fancy watching something on Netflix?”; when you jump in the car beside me, connect your iPhone to the speaker, and we sing along to James Arthur or Ed Sheehan, and you roll your eyes with a grin when I get too carried away.
It’s the moments when I turn up at football, even when it’s cold and windy and pouring with rain, and you shoot me a grateful look just for being there to watch you; the moments when you peer over my shoulder whilst I type and ask me what I’m working on, with genuine interest. It’s the moments late at night when you tell me random facts you’ve read on-line, share hilarious meme’s you’ve seen on Instagram, tell me about the extravagant plans you have made, long before you even know where you’re heading.
It’s the moments you offer to watch the kids for five minutes while I nip to the shop, and how you let them play Paw Patrol on the x-box even though every second away from your own game must feel like a lifetime. It’s the moments you tell me about your life with your Dad and B, with your little brother and sister you have there, or when you return home to us after the weekend and swoop the kids up into your arms, and I see how being a big brother means everything to you, after all this time.
It’s the moments after your bedroom door has slammed when I’ve asked you to tidy your room, when you come back into the kitchen and say sorry, holding out a coat hanger as a symbol of peace, and we hang up your clothes working together as a team. It’s the moments at bedtime when I come to say goodnight and you’re already fast asleep, your TV still on, your phone in your hand, and how, when I smooth back your hair and kiss you on the forehead, you mumble “I love you”, before rolling over, unconscious.
It’s the moments you send me text messages out of the blue, the phone calls when you’re at your Dads, the times you come bursting through the door just to say hello when you’re passing by. It’s the moments when you ask me to show you how to do something new, to make scrambled egg or tuna pasta, when I realise there is still so much I haven’t taught you yet. It’s the moments when you ask for my opinion, or my advice, when you tell me something you aren’t even sure I’m going to want to want to hear, but you trust me enough to say it anyway.
And although these small moments may not sound a lot to some, they are everything to me Lewis. They are the moments which keep me going as the days fly by and we barely see you, when the weeks turn to months and you come and go from one place to the next. And it’s these little moments which bring you back to me during these teenage years where you need me less and less. I was just the same at your age Lewis, and I love to see you spreading your wings, but I’ll be holding onto these little moments of ours over the next few years, no matter how old you get.
I know I say it every year, but there is something so very special about the one who makes you a Mummy and you will always have that special little piece of my heart for making my dreams come true. I am so excited to see what the coming year has in store for you, and for the six of us, and hopefully in twelve months time when I’m sitting here writing our next letter, I’ll have just as many precious moments to share. And maybe even one or two more….
Happy 15th Birthday Lew.
I love you all the stars in the sky,