To My Son On His 21st Birthday

The winter of 1997, I was 19 and felt rough as arses. I put it down to overdoing the nights out and working odd hours. Turns out I was wrong and with the encouragement of a housemate went to get checked out. I was pregnant. Oh shit, the old man’s gonna kill me! Was my first thought. So I didn’t tell anyone. For 6 months. I wasn’t ashamed but I knew I’d get all kinds of shit shouted in my ear holes (well the one I can hear out of anyway!)

6 months passed before anyone was any the wiser, even then Nan Sheila thought I was talking nonsense because she’d seen me just days before finding out and I’d looked anything but pregnant. But I had to let on because I was sick. Sick, sick and a bit more sick until my housemate bundled me into a taxi to the hospital. I think I might of asked her to just let me die but she wouldn’t have any of it. She was also the one who’d traipse to the pizza place with me to order margarita pizza and help me sprinkle Flake on top. You even gave me an aversion to cheese & onion crisps that I can’t abide to this day.

This photo of your Uncle and I was taken not long before you made your entrance. Eventually, two weeks late, you arrived. All 6lb 13 of you, squawking your disgust at being so rudely dragged out. You were a wrinkly little potato but you were my wrinkly potato and I loved you the second I saw you.

Actual birth scenes:


This was the best of a bad bunch of photos, good god I looked horrific. But look how sweet you look, with your little catalogue pose. Even then we knew you’d be a handsome little shit.

You were a lovely baby, always ready with a smile, as a toddler you were always up to mishief and trying to give me a heart attack. Like the time you put you rucksack on and attempted to bugger off to the shop by yourself for sweets while I was drying my hair.


I got stopped in the street constantly by people telling me what beautiful eyes you have. I was always secretly pleased because I’d made you, me, the girl who thought she’d never really done anything exciting at all with her life. Look at you! How cute?


On your first day of nursery you ran in without looking back leaving me a sobbing mess, I’ve always been emotional, you’d later roll your eyes at your weirdo Mum wiping her eyes at your school concerts, never mind Nana who always fell asleep!

I always felt guilty leaving you with a childminder so I could go to work but I think it did you and I a favour as you got to socialise and in a way I did too, I met lots of friends at my workplace and you learned to share and find your way in the pack.

I would insert a pussy magnet joke here, however that would be well innapropriate wouldn’t it given the circumstances.  I brought you up alone, I was always skint. You never complained even when you had the same lunch 4 days in a row. We still did loads of things and we even went to Disneyland one year, I can still remember those creepy little It’s A Small World dollies to this day, deadly eyes burning into my brain.

As you got older you developed an obsession with Bond Movies, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and went through a period of commando rolling through all doors. That raised a few eyebrows in WH Smith. Then there was the time you went into school and told them I’d changed your name to James and everyone had to call you that.

There were a few years where you just didn’t know what you wanted, were a moody little (can’t say little really, you towered over me in your teens) git. You tried to like sixth form, you gave it a go but you just couldn’t get into it and I’m really proud that you have a full time job. You work hard and have emulated my hard work ethic.

You weren’t as accident prone as your daft old Mum but there were times you bashed your teeth slipping on a banana skin, stabbed yourself on a fence and the day I got the phonecall to say you’d been hit by a car was horrendous. You scraped by with a broken arm but spent weeks off work bored out your mind. I always thought the first broken bone would come from your love of freerunning but it turned out it was a Mini.

I’m very proud of the young man you have become, the way you adore your girlfriend, the way you get up day in, day out to go to work but I wish you’d clean your room a bit more.

Love always. No, you’re crying.



2 thoughts on “To My Son On His 21st Birthday

  1. This is not only a beautiful expression of love for your boy, but also a great thank you as well. A person’s truth sometimes to be brought about by extraordinary circumstances. I don’t know the 19 year old you, but I doubt I wouldn’t know the forty year old version without your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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