To my son on his 18th Birthday

 

***EXPLICIT LANGUAGE WARNING***

I’m  sitting here in the car on my own writing this after you called me a ‘stupid cunt’ and I screamed back that ‘yes I am a stupid cunt because I had you.’

Now I’m wondering what I meant by those angry words. Are they exactly that? Angry words. Or are they something else. Something deeper. 

Probably both.

You make me so angry I want to scream. Sometimes I have. Sometimes I’ve bitten my tongue so hard I thought it would cut in two. Sometimes I’ve simply fell to the floor and wept. 

Is this what I envisioned 18 years ago as it became increasingly obvious I was going to go into labour 6 weeks early?

I don’t remember how I imagined planning your life out. I do know that the life you have now is not what I hoped or wanted for you. 

Last week I watched as everyone else whose kids are the same age, attended graduation mass and final assemblies. This week they are watching them get dressed up for Muck Up Day and the final day of year 12. Over the next few weeks they will complete year 12 exams and then attend their graduation dinner and anxiously await results in December.  We will be doing none of this.  As a mum and a teacher I must admit this hurts. I shed a few silent tears at the Marian College Awards night as I watched parents beam happily at their daughters. Is this all a mother wants though? Of course not. I want you to be wonderful human being.

I raised you to be a loving and empathetic boy, and you are. You feel deeply and take so much on yourself when you see the pain of others.  My beautiful, funny, sensitive boy.  You’ve had it tough so who can blame you for thinking school a waste of your time? Who are we to judge the way you’ve chosen to suppress and hide your pain?

Your toddler years were a whirl of giggles and cuddles. I loved your warm little body, snuggly kisses, hair twirling and snores. When daddy left you took it on yourself to be my comforter- way too young to have such grown up responsibilities. But comfort me you did.  You protected me from your feelings as well. I know you thought it was a betrayal to me that you loved daddy and his new family. You hid that life from me so I would not hurt. But instead it hurt you. How brave of you to hide how you felt in order to save my feelings. 

Primary school was fun for you – you had lots of friends but you also were that kid that always tried to make the other kids laugh and consequently were always in trouble. 

Meeting Prime Minister Julia Gillard on grade 6 camp to Canberra

I was so proud when you started high school at Simonds in year 7. Despite leaving all of your friends you were going to go to a school where I hoped you could commute to no matter where you lived. I thought I was doing the best thing – thinking a head to the day you might decide to live with daddy and trying to minimize any disruption in your schooling if you lived on the other side of town. I thought you could live one week with me and one week with daddy. You took it in your stride. You were independent and making new friends and looked so handsome in your blazer and tie!

You were always so funny!
In China

Then your world took a hit that we have never recovered from. To this day I don’t know if things would have been different if you had not lost your brother. Dylan’s death was a defining moment for so many things. Your little heart was broken. School suffered. But it also helped to heal the rift in our two families, for a time.

You started to get into trouble – trying to be funny, trying to make friends, trying to get the laughs you got in primary school but these kids didnt know you the same way and it was hard.

You goals for year 7 made me a little sad

At the end of year 7 I agreed to let you leave Simonds and go to a school with your old friends. Mistake? Probably but your genuine heartbreak and cries swayed me. 

Year 8/9 started well but that kid who likes to make the others laugh and is a pain in the classroom came out and this time you were in a school that disciplined quite hard and after 13 suspensions they suggested you move on before the inevitable expulsion.  So we landed at Kamaruka which I thought was a god send as it was just for boys with ADHD  and other learning needs. It broke my heart when this was not the answer to your needs. We tried St Joesphs Flexible Learning Centre and that didn’t work out  and so we went back to Simonds. Sadly we didn’t last the year out there and year 9 was a right off. We had our overseas family trip and when we came back we gave St Joesphs another go. 

Right in the middle of all this of course is the story of you deciding to live at dads, and then being told no.  To me this is where your heart broke so much that we are still trying to get the pieces together. You’ve shown so much resilience but this was too much. Not even our holiday away could help mend your heart and as soon as we got home our lives started to spiral out of control. 

Those summer holidays were the worst of our lives – sneaking out, riding on the back of trains, drugs, tagging and hanging around awful people.  We nailed windows shut, put bells on doors, slept in hallways and drove around at all hours looking for you. I look back now and think how crazy it was and wonder how we did it. We are blessed that you are still here and that you did not get into any trouble with the police. 

You met Trem and for good or bad he is your best friend. You’ve stuck by each other through some incredibly hard times and are still there for each other. I admire the way you love your friends.

Shyanne came into your life two years ago and things started to settle down. At least now I knew exactly where you were! We embraced her into our lives as well and she travelled with us to Queensland in 2017.

You made Trem and Shyanne enroll at St Joeys and they both started. Your attendance was not the best that year but you were going – even if somewhat part time. 

Then last year Shyanne came to live with us and school became a priority for her as well. You had the most amazing attendance rate and finished the year with encouragement awards. 

It all got a bit boring for you this year and while Shyanne thrived there, you we’re increasingly bored. Completing your certificate 2 in Bricklaying was a fantastic achievement. I was so proud of you and the hard work it took. You stuck it out and showed you have what it takes to do both  a trade and work hard.

And here we are now nearing the end of  2019.  School is nearly done and you’re looking for employment. 

You’re 18 – supposedly an adult. But everyone knows 18 is not adult – you still need my love and protection (and money!) and probably will for a long time. 

So did I mean it when I said I’m a stupid cunt for having you?

If stupid means willing to risk a broken heart in order to love another human being unconditionally, then yes I’m a stupid cunt.  The biggest, stupidest one ever – there are lots of us. Most people call us ‘Mum.’ 

Would I have wanted things to be different? 

If different means that I would not be here today with you and Josh and our house and our lives full of love, friends and travel, then no. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If different means that your heart was protected from all the things that have hurt it and we would still be here all together, then yes. I would want that. I would want you happy and whole and thriving. 

Harry, please know that I don’t define who you are by looking at the school stuff, the drug stuff, the anger stuff, the anxiety stuff and the depression stuff. 

I look at you and see a person who, despite all of the above, will get through and become an honorable man. 

And I will love you, even if not. 

ps Im sorry for saying what I said

A trip down memory lane with Mum!

The apple doesnt fall far from the tree!

So serious!

Happy 18th Birthday Harry. I love you 50 Hundred Bucks.xxx

 

4 thoughts on “To my son on his 18th Birthday

  1. Oh Kellie, this sounds so familiar. It does get better xo
    Harry, I’ve watched you grow through your mum and truely wish you all the most wonderful things life has to offer.
    Happy 18th birthday

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    1. Kellie, your an amazing mum and I loved watching your journey . No child is the same and no child to be compared with others . One thing we can compare is the love a mum has for their child . Despite all the heartache they may give , there is always the love and joy that bonds us together . Mum is kindness and tough when needed, but for our child’s wellbeing and for their good and protection we take a stance . One day when Harry is a parent, he will truely cherish all the love and understanding you guys do for him . I’m sure he realises this already . Have an ace day love H 💖 Happy 18 th mate

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