Last week the teen hugged me. A proper hug. One I don't always get from him because even though he still loves me, he's 13 and hugging your mammy isn't always considered cool.
But he walked into the kitchen and hugged me and I rested my head on his shoulder and he laughed and declared he was taller than me now (and I'm 5' 8") and I stepped back and looked at him - my baby. Man big.
He will grow more - he has a good few growing years ahead of him. While his face has taken on a more manly shape and there is a trace of a dark fluff on his upper lip - I know it will change further. His jawline will become more defined. The fluff become spiky. His voice has already dropped - I wonder if it will drop more.
And most of all - when he leaves his shoes lying around the house - which he does quite often - I don't always know if he they are his, or his daddy's.
In the last year his feet have gone from a size 6 to a size 10.
A man's size 10.
No buying in the kid's section any more. No call for shoes which light up when he stomps in them. No desire to wear his welly boots all the time any more - even in summer.
Like most mums, I remember the day I bought his first pair of shoes. A rite of passage every mother and child goes through - they were a size 7 (baby size), with velcro straps. He toddled across the floor at Clarkes and I tried not to think that of adage about the day you put your child's first shoes on them they are one step closer to walking away from you. (Right? Because a mother of a toddler needs to hear that?).
But still I thought it was forever away - and I suppose it is still somewhere in the distance but that baby is gone.
The hugs on my knee, the way I carried him on my hip. The way he would crawl into bed beside me for a snuggle. The way for a few precious years I was the centre of his universe and he was the centre of mine. Our shared childish jokes and laughs. It felt so hard learning to be a mother then - but it's harder trying to figure out how to be a mother now. How to start preparing myself for the day when I let him go.
He is already talking of his desire to study at university in Liverpool. My heart sinks but I plaster on a smile because this is his life and not mine.
But the thought that those size 10 shoes won't always clutter up my hallway? Well that breaks my heart just a little.
Why Skirting the Issue?
For 14 years I wrote my Skirting the Issue column for the Derry Journal each Friday - I may have moved on, but I still have opinions!