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.
I bought a sideboard. An old, musty sideboard which has been lovingly up-cycled and given a new lease of life.
I bought the sideboard to go in what will become my dining room. Before now the room (the second reception room in our 50s Terrace) has been an odd mix of a playroom, a home office and a general dumping ground which I have loathed and despised from the moment we bought this house.
I have never found that room nice to be in. It was not a relaxing place to be. It was the kind of place that was frequently cluttered with piles of paperwork, stacks of books here and there and broken bits of plastic toys which no longer held any purpose and were probably a health hazard.
I'm sure behind an old toy Ikea kitchen there was probably a mouldy Wotsit from the neolithic age. I hated it. HATED it.
And it had the kind of mismatched furniture that set my teeth on edge.
So, when the mid-life-crisis hit and I decided to become a full time writer, one of my plans was to finally make this room lovely - as I will be spending more time at home than ever before.
And I bought a sideboard.
It has already given me so much joy, Not least because it reminds me of the sideboard my grandparents used to have in their house when I was a child.
In that sideboard, on the left hand side, there were all the treats the world had ever seen. Biscuits. Fancy biscuits. Biscuits my granny would dole out to us when we were visiting and looking particularly cute. Biscuits that were the precursor to the 10p that would be slipped into our hands before we left for home.
I had such warm memories of that sideboard - of that house, of the times we spent there - that when I saw what I now deem the sideboard of dreams, I knew I had to have it.
I had to have it and use it to make my home feel more homely. I have become obsessed with the idea of a formal dining room. No more TV at dinner time. No disappearing to our different parts of the house at meal times.
I have plans for family dinners, or sitting around together playing board games, and watching the kids doing their homework and, when they are being very cute, taking the biscuits out of the cupboard and offering them one.
I'll ignore the fact my children are fussy eaters. Or that the boy (12) will want to do his homework in his room. I'll ignore the fact that any biscuits in this house have to go under virtual lock and key due to biscuit eating monsters (I include myself in that group).
I'll ignore everything other than the warm feeling of nostalgia - the hopeful glow of nice family times.
Yes - a midlife crisis. A sideboard.
Things are getting strange here on Walton's Mountain.
I left my daughter to school today. She's seven, just finishing her Primary Three year. "Just think," I said as she skipped beside me towards the classroom, "In two days, your Primary Three year will be all done and you will be a big P4."
Her eyes widened. She smiled at me. A smile I'm still getting used to. The tiny pearl white baby teeth being replaced with her grown up teeth, changing her appearance.
"Can you believe it, Mummy?" she said. And I'm not sure I can. My Facebook 'On This Day' reminder showed me a series of covert messages I'd posted eight years ago when I had just taken a pregnancy test and it had shown that longed for second blue line - but I'd simultaneously started to bleed.
I prayed for days for that baby to hold on - and she did. And now she's funny and beautiful and smart - and looking more and more grown up. Her hands still fit, beautifully in mine. She still likes to sit on my knee. ("Can I sit on your lap, Mummy?" she creeps and I always say yes because I know the day is coming when she won't want to.
Already we have reached a strange sort of a stand off at the classroom door each morning. She doesn't let me leave until her teacher has arrived. Then she offers me a funny kind of a one shouldered hug effort before diving into her class. No more kisses. No more giant hugs. But she always stops at her classroom door and looks at me as if for some sort of reassurance and I always tell her I love her and she skips on.
She needs me still - but the day is coming when I won't even be proffered they awkward shoulder hug.
Today after I left the wee doll to school, I had the task of taking the boy (now 12, almost as tall as me and with a man-deep voice) to school to drop him off for a two day residential trip.
I knew better. I knew there would be no hug. I knew there would be no kiss on the cheek, no awkward shoulder hug. I knew he wouldn't look back for reassurance and that he was batter on - head dipped in that teen cool manner, a bit of a swagger in his step as he headed off for his two day adventure.
As I lifted his bag out of the car for him I managed a secret quick squeeze of his arm and I had to content myself with that.
We all know our children are going to grow up. We all know that it will all seem too fast. We all know what lies ahead - but knowing it doesn't make it easier to feel.
If I could bottle the warmth of their hugs, the feeling of them on my knee, the cries of "Mummmeeeeeee" - then I would because the day will come when I will miss it.
In fact, I'm starting to think that day has already dawned.
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!