Today, 16 years ago, I set camp at the prestigious St Thomas Hospital in London – my room overlooked the Thames, Houses of Parliament and the Big Ben. It snowed heavily on that day too. My reproductive system was on fire, but, those around me told me that the end product would be well worth the nine months of morning sickness, uncomfortable sleep positions, waddling, gigantic ankles, fat fingers, and insatiable appetite. They also promised I would drink tea again – all through my pregnancy tea tasted like mathakwa [don’t know the word in English – just imagine a horrid-tasting green leafy plant]. And, after 24+ hours of labour and copious amounts of gas I had my very own bundle of joy.
So today I celebrate you, my daughter, the real love of my life.
Today I celebrate your sweet sixteen with pride and joy.
I celebrate your charm and grace.
I celebrate your wit and ability to make me smile.
I celebrate your tenacity for what you strive.
Today I am proud of you: –
- Even though you’ve been held hostage by the teenage brain for a few years now; you are still very grounded with a sensible sense of humour.
- Even though some weekends you sleep for 20 hours in a row and I worry, you’re still considerate and fair.
- Even though you understand asking ‘what’s for dinner mum’ is as redundant as asking ‘is the pope catholic?’, you ask anyway knowing full well the answer is ‘food’.
- Even though your wit knows no bound – the other day, you made some milkshake and offered me a glass and when I asked what was in it, you said and I quote: “at the risk of being rude, I’ll be you for a second….. just drink it!!” And you did sound like me – scary [gotta love mums].
My beautiful girl, you are every shade of glam, sophistication and class. There are numerous moments in the last 16 years that I will cherish forever, among them: – you eating a bowl of brussels sprouts at the age of two, but hasn’t touched a sprout since. You, aged 7, telling me Mother’s Day is possible for me because of you – that was a good one too – and opened up a new level of passive aggressiveness I didn’t know existed in children. I miss those innocent days of saying things as you heard them – the sign of the cross – the father, the son and holy spirit, was the father, the son and whole experience. It was endearing.
Over the years, you’ve taught me things too – like when saying someone or something was wicked became a good thing; or when describing wow things or people as sick. And when people stopped laughing out loud at jokes but instead say the word ‘lol’ – the everchanging world of millennials.
I am by no means the perfect mother – nobody is, but I am grateful that so far so good and I pray you continue in the same path. At times I dish out words of wisdom like prescription medicine – morning, noon and evening – but one stands out from my own experience: don’t change so people will like you, be your best self and the right people will love you. However, I was once 16 too, so I don’t totally blame you when you zone out.
As I celebrate my baby today and the joys it brings me, I celebrate those mothers, among us, whose children have left this world before their time in whatever circumstances. The news channels are inundated with images of senseless killings in our capital. I’ve seen a few documentaries where a mother’s son has been stabbed and killed and the mother is such indescribable pain you could almost feel it through the screen. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child in such or any circumstances and it’s my hope that the senseless killings we’ve seen on our streets in recent times will cease. This experience must be the most awful in the world because I doubt there are any words in any language to describe a mother who has lost a child – there is certainly none in my language. I can only pray and hope that they find some peace in the moments they shared.
And so, my dear daughter, as we enter the next phase in our relationship, remember – today is the youngest you’ll ever be, and that goes for every day of your life. Make the most of it. I’ll always be here for you even when I am annoying and/or making no sense. Love you to the moon and back, forever indefinitely.
Happy sweet sixteen.
PS: For any weirdos out there, my firearms collection has been upgraded and my best friend is a buff copper!!