Coming of Age

It’s my son’s twenty-first birthday next week and I can hardly believe the years have passed so swiftly. He arrived exactly on his due date and has quietly filled my heart with joy ever since. It’s natural for a mother to feel proud of her son but I’m especially proud of him because his life to date has been far from straightforward and the last few years have been particularly tough for us both.  Years that should’ve been fun and carefree for him were marred by my cancer treatment. He was then diagnosed with anxiety and depression but we both know it had been wrapping its arms around him for several years. I suspect my illness played a significant role in tipping that delicate balance and the thought rests heavy on my soul.

Slowly but surely we are both reconfiguring our lives, learning to live with heartache, uncertainty and confusion safe in the knowledge that whatever happens we’ll find a way through. We know we can’t make up for the carefree years that were stolen away so instead we’re aiming to make 21 extra special, starting from today.

A week of celebrations begins with cake, candles and presents in advance of his actual birthday. It’s the first year that he’s been able to open anything early and we decided to bring this part of the festivities forward because he and I are going away for a few days next week. Carrying everything to London and back would be logistically difficult. Although 21 isn’t technically the year of coming of age (voting and alcohol are both legal from 18) it’s still an important milestone.

When he was 18 I put together an A – Z photo album of words and pictures representing who he is and what he loves.  There were other presents that year but the photo album is the one he treasures most. This year I’ve been busy researching all the events of 1993 as well as occurrences that took place on the day of his birthday over the course of the last 21 years.  This task has been made much easier through the wonders of the interweb! Having found a host of 1993 events plus a notable occurrence on each of his birthday’s from 1993 to 2013, I’ve turned them into illustrations – cartoons with a snippet of information about the event – to make a unique present he can look back on in years to come.  There are other presents too but I’m hoping this one will join the photo album among his favourites.

Our trip to London is the first time we’ve been away together for far too long. He loves the hustle and bustle, travelling by tube, street performers in Covent Garden, the glazed ducks and bright orange squid hanging in the windows of China Town’s restaurants, the smell (and taste) of all that Chinese food. He also loves the theatre so this visit includes a couple of surprise West End shows which are sure to be a lot of fun. Both productions will have us singing like song larks for the rest of the week so by the time next weekend arrives we’ll be hoarse, in serious danger of annoying anyone in earshot, or both!

I’m glad we’ve been able to secure this time together, that nothing else has impinged on it, that we are both in reasonably good health and can go away for a few days to create some new, happier memories for his coming of age.

(These pictures were taken last weekend. He played for over 5 hours in a charity football tournament with all the proceeds going to St. Peter’s Hospice and raised over £1000. Another good reason for me to be proud of him 🙂 ).

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13 thoughts on “Coming of Age

    • Thank you Mae, I think he’s handsome too but then I am biased 🙂 Undramatic positively boring years ahead sound perfect!

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  1. Another lovely piece of writing Tracy James is a real credit to you both and I am so glad to hear that the two of you are taking time out to do the things you both love wish James a happy birthday from me love to you both .AUNTY LINDA XXXXXXXXXXX

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  2. A very very happy special birthday to your son.. I have a lump in my throat reading this is my daughter 21st was so much the same… 10years later and her life is so much better.. Enjoy your wonderful time away…

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    • Thank you so much Helen. I hope that like your daughter, my son will find his life improves over the next 10 years. For you and your daughter, I wish you both many happy and healthy years ahead

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  3. dear Tracey, happy birthday to your awesome, handsome, beloved son! enjoy and savor every moment of your time together in London – so many adventures you’ve planned – what a loving, thoughtful momma you are. and I bet he does treasure the book of his 21 years with the illustrations you made – what a lovely idea, and so very creative. much love, Karen xoxo

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    • Thanks Karen 🙂 You’re right, he loved the illustrations and I think we made some good memories this year to help overwrite the not so good ones from a couple of years ago xoxox

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  4. My son turned 21 in February, so they’re very close in age. He sounds like an awesome person, and I know you’ll treasure this special time with him. What a very thoughtful gift you’ve put together! He’ll love it:)

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    • Gosh they’re very close in age. Have you found the time flying past too? We had a super time, I’ll post about it. He loved every minute, we both did 🙂

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  5. Tracey, enjoy your time with him, it is well overdue for both of you. The handcrafted gift sounds amazing! Either he is real tall or that goal post is not standard 🙂

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    • Thanks Diane, the hand crafted gift was a big hit and is now up on his bedroom wall. He’s tall (about 6’1, but it’s also a smaller goal mouth – 6-a-side… Far too fast and furious for me but he enjoys it 🙂 )

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