When do we stop thinking of our children as our babies?

I have three teenagers and generally speaking I don’t worry about them.  They are grown ups in my head.  But today I have been pondering “When do we stop thinking of our children as our babies”

C has just started her new job, one that is part of her long term career objective and one that will challenge her on a daily basis working in a busy A&E Department.  Doesn’t mean I don’t say “have you eaten” when she comes back from a night away.   Or “drive safely” as she heads to work everyday.

Same with youngest teen.   She is not *quite* as independent as the other two yet but I still worry when she goes off shopping for the day with friends, or ice skating for the night.  “have you got money”  / “call me to let me know you got there safely”.

Yesterday I waved off J as he left Heathrow for a month long adventure in Kenya.  Organised by Gap Africa the planning has been meticulous.  Not by me I hasten to add, but by the organisers.   Lists of kit issued, a crisis management plan (yes really) put in place, vaccinations arranged, currency ordered etc.    We just had to make sure the kit list was assembled and that J was safely deposited at the airport.

But how many times did I ask “have you got your passport?”

How many hours of sleep have I lost as I think of him now out in Kenya with no means of communication for a month?  The kid addicted to BBM / Twitter / Facebook / texting is not allowed to do any of those things as they spend 28 days trekking, visiting schools, climbing Mt Kenya, camping in tents, cooking dinner every night and burning their own loo paper.   Yes.  Seriously.   All toiletries have had to be unscented.   Hand sanitiser taken that doesn’t need water.   Clothes that dry in minutes when washed.   And loo roll burnt so there is no trace of it left when they leave an area.

I made him take the tiniest yellow duck as some kind of crazy “I am with you” type thing.  I mean seriously.

How long on Sunday morning did I spent writing Post-it Notes to hide in all his stuff?  One inside his flannel (a bright pink flannel as J reasoned that all the others would have blue and white, being mostly boys,  so he would have pink as that way he would know it was his) says “Wishy Washy”.

A note inside his contact lens box says “Now I see you”.

Inside his boots it says “I love you” and “I am proud of you”.

His sleeping bag has a note to say “good morning”

His first aid kit has a big one saying “ouch”

The roll of bin bags has things such as “what?  More wet stuff?!” on a whole series of bags THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE ROLL.

Am I a child or just a sentimental old fool?

And that despite being almost 18, driving his own car, and being taller than me, J is still my baby.

He just doesn’t know it.  Although he might have had an inkling when he undid his rucksack this morning.

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  • Never. My A went off to camp yesterday (he’s 11 and has been before) but I won’t hear from or see him for a week unless one of the leaders posts photos on the troop’s Facebook page. He is my only baby and will always be even as he approaches my height (at 11!) and his foot gets bigger than mine…

  • I’m 35 and my mum still does all those things and introduces me to people as “her baby” so I don’t think it ever stops! A maternal bond is stronger than anything else!!

  • My two are still quite young 8 & 2 but they will always b my babies even wen they’re 18 & 20 just like I’m still my parents baby at 34! I think it’s really sweet giving him the yellow duck & leavin post it notes for him in his kit still shows u care no matter how old! X

  • My mum still calls me her baby and I’m 37! She leaves me notes and sends little cards every now and then to make me smile. I think it’s lovely how you put notes in your sons things.

  • Mine are still only little but I think that I’ll be exactly the same as you when they grow up. They’ll always be my babies. I think of it as if I’m holding a piece of rope with me at one end and them at the other. Gradually I let go a little bit more and more, but never quite let go of the end.

  • My teen did his first day of work experience today, I felt physically sick. He is only 15! He can’t be growing up! Hubby drove him in this morning, despite him being given a bus pass……….then picked him up! I still have 2 other ‘babies’. I don’t think I can cope with the idea of them going away! (*sobs quietly*) xx

  • A super summary! What a lucky man to go on such a trip!
    He’ll really appreciate – even treasure – the love represented by the carefully scripted well placed ‘post it’ notes.

    I know how I feel when I get similar support from Her Ladyship – very ‘umble.