My baby boy gets married in just 4 days. I don’t feel old enough to have sons who shave, let alone get married, but he’ll turn 25 on his honeymoon so I guess I am as old as my body says, which is much older than what my brain tells me. I was going to wait to tell you about Stuart but the lead up to the wedding will be hectic and I may not have time to write this, so I’ll do it now. I’m sure I’ll embarrass him but I’ve been doing that for nearly 25 years now so I’m sure he’ll cope.
Maria Von Trapp said that to start at the very beginning is a very fine place to start.. so I’ll heed her advice. I should have known right from the start that Stuart was always going to be in a hurry to do everything. The day he was born, I had a small contraction in the middle of the night and as there was an accompanying wind storm, I thought, hey, why not head straight into hospital. We lived half an hour away, so got the other kids settled, packed the suitcase which all took about an hour and headed in. By the time we were halfway there, I realised I was starting to get pains a lot quicker than I’d anticipated. He was born not long after I got to hospital. He was in a hurry to start living. And it’s been the story of his life ever since. His baby song was Baby Mine from Dumbo. It summed him up completely.
When he first started to walk, I’d dress him for the day and a few minutes later, he’d have stripped down to his singlet and nappy again. He walked like a brickie’s laborer with a real swagger. He would wait every Friday for the garbos to come empty the rubbish as that was just the coolest thing to do. They would always wait for him to come out and help them. At Christmas, he was so excited to be allowed to give them a few bottles of beer as a present. All this before he was 3. As an adult, he still loves his singlets, though they are blue not white now and the nappy’s been replaced with jeans.
He was madly in love with Sandy (Olivia Newton John) from Grease and would watch the movie over and over again. When he wasn’t watching the movie, he was out on the trampoline singing the songs as he jumped. Oh how I grew to hate the song Sandy, as sung by John Travolta. As a little boy, he just wanted to be a grown up. When he was about 4, someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He didn’t have to think at all.. Married with 4 kids was his answer. So they continued the questioning. What age are you going to get married? Fifteen was his quick response. I should have known but I still didn’t realise what a little pocket rocket I had on my hands.
As many of you who are regular readers of my blog will know, my daughter was killed on an access visit. What I don’t often talk about is that I nearly lost my two sons as well. The thought of that has always been so hard to bear that I couldn’t even bring myself to think about it, let alone talk about it. Both my sons were in the car that my daughter died in. Lachlan was 8 and Stuart was 6 and both were back seat passengers. Both boys suffered head injuries that awful night and Lachlan went to surgery the next day to have stitches put in his head.
Stuart however was put into an induced coma as he had a fractured skull and swelling of the brain so the doctors needed to let his brain rest. I left Lachlan sleeping and went up to see Stuart in intensive care. He’d always been a nuggety kid. Stocky, blokey, independent, argumentative and willful at times. So to see him in a hospital bed, all wired up, tubes everywhere was horrendous. He seemed so tiny and vulnerable, two words I’d never used where Stu was concerned. I couldn’t believe that was my little nugget head. I hadn’t cried much that night as I was probably still in too much shock. I kept hoping to wake up from the nightmare.
But suddenly, sitting beside his bed, the nursing staff came in and needed to change his bed, so handed him to me. That’s when reality hit. My life was never going to be the same again. I had lost one child.. Surely I couldn’t lose him too. They had no idea at that time if he was going to have permanent brain damage or how he would respond to treatment. As I held his naked, little body that was so battered and bruised, I willed him to stay with me and be well again. Thankfully, his soul heard my pleading and he recovered quickly, at least physically. I walked the corridors of the hospital all night going from intensive care down to the children’s ward, wandering in between the only two things that could keep me here on earth…. my boys.
Within 3 days, hospital staff came and got me as he’d woken up in intensive care and was crying for me, so I went upstairs to see him. He said in a pitiful little voice, “i want you to get into my bed”, so I did. I had hardly slept for 3 days so holding him, I dozed off for about 5 minutes, when I was woken up being pushed around with him telling me to get out of his bed in a bad tempered voice. I knew straight away that my boy was back. What a relief.
Within a day of being back in the children’s ward with Lachlan, he got into huge trouble for jumping from his bed to Lachlan’s. Here’s my baby boy, with a freshly fractured skull, stitches in his eyes, bruising everywhere and he wants to jump from bed to bed. Yes.. he was back with a vengeance. I thank God everyday that not only did my boys live but that they have grown up healthy.
Stuart always drove me to distraction with his antics but made me laugh as well. There was the trick he had with toilet paper when he was about 2. He would go to the loo and somehow tuck the toilet paper up under the s bend and then flush so he could watch the toilet paper spin quickly off the roll. His first day of school ended with him walking in the door, telling me he wasn’t going back there coz all the boys were bitches.
When he was being chased by Lachlan through the house during some fight they were having, he slammed the door shut behind him, knocking his brother flying through the air and almost splitting his head open. I rushed Lachlan to the local medical centre to be treated. When we got home about an hour later, Stu was sitting dejectedly on the couch, arms folded, face like thunder. I asked him what was wrong. His reply? “Well noone noticed that I’ve had a bad day”. Arghhhhhh!!
He was always determined to be the man about the house. I’m pretty adept with power tools, lawn mowers, repairs etc but he was determined as he got older that I had no clue as to what I was doing so had to do it instead. As much as he has always been so eager to be independent and not need anyone, he always needed cuddles. He still does. He is the most tactile man I know. If I am doing the dishes and he’s in the room, he will always come up behind me and wrap his arms around me in a big bear hug. I sometime felt that I let him down because I wasn’t as tactile as he needed me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I hugged and kissed him but he needed so much more.
I knew from an early age that he should be working in a caring profession. If you read the saga of the false teeth, you’ll know that when my mum was dying, my phobia about false teeth came to the fore. I would be trying to clean her teeth while I was vomiting, so, Stuart, all of 10 would do it all for me. It never bothered him at all. He would empty bedpans, vomit buckets, anything that needed doing. The night she died, as I was phoning people to let them know, he snuck into her room, laid down beside her body and calmly told her how much he was going to miss her but he was glad she wasn’t in pain anymore. Wow.. I was in awe of him that night and so proud as I still am today. He now works in Aged Care and I have no doubt that he treats every patient as if they were his own beloved Grandma.
He had a part time job as soon as he could get one at McDonalds. The first pay packet he came home and took a bill off the fridge. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was working so he could help me pay the bills. I made him put it back and go out and buy some new clothes with his money but he was really annoyed with me over it. He didn’t buy clothes either. He bought a John Williamson concert ticket. He didn’t enjoy school and by the time he was 14-15, I knew along with his teachers, that we were fighting a losing battle trying to keep him there. So,one of the wonderful, caring teachers at Geelong High School organised a program that would see him working as a carpenter a few days a week and still finishing his school at TAFE. He felt grown up and so worked harder at it.
Stuart and I fight like cat and dog. I can see through him and he can see through me. We are so alike that we butt heads all the time. We’re both short tempered, impatient, controlling and intolerant so put us together for long periods of time and we’re going to clash. But, I’ve always known I was the Queen of his life. He has always loved me completely and absolutely. Even when he hasn’t liked me, he has always loved me.
So, it’s been really hard to accept that someone else now has that role of the most important woman. My sons are my life. They needed me and I’ve spent years justifying my existence by them needing me. I have an incredibly close bond with both my sons, so it is the weirdest feeling in the world to know that suddenly, your opinion isn’t the most important one. You’re not the one making the decisions. You’re not the one he turns to when he needs something. Wow.. How did my mum go through this with seven sons?
I have to be honest when i say I’ve struggled with the concept of taking a backseat in his life. It’s such a foreign concept that I just haven’t known how to deal with it. He has always told me everything… even stuff I haven’t wanted to hear. He has always asked my opinion on stuff even if he didn’t want to hear the answer. He has always thought that I was always right though he would argue till he was blue in the face that I was wrong. Now, someone else’s opinion is more important. Someone else’s answers are the right ones. Someone else hears all his secrets.
And that’s exactly how it should be. Yes it took me a while to come to terms with it but now I realise that this is a really exciting time in my life, as well as his. I’m finally free to reinvent my life without centering it around other people. Don’t get me wrong, I would drop everything in a heart beat for my sons but they don’t need me to build my world around them anymore so now I have to find myself again. I’m no longer “just Lachlan and Stuart’s mum”. I’ll always be their mum but now I have to find out who I am as an individual.. I have to find my new life’s purpose. I’m terrified but really excited at the prospect too.
To Stuart’s beautiful fiance Sarah…. I’m so thrilled to finally be able to say, “this is my daughter”. I love you and am so happy that Stuart has found his soul mate. You make him happy and as a mother, that’s all I ever wanted for him. You’ve been there through the hard times and the good times and you have encouraged him to be the best man he can be. All I’ve ever wanted was for my sons to be happy and loved. You have made all my wishes for Stuart come true. Thank you.
So, I happily hand over the crown to my successor. You are now the Queen of his life and I can relax knowing that you are there. If I get bossy occasionally, please forgive me and try to remember that I have had over 23 years of bossing him around and I have to break the habit slowly lol. I can’t wait to watch you join your lives on Saturday and would like to leave you both with these words.
May you never steal, lie or cheat. But if you must steal, steal away each others sorrows. If you must lie, lie in each other’s arms, all the nights of your lives and if you must cheat, cheat death, because I couldn’t live a day without either of you. I love you both..
With love…. The former queen xxxxx