A child is a gift.. I'd give anything to do it all again

THERE is no such thing as an ex-mother. A child is forever and so is the bond you have with them – that’s what we celebrate this Sunday.

But for many “empty nesters”, the feeling of being an ex-mother, while absurd, is overwhelming.

So, this politics-free part of the column today is for them.

Mother’s Day spans generations.

At one end, there is the seven-year-old, struggling upstairs with a wobbly breakfast tray and homemade card.

At the other is the extended family, gathering at gran’s with boxes of Thorntons and bunches of bright tulips.

I’m not yet the granny with the tulips but the seven-year-old has disappeared in the blink of an eye.

She is now 17, finishing a foundation year at performing arts college in London.

We hoped she would then come home but it’s not to be.

She has been offered a place on the course of her dreams down south. After that, who knows? Way leads on to way…

We all want our kids to follow their dreams but often mum is left holding a big empty space.

I’ve been here before, when my eldest daughter left home eight years ago.

We were extremely close and I missed her terribly.

But with her wee sister to raise, there was less time for moping.

The eight-year gap between the two girls means school gate waits began in 1994 and lasted 20 years.

My youngest girl is a bit of a firecracker – as outspoken and opinionated as, well, her mum, I suppose.

Sometimes we bickered like an old married couple. Now, I’d give anything for a bit of a bicker with her.

Gone are the incessant text messages guilt-tripping me for being five minutes late. Gone too is the daily drama over car radio stations – Capital (her) v Smooth (me).

That’s before we get to the really happy times: Marathon mother/daughter sessions with Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones, Hebridean holidays chasing dogs along beaches, endless hours in Topshop changing rooms.

Clearing out her old room the week before Mother’s Day may have been a mistake.

Every space on those Ikea shelves held a different memory. There were the passing fads – Nintendo, beanie babies, Scoobie Doos that I had forgotten.

A crate full of tiny plastic horses on top of the wardrobe reminded me how bossy she was as a 
six-year-old, putting them through their jumps. No change there.

I discovered her ice skates, still in the pink-and-white case that lived behind her gran’s porch in Coatbridge, near the rink.

Like so many empty nest mums before me, I’d give anything to turn back time. But we can’t live in the past, a child is a gift for life.

Every memory of their childhood is irreplaceable – but the real thing is even better. So, have a very Happy Mother’s Day and make the most of each moment.

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