Callum appears in the doorway. “Mum, we haven’t had any mother-son time recently. How about we walk up to the village for a coffee? We need to catch up.”

I sit across the table from my son, sipping my coffee and I think about being a parent. It is not easy being a mother. Why do we long so much to have children? Yes, bringing up children provides so much joy. But why are we prepared to endure all the pain and heart-ache that inevitably come along too?

I look at my son, and my thoughts turn to his childhood and the day of his birth…

I didn’t expect Callum to be born. When I went for his 18 week ultrasound and saw his little heart beating, I couldn’t believe it. “The baby is alive?” I asked incredulously. The nurse looked rather puzzled. What had I expected? Contrary to my expectations, our baby made it all the way through 40 weeks of pregnancy and entered the world, a beautiful healthy child. I cradled Callum in my arms, thanking God for this gift, a blessing that seemed miraculous after four consecutive miscarriages.

But I look back and remember how I nearly lost my gift through a moment’s carelessness.

When Callum was only a couple of weeks old, I set off in the car to visit a friend. I was eager to show off my precious baby. The friend lived on a hill. I parked the car, swung open the driver’s door and stepped out. I was about to open the rear door when I realised the car was in motion. It was moving slowly backwards down the hill with Callum still fastened inside. In a split second I saw it all: the car moving, the car gathering speed and the car crashing at the bottom of the hill, complete with my baby. I hurled myself back through the driver’s door and managed to press my foot on the brake just in time. I pulled on the handbrake tightly, gathered up my son and headed towards my friend’s house. I felt very shaky and I couldn’t stop thinking, “What if I hadn’t been able to stop the car?”

Callum’s next adventure occurred when he was a toddler. We were visiting my friend Sarah. Sarah and I were happily engrossed in a conversation. All our children were happily playing together. Well, at least we thought they were. Then the doorbell rang.

“Does this little boy belong here?” asked a man holding Callum by the hand. “I was driving by and I found this little fellow walking down the centre of the road.”

The centre of the road? I was horrified. Sarah lived on a fairly busy street. How did Callum manage to escape? Feeling like a really bad mother, I thanked the man profusely for returning my little boy.

One day when Callum was nearly three, we visited my sister, Barbie who used to live in a beautiful designer house complete with a very steep set of stairs leading down to the bedrooms on a lower level. Was there a gate protecting the stairs? I can’t remember. But I do remember seeing Callum fall head over heels down the stairs. One moment he was at the top, and a sickening moment later, he’d hit the bottom, a long way down. I screamed and burst into tears. I was absolutely sure he was dead. I could not believe any child could survive such a fall. Then through my tears, I saw Callum pick himself up and look rather uncertainly around. I flew down the stairs and gathered him up. He’d bounced. He wasn’t even bruised.

Callum’s misfortunes didn’t end with toddlerhood. When Callum was about thirteen he had an accident involving his sister Charlotte and two bikes. Charlotte and Callum were cycling around our house in different directions. All went well for a while and then there was a big crash and a huge scream. I ran outside to find two mangled bikes and two children sprawled on the ground. I gathered up seven year old Charlotte.

“My ear! My ear! He ran right over my ear.”

“Callum!” I shouted as I gathered Charlotte into my arms. “How many times have I told you to ride in the same direction as your sisters?”

I took Charlotte into the house to examine the damage. Callum followed us in. After I’d determined there wasn’t much wrong with the ear, I noticed Callum was looking very pale. He was clutching his arm.

“I think I’ve broken my arm, Mum.”

After spending two hours in the waiting room of the accident and emergency department of the hospital, we finally saw a doctor. I told him the story of the bike crash.

“Did you put ice on the arm?”

“No.” I hadn’t thought about ice.

“Did you give your son anything for the pain?”

“No.” I hadn’t thought about painkillers.

A short while later we were returning home. Callum had his arm in plaster and I felt like a very bad mother.

The arm healed but one day, a few months later, Callum came hopping into the house, tears of pain in his eyes: “I was running up the back steps and stubbed my toe.” His big toe was broken and Callum was on crutches for two months.

I remember other times when Callum got himself into trouble: he was in danger of drowning at the beach, he badly burnt the skin on his tummy, he ran at neck-break speed into a head-high taut wire and narrowly escaped decapitating himself, he absorbed most of a gravel road into his legs after falling off a bike…

The other day Callum and I were reminiscing. “You haven’t broken any bones for a while,” I remarked.

Callum grinned. “No, but I’m still getting myself into scrapes. They’re just more grown up kind of scrapes.” What kind of scrapes?…but, no… I have been sworn to secrecy…  Callum is still getting himself into trouble. And my heart still aches as I have to stand to one side and let him experience the trials of the adult world.

Our coffee cups are nearly empty. Callum is telling me a funny story. I look at his gorgeous smile and his lit up face. Did I really grow him from a tiny baby? Is he really mine?

I think again of the questions I am pondering. Why am I so willing to endure all the pain of being a mother? Why would I be prepared to suffer it all over again? And I know the answer. I have known it all along. The answer is love.

Happy 19th Birthday, Callum

Post a Comment

  1. I never realised he managed to get himself into that many scrapes.

  2. I am sure there were many more scrapes I have forgotten.

  3. I can certainly relate to the scrapes with boys. We have had two ankle casts, a toe surgery, four sets of stitches and a trip in the ambulance in a neck brace and my boys are only 9, 8 and 2! What else lies ahead!!??

    Callum has a wonderful smile and I am so happy to hear that older sons still like chats with their moms!

  4. What lies ahead? A lot of fun, a lot of adventures and a lot of love. Enjoy your sons, Misty. They are worth all the scrapes.

  5. Many congratulations on Callum's birthday. Whe I was a young mother with only a small girl, we wnt for a walk. My daughter was almost 3, We saw a boy of 4 or 5 sitting in a baby buggy in a very big snow suit - he looked almost like a stuffed child. My daughter said "Look! A baby-child!" Since then I have alvays rejoyced in not having baby-children, but lively children getting themselves into scrapes. The alternative to scrapes stopped being alluring that day. Love matters, nor scrapes.

    1. Uglemor,

      I think you're are so right. Think of all the adventures we'd miss out on if we wrapped our children up in cotton wool. Scrapes make them tough. Yes, it's love that matters!


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