“A daughter is your daughter for life – a son is your son until he takes a wife”.

When our three sons were born over a period of four years, people often told me manyvariations on this adage. What they were really trying to to do, or so I felt, was trying to provoke a reaction from me on giving birth to a son every time. Doesn’t every mother secretly yearn for a daughter to share girlie things with?

And I will admit that I would love to have had a daughter, but the bottom line (and best reply) surely is: “Babies are a Divine Cosmic Gift – thankfully having babies is not a ‘mail order system’ where you tick a box to express a preference.  Imagine if that were possible – think of China and the ‘One Child Policy’ – it would have created a whole generation of men never finding wife…. ”

My own mother often said: “Once you have boys, it is only a matter of time until the girls arrive, all by themselves. There is absolutely nothing you need to do, other than welcome them with open arms!” She was referring to teenage boys dating and bringing girlfriends home.

For many years this was a very abstract concept and in truth it worried me a little: how am I really going to feel when our tall and handsome blond firstborn son brings home a girlfriend?

There were many years in our house when girls were ‘yuck!!!” and pink was ‘the most vile colour on the planet’. My boys would not wear anything that had a hint of pink in it or on it, anywhere.

But this Autumn we had our very first flirtation with the notion of being ‘parents-in-law’ one day. Eldest son announced that he had a girlfriend – but she is not in any rush whatsoever to meet us.

They seem to be great friends most of all. They walk up the hill to school together every morning. She waits for him by our garden gate but does not press the doorbell. Only last week I happened to open the door to water a plant and I chanced a wave. I got a wave and a big smile back.

They are such an ‘item’ in school that they are now referred to by a joined name. Like Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) but different…

However, the most wondrous thing is that our son has gained immense maturity and charm overnight. He is more patient with both younger children (such as his own brothers) and indulgent and  protective with both his elderly grandmothers. He voices sensible opinions on a wide range of matters. A year ago he sported a rather frightening cowlick of blond hair – but he now agrees to sharp haircuts, daily showers and he likes a crisp ironed white shirt to go with his school uniform. Maybe most importantly he is more even-tempered and pleasant to be with.  (His 15th birthday is at the end of this month, at the time of writing he is technically 14).

These are great gifts we are receiving from a short girl with long blond hair who is too shy to meet us, just yet!!

The other thing my wildest imagination hadn’t bargained for is how this Young Love brings back memories of our younger selves. Of walking hand in hand and having a wide open future. Of sitting in cafes in Amsterdam and Stockholm (in our case, we were older) and talking for hours. The cares of the world not yet on our shoulders. Healthy parents, sound sleep and hours of leisure time a day something we took for granted.

We have had to set a budget for gifts and dates.  He bought her a dream catcher necklace for Christmas (and I was allowed to wrap the gift!) The memories of our own first dates have suddenly returned in technicolor and there are moments we feel decades younger. We exchange secret smiles when we see her appear by the garden gate and we observe Eldest Son tripping over his own feet to get out of the front door.

So it seems that my mother was right…. Your son is your son for life – and if you are very lucky he takes a wife!

Why did no one tells me this? It seems that ‘first girlfriends’ are a well kept secret in more ways than one.  Hush!

Imelda Almqvist