Summer 2012? It’s been a dismal affair.
But not Friday. No. Friday, July 27 was a glorious summer day I will remember for the rest of my life.
How brightly the son shone.
It was his graduation, a day filled with pride, optimism, love and family.
He’s achieved something both his dad and I never did. He’s a BA; he’s got a certificate for all the world and hopefully a prospective employer to see. A piece of paper that proves he’s as clever and wise and wonderful as I’ve always thought he was, ever since that time he managed to blow a milky, post-feed spit bubble while batting a cot mobile with one fat little hand.
But inordinately proud as I am of him and much as I know his father had a small part to play, I’m taking a chunk of the credit. Because I grew him.
I’m sure, proud mothers everywhere, you know what I mean when I admit that as he walked onto that stage in his mortar board and gown, I wanted to stand up and shriek: that one - that tall, handsome one there; he’s MINE!
At that moment I felt like a sage old gardener whose lovingly-tended, carefully nurtured giant marrow had won a county show first.
You can’t help it; you look at your creation, all grown up and finally at his peak and you think: I MADE that. How clever am I?
At these graduation ceremonies, there really should be a Mothers Moment; a brief pause in proceedings when all the mums are invited to their feet, press their hankies to their mascara-stained cheeks and receive a colossal round of applause for producing goods officially certified as premium quality.
But I made do by joining in the rousing cheer that unexpectedly burst forth from his dad - a man not given to outward displays of emotion.
It was cathartic, after hours watching hundreds of other people’s pride and joys have their moment. We’d watched him get closer, felt his nerves from 200 feet, had almost done a thumbs-up as one of the female organisers read my mind, straightened the gown slouching off his shoulders and righted the cap he’d rakishly tilted backwards, then rejoiced that finally there he was, striding manfully to his future.
There was a hint of a limp as he made those symbolic steps. Just the day before I was at A&E with him, waiting to find out if he’d broken his ankle playing football (funny how he still needs me and my metaphorical Elastoplast).
Luckily it was only ligament damage, but he left on crutches and his graduation day seemed destined to be reliant on them.
Come the morning, though, he determinedly cast them aside, dosed up on his gran’s high-strength anti-inflammatories and stood on his own two feet - in agony, but a man in agony.
Chuffed as I was of him, though, I was desperately proud of our odd little family. We were a strange bunch: my mother and the man she left my father for - now a loved step-father and surrogate grandfather; my ex husband and I, plus our new partners who listened happily as we reminisced about times enjoyed long before we knew of their existence.
We have all been adult enough - and love that lad enough - to put him first and let bygones to be bygones. Which is a lesson more valuable than you can ever teach at university.