Child 4 was the last to leave home in 2014, he was almost 20 and had been the last child at home for almost a year after child 5 returned to the UK to boarding school.
Child 4 is the only child we've had an input with into adult hood, he was at home the longest, therefore the one we spent the most time with as a young adult.
He was the only one we taught to drive, who we left home alone to look after his younger sibling while we travelled and the one who did the school runs, food shops and picked us up after a night out.
Apart from the youngest who finishes school this year, the other 3 boys manage their own finances, careers and lives in general. But they always come to me for advice and support before making major decisions. They respond to messages, but unlike child 4, they rarely initiate just general day to day chat.
However things are changing/have changed with child 4 in the past few months since he got himself a girlfriend. I don't mean that he's stopped talking to me, tagging me in photo's or even become distant. I mean he now has a whole new family involved in his life. He tags me in photo's of days out with his girlfriend and her family, his achievements and just general stuff he thinks I'll like, same as usual, but now not only is his girlfriend commenting on his posts, so are her family, their extended family, friends and neighbours.
These are people I don't know, but who are getting to know my son just as well as I do. Whose comments are similar to mine, because they know what he's like and how he'll respond. People who share 'in' jokes with him. People who he tells things to at the same time as he tells me. People who are important in his life, of equal importance to me.
I'm not jealous, but I do envy their relationship with my son. My relationship with my son is now online, we live 4000 miles apart, he sees his girlfriend most days after work, he goes round her house and eats his tea with her family, he walks their dog, he talks to her dad about the football, he asks her mum to help with removing stains from his clothes.
As a Mother to 5 children, all bar one being adults, I've accepted a long time ago, that they would all grow up and leave home one day, that they'd get girlfriends, get married one day and eventually have children of their own. What I didn't think about was how their new families had families of their own.
I'm off to Belfast for a few days in March to meet the girlfriend and her family and the 3 of us are taking a road trip to Dublin, it's a short visit, but it will be nice to meet the girlfriend and her family and get to know the people my son now shares his life with on a daily basis.