Armistice Day is different now I have a little boy

Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim, Canvey Island
Lest we forget: My boy and me

Sometimes the ways in which motherhood changes you as a person are big.

You give up sleeping. You don’t get to go to the loo on you own. Your jeans never fit in quite the same way again.

And sometimes the changes are slight, subtle, barely discernible, even to yourself.
I had one of those moments on Remembrance Sunday.

I took Sonny Jim over to the service at the Paddocks, Canvey. His grandma is one of the island’s reverends, it’s where I grew up and I sometimes feel the pull of home when certain occasions come around (Christingle is one. Mothering Sunday another.)

And as I sat (thank you to the lovely lady who saw me standing with my almost-3st-slightly-scared-of-crowds-tot in my arms!) I felt a chill that had absolutely nothing to do with the bright, sunny morning.

I listened as a letter sent back from the front in 1916 by Canvey lad Henry Lazell, who died just weeks after it was written, was read aloud, with my little boy sat on my lap.

And though I’ve always marked Armistice Day, always worn a poppy, always felt indebted to those who sacrificed so much, I’ve never felt as close to tears as I did in that moment.

How did the mothers, of all those men – those boys – ever, ever live with the loss?

Their babies, those little lads, that they would have loved just as I love my Sonny Jim, just gone. Their lives stopped, in so many cases, before they had even really begun.

I held my tired, teething (again!) boy close and wanted to weep into his sweet curls. Because I’m not just in awe of the men who went and fought, but also of the women who stayed behind and kept going. The mums who lost their whole worlds and still got up in the morning.

With a son, Remembrance Sunday, feels very different. The heartbreak almost too real to imagine.

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